By: Christine Olding
After- School is only a little portion of my day but a portion that takes up the majority of my time. The reason being is all of the preparation that goes into making sure the program is a success each and every day. At Hamilton, the after-school program is completely run by City Year. It is broken up into two separate groups based on grade level; there is the 3rd and 4th grade group and the 5th and 6th grade group. It is “run” by the two after-school coordinators who write the lesson plans and implement them. However, it takes our entire team to ensure the success of our program(s). Myself and Steve are the after-school coordinators. Since I am in the 4th grade, I am responsible for the 3rd and 4th grade and Steve is responsible for the 5th and 6th grade. We work together on the lesson plans and make sure they follow the differing units we must fulfill. We alternate lesson plan days and enrichment days. On Mondays and Wednesdays the 3rd and 4th grade have lesson plans, while, on Tuesdays and Thursdays the 5th and 6th grade have lesson plans. To get a better idea of what our after-school program is like, I am going to give you a glimpse into a typical day in the 3rd and 4th grade group.
The bell rings at 3:30 and I immediately head to Mr. Mitchell’s 4th grade classroom, clip board in tow. Hannah and I patiently wait outside the door until all of our starfish have entered the classroom so we can take attendance. Jordyn goes to the science lab to set up our learning area; cleaning the tables and getting the food ready. After we take attendance, we head to the bathroom. We have to make sure all of the students wash their hands before we head to the science lab. Its 3:45 and we’ve made it to the learning area. The students sit at their assigned tables and wait for their names to be called to get their snack. From 3:50- 4:10 it’s snack time! Usually, the students are allowed to talk while eating, however, depending on their hallway behavior we may implement silent eating time.
Eating time is complete and now it’s on to homework help! From 4:10 to 4:40 the students work on their homework for the day. If a student does not have homework, no need to worry because I have stacks of extra worksheets for them to practice their basic reading and math skills. Jordyn, Hannah and I walk around to the tables and answer any questions concerning problems they are facing with their work. Sometimes this can pose as a challenge. The reason being, there are three of us and roughly twenty-two students. We try our best to reach every child to help them with their various issues.
Homework time is over and now it is time to move onto our lesson for the day. Each lesson is written roughly a week before it is to be presented to the students and is emailed to both Jordyn and Hannah; so they know what to expect and what their respective parts are. Today, we are doing a lesson plan concerning our Healthy Choices unit. We are trying to teach the children about healthy food options. I, introduce the activity, which is the students working at their tables to create a garden. Each table was given three sheets full of fruits and vegetables. After ten minutes, they will present their garden to the rest of the group and explain why they put those specific fruits and vegetables in their garden. When the ten minutes is up, Hannah has each group give their reasons. After each group presents they turn in their gardens!
The time is now 5 o’clock! Meaning, it’s time to transition to the gym for sign-out. At this time we have the students gather their belongings and head to the gym. From 5-5:15, the students play games in the gym and wait to be picked up or dismissed if they are walking home. Our program(s) end at 5:15 each day. Once all of the students have been picked up or dismissed we meet as a group to de-brief about our days and the program(s).
One thing that I feel is in need of explanation is how we implement discipline. Each group has a behavior board that was created by our team member who is in charge of our behavior initiative at Hamilton (Hannah). Each board has three colors, green, black and yellow. Each color represents a different punishment or reward. Green is for good behavior; black is for a minor offense and yellow is for a major offense. There is also a sheet on the board that lets the students know what kind of behavior will get you on which color. We, also, have implemented a “time out” area for students who break a rule to serve as an immediate consequence. We have one team member (Kevin) run that room on a daily basis. Depending on the severity of the offense, they are in that area for various amounts of time. Within that room their offense is documented and discussed. If a student’s actions appear to be of the utmost severity, their parents might be called and they could be suspended for a day or in the most severe of cases kicked out of the program after a parent City Year conference. Behavior is a key part in the success of our program.
It is my hope that after reading about a typical day in the after-school program and also, about how we implement discipline, you now have a better understanding of what it would be like to join the Hamilton after-school program.