The Great File Cabinet Purge – #edublogsclub

It is my goal that by the time I go on Christmas vacation I will have cleaned out my file cabinets. The catalyst for this purge is the fact that my file cabinets live in an after school room and because of where they are they create a little cubby area where students like to try to test my one butt per chair rule.

On day 1 of the Great File Cabinet Purge I got through two drawers and threw out two bags of trash.

Then and Now

I started teaching in 1999.  It was fluke that I got my job as a French teacher.  I’m pretty sure after my interview they would have hired a French bulldog to teach the classes had they been able to find one.  Lucky for me they couldn’t and I stepped into the classroom, with a degree French and in Linguistics (English as a second language emphasis) and having done my student teaching in English.

As I was throwing away papers I was struck by the most significant change since I started teaching: technology.

When I was doing my studies in language acquisition, the professors emphasized the importance of our “image bank.”  This was the collection of magazine pages that you kept in labeled files:  girls, boys, weather, activities, etc.  In my first year teaching, someone gave me a book of black line masters that had illustrations of most words you would need for teaching.  It was revolutionary.

The Google Image Search could possibly be the biggest technical advance in my career.  It’s something I use daily.  Multiple times.  Need a picture of beach?  No problem.  In fact I’ll choose a French beach.  Two seconds later…done.  This is so simple and yet so impactful.  Project it on the board and suddenly the whole class can see it.  With the Google Docs, share it with students and suddenly they’ve got a colored culturally relevant image with which to use some language.

Even yesterday I was grateful for this, maybe more so because I was feeling nostalgic about what it was like before image search.  Yesterday I pulled up an image of une chaîne-stéréo which is a completely stupid word in the textbook.  I don’t even know what une chaîne-stéréo is in English.  Stereo system?  Stereo? I don’t know and I don’t care because it doesn’t matter.  I tell students it’s a like radio.  But yesterday I needed a picture and so voilà I pulled up a photo of une chaîne-stéréo.  Last week in class in one of the activities there’s an illustration of a guy who looks like Sloth from The Goonies.  A student used image search and on his slide deck inserted the image.  He also didn’t like that one of the girls looked sad, so he gave her a happy face.  We talked about it for five minutes in the target language.

There are lots of other important technological advances, but the image search I think is the one I appreciate the most.  Simple, yet impactful.

Yesterday I also threw out a lesson from 2002 on internet translators. In 2002 the conversation was about how crappy the translations were.  Don’t use this kids, look how terrible it is.   We can’t say that anymore because like it or not, the translators are pretty darn good.  Our conversation has to change.  How do we use them and why would we use them?  Why wouldn’t we use them?  Language is innately about human connections and nobody is going to meet, fall in love and create a family with an internet translator.

Going through the first of my files yesterday reminded me how lucky I am to have all of the technology that I do.  I’ve realized in the past few months that what I like best about using technology is that it allows me to be creative.  I can create the lesson I envision in my head for students.  The time I used to spend combing through magazines for less than perfect images large enough for students in the back of the room to see, is now spent differently.

One last share from yesterday:  The overheads from my very first CTLA statewide presentation ever.  Overheads!!


#edublogsclub Advice for New Teachers

In my myriad of roles at work, I get to work with new teachers often. When I saw this topic I thought what a great opportunity!  Here’s my best new teacher ideas.

  1. Plan.  As I work with more and more teachers I am absolutely astounded at the number of teachers who don’t have a thoughtful lesson plan.  It’s not ok.  “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  It’s amazing how a little thought will have effects on any number of classroom issues.
  2. Use your textbook.  Throwing out that textbook is quite sexy right now.  Sure it might seem like all the cool kids are ditching their textbook, but right now, as a new teacher- hold onto that book.  Get your bearings first.  When I was at the CLTA Summer Seminar I saw someone had a sticky on their computer that something like, “Use the textbook and supplement the f%^k out of it.”  Try that.
  3. Two Hour Limit.  When I did my student teaching my master teacher told me that she tried never to work more than two hours extra per day.  This has always stuck in my head as a personal check.  It is easy to spend hours after school getting ready and planning, but balance is key to being healthy.
  4. Find a role model.  On any campus there’s a variety of characters.  Look at who they are and why.  Who has the respect of the leaders?  How are the leaders moving the campus and students forward?  Are there bullies who push everyone into accepting their ideas?  Who are the grumpy grouchy grumblers?  Who do you want to be?
  5. Remember our impact.  Every day we have the ability to impact a child positively or negatively.  It’s easy to get caught up in all of the things we have to do.  It’s worth remembering that we are in the business of people and students are people.  Kindness and fairness go a long way towards creating a lasting impact.

#edublogsclub Professional Development Wishes

Great and Timely PD

I’m straight off of two days of professional development for Instructional Coaches with Ann Hoffman.  She’s amazing and got me thinking about a ton of stuff which I’m not going to talk about right now because the ideas are just swirling too fast in my head to make any sense of just yet.  It was highly engaging.  This was countered by my dad, who was preparing for his own two-day workshop by going on a Pinterest binge of terrible meeting memes that he sent to me all. day. long.

PD Wishes

In one of our partner activities my partners and I were talking about professional development and what we “wished” it looked like.  Here’s what I wished PD could be like:

  1.  Mandatory.  The teacher who thinks they don’t need to improve or doesn’t need to learn anything new baffles me.  The Patriots won the 2017 Superbowl.  Did they just say, “Nah, I’m good” and then act annoyed and put out when the coach started to talk about improvement?  Probably not.
  2. Relevant.  I’ve been to some pretty crappy professional development.  Making it relevant means knowing what the teachers’ immediate needs are and meeting those.
  3. More Frequent.  Last year because of the fires, we had a day where students didn’t have to go to school, but we did.  In my district we have two teacher-only days during the school year and one of those is the last day of the year.  This fire day when everyone was at school was amazing.  Teacher were everywhere.  Meeting.  Getting Stuff Done.  Learning from each other.  I can not see how more of that would negatively impact students.
  4. Followed-Up.  Training is useless if there’s no follow up.  Did it work?  What needs to be tweaked?  What’s the next step?  This is so often left out because of time.  This doesn’t have to be painful or another meeting.  It could be just an intentional conversation, “Hey how’d that go?”
  5. Impactful.  Whatever the training, the student impact should be clear.

#edublogsclub Be the Expert

Mad Skills

One of the prompts for this topic is “Tell a story about the most positive experience you’ve had as an expert in your subject matter.”

I’m not going to tell any of the stories about my actual professional experiences that were positive, but more when I had an adjacent positive experience.

In 2003-2004 I did a Fulbright Teaching Exchange.  I swapped jobs and houses with a French teacher.  I lived in her house in Strasbourg, France and she lived in mine.  I taught English at her high school and she taught French in mine.  In October of that year I met another American on a Fulbright scholarship who was studying Chemistry at the university with French chemists.

These Chemists became my Bestest Buddies in all of Strasbourg, France.  When I talked about my job as a language teacher aux USA, they mostly just made fun of me in the way that only Bestest Buddies can. “You tell stories?  We should go to her class and tell stories!”  A good great time was had by all.

When we came back aux USA, the American went to San Diego to work on his Ph.D. and one of the French chemists came to do a post-doc at UC San Diego.  When I could make it down to San Diego we were once again Two Americans and One French Guy.   One day the French chemist was telling us a story about how he had missed his plane because he had been locked in an elevator.  Only he didn’t use the word missed.  He kept saying, “I lost my plane.”  It seemed a strange mistake to make to me, since I couldn’t come up with a context in which the French verb rater would mean lost, but language acquisition is a strange thing.  I didn’t even think about it and I kept saying back, “Oh you missed your plane?  I can’t believe you missed your plane because of the elevator.  I’ve never missed a plane.”

My non-language teacher Bestest Buddy, though, sat in the front of the car repeating loudly and sarcastically in only the way Bestest Buddies can, “You lost the plane?  Lost?  Really lost?”

I thought my recasting was for naught because eventually the conversation degenerated into something else, but later on my French chemist told me, “You’re easy to talk to because you just say the right way back.” It’s not easy to do what we do and it meant a lot that something that came so naturally to me had been actually been noticed and appreciated.

I responded to him, “See- you guys think all I do is tell silly stories, but I’ve got some mad skills.”

#edublogsclub Digital Citizenship

I’m way behind on my #edublogsclub posts because, well…summer.  So just like the pile of New Yorkers sitting on my coffee table, I’m going to have to skip a few in order to get caught up.  Further there were some topics that when I saw them I thought, “Huh, I got nuthin.”

When this topic of digital citizenship hit my inbox,  I groaned and then ignored it.  How are we supposed to teach students digital citizenship when adults don’t follow many of the rules that we “teach” kids?

In 2011 I had my first negative experience with students and technology when while I was gone students used a thread in the LMS I was using at the time to say incredibly mean things about one another.  They were sitting right next to each other and then wrote to each other bad stuff.  Discipline ensued.  Anti-cyberbullying was taught and we moved on.

The students behavior, while their choice, was also on me.  I didn’t teach them what they should and shouldn’t say.  I didn’t give examples of appropriate language and phrasing.  I just assumed that they would know how to act.

No more.  Now I am very explicit with students about appropriate and inappropriate language and place for comments.  I did this with my high school students and I do this with my college students.  I give them examples of how they should ask for help including specific examples of when an email should be sent or when they should comment in Google Classroom.  I give sample comments and make my expectations clear.

I teach what an appropriate email should look like.  College students are, in general, terrible at email.  After I had emails from students that were incomprehensible, I started explicitly teaching what an email should look like.  And then, after I get the first email of the semester that starts with, “Hey…” I reteach.

I no longer assume that just because students can download apps and Snapchat faster than me that they know how to appropriately act in an digital situation.

More importantly, I feel it’s necessary that I act like the digital citizen I’m trying to teach.  Students might not see me acting like that, but it’s important to me.  Don’t be mean.  Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in person.

Get Thee to a Conference

This year has been a whirlwind of conferences for me.  Normally, in a year I got to CLTA (California Language Teachers Association) and BOOST (Best Out Of School Time) and that’s it.  Apparently this year I was on a secret mission to earn the most conferences attended badge.  There was CETPA (technology), ACTFL (language), CLTA (language), Educating for Careers (CTE – because I’m an unofficial official member of our Career Pathways Academy), CUE (technology), BOOST (after school), and ISTE (technology).  Not to mention three EdTech Team summits, two one-day after school symposiums, and one World Language Jamboree.

Suffice to say, I have a lot of bags to carry my groceries in.

Conference Pro-Tips

1.  Ask to go and be creative about it.

Conferences are expensive and you’re probably not rich, so ask your school.  If you don’t ask, you’re 100% not going.  And when you do ask, be creative about it.  I know what you’re thinking….there’s no money for (insert your subject matter here.)  That may be a true statement, but that doesn’t mean there’s not money.  You have to find the person with the purse strings and convince them that they should spend their money on you and that this expenditure will have an impact on student achievement.  “I want to go” is not going to convince anyone.  Be creative and strategic.

  • Are you a Title I school?  Then you probably have Title I students in your classes.  Try that angle.
  • If you’re in California A-G completion is a HUGE deal right now.  Do you know what’s required for A-G completion?  Two years of a foreign language.  Learning strategies to keep students engaged so that they complete their second year of language with a C or better is a definite win for your school.
  • One word: STEM: Everything is about the STEM/STEAM right now.  Can you do STEM in language class?  100%  One year in French II, we did a unit on driving distractions that included experiments, and measuring and a lab manual.  It was STEM before STEM was a thing.  Come up with a creative plan to incorporate STEM into your curriculum.
  • A second word: CTE: If it’s not about STEM right now it’s about CTE (Career Technical Education or sometimes called College Career Readiness.)  How can this conference help support your school’s CTE plan? Find your CTE person and have a conversation.  Maybe you can incorporate some CTE into your classes.

    2.  Pick a theme (then abandon it.)

If it’s a big conference, pick a theme or two of what you want to learn about and focus on those sessions.  First, you’ll narrow down the field of all of the sessions and second you’ll get to see how different people approach that same topic.  Alternately, choose a session on the fly.  Abandon your conference program and walk into a room at random and see what’s going on.  It might be the best session you attend.

3.  Don’t be afraid to leave.

It’s ok to walk out of a session if it’s not meeting your needs.   For this reason I always try to get a seat in the back and on the end.   I have been in some absolutely terrible presentations and sometimes I’ve stayed because I can work on something else and sometimes I’ve gotten up and left.  And as long as your district doesn’t require to have signatures for each session you attend it’s also ok to skip a session.  Often I’ll be in a session that is so inspiring I just want to get to work on whatever ideas it sparked.

4.  Enjoy the exhibit hall.

Amongst the bags, free chocolate and gimmicks, there are usually some great treasures to be found in the exhibit hall.  Keep an open mind about everything.  I was just looking for some after lunch chocolates this year at CUE, when Noam from Actively Learn coerced me further and further into the booth and by the time I left I was so excited by what I had learned I made everyone who was with me go check it out.

5.  Submit a proposal.

Conferences work because people submit proposals.  You might think you don’t have anything that anyone wants to hear about, but I bet you’re wrong.  Submit a proposal for a session for the conference you want to go to.  A bonus is that when you ask your school to go you can say that you are presenting there.  This is good for you and this is good for your schools?

What are your favorite conferences?

Five Tools to Be More Productive

I’m trying to get caught up on all my #edublogsclub prompts and number 22 is sharing productivity tools.  Productivity is my favorite category in all the app stores!  Ironically, I’ve spent hours looking at apps and extensions to help me get more done.  These are the ones I use the most.

  1.  Trello– I wrote about Trello before as one of my favorite tools.  Trello is my to-do list.  You make cards and to each card you can add attachments, files, colors, collaborators, due dates, a checklist and a whole bunch of other features I don’t use regularly.  You can add Google Docs directly to the cards so when you go to work on something you don’t have to search for it in your Drive.  What I particularly love about Trello is the flexibility.  Sometimes I want lists that are: Today, Tomorrow, Next week and I can move cards around to fit those and sometimes I want project based lists.  Before I left for summer I organized everything into project based lists which I can then move into into the Today list. Before I leave for the day I try to make sure that my to-do list is up to date so I can get to work right away (after I get my coffee of course.) I’ve seen teachers who have used Trello as an organization board for student work, but I’ve never used it for that.
  2. Buffer– Buffer is social media management for “marketers and agencies.”  I’m neither, but I do manage four other social media profiles and Buffer allows me to schedule posts and post to different profiles in one click.  I have the paid version.  It was worth it to me to sacrifice one Starbucks coffee a month to be able to sit down at one time and schedule all of my posts for the accounts I manage.  This way those accounts “post” several times during the day, but I don’t have to be there.  Powered with IFTTT it’s genius.
  3. Boomerang– Boomerang for gmail allows you to schedule emails to go out.  I send a lot of routine emails about time cards and attendance rosters.  On Friday afternoon, I write and schedule these to go out the following week.  My emails send no matter where I am!  It’s magical.  Boomerang also has a feature to “boomerang” email or basically have it show back up in your inbox on a certain day.  If you get that email that says “do x in three months” you can have it show back up in your inbox in three months.  With the free plan you get 10 scheduled emails.
  4. Time Out-When I went from teaching to a “desk job” I realized I was hardly moving during the day so I looked for something to remind me to get up.  Time Out is an app for Mac that tells you when to take a Time Out from your work.  Mine is set up for a 6 minute break every hour (just enough time to run to the restroom and do a lap around the building) and a couple of 15 second mini-breaks.  You can skip or postpone breaks if you’re in a grove and you can tell it to never interrupt you if you are using certain apps.
  5. Spotify– Last, but not least, you can’t be productive unless you have the proper playlist and sometimes you just want to listen to Ed Sheeran non-stop all day.  I have the paid version- largely because I was getting wildly inappropriate adds when I was at school.  (And only at school– never at home!)  I decided not having to deal with those adds inadvertently one day in class was worth the paid subscription.  Plus you can download songs so when you’re in the middle of Utah and there’s no radio or cell service you still have something to listen to.  One of the features I love about Spotify is its access to world music.  Often when I’m working on a unit I’ll type in some of the words from that unit and see what songs have them in them and then put that in a playlist to listen to while students are working.  I’ve discovered a lot of great new music that way.

What tools do you use to get more done?

#edublogsclub – A Book

I read a lot.  I used to read even more., but now if I finish a book a month I’m in heaven.  I listen to a lot of books as well and for some reason I only listen to non-fiction.  In 2013 I listened to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and it was the perfect book at the perfect time and I think it’s a book every teacher should read.

On a personal level I always knew I was an introvert. I had always thought of it as explained in my first semester college class- Introverts get energy from being by themselves and extroverts from being with other people. This books explained so much more of my own behavior.  Why I like having parties at my house, but am hardly ever excited to go to parties elsewhere.  Possibly why I screamed bloody murder for months as a baby (according to my parents- surely those stories are exaggerated with time).  It was like with every “page” I thought, “oh my gosh, that’s me!”

The book also has some significant implications for the classroom and it came at the perfect time for me.  The book, among other things, suggests that maybe there is some significant value in students not doing everything in a group all of the time.  That maybe all of this group work and collaboration isn’t the most effective.   (I’m not going to summarize any more than that because you should read the book and also because I don’t have a copy to find direct quotes.)

This isn’t what was the most impactful for me.  It was “fate” or whatever you call it that I listened to this book in 2013 because that Fall my Advanced class, a group of 14 juniors and seniors was like none other I’d ever had.  First, for a 6th period class after lunch they weren’t chatty, or restless or all over the place.  They were….well…quiet.

I’d had a 6th period class that was quiet before but that was just occasional quietness.  It was a group of 35ish Freshmen- 6th period, after lunch, and that group, when I gave the work and they just worked without talking I stayed at the front of the room looking suspiciously at them and waiting for the aliens to pop out because there is nothing normal about that.

But this class in 2013…I spent about three weeks being significantly unsettled.  If I asked them a question or had them do an activity they were more than happy to answer in the TL, but as soon as I gave them something to do by themselves, they would do it without talking.  The quiet was driving me crazy.  What was I doing wrong?  Why weren’t they even talking at all?  Not in English.  Not in French.  Nothing.  I tried all manner of “strategies” to get them to be more “engaged.”  I thought I was failing to create a class culture.  I even started teasing them by calling them “La classe qui ne parle pas.”

And then I had an epiphany.  They weren’t not talking because of something that I was or wasn’t doing.  They were not talking because I had a class largely comprised of introverts and they were completely content to do their work quietly and answer questions when asked.  As soon as I put myself in their shoes, previous 5 periods of 40 students each of constant talking and interaction…they wanted to be quiet.  Their silence wasn’t a problem for them; it was my issue because I had this ridiculous standard in my head of what a productive and engaged class was supposed to look and more importantly, sound like based on 14 years of teaching and “best practices.”  So I did the only thing I could think of.

I stopped.

I stopped trying to create noise when there didn’t need to be any.  I stopped trying to create forced interactions.   I stopped asking if they needed help and let them come to me.  I let them be quiet.  And the silence created amazing.  That class, the one I fretted about for weeks at the beginning of the semester, thinking that I was never going to create a class culture, became the most cohesive group of students I’ve ever had.  In all of the Advanced classes I’ve had, it was my favorite.  One day one of the students told me that she like my class because it was a nice way to end the day because it was calm and quiet.

I wouldn’t have made that choice if I hadn’t listened to Quiet.  Perhaps if I hadn’t stopped they would have eventually become a cohesive group, but I don’t think it would have been the same.  I surely wouldn’t have met these students’ needs.  The book makes a compelling case that we don’t always have to be talking to be productive and I think, no I believe that when I stopped, that class felt able to be and work in an environment that worked best for them and because of that they became who they were.  As I got to know them better the more convinced I am that it was a class of introverts who craved some quiet time.

Quiet should definitely be considered for your list of summer reads.

#edublogsclub – Assessment

Student Reflection with Google Sheets

Ok- so I actually started this post in February.  February!

What had happened was:

My principal came to me last semester with a copy of John Hattie’s Visible Learning into Action and said that it was a book he wanted all of the instructional coaches to have.  I thought it was adorable that he thought that I had time to read the book, but I did try and carried it around in my backpack for months.

What I did get to was that self-reported grades have a huge impact on student achievement and so I set about trying to implement some kind of goal based reflection/portfolio/tracking system.  I wanted to have students submit samples, so we could see growth over the course of the semester and on which they would reflect and grade themselves and I could get an idea of where they were.

What I did:

I decided to use Google Sheets and Google Classroom because I thought it would be easy to track and while I know there are many sites out there for portfolios I did not want one. more. login or platform.

I created a Google Sheet called Weekly Reflection and shared it in Google Classroom as the only assignment with the “Weekly Reflection” topic label.  Students could find it easily in the Stream by clicking on that. Obviously from the title, I had planned that students would do this at the end of each week, but I quickly realized that once a week was too frequent to show any growth, so it ended up being every 2-3 lessons.  In the spreadsheet the students chose either Recap or Writing (I told them what they were doing) and then they evaluated themselves based on the rubric on sheet 2.  Lastly, they set a goal and made an action step and turned the sheet in through Google Classroom.  They did this several times during the semester.

Here’s a short video that shows how it works.Weekly reflection

Once they had turned it in I went and read or listened and then evaluated them based on the rubric as well.  Sometimes these were way off.  The very first time I had several students that gave themselves a 7 or 8 and they were writing “je suis mange.”  I don’t know if they didn’t read the rubric or if they felt like they “had” to evaluate themselves high.  Either way, after the first time their evaluations were closer.

The Google Sheet also has tabs for the language goals to see where they are and what they might do to advance.  Someone shared this somewhere and I don’t know who it was, so if it was you, thank you!

Some things I did:

I gave them these assignments with only 10-15 minutes left in class because I wanted to see what they could actually do and not what they could look up or plan.  It was pure sneakiness on my part.

Students had a paper rubric to refer to so they didn’t have to go back and forth between tabs because that gets annoying.

In the column labeled “notes” at the end of the sheet and I responded to their goal setting and writing or listening sample.

This was not given a grade.  It was purely for reflection purposes.  If students didn’t do it, nothing happened except for they didn’t get the benefit of my feedback and comments.

Goal setting language was not part of the Student Learning Outcomes I was given to use, so I had them do the reflection and goal setting in English.

What went well:

Using conditional formatting to color code the numbers was brilliant because their progression was represented visually with color.

Students asked me questions about their writing.

Students wrote some great goals and ones that I would never have guessed for them.  They saw weaknesses where I didn’t.

What didn’t go well:

Sometimes students only wrote 2-3 sentences and it was difficult for me to evaluate.  In these cases I wrote that they didn’t write enough for me to evaluate.  That didn’t happen when I gave a Recap to do.

Students didn’t always write an action to do to achieve their goal.  This is my fault because I didn’t give examples and non-examples.  Easily fixed next semester.

I didn’t have a system for them to reflect on their previous goal setting.  #nexttime

I didn’t give enough time.  Honestly, I wish I could have them do this at home, but I was too afraid that the Translators and the Internet would cause too much interference and not give me a true sample.

A note on the rubric:

I used the rubric our district is using from our trainings on performance based assessments with Kara and Megan from Creative Language Class. Why I didn’t have students evaluate themselves as NL, NM, etc. instead of numbers?  I can’t really say.  I’m sure at the time I did it, it made complete sense.  I’m going to leave it.

The semester isn’t quite over yet, so I will ask students their thoughts about the efficacy of the rubric/reflection in their end of the semester survey.

Click here to see the Weekly Reflection Google Sheets.   You’ll have to make a copy in order to see the fancy down arrows that will color code once you choose a number.  Note: Number 1 has no color.



#edublogsclub – Tell a story

This is a story about my job that isn’t technology or language.  This is a story about about the opposite of global.  This is a story about my job as the coordinator of our school’s 21st Century Community Learning Center after school program.

You’ve probably never heard of 21st CCLC.  It’s a federal grant program that provides funds to run after school programs across the nation.  In my county (San Bernardino), we are the only high school that currently has a 21st CCLC.  We run a program from 2:00-5:00pm everyday (12:30-3:30 on Wednesdays) and we serve over 1600 students a year.  In the first year of our grant we saw a school wide drop in Ds and Fs that was astounding.  There are students in our program on Fridays at 5:00pm on the day before vacation because they don’t want to go home.  As part of our program we have tutoring, enrichment and sports- including an official CrossFit affiliate gym.  On any day there are between 5 and 12 activities for students to choose.  For seven years I have helped develop programs and activities that have made a profound difference in students’ lives in my town.  For seven years we have done some amazing things for kids.

If you’ve heard of 21st CCLC, it’s probably because in March President Trump released his budget proposal and 21CCLC funding is “zeroed-out,” or in other words completely eliminated.  Mick Mulvaney said this is because there is no evidence that after school programs work.  His statements regarding after school programs showed a complete lack of understanding of what we do.

The week after the proposal came out, the California Department of Education Expanded Learning Division came to our school to film our program to use in its new training videos about the California After School Quality Standards.  It was heartbreaking to watch students talk about what the program means to them and the impact it has had on their lives.  Their experiences are typical of all of the students who have gone through our program over the years.  I have never cried talking about my students or my work, but I did fight back tears watching them speak and had to leave the room as these three articulate young women shared how our after school program impacted their lives.

In April I spent three days at an after school conference where we talked about what can happen, what will happen and what we can do.  Barbara Boxer, our former state senator and writer of the original bill that funded 21st CCLC spoke.  Yesterday President Trump released a full budget proposal, but there were no changes for 21stCCLC funding or lack thereof.

We’re lucky in California because Arnold Schwarzenegger is a champion of after school and when he was governor he worked to pass Prop 49, the After School Education and Safety Act (ASES) that provides separate after school funding for elementary schools.  Most states have not had a champion like this.  If 21CCLC funding is cut, nearly 2 million students and parents could lose services that have a profound impact on our children.

This is a story about how I unintentionally ended up becoming an after school provider and how I unequivocally believe in its significance and role in American education.

If you would like more information about after school programs and how they benefit our children, please visit