Problems in Building Program Bridges

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The below question was received on the former website The following are the responses that were received. I hope one of the comments will help you if you are having similar problems.

My staff and I provide a wonderful program for the children; they are happy and active– families are pleased! Activities are varied with multiple daily choices. The children are safe.
We are neat, organized, plan, listen, care, set up expectations, are consistent,
and most of all- We are friendly, courteous, and respectful to all!
We’ve read the  article about Building Bridges and are attempting to “shout from the rooftops” all the wonderful things  we are doing. We’ve also covered most of the other points that are suggested.
Our problem-we aren’t accepted by the building. Some teachers respect us but in many ways are not treated with respect. We feel we are not welcome as part of the School Team.

We are usually questioned about supplies and about what we are doing in the work room area. (We provide our own supplies but need to use copy machine.) We are not given wall space to post all we are and do. If we put something up-it is taken down. (We have been given a cabinet for games, etc. and part of a small storage area) We are housed in the auditorium area.
If there is a question-the office will go to our supervisor instead of coming to us. if a teacher has a question, the teacher will go to the main office instead of coming to us–and then to our supervisor. There are many incidents but little time and space to accurately describe all.
I am very experienced (20 plus years) and my staff is dynamic but they are becoming extremely uncomfortable in relation to much of the daily interaction with school/office personnel. We’d like to make this more comfortable on our own and not involve our supervisors. All suggestions welcome.Thank you in advance!

Puzzled in Illinois and feeling helpless.

Posted: 10/3/2007
I can appreciate what it is like for you. Programs are run differently where I am now, but when I lived in the East–it was similar to what yours sounds like. We had new administration and it took more then a few months of getting them to acknowledge us as professionals.
The tip article on shared space of this site is good. read it again and make sure you have all the points covered.
See if you can get into the minds of the teachers and office that aren’t as accepting–what is it that they “see or don’t see” ?—and then take it from there.
Make sure they are really getting to know all about your program and all you do. When the kids are happy and so are the parents—it WILL get around the school. Hang in there and keep being pleasant and respectful of all.
If your staff is feeling down–instruct them to walk with their heads up high and smile and look proud to be part of the program they are working in. They have to believe in themselves and know they are doing a good job! Let us know how it goes. Hope it helps.
Sarah in Oakbrook

Posted: 10/3/2007
I agree with everything above. Also as mentioned, cover all the points in the Building Bridges paper.
Be confident- walk tall-smile- and know how good you are. Believe in yourself until others do! (fake it till you make it!)
Good advise on getting into the other’s heads–what is that they want that your program is NOT doing or providing. Maybe they just don’t get what SAC is and isn’t?
Has your supervisor ever met with the principal and discussed the program, training, experience, licensing requirements, etc.?
As far as getting space to hang things–somehow get whoever decides those things– to understand that your program needs space to personalize and display all the kids are doing. It’s important for the children to have ownership in their program.
Also, Are you close to any parents that can talk you up? Any teachers that are really your supporters?
Mary/New Mexico

Posted: 10/5/2007
Some Teachers feel this way too!
I’ve been reading the August 2007 issue of Scholastic Instructor and I quote:
“The school in which I worked for the last two years was such a dysfunctional place to be that it often left me exhausted and depressed. The administrators distrusted and blamed teachers. And, to be honest, we felt the same about them.” Hmmmm…some teachers have problems too!
Some more advice: Be open. Your co-workers will be the ones you vent frustrations, celebrate victories, and seek support. Become part of the school community, not just a person in the classroom. (In our case—the SAC room)
So follow all the above advice from others and become part of the school community by continuing to extend yourselves. Share all you do in you program with the rest of the community in every way you can.

Posted: 10/11/2007 1:59:53 PM
From Puzzled: So far its been going better. I believe we are making progress with the Principal slowly but surely!!!! She has agreed to give up some space by the cafeteria so we can post information for the SAC parents. That to us, is a big step!  Thank you all so much for your wonderful advice. We will be posting our future progress. THANK YOU!!!

Posted: 10/15/2007 5:13:29 PM
I’m a teacher and read a link to this site on yahoo as an activity resource. Reading the forum—I’d like to apologize for my teacher and administrator colleagues for treating school age staff as baby-sitters. In all honesty, I work in a school-that is guilty of this. I’ll certainly be more attentive-on my part. Teacher, Grade 4/Michigan

Posted: 10/17/2007 1:47:57 PM

Thank you Teacher Grade 4********
Some other tips…Introduce your staff to key people. When making something in your clubs and classes, make extra and put them in the teachers lounge. Have the kids make Thank you cards for teachers.  Ask teachers to attend pancake breakfast, or play a game with a child.
When giving behavior notices inform the teacher. If she is having a problem with the child this will help her at Teachers’ conference. Some parents think the teachers are the problem. This is backup and they appreciate it. BUT make sure you can talk to the teacher. Mrs. Z. Rochester

I come to this site often–but today will remain “name with-held”.
I was talking to someone; she told me how her program and staff lack respect FROM the school she works in. The office just about ignores the program if they can. They are treated as a nuisance.
She could have written the first post that started this thread. She DOES have a REALLY nice and active program–
All the above advice is good-but one thing hasn’t been mentioned. This applies to the person I know. It’s something that could be taken care of so easily!
She doesn’t “come across” as a professional.
This person is disheveled and leaves an unprofessional impression. She is extremely greasy and messy looking. She doesn’t groom herself–She has stringy hair, and often (usually) wears clothes that are wrinkled and STAINED…they don’t fit her frame that is about 100 pounds overweight. I’m not saying that her lack of acceptance is because she is overweight; I know many caregivers who are overweight and VERY ACCEPTED by their program community.
They dress neatly and with taste. I also have many friends that are very overweight-but yet are very attractive with dress and self care.
This individual also LACKS professional style in COMMUNICATION. I think her GRAMMER – combined with the way she looks–leaves a poor impression. Her staff is all young–and appear to be teenagers. THEY also don’t dress the part of professional child-care workers. NOR do they communicate as such. Yes–we can wear jeans —but dress with taste and pride.
In this case, I believe if this person neatened up and “received some training in communicating with parents and key personnel”—things would turn around for her. I believe that JUST ONE OR THE OTHER could cause the problem. You can be neat but not communicate well–or communicate well but be unkempt. Either could do it.
So if you find yourself in a position where respect is not being delivered-and you KNOW that you have a great program–honestly look to the way you communicate. Also look to your staff and the way they come across (if they are the problem-do some training.) Ask yourself if you APPEAR and TALK as an educated individual?
I apologize in advance if I sound insensitive–but this is a consideration.
I think it’s something that needs to be put out to think about. Name Withheld

Posted: 1/3/2008 3:50:45 PM
I just read your post and I think I know what the problem is.
From what I can gather, you are shouting from the rooftops about what you do, but are you shouting from the rooftops your purpose?
You have to make the school staff know exactly why you are there. One thing I did is at the beginning of every quarter I sent out a survey to each teacher to tell me about their classroom routine and homework policy and a note describing that our goal is to support their classroom and their job. That changed everything! I also took some time to volunteer to come into classes to help with reading, etc. I really integrated my program into the school, not vice versa.
As for the copying, etc. When are you doing this? I find that if you are using the room during peak times (lunch time and after school) you will get those looks, etc.
I’m going to stop for now, if you have any more questions or need more help, just let me know and I’ll shoot it out there. Tasha in California

Posted: 1/6/2008 2:28:40 PM
Hi Tasha
I’m so glad that you wrote–it’s great advice for anyone –especially with 21st Century/ASES programs. I’m addressing three individual points here -so bare with me.
I don’t know much about 21st Century SAC.
When you wrote “…I sent out a survey to each teacher to tell me about their classroom routine and homework policy and a note describing that our goal is to support their classroom and their job...” I learned a little about the 21st Century philosophy.
Puzzled initially wrote me a note that her program-as those around here- are primarily “play based”. All the learning that comes with clubs, classes, music, dance, art, games, science, outdoors, gym, etc. is the focus of routine and schedule. It is not an extension of the school day.
Yes, there is always time for homework and it is encouraged. Also, site directors stay in touch with teachers; however, it is more in reference to behavioral issues than academic.
Also, Puzzled (and many in this area) go from a morning SAC program to a program with kindergarten children, who don’t have their kindergarten class till the afternoon. After THAT group goes to class, staff then has the morning group of K, until SAC again starts after school. There is then a different Lead caregiver in charge of the after school program. NOT ALL programs are like that but many are.
I thought how great it is that you took the time to go into the classrooms to work and help out! Yes and a WOW!!! That would really make a difference! Good, good advice!
Not always possible though with some working hours.
I believe what Puzzled is referring to when she says “Shout from the rooftops – see all we do” — is a short tip page I wrote.
There is a 2.5 hour training session I do that goes with that statement; it’s been taken out of context. You would think that common sense would tell one to keep the host building aware of all their activities and ways the children’s needs are being met but they always don’t.
The phrase is only a message to “remind” caregivers to build program awareness. That we are more than baby-sitters.
The points following that “roof top” statement are:

  • Raise awareness of your program; publicize it to build recognition and support.
  • Submit articles about events and accomplishments to your school newsletter.
  • In areas that are viewed by building staff— maintain updated information centers, bulletin boards, murals and activity posters.
  • Supply teachers, lounge area, and office with copies of newsletters.
  • Each day, use a white board /black board; write out the schedule and activities.
  • Have constructive conversations with key people with whom you are building trust.
  • Mend past misunderstandings.
  • Provide children with a variety of stimulating activities that address the mixed ages and their individual needs!

The children themselves are the greatest source of publicity in promoting good will between school-age care and the host site.

  • Happy and enthusiastic children, who anticipate attending SAC, Build a Strong Bridge!

AS IT EVOLVES, I think this thread is becoming interesting-and something from which we can learn.  Some of us are naive and believe that SAC is SAC.
It’s not–I’m learning that SAC is apples and oranges (except in caring about the children!)
The Play based, the 21st Century/ases and the Mentoring/Tutoring program philosophies are all a bit different in focus. Throw in funding and administrative source… and more differences. There just isn’t any one answer/size fits all… it’s what answer fits me best?
Is one better than another? Don’t think so. As long as we have caregivers/mentors that are meeting the needs of the kids…it’s all good…whether apples of oranges.
Thanks for getting me thinking Tasha! I needed a little apples and oranges enlightenment too! Barb
WOW! I had no idea the above was so long until I submitted it. Sorry…

I really had a problem last year with being “ACCEPTED” as part of the school!
I started a program in a school that never had one.
Sadly teachers and school administration expected us to keep kids safe and out of “their way”…and not much else.
I’ve been going through all the talk topics, activities, and hint posts for the last 2.5 hours!!! Just found you and so glad I did.
I’m going into this school year with a totally different attitude! Will implement everything that I’ve read here. Yes, this will be a great year! Will let you know how it goes. Thank you to those who have written here and on other pages! Thanks Barb.
Wish I could print my name/Mi

Posted: 9/14/2008 1:43:40 PM
I just updated this “Appreciation” post in the “Community Service category“… It also works in this thread. Doing something like the below with the children will go a long way in BUILDING BRIDGES! Barb 

One program had a service-learning club in an after-school program with grades K-2 and 3-5…One of the favorite ideas with the younger students was…
They talked about all the people who help keep the school “running.”
The students decided that they wanted to thank the custodians, because they saw that they had a “messy” job to clean up the lunchroom everyday, and they thought that was hard work.
They went to see them cleaning up after school; the students had fun looking at the floor polishing machines and the other “tools of the trade” up close, and talked about what they did everyday.
They took digital photographs of all the custodians, then made thank you posters that were put in the lunchroom and hallways. The students then decided to do the same for the secretary and office staff.
(First, make appointments with custodians — to learn about them and their jobs)
Adapted from:

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