Strike a balance between hiring staff with STEM backgrounds and staff with youth development backgrounds
- Often, potential staff members with STEM backgrounds lack experience working with youth, while potential staff members with youth development experience may lack experience in STEM. Strive to hire staff members from each of these backgrounds and be intentional about how you pair them to work with students. Teams of educators with different skills can also model effective teamwork to students.
Consider gender and the racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds of your students during the hiring process
- By ensuring members of your staff reflect the races, cultures, and genders of your students, you offer students relatable STEM role models that can help girls and students of color combat negative stereotypes and feel more comfortable incorporating STEM into their identities.
Target para-professionals working in partner schools for recruitment
- Para-professionals working in partner schools will have experience working with the youth you serve and may have schedules that can accommodate after school and summer program schedules. Para-professional teachers may also value the opportunity to build facilitation skills, especially as hands-on STEM activities that stress STEM practices are being emphasized more and more in STEM classrooms. Para-professionals may also be able to help you better align your program with school priorities.
Incentivize long-term commitment
- To stem the high turnover rate among frontline staff in after school and summer programs, offer incentives like professional development opportunities to staff willing to commit to more than one season or year of work. Consider creating a “career ladder” for qualified frontline staff to eventually move into full-time or administrative roles.
Stress STEM practices in staff training
- The after school and summer space provides students with opportunities to engage authentically in the same practices that scientists and STEM professionals use every day. While frontline staff members do not necessarily need to be content experts, they should be fluent in STEM practices like planning and carrying out investigations and engaging in argument from evidence. Check out the BPS Science Practices PD Modules
Offer opportunities for staff to observe more experienced educators
- In-school educators and returning staff members can be valuable training resources for new hires. If in person observations are not an option, consider having new hires watch videos of effective STEM educators. New hires can also benefit from modeling lessons led by experienced educators from the point of view of students.
Establish clear expectations for staff and provide feedback throughout the year
- Provide staff with a rubric that frames expectations for their lessons and teaching. Observe staff frequently and offer feedback based on this rubric. For program managers or directors trained to use the Dimensions of Success, this tool can be used to frame feedback for new staff members.
This brief presents findings from a study of the role of frontline staff in the effective implementation of out-of-school time programs and links these findings to effective strategies for recruiting and selecting frontline staff.
This article from After School Matters details findings from a long-term action research project carried out by a program site manager to address difficulties in hiring frontline staff. The article covers trends in the field and offers thoughts on staffing practices in out-of-school time programs.