The National AfterSchool Association is the leading voice of the afterschool profession dedicated to development, education, and care of children and youth during their out of school hours.

Friday, March 25, 2011

2011 NAA Convention Invitiation

NAA would like to personally invite you to the 2011 NAA Convention.
April 16-18 in Orlando, FL at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center.

To view your invitation, click here!

We hope to see you there!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Give Your Best Performance At Work

Dr. Paul G. Young
President and CEO
If you gave ever played a musical instrument in a recital, you know how unnerving the thought of having others' attention focused on you can be. For some, that added pressure leads to lost composure and poise, missed articulations, and the playing of wrong notes. For a few, the added pressure causes a complete breakdown. They come to fear any kind of public performance. Some never recover their confidence.  Yet over time for others, performing in public becomes routine - and they thrive under the limelight. 

What are some of the skill sets that musicians, athletes, or other performers possess that enable them to confidently perform in the public eye?

First, they are well trained and coached. They have engaged in hours of deliberate practice and have gained mastery of the challenges that cause others to make mistakes. Their determination to work hard, commit, and learn from their mistakes builds confidence.

Second, they have learned how to accept coaching. They thrive on feedback, both positive and negative. They've toughened under the intense scrutiny of their coaches, teachers, and mentors, adapted and learned to meet high expectations. They've learned that it is important not to disappoint others. Yet, they work hardest to continuously improve and to avoid disappointing themselves.

Most importantly, they've acquired the polish of a top performer. They walk onto the stage or playing field with confidence, adhere to the highest standards of grooming and attire, and think positively while staying focused on the task at hand. If they do make mistakes, they've learned to shake them off, recover, and move on. Most observers hardly notice the errors because of the performer's superb control of their nonverbal behaviors.

All kids, not just those who aspire to become athletes or musicians, need opportunities to learn these performance skills. They influence self-esteem and the essential leadership traits. With practice in proper settings, we can teach all kids to learn from their mistakes, practice in deliberate and meaningful ways, speak effectively in public, express themselves with proper grammar, and carry themselves with confidence. These skills are essential for success in job interviews, perhaps even more important than specific, job-related knowledge.

But in order to teach those behaviors and skills effectively, we must model them. Afterschool professionals must willingly and enthusiastically speak in public settings and accept responsibility for leading young people. We must lead our profession. We must step up and become comfortable in the limelight. Positioning ourselves to perform more visibly and in a positive manner will lead to powerful outcomes!

We have great opportunities planned during the NAA National Convention for you to engage in those learning activities. Join us in Orlando, Florida, April 16-18, 2011, to enhance your performance skills.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tough Decisions

Paul G. Young
President & CEO
Most of us are following the tough decisions being made by legislators in state houses and Capitol Hill in response to our nation’s fiscal crisis.  No doubt these are tough times.  They require that tough decisions be made. We are preparing for the fallout that is certain to come.  Spending will be curbed, like it or not, and many of us will feel the effects in our afterschool programs and association budgets. But we've ridden through these lean budget cycles before and likely will do so again. Now, more than ever, it is important to stay connected, share ideas, think creatively, learn, and support each other. Thank you for your continued membership with NAA and our affiliate organizations.

Despite the fiscal crises in most of our states, our work must go on. We have children to encourage, inspire, teach,  and care for.  We will all creatively figure out ways to fulfill our purpose and do more with less. Our kids need us, and they need to see examples of adult competence, creativity, collaboration, and collective confidence with resolve to persevere through the tough times.

NAA is feeling the pinch. Yet, thanks to your membership dollars and support of our national convention, we continue to ride the turbulent waves and move forward. We operate from an optimistic entrepreneurial awareness that oppressive times lead to shifts in power, new alliances, yet present the promise of something better. The strength of our profession has grown over the past decade due in large part to the support and services provided by our affiliate organizations. With increased commitment to professionalize, we continue to attract attention of practitioners, parents, and activists and grow. We need each other more than ever. We must keep learning, growing, and connecting to come out of these tough times prepared to do business and serve our members in better ways.

We will all make tough decisions in the coming months. Some things will change. Some will not.  Through it all, we must lead. Kids and their families still need us. We need them. We need each other. Together, we will find creative ways to persevere. Creating is all about problem solving.

I've always encouraged my staffs to bring solutions to the problems they identify. I never appreciated working with whiners. When given the chance to be heard, I've learned that those closest to the problem often had the best solutions. I want to associate with and listen to winners rather than whiners. So, if we put our heads together, suck it up for the further belt tightening that is sure to come, and adapt and readjust for the future, we will emerge this period of fiscal crisis with the ability to do business even better. Afterschool will be better.

Don't let the tough times and the tough decisions you have to make get you down. We will support each other, create, and share ideas in Orlando. And, we will feel better afterwards!

And hopefully, someone will say or do something during your interactions and conversations that will spark your creativity in ways you had never dreamed and help you (and all of us as connected professionals) become the winners we all want to be.

See you in Orlando where we will continue this important discussion.