Today’s schools must see the value in implementing 21st century curriculum as well as extra-curricular programming. Schools have to offer more than just the R’s to stay competitive and relevant in the community. In order to create new and innovative programs that will retain students and demonstrate longevity, a school leader must create an action plan using these guiding questions:

  1. What does the school community show interest or achievement in? Do your students like acting? Are there students that want to serve in their community? Does your school show above-average data in science? Go with the specific needs.
  2. What is the implementation budget, and how will I spend my budget on these programs? To initiate programs, what teachers, curriculum, supplies, etc. are needed?
  3. Who can help implement these programs and see them through with proper planning, time management, marketing, and overall success? Will this be an administrative initiative, or will it come from teachers, students, parents, the community?)
  4. How can I utilize research and/or data to create longevity and buy-in for these programs? Surveys, research, assessments, etc. can make sure programs are operating smoothly and will be available at the school in the future. 
  5. How will the school offer professional development/workshops/training to the involved staff? Is there money in the budget to send teachers to trainings, or to bring workshops and trainings to the school? If not, what resources are available (videos, maps, plans, books) to help get the programs off the ground?

Here are some key factors to consider in your school-wide implementation process:

  • Your Special Areas/Fine Arts Team

These individuals can be big resources. If there is a strong and supportive special areas team, you can work with them to share and implement new programs at the school while planning larger productions/performances. They can also provide great connections to the students and bring in community support.  

  • Community and Parental Support

Sharing these exciting plans for the school can bring in donations, volunteers, and positive word-of-mouth. 

  • Expert Teachers in Needed Areas

Another plethora of resources. Specialized teachers with a passion in the needed field can work from experience to create successful school programs. 

  • Knowledge of Students and Staff

Building positive relationships in school can help meet students’ academic and social-emotional needs. By having a pulse on these areas and the student body, leaders can focus on trending, relative programs and program goals. 

  • Feedback

Knowing what is working and what needs revision is essential to successful program implementation. Leaders should always be “listening and learning”, thus finding ways to make programs more effective and impactful.

  • Social Media and Publishing

Sharing pictures, posts, and highlights about the programs shows pride and allows stakeholders to be aware of program development. 

  • Scheduling

Should the program be offered before school, after school, or during school? How long does the program need to be? How many students can be in the program, and is there a requirement to participate?

The following is a list of extra-curricular programming that can increase enrichment opportunities at a school:

• S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. – Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math. Areas of program implementation can include robotics (research First Lego League or Vex Robotics), underwater robotics (research SeaPerch), or design engineering curriculum like Engineering is Elementary or Project Lead the Way.

• Student Leadership- Anti-bullying, news team/morning announcements, community service, student ambassadors, student government, academic competitions, school improvement, and leadership preparation

• Global/Cultural Awareness- Can be based on cultural awareness, learning a language, geography, international student programs, travel clubs, etc.

• The Arts- Does your school have both visual and performing arts programs? Does your school offer introductory music classes as well as advanced instrumental and choral offerings? Are there opportunities to present the arts through showcases, portfolios, etc.?

• Athletics-Is your school open to unique sports offerings such as dance, yoga, lacrosse, archery, swimming, horseback riding or gymnastics?

         Extra-curricular programming helps with social skills, coping skills, cognitive skills, academic achievement, and motivation. This is also a chance for schools to think outside the box, engage in creative planning, and find educational leaders from within. Allow all staff to share ideas and participate in activities they find exciting and motivating; it’s a win-win for building up others and meeting the needs of a community. 

Brianne Hudak, Educational Consultant