The Fishing School

The Fishing School

Staff Training

Our staff training is based on best practice for OST programs including safety, sound program delivery, parent and community engagement, and supporting a positive social/emotional climate for children. We also provide training on the use of technology-based tools to enhance academic interventions. Among these are our online tutorial software, i-Ready; the use of Smart Boards; and NetSupport, software that allows instructors to monitor the progress of i-Ready lessons from a central computer. Staff and instructors also learn classroom management techniques, based on the evidence-based intervention, Positive Behavior Supports. Once hired, full-time staff participate in a week-long intensive training and continue their professional development by attending at least three national-level conferences, webinars, and/or local workshops each year.

All staff create personal development goals and are offered time to participate in additional training to support those goals. Based on these goals, we offer staff opportunities to attend additional professional development workshops or bring experts into our organization.

During the school year,  program staff  meet weekly to discuss issues at site and receive additional professional development on topics such as  supporting youth academic skills, classroom management, and personal professional growth. All  instructors undergo annual evaluations based on the nationally recognized Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) tool and receive periodic written and public recognition for good work. Full time staff are evaluated using our standard evaluation tool annually. Merit increases are attached to these evaluations. In addition, full time staff is involved in the planning and delivery of additional training, based on program need and feedback from trainees, solicited at the end of training sessions.

Training sessions are delivered by our program and executive staff with the assistance of outside experts. For example, training on Advancing Youth Development (AYD) has been conducted by Thandor Miller, a Youth Development Specialist and Master Facilitator of Youth Work Practice. He pushes in to our annual instructor training at the start of the school year facilitating workshops on AYD. Through his work, our instructors are equipped with the best practices in engaging and supporting students. Similarly, DC Action for Youth, presents workshops regarding the student and family populations we serve. Their session informs instructors on the social and economic barriers many of our students and families face. We further analyze the impact of training on contracted instructor and Site Managers’ practice through periodic oversight using standardized tools. At least monthly, our Director of Programs visits each program site to administer a tool based on the YPQA tool, developed by our external evaluator from Stillmeadow Benchmark Associates. This adapted tool helps provide objective feedback about the use of AYD principles and whether the site itself is adhering to out-of-school time best practices. Once the tool has been implemented, the Director of Programs meets with the entire site team to discuss her findings. Based on the findings, the site staff and contracted instructors make adjustments to their practice and the findings are used to inform additional training sessions. The YPQA tool is also used to evaluate the effectiveness of individual staff and contracted instructors. We base our rehiring decisions on the results of the YPQA tool. Every February, Site Managers, the Director of Programs and our external evaluator conduct observations using the YPQA tool and then compare results. The results are used to fine tune program delivery and inform additional training in late spring and the following fall.

For more information about The Fishing School and to get involved, please visit, or call (202) 399-3618.

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