When the decision is made to implement a social emotional learning program, perhaps one of the most critical aspects of its success is how the program is initially implemented and managed to ensure that all stakeholders are on board and participating fully to maximize the chances for the program to succeed. Although teachers, administrators and other key players may have the desire and willingness to devote themselves fully to the program’s implementation and management, they simply may not have the time. In this very common situation, the program suffers and can ultimately fail.
Have you ever built a fire? If you have, you know it’s a delicate balance that requires considerable skill and patience for the fire to initially ignite and then expand until its roaring and can sustain itself with only minimal or no assistance from you. First, you must have all the necessary materials: matches, dry paper to crunch up, very light, dry kindling, various sizes of dry logs and the skill to place everything in such a way that allows maximum air circulation while at the same time adequate points of contact ensuring the fire will spread from kindling to timber. Then after you strike the match to light the paper, twigs, and fragile kindling, you must fan the flame to ensure adequate air flow to keep the flame alive. If you fan too forcefully, you risk blowing out the fire entirely; if you fan too gently, you risk the flame dying out for lack of oxygen and then you have to start all over. It’s the precise positioning of the right kindling and logs along with a meticulousness in fanning the flame with the exact force and timing that allows the fire to ultimately catch on and begin to roar. It’s at that point, that you can step back, admire your work, and watch the roaring fire independently sustain itself.
Program management works in much the same way! With the same skill and sensitivity of the fire builder, Tedi Ware takes on the responsibility of ensuring that the SEL program is rigorously nurtured and fully supported until it’s performing optimally and all the pieces are in place for it to sustain itself without the need of a full time, onsite, program coordinator.
Keeping in line with Empathy Warriors’s mission of empowerment, the heart of Tedi’s program management is her belief that evidence of the program’s ongoing success is when the school or organization ultimately takes complete ownership of it at every level including students, staff, parents, and administration to keep it running smoothly, efficiently and sustainably.