I once worked at a youth development after-school and summer program for middle and high school students in an underserved neighborhood. At the beginning of each semester, we spent a lot of time asking the students what activities they wanted us to offer them.
Did they want to go to the museum or the zoo? Did they want to go-karting or swimming? Did they want to go to the botanical gardens or the beach? Did they want to go bowling or to the movies?
Every year, we were met with shrugs when we asked the students what they wanted. At the beginning of the term, they were happy with our choices. But according to their END of term evaluations, they hated all our “boring” activities.
I would review those evaluations and interview students, asking them how could we make the program better and more fun for them. And every year, I was met with shrugs.
It didn’t add up. In a last-ditch effort, I started adding new random activities to the calendar, and my evaluations improved.
I started to understand what was happening. The students knew they wanted something new and different, but they had no idea what was possible or available. They only knew what they had experienced before.
They didn’t know what they didn’t know.
My students aren’t an anomaly. We all do this.
What activities and tasks are you doing simply because “we’ve always done it this way?”
What program is running like clockwork, but isn’t hitting the way it used to? When was the last time you considered what else might be possible in your program or for your community?
Our SPIRE assessment helps program leaders, like you, identify how your program / mission / service could serve your community in a better, more healthy way, with greater impact.
Because sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.