EZ on the Road: My Time at the 2016 Boost Conference
While Palm Springs is known for its epic star-studded music festivals, this past weekend buzzed with the arrival of a whole new kind of rockstar. The Boost Conference is an annual meetup of educators, administrators, directors, and more from before-and-after school programs across the country and beyond.
The Boost Conference exceeded my expectations not just in the quality of the sessions and workshops, but also in the delightful demeanor and unparalleled character of every speaker and attendee. Make no mistake, everyone at Boost was there on business. But there was no stuffy suiting or awkward silence. Getting to sessions early was a treat because I had the pleasure of meeting the individuals who make up the community that EZCare serves. Here’s some of what I learned:
In education, titles aren’t as straightforward as they may seem. Whether someone’s called a program director, childcare worker, or teacher, it’s likely their job description requires a superhuman shapeshifter.
The multifaceted nature of these positions can be dizzying, yet no one seemed flustered. I sat in a room of great collaborators who were looking for a way to enhance and expand upon what they’ve got and to explore what they might be missing. Boost is a wonderful conference to help before-and-after school care professionals succeed in all of these pursuits.
In “Short-Staffed!”, a session discussing the challenges caused by high turnover and how administrators can maintain program quality in spite of it, attendees shared many concerns, yet each person seemed to speak of the same storyline. Turnover is high, making training seem almost silly, but training is crucial to the success of both employees, fellow staff, and students. I was happy to hear that programs turned to software like EZ-CARE2 to track childcare staff development and scheduling.
With the raise of minimum wage in California and other states and no contract increases, programs are struggling to compete with other companies who are hiring millennials at the same rate, but requiring less work. While this session couldn’t solve the financial strain of these issues, attendees took notes on the creative spin they could put on their program setup to increase employee happiness and keep students enthusiastic about their offerings – even when manpower is thin.
Communication was also a hot topic at Boost. Many attendees flocked to a communication workshop to learn creative ways to build, nurture, and maintain relationships with their children, parents, and staff alike in the hope that improving these important relationships will translate into thriving centers and programs and stellar recommendations. (Editor’s Note: Check out EZ-Care’s childcare marketing tools and integrations to help overcome communications challenges.)
Boost’s Film Festival notably featured a raw and revealing documentary that drove home the ever-growing need for program staff to address the presence of cyberbullying in schools that can lead to students’ social isolation, dropping grades, and in some cases, even death. The imminent need for a counseling aspect to be adapted into programs is becoming more urgent by the day. But implementing services like this in addition to staffing, program development, parent relations, is no small task.
Boost’s “Aha! moment” keynote delivered by the founder and CEO of Every Monday Matters perfectly defined the work of every attendee in the room, no matter what their role. This former Hollywood music exec-turned-activist changed his life when he stopped working to serve himself and instead, at the advice of his therapist, started serving others. Through serving others he found his purpose.
It was this keynote speech that tied everything together so perfectly. Looking around the packed convention center, that sense of purpose glowed in the eyes of every person strolling the halls, participating in the sessions, and greeting fellow attendees.
The women and men who make up the community that educates, encourages, and cares for our youth are modern-day super heroes. And while they don’t appear to be aware of their super-hero status, they shine with the light of people who should know.
My experience at the Boost Conference brought so much meaning to my role at EZCare. While I’m merely a small background player in all of this, I’m honored to help the before-and-after school community save time and money with EZCare, so they can be as super as they are with less effort. EZCare might not be able to solve every problem, but I’m sure that we can equip, empower, and inspire directors, administrators, and educators with simple solutions that can help ease their workload and increase revenue.
In addition to my role at EZCare, I can also support this phenomenal community by voting in a way that makes education matter, giving to educational nonprofits, and encouraging my friends and family members who work in education.
I don’t have children and I can’t really say that I plan to, but the state of our educational offerings in this country still affects me. I have a teacher to thank for the incredible skills of my superstar colleagues, for my nerdy love affair with grammar, and for a number of my favorite musicians who make up the ever-evolving soundtrack of my life. In the future, I’ll have even more teachers and caregivers to thank. I’ll thank them for the child who grows up to find the cure for cancer, the child who leads the charge for social change.
I’ll start these efforts by addressing the entire EZCare Client Community. Thank you for the dedication, service, and joy you bring to the children, to our future, every day. It’s such a blessing to them, and in many ways, an even bigger blessing to our society as a whole.
To learn more about the Boost Conference, visit boostconference.org.