Future Ready with the Library: Bringing Social Emotional Learning to Teens, Families, & Community

This post was written by YALSA Future Ready with the Library Cohort 2 member Vicki Bartz, County Librarian, Ortonville and Graceville (MN) Public Library.

SEL wheel created by CASEL - https://casel.org/what-is-sel/For the Ortonville and Graceville (MN) Library’s Future Ready with the Library project I am working with a committee of family and community members to develop our college career readiness services for middle school youth and their families. The planning process has been interesting as we learn how best to connect with the schools and other community members to develop a successful service. We want to focus on middle school social emotional learning as a step towards college career success. However, while some of those we are working with see great value in helping middle school teens gain social emotional skills in order to prepare for life success, others have not been so certain that this focus is important to this work.

After working with our planning committee we decided to host a meeting of parents and teens with a focus on social emotional learning. At the meeting we talked with parents about the five skills teens need in order to be successful in life. As we had this discussion with parents, the middle schoolers worked on the 5 Love Languages Mystery Game. This game gives young people the chance to think about what they most would like to recieve from a caring adult – a hug, having someone else clean their room, getting a surprise, and so on. From this teens gain an understanding of the types of support they would like to receive from adults.

While the teens worked on the Mystery Game, the adults ranked the 5 love languages in the order they thought their child would rank them. Upon completion parents and teens compared their responses. This led to lots of great discussion. Parents asked their children, “Why did you choose that answer over this one?” One teen said to their parent, “Mom, do you listen to me?”

Participants were given homework to complete before our next session this month. We asked adults and teens to write an autobiography that describes themselves (physical, personality, what others say about you); background info (hobbies, accomplishments, interests, talents); important people in their life; one or two significant events in their life; and a major problem in their life and how it was resolved.
At our meeting participants will pair up with one person acting as the publisher and the other the author. The publisher will interview the author before making a decision on whether or not to publish the autobiography. Everyone will have the chance to take on each role so to experience both sides of the process.

Members of our planning committee that were not sure about the social emotional aspect of the work we are doing attended the July session with parents and teens. I’m happy to report that they now better understand why social emotional learning is such an important part of college career readiness.
We are just getting started with these activities and I’m glad that our first event went well. I’m hoping to build participation, engagement, and interest over the next several months

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