Partnerships to Support Teens in Computing: Library Staff and School Counselors Can Team Up

This is a guest post by Jennifer Manning, AspireIT Partnerships Program Director and Marijke Visser, Senior Policy Advocate, ALA Washington Office

The National Center for Women and Information Technology AspireIt program and ALA’s Libraries Ready to Code are continuing their partnership to connect more young women and girls to computer science (CS) and technology- related opportunities. Library staff can and do play an important role in supporting youth as they explore career paths in and out of school. This month’s post spotlights a potential partner for library staff active in connecting youth interests to CS and tech, the school counselor.

CS educators across the nation are finding that collaborating with their school counselors yields positive results in directing youth to viable education and career opportunities. School counselors are key partners with community libraries as counselors regularly share out information to students about local opportunities, especially those at the library. Many families tap into the library as a hub of information, community-building, and more. Often, counselors are in the role of distributing information about community events on a school-wide level and also individually targeting students and families who would enjoy and benefit from the programs.

NCWIT Counselors for Computing (C4C) provides professional school counselors with information and resources they can use to support ALL students as they explore CS education and careers. Counselors are influencers and gatekeepers. They counsel and encourage students in their education and career aspirations, advise on course selections, and expose students to occupations through career fairs and internships. Working together, school counselors and library staff can provide the encouragement and exposure , young women are need to pursue computing in school ro as a career.

To help you build a partnership with this valuable resource, check out the webinar CS for All Teachers and C4C held discussing key strategies for creating a positive partnership with your counselors for CS advocacy.

For additional valuable NCWIT C4C resources (available to libraries for free), click here to view the collection and how to order. To find out more about the Libraries Ready to Code and AspireIT events and resources check out the 2019 Community Champion Learning Series calendar.

SAAM at the Library

CONTENT WARNING: This post addresses sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

In 2015, I began collaborating with my local sexual assault and domestic violence shelter to offer library programming centered around Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in April. SAAM was always the harder event to prepare for because the topic was one that many people feel uncomfortable discussing in public. While domestic violence is awful, it seemed that more people were willing to open up about their stories, whereas sexual assault is still something many don’t want to share. We had themes to guide us that were established by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center which really helped focus our project. In 2017, the theme was “Engaging New Voices” and the partners I worked with felt these new voices should be young people. We actually ended up using this theme for two years because in 2018 we continued to build the program and engaged teens.

The partnership between the library and the local sexual assault and domestic violence shelter was one that we built over several years. I did an outreach event in October 2014 which did not draw nearly as many people as I was hoping for. While at that event, I got to know the outreach team at the center and we decided to start collaborating on projects for April and the following October. From my standpoint, it was a good move because we were both going to promote the event and the advocates from the shelter would provide the voice of expertise. Our work together eventually grew into programming events for teens.

Programming events related to domestic violence and sexual assault for adults can be a challenge; for teens, it was scary territory. This was not something I had ever created a teen program for, but I knew it was something our regular teens would be interested in. I relied a lot on my partners from the shelter because they had done outreach to teens in local schools and actually had an action team of teens. Our discussions regarding SAAM began almost right after the previous SAAM event wrapped, with our first in person meeting occurring during the summer. At that meeting we would determine what we wanted to do. Would this be one big event? Are we doing multiple events? What target audience are we looking for? Part of the reason this process began so far in advance was because the space that the library used for programs could also be booked out by community groups as well as other internal departments that wanted to offer other programming. However, as a collaborative team, we also wanted to make sure we were all on the same page and were going over the hits and misses of the previous year.

When it was determined that we wanted to reach out to teens, I reflected back on what a program like that would look like in the library. After much conversation, the team decided to reach out to one of the local schools that assisted girls who were not thriving in a traditional school setting. In a nod to Project Clothesline, we opted to inform the young women at the school about the significance of Denim Day while we decorated jeans. All partners brought bubble paint and fabric markers to the school on a day in April. The shelter provided the jeans for decoration. Each partner claimed a specific time to be at the school and help lead the project in class. In all, I think every girl at the school was able to decorate a pair of jeans.

After the jeans were decorated, the school allowed us to leave them on their property for a few days. At that time, I picked them up and brought them to the library. The library’s main role was to facilitate an art show and provide girls the opportunity to be featured artists, stand by their jeans, and talk about the significance of the day to them. We had a few speakers that we arranged to come up and speak at the event. As a librarian, I welcomed everyone to the event and gave some general information about the library and why we partnered on this project. We then had speakers from the shelter and from our local NOW Chapter come up to speak about what is being done locally and at a national level. Finally, we gave a teacher from the school a chance to talk about the experience for the girls. Instead of the teacher speaking alone, the girls actually came up with her and explained what the event meant to them and what they learned.

From what SAAM programming was when we first began collaborating in 2015—to what it ended up being in 2018—was an interesting progression, especially as we worked our way into teen programming. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to do a teen event on sexual assault without those first two years, and I certainly don’t think I would have approached this topic without the partners I had. For additional resources, please visit the SAAM website. The event planning guide is a great resource for those who have never done an event like this before and want somewhere to start. In the guide, they mention a library book display. So, let’s just say you end up going with a book display. Consider reaching out to your local shelters to get feedback on your book display. Build that relationship and then work together on a project for next year.

Peer to Peer Learning and Libraries: A Recipe for Success

Peer to Peer Learning is shared knowledge learning that is not done by an instructor or another person of authority. It is all about people on the same level teaching each other what they know. 

Peer to Peer learning is not a new concept and can date back to Aristotle’s use of archons, student leaders and as an organized theory by Andrew Bell in 1795. It was later implemented into French and English schools in the late 19th century. Over the last 30 to 40 years, it has been increasingly popular in K-12 public schools. (Saga Briggs, (2013) How Peer Teaching Improves Student Learning and 10 Ways to Encourage It, opencolleges.edu) In Trends in Peer Learning, Keith J. Topping reviews the development of peer to peer learning from 1981-2006. He states that,

“types and definitions of peer learning are explored, together with questions of implementation integrity and consequent effectiveness and cost‐effectiveness. Benefits to helpers are now emphasized at least as much as benefits to those helped. In this previously under-theorized area, an integrated theoretical model of peer learning is now available. Peer learning has been extended in types and forms, in curriculum areas and in contexts of application beyond school. Engagement in helping now often encompasses all community members, including those with special needs. Social and emotional gains now attract as much interest as cognitive gains.” (Keith J. Topping (2005) Trends in Peer Learning, Educational Psychology, 25:6, 631-645, DOI: 10.1080/01443410500345172

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Future Ready with the Library: Career Awareness @ the Bank

This post is written by Allison Shimek, a member of the second cohort of the YALSA Future Ready with the Library project. Allison is the Director of the Fayette Public Library and Fayette Heritage Museum and Archives in La Grange, Texas Contents of this post were originally published on the Future Ready with the Library Community of Practice.

Yesterday was my first Career Cruising event for the Future Ready with the Library Project and I want to share my experience. This event was held at a local bank from 9:00 am – 3:00pm. We had 17 teens pre-registered and 12 showed up. There were seven males and five females ranging in age from 11-16. Everyone that showed up on time was entered to win a gift card and then we did a drawing and talked about why it was important to arrive on time. The entire morning was spent in small groups rotating through different areas of the bank. The teens worked the teller line and assisted the tellers help customers while learning how they count money, roll coins, and balance their registers. The second station was the loan department. Teens were given loan applications and got to decide what they would like take an imaginary loan out for and went through the process while learning about what a loan officer does. The next station was the bank’s boardroom where they learned about the Board of Directors and important decisions they are required to make. Lastly the teens went to the new accounts department where they learned what they needed to set up a bank account, how to write a check, and viewed safety deposit boxes

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Future Ready with the Library: Shake it Out

As a part of the YALSA and Association for Small and Rural Libraries (ARSL), Institute of Museum and Library Services funded Future Ready with the Library project, cohort members meet monthly to talk about working with middle schoolers and community in support of social emotional learning (SEL) leading to college and career awareness. In December, the third cohort of the project spoke with LaKesha Kimbrough, the Student Success Coordinator at Washington Middle School in Seattle. LaKesha spoke about SEL, how to help library staff work successfully with middle schoolers, and how to build partnerships that build opportunities for success for middle school students.

The 38 minute video below is a compilation of clips from LaKesha’s conversation with cohort members.

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The Dual Librarian: My Time As a School and Public Librarian

One of the best decisions I ever made in my life was becoming a librarian…twice. Once as a school librarian and again as a public library consultant. As an English teacher, I loved sharing great short stories and books with my students. It was one of the best parts of the profession. So when I heard about an alternative certification program to become a school librarian, I jumped at that chance. I realized quickly that I didn’t truly know all of the things school librarians were responsible for and all of the things they did. However, I learned very quickly. While I was working on becoming certified as a school librarian and earning my MLS, my journey began. I had no clue I would one day become…The Dual Librarian!

Being a School Librarian

I am so thankful that I had a support system through my alternative certification (AC) program when I became a school librarian. It was a lot of on-the-job training since during the AC program, you became a full-time school librarian as you learned and became certified. When I first start programming for my middle school students, it was difficult because none of them stayed after school – they were all bus riders. I had to get creative. I realized that our students had plenty of time in the morning after they ate breakfast and sat and socialized in the open “auditorium” area. So I began doing programs before school! During one Teen Read Week, I got the teachers involved and did competitions such as Are You Smarter than a Middle Schooler and Name That Tune. It was great! It gave our students something constructive to do and let students and teachers learn more about each other and see each other in different ways. It also helped them see the library as a fun place and more students started to be active in the library.

In high school where my students did stay after school, I started programming with only academics in mind. However, I quickly realized that I could program events that were not academic at all, like scary movie nights and game nights just to get students in the library. Other events were connected to academia like book trivia, book clubs, and the Straight Talk program which went over topics that students were interested in like college readiness and health. I learned I needed to do anything I could to connect to the culture of the school and do programs that my students really wanted. Right as I was beginning to get my in my groove and feel successful as a school librarian, an opportunity came up to shake up my world.

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Stories to Service at the Johnson City Public Library

The Johnson City Public Library (Johnson City, TN) began a new teen program called Stories to Service after receiving the YALSA Symposium Programming Challenge Award in 2018. Stories to Service is a teen volunteer program that combines literature with volunteerism through service projects and book clubs. The projects are both planned and implemented by teen volunteers between ages 12-18. Participants will gather to decide what service area they would like to focus on. Then the participants will read a book centered on their selected topic, discuss it together, and complete a project related to the book.

JCPL’s Teen Services Manager, Katelyn Wolfe, drew inspiration for this program from various discussions at the YALSA Symposium in November 2017, including presentations on teen volunteers and an author panel discussing Rudine Sims Bishop’s essay Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors. Her goal was to create a program that accommodated the large number of teens who needed volunteer hours but also gave them an opportunity to connect with their community in new ways. Upon returning to the library, Katelyn brought the idea to the Teen Advisory Board members, who were immediately on board and began brain-storming possible ideas.
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Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Making Connections to Award Winners

A close friendship between two librarians, a school librarian and a teen services librarian, led to the creation of the Jane Addams Book Club, a collaborative program between Southold Free Library and the Southold Junior/Senior High School Library, featured in the Public Library and School Library Collaboration Toolkit. Students in grades 5-7 read the winners of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, which recognizes children’s literature that encourages young people to think critically about “peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people.” Through lively discussion, database research, and making connections to their own lives, students learned how social justice and equity can impact their lives and the wider global community.

The book club met at the public library and book club members used both the public and school library resources for their research. The subject matter of the books wasn’t the only topic up for discussion. Book club members did research on, and discussed their findings about, the authors and illustrators of the award winners in preparation for a trip to New York City to attend the award presentation. Penny Kelley, the Teen Services Librarian at Southold Free Library and co-creator of the book club, observed that, “meeting the authors and illustrators and hearing their stories, had a lasting effect on the students.” Students were inspired by the connections they had to the authors and were motivated to use art as a platform for change.

When asked for tips and tricks for building a collaborative relationship between public and school libraries, Ms. Kelley said an important thing to do is get school administration involved. She has developed an excellent relationship with the school principal and works closely with the school social workers and the guidance counselor. The school librarian is her most important ally. They collaborate on a number of additional projects including an Escape Room program and a talent show.

The Jane Addams Book Club hasn’t met since 2016, but Ms. Kelley mentioned that it’s time to reconvene. She is inspired to start the program again and is excited to get students together to talk about the newest award winners. “It really was a remarkable experience for the students and for the adults, too.”

Abby Moore is Associate Professor and Education Librarian at University of North Carolina Charlotte, and a member of the Interdivisional Committee on School and Public Library Cooperation.

YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: It’s Not a Competition!

cover of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies Do you ever say to yourself or others, “We are in competition with <insert name of an out of school time or school-based program>?” If you do, it’s time to stop. To serve teens successfully we have to stop thinking we are in competition with others and instead focus on what others are already providing, where there are gaps in what’s available, and what libraries can do with others in the community to fill those gaps.

Frequently I hear staff saying they can’t get anyone to come to this or that program because so and so is also doing it. So, that should be a clue to several things:

  • First the program may very well not be needed if someone else is already doing it.
  • Second, it could be really useful to meet with those that are already providing that program or service and find out what they would like to be able to do but can’t, and/or how the library can provide support for that program or service.
  • Third, it’s time to look at where the gaps are in serving teens in the community and focus on working with community to fill in those gaps instead of doing something someone else is already doing, simply because it seems like a topic or activity the library should be focused on..

I think a lot about Josie Watanabe, the Student Success Program Manager at the Seattle Public Library.   Josie manages an afterschool homework help program. A few years ago she discovered that at one library branch, which was a homework help site, numbers were going down. Josie did some investigating and discovered that a nearby elementary school received funding to start a school-based homework help program. What did Josie do? She said to herself, and others, “OK in that neighborhood the need for afterschool homework help is now being taken care of by another community organization, that means the public library can stop this service in this neighborhood, the library can support the school-based program by providing training to tutors, and hey let me see what other needs there are in this neighborhood that we can help fill without competing or duplicating.”
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Young People Know Their Afterschool Programs, Do You?

This post is written by Charlotte Steinecke, communications manager at the Afterschool Alliance.

Photo of youth working together at the Kent County (MD) Public Schools

Libraries and afterschool programs just click. We share so many passions, like fostering lifelong learning, encouraging family engagement, and serving the members of our community with the greatest need. It’s not uncommon for many libraries to host their own afterschool programs or to partner with local programs to make the most of their pooled resources and expertise. Together, we become champions for engaging children and young people in exciting, engaging learning opportunities during the school year and beyond.

That’s why we want to invite library staff to Lights On Afterschool!

On Thursday, October 25, approximately 8,000 afterschool programs across the country will open their doors to one million Americans in the nation’s only rally for afterschool. It’s a day to celebrate out-of-school time learning programs and everything they do to keep our kids safe and engaged after the school bell rings.
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