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.

Aspects of the conversation with LaKesha that resonated with the Future Ready with the Library cohort include:

  • Remembering that middle schoolers might need the chance to “shake off” their day when they get to the library after school.
  • There is huge value in greeting middle schoolers as they walk into the library and making sure that that greeting demonstrates interest and respect.
  • Library staff should make a point to learn middle schoolers names as one way to demonstrate caring and respect.
  • Implementing community circles into work with middle schoolers provides an opportunity to build relationships and trust.
  • Listening to middle schooler challenges and giving these youth a chance to discuss those challenges without being judged is important.
  • Modeling for library staff methods of supporting middle schoolers and demonstrating the positive value of the work libraries do with and for middle schoolers can lead to better overall understanding of library staff of the needs of the age group.
  • Giving middle schoolers the chance to build decision making skills and opportunities to set and achieve goals helps build skills needed for college and career.

It is clear from what LaKesha had to say that middle school is a valuable time for supporting SEL as a component of college career readiness. Libraries need to be a part of that work in their communities.

You can learn more about the Future Ready with the Library project in previous posts on this blog.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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