Social Emotional Learning

YALSA

Young Adult Library Services Winter 2019 focuses on social emotional learning (SEL) and has several great articles. If you aren’t as familiar with SEL, “Reading Between the Lines of Social and Emotional Learning,” by Jessica Newman and Deborah Moroney, is the a good place to start (pages 16-21).

“5 Ways to Incorporate SEL at Your Library: Supporting Multi-dimensional Learning,” by Kathleen Houlihan (pages 22-25), provides some practical suggestions–most are free/low-cost and relatively easy to implement. Additionally, two of the five ways to incorporate SEL align with the research on effective communication about teen services discussed on this blog last month.

  1. Describe program outcomes to adults using SEL
    • Adult stakeholders need to understand the value of your program in terms of teen development, including social emotional development.
    • A handy chart connecting library programs to SEL facets is included in the article.
  2. Describe program outcomes to teens using SEL
    • Idea: Create and distribute certificates for teen who complete programs at your library that list the skills they learned.
    • Telling teens explicitly what they learn helps them identify and communicate their strengths and skills.
    • It also “empowers teens to explain the value of their participation in activities to parents who may see it as just something ‘fun’ to do.”
  3. Talk about failure (yours, not theirs)
    • “If you’ve been reading the news lately, you’ll know that youth in the United States have a serious lack of confidence in their abilities.”
    • Teens need adults to talk about their own failures and model failure–what happened when we failed, what did we do about it, how did we feel about it, and what did we learn.
  4. Why you are awesome
    • Give kids specific compliments to help them identify their strengths.
    • No: You’re awesome.
    • Yes: Wow, you’re tenacious! You stuck with the activity, trying several different approaches until you found one that worked.
  5. Create space for teen leaders at your library
    • Teen Library Council
    • Teen volunteer programs

How to Communicate More Effectively About Teen Development

Busso, D., O’Neil, M., Down, L., & Gibbons, C. (2018). Amplifying positive frames: The shape of organizational discourse on adolescent development. Washington, DC: FrameWorks Institute.

New research from FrameWorks Institute indicates that organizations “working on and communicating about adolescent issues” produce informational materials that “rarely mention adolescent development.” These are missed opportunities to educate the public about teen development, thus perpetuating “unproductive patterns in public thinking” about teens and their behavior.

While there isn’t a lot of research on this topic and this study was fairly small, it still makes me wonder… How effectively are public libraries communicating about teens and the services we provide them?

The following are a few of the recommendations from the article that we may want to consider in library communications about our work with teens:

  • Include a brief explanation about part of the teen development process that is relevant to the library program/service/material you are communicating about
  • Emphasize how teen development, in the context of the library program/service/material, benefits the broader community
  • “Balance discussions between risk and opportunity;” mention both the positive influence of the library program/service/material and how they may reduce harm to some teens
  • “Amplify productive communications pattern;” when you provide information created by other organizations about teens make sure they are following these recommendations

As you think about applying these recommendations, I highly recommend reading pages 23-28 of Amplifying Positive Frames because they provide great examples of better, more effective communications about teen issues. For example:

“Adolescence is a time of significant, at times, rapid change in physical, neurobiological, and psychological development. Many of the changes that take place during this period of life, such as increases in risk-taking behavior or heightened sensitivity to social status and rewards, are adaptive parts of the development process; they are vital for the learning and change that takes place during this time of life. These features of adolescence are not and should not be viewed as inherently problematic.”

Perhaps you want to try a teen program like Will it Waffle, and you anticipate push-back from co-works and patron complaints of rowdy teens. You might consider providing information to co-workers, parents, and patrons  like:

Will it Waffle provides teens an opportunity to take risks and reap the rewards with their peers! Risk taking and socializing are important parts of teen development, vital to learning and becoming self-reliant. The library strives to be a positive influence that supports teens as they develop and become capable adults in our community.

Note: I am not suggesting that your or the library should promote the program to teens in this way!

 

Leadership and Teen Services

Many libraries promote teen services, especially Teen Advisory Council positions, as leadership opportunities—great for college applications! Participating teens provide input on program planning, teen spaces, collection development, and more. In some cases, they make decisions about programming and marketing, and are responsible for much of the implementation. These are great leadership experiences for teens. However, we rarely talk about the leadership skill the librarians need to successfully organize and facilitate this work with teens.

Mark Richardson, in his article Stepping Up: Applying Situational Leadership Concepts to Public Library Work With Teens, describes how librarians can use Situational Leadership to implement effective teen leadership opportunities. Situational Leadership includes four styles of leadership: directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. Effective leaders utilize all four styles, and know when to use which style depending on the task or situation.

As you read the following description of each style, think about when you might use that style with teens and why. What you might do to implement each style? What do you hope teens gain from experiencing each style as you implement it?

  • “Directing, is used whenever one trains a new person or teaches a new skill.”
  • “Coaching… is still directive, but more time is given to explaining our goals and why we have them. Input is requested and integrated into plans when possible.”
  • “Supporting… [is] trying to get the teens to make decisions on their own without as much help.”
  • When “delegating, people are empowered to act independently with less input from the leader.”

Read Stepping Up: Applying Situational Leadership Concepts to Public Library Work With Teens for more information about Situational Leadership and examples of how Mark has and plans to apply Situational Leadership to teen services at Cedar Mill Community Library.

Working Towards More Ethical Behavior

Many of our libraries have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. I counted five sessions at the 2018 OLA Annual Conference that were related to the DEI work Oregon libraries are doing. We are at different places in our learning and growth around DEI. Wherever you are at in your DEI learning, I hope you will watch this video and think critically about the main points no matter how uncomfortable it may feel.

TEDTalk

How to let go of being a “good” person—and become a better Person
Dolly Chugh at TED@BCG
October 2018

Here are a few things from the video I want to remember:

  • “Bounded rationality is the Nobel Prize-winning idea that the human mind has limited storage resources, limited processing power, and as a result, it relies on shortcuts to do a lot of its work.”
  • “At any given moment, 11 million pieces of information are coming into your mind. And only 40 of them are being processed consciously.”
  • When we make mistakes that threaten our attachment to being a good person, like mistakes that hurt other people or promote injustice despite our intentions, we explain them away rather than learning from them.
  • These types of mistakes make us fight for our good person identity. Whereas other types of mistakes, like in accounting or parenting, make us seek out help from others, training, and books and articles so we can learn from our mistakes and improve.
  • Most of the time no one calls us out on these kinds of mistakes. Most of the time no one challenges our good person identity. This means we don’t think much about the ethical implications of those mistakes and we spiral towards less and less ethical behavior.
  • When someone notices us make these kinds of mistakes and points it out or asks us about it, it feels like they are challenging our good person identity. In these cases we have to think about the implications of our mistake and we begin to spiral towards more and more ethical behavior.
  • “We have this definition of good person that’s either-or. Either you are a good person or you’re not. Either you have integrity or you don’t. Either you are a racist or a sexist or a homophobe or you’re not. And in this either-or definition, there’s no room to grow.”

Here are a few of the questions I am thinking about:

  • How can I practice finding my mistakes when people don’t call me out on them?
  • How am I going to work through the instinct to fight for my good person identity so my response doesn’t end there… so I can identify my mistake and start the work to learn from it?
  • How am I going to invite colleagues to call me out? If you notice a DEI mistake in this blog, please provide constructive feedback. We are at different places in our DEI learning and growth, and you may be ahead of me. If so, share some of your resources please!
  • How am I going to deal with the discomfort and embarrassment the next time someone calls out my mistakes so I can learn and improve?
  • What am I going to do next time I notice a colleague make a DEI mistake? If I address it, can I help them work through the instinct to fight for their good person identity and deal with the discomfort and embarrassment to foster learning instead of defensiveness?
  • Circling back to a previous post about being good enough, how do we library professionals support each other in being good-ish and good enough? How do we help each other through our mistakes, acknowledging that they have “real costs to real people,” in a way that fosters growth and improvement without feeding into the perfectionist tendencies many of us have? If we wait to implement DEI initiatives until we think we have the perfect plan, we will never do it and we’ve already waited too long to address institutional and historic racism in public libraries.

Being Good Enough

 It’s Okay to Be Good and Not Great (Brad Stulberg, Oct. 16, 2018, Outside) is an important reminder that it’s okay not to be perfect and provides some helpful advice.

Here are my key takeaways from the article:

  • This [good enough] mindset improves confidence and releases pressure because you don’t always feel like you’re coming up short.
  • It also lessens the risk of injury—emotional and physical—since there isn’t a perceived need to put forth heroic efforts every day.
  • The result is more consistent performance that compounds over time.
  • Research shows that sustainable progress, in everything from diet to fitness to creativity, isn’t about being consistently great; it’s about being great at being consistent. It’s about being good enough over and over again.

Here is the advice from the article that I think is particularly relevant to teen librarians and teens:

  • Accept where you are
  • Be patient
  • Be present
  • Be vulnerable
  • Foster an “in-real-life” community

 

YALSA opportunities: Summer Funding, Selected Booklists

The logo of YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services AssociationApply Now for the 2019 Summer Learning Grants!
Eligible YALSA members can now apply for the Summer Learning Resources Grant and the Teen Summer Intern Program Grant. Both grants are worth $1,000 each and are generously funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Twenty-five recipients will be selected for each grant. Apply by January 1, 2019.

Be on a Selected Booklist Blogging Team!
Are you interested in serving on a selected list blogging team in 2019? If so, please fill out this form by September 30, and indicate if you are interested in Quick Picks, Great Graphic Novels, Amazing Audiobooks, and/or Best Fiction for Young Adults. If you have questions, please contact Stephen Ashley, Hub Member Manager.

Slides for OLA 2018 Sessions Now Available

Whether or not you were able to join us in Eugene for OLA, you can now view the slides for most presentations on Northwest Central. Of particular interest to OYAN members:

Mark your calendars: the 2019 OLA-WLA Conference will be held at the Hilton Vancouver in Vancouver, WA from April 17-20, 2019!