After rereading my post, I realized I didn’t mentioned the event name until midway down. So, here it is: Divergent Trivia!
In grad school, it’s all quite hypothetical when it comes to developing new program ideas: “Do this, this, and that, but the truth is, you won’t know until you try. And it may not work but you still gotta try”…in highly academic terms, of course. Teen programming included, and perhaps even more of an enigma for me, having rather limited experience working with teens.
I took all of that into consideration and didn’t jump into teen programming immediately, despite my mighty plans of a teen advisory council, book club, gaming nights, and more. I decided to wait until I had a teen ally. How else would my teen-tentative self know where to start?
We’ll call my ally TeenZ. I met her one bone-chilling Minnesota evening at the circ desk. I noticed TeenZ had been to the library a few times of recent, and I asked if she might be interested in being part of a book group or other program for I Love to Read Month in February. Worst case scenario, TeenZ might say “no thanks” or “get away from me weird librarian.” To my surprise, she said “sure!” and that “especially if we had a prize and did something around Divergent.”) “Awesome,” I said. “Want to help with planning?” And so I put myself on the waiting list for Divergent, realized I wouldn’t get it in time (40 holds), then bought it instead. I should have read it already anyways, right?
Fast forward two months. We held Divergent Trivia! one Tuesday after school at the HS media center. 10 teens showed up, and TeenZ and her friend pretty much ran the show. Lots of food (Subway, candy, soda), prizes (gift certificates and Divergent trilogy) and fun (hard core Divergent fans!) ensued. A few even said things like “What book are we doing next?” …to my utter amazement and extreme satisfaction. My first teen program was a success!
I’ll save you the rest of the details and jump straight to Lessons Learned:
- Get teens involved in program planning, for many reasons selfish and unselfish. Why not involve the population you strive to serve–and improve your odds for success? It can also make it easier for those of us who are new to and/or a little scared of working with teens.
- Let them take on some responsibility. I took TeenZ on as a partner, and I could tell she enjoyed taking ownership of some parts of the planning process and probably learned a thing or two along the way (and lightened my workload). We began with brainstorming. She said, “A book club might be kind of boring.” Enough said. We agreed upon a better idea–a game! She created flyers and handouts to distribute at school and even got the event in the daily announcements.
- Give your teen collaborator props. Millennials, not unlike most people, are said to require recognition for hard work (according to miscellaneous sources and conference workshops!). I delegated hosting to TeenZ after I opened the program–so lots of responsibility and recognition there! I also sent TeenZ a thank you note and a gift certificate following the event. Although that may be considered standard thank-you practice.
- Ten participants is a good start. At first I thought 10 teens didn’t seem like enough for all that went into planning. I didn’t quite understand why, with all of our promotions, with the entire 10th grade class having read the book, and with the allure of food and prizes, we didn’t get more than 10. In retrospect, I think 10 enthusiastic participants is fantastic! I introduced 10 teens to the public library and I got to know my teen ally and the HS librarian better.
There’s always things you could do differently, like wait until the rest week between sports in March, or create more questions (45 wasn’t enough to fill 1.5 hours!), but you learn those things along the way. Now onto summer reading programming for teens (and children and families)…
If you’d like more information or have suggestions, I love to share so leave me a comment!