Erinn Batykefer, MLIS

An online professional portfolio

Good advice for getting to know Teens

“The deal with teens is that they tend to be different when they are with their peer group. Talking to them individually and collectively is like talking to two different beings.”

A wonderful classmate of mine recently shared her advice on working with Teens in a class discussion.  I took a ton of notes, of course, because she’s the kind of person you want to listen to– when she gives advice, it’s because she knows what she’s talking about– Librarianship is her second “for fun” career, as she’s already had a full military career!

Here’s what Janelle Keizer has to say about how to keep teens occupied / out of trouble / happy and useful in the library:

  • Give them a job if they aren’t occupying themselves. Teens love to be needed! Ask them to help you prepare for the next story hour by cutting out a million hearts or whatever, etc.
  • Get to know them individually. Get to know what they like and their interests. Strike up conversations all about them (go figure!) and what they’re into this week.
  • Have a facilitated teen chat time. No organization is needed, just candy and a topic. Wherever they are hanging out, walk up with a notepad/pen and say, “I’m looking for your feedback. It’s been a long time since I was your age and I’d like some ideas on…how to handle X, or what DVDs to buy”   Be sure to take notes!
  • Good conversation starters: “What is your favorite movie and why?” “What book did you read last? What format? What did you like/not like about it? How did it make you feel?” “What kind of assignments are you getting at school these days?”
  • Discipline: If you have to tell them to leave for inconsiderate behavior, they should know exactly why they are leaving and for how long. Don’t bann them for long periods of time. Their behavior changes so rapidly that they are like different people by the hour, so short periods of removal are key. Welcome them back like nothing has ever happened..forgiveness is huge!
  • Relationships are key and teens are very keen at detecting insincerity. So be genuine! They’ll start approaching you the moment they know they can trust you.  Be consistent, and be yourself.

Gotta love it, right?

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This entry was posted on April 30, 2012 by in Blog and tagged , , .
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