Thursday, February 19, 2009

One teen at a time

This particular piece of wisdom came from my colleague, Kevin. We were being driven to distraction by mobs of kids who were rowdy, raucous and wicked annoying. "How do you keep that calm exterior?" I muttered as I tried to finish up a booklist in the middle of Grand Central Station. "I just deal with one at a time," he replied. This was true genius. And it works. By engaging (positively, of course) with one teen, you make a connection. Those connections grow exponentially until you have a critical mass of kids who have been treated with respect by the staff. That makes a huge difference not only with crowd control but also reader advisory, research skills, program attendence, teen advisory boards, etc.

I chose the sunflower as a symbol of this process. One sunflower holds in its center many seeds. Each teen is connected online and real time with so many others in the community. The seeds of your service are contained in that one teen/sunflower. Networking 101 teaches us to grow your contacts. Why not try today to grow a teen contact? Over time, this technique yields great outcomes.

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