Partnership with New Jersey State Library

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Research indicates that resilience, grit, and growth mindset play a critical role in student success, but how can we help empower tweens/teens with these skills? 

We recently conducted a full day training for librarians from across the state of New Jersey in order to introduce them to skill toys - playful, unplugged tools for encouraging tweens/teens to shift mindset and see “failure” as an opportunity for learning and growth. The training included a number of skill toy kits so that the participants could apply what they learned and offer creative programming for years to come.

The first half of the day focused on tween/teen librarians getting comfortable with skill toys like spinning plates, yo-yo, and kendama. No one had to be an expert in the skills by the end of the day because we modeled how to take a mindful approach to dropping, learning, and facilitating. The second half of the day took participants through a number of challenges and exercises for connecting skill toys to STEAM, Summer Reading Program, and other common themes.

As NJ State Library Youth Services Consultant Sharon Rawlins described: "This was a fun and instructive workshop that allowed the teen librarians to work individually and in groups to learn to manipulate skill toys to use in teen programming. We celebrated when we mastered the skills and laughed when we messed up. We realized it's okay to fail, as long as we keep trying - a valuable lesson for teens to learn as well."

As you read a few of the survey responses we received from participants, you'll notice the training impacted them personally as well as professionally:

- Thanks again for creating such a supportive atmosphere that day.  I left feeling great about the things I could do and determined about the things that I couldn't do (yet)!

- Aside from all of the awesome programming ideas, it definitely strengthened my confidence in building up the teens and taught me to tackle programming in unexpected ways.

- This is a fresh idea to introduce to my teens. I do a lot of crafts but this is very physical. Great to get energy out after school!

- I'm planning more programs that teach teens resilience and now have learned a bunch of fun ways to teach it.

- We celebrated when we mastered the skills and laughed when we messed up. We realized it's okay to fail, as long as we keep trying - a valuable lesson for teens to learn as well.

We look forward to staying connected and hearing about what new ideas they come up with for using the kits. Read more about it on the NJ State Library blog.

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