Cindy Crushes Programming: Five Programming Mistakes I’ve Made
We all make mistakes. Things happen. Sometimes things do not work out as planned. You have to learn to move on the go during programs because things will not always work they way you expect. So it’s confession time. Here are five programming mistakes I have made and what I’ve learned from them.
Mistake 1: Putting a Program on the Wrong Day
Timing is everything when it comes to programming. Earlier in the year, I did not pay attention to what was happening at my local middle schools that day. I was running my virtual Dungeon and Dragons program. I realized, too late, that day was middle school graduation. I knew it would be rough because even if our teens were not graduating they could have a job at the ceremony or have a sibling who is graduating. So I logged on to Roll20 and sat there as no one showed. I knew it would be rough, but I didn’t even get one teen to come. I try to look at the school calendars for open house, spring break and graduation but I missed this. Knowing what is happening in your local community can help you avoid this mistake.
Mistake 2: Over Complicated Board Games
I love doing tabletop gaming programs with my teens but sometimes the games I pick are too hard. I would get excited by a theme or concept of the game but when it came to playing or was so hard that the teens and I could not figure out how to do it. I will say this happens more with pop culture types of games. The first game this happened with was a Hunger Games card game. It was very frustrating. Be careful what games you choose.
Mistake 3: Too Much, or Not Enough, Time for a Program
Timing is important when it comes to programming. If I had to choose I would rather have too much time because at least they can finish the activity. This is usually an issue for craft programs. I will pick a craft and put the times in and think it will be about the right amount of time needed. The thing about crafts is sometimes you need more time for items to dry before you can move on to the next step of the craft. I hate sending teens home with half finished crafts. Also making a too simple craft that finishes too early can make things hard for the teens. My craft ends too earl, I try to grab a game or some other activity so I can fill the time. A lot of teens have parents who will pick them up and you want to make sure you fill the time you promised for an activity.
Mistake 4: Too Late on a Trend
Teens are very much trend followers. We have seen how trends from the early 2000’s are coming back led by teens finding them. Pop culture has always been a teen led area. Teens can make or break trends. Also, once younger kids become interested a trend often teens will back away and call the trend over with. I try to stay on trend but a few times I was so behind that only tweens were interested in the program. Oftentimes, I will lead a teen program when a trend is at its height and then give it to the Children’s Department so they can repeat the program with tweens.
Misatke 5: Craft Fails
This is a stressful one no matter how hard you plan for a craft things can go wrong very quickly. I was doing what was a child’s level craft with the teens for an art club where you have a silhouette taped on paper and were supposed to lightly spray the paper with food coloring. Two things went wrong. The paper started to crumble and fall apart and the silhouette I had made started to bleed on the paper. It was a complete disaster. Nothing was salvageable. I was there with nothing else planned. I ran downstairs and grabbed a ink marbling kit I had and told everyone we were going to do this instead. All I could think was this was a younger child level craft and it failed as I had everything that I was supposed to, but it just happened. Craft fails are also the reason I do slime lab instead of doing a certain type of slime program. Recipes can go wrong very quickly, so I let them do experiments instead. This makes it easy and fun instead of trying to get one perfect type of slime.
Mistakes happen and it is stressful but when programming you will just have to learn to accept that it happens and move on because if you do not have failure you would not appreciate the successes.
About Cindy Shutts
Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she talks programming every 1st and 3rd Wednesday. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.
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