Unprogramming Part 5: Why It Works!

Amy Koester of Show Me Librarian and I are tag-teaming at our blogs this week to report out the Chicago ALA Conversation Starter -Unprogramming: Recipes for School Age Success - that we led on Monday July 2 (see below for links to the whole series).  Please join our continuing conversation in the comments or on Twitter by using the hashtag #unprogramming.

What is it about unprogramming that we are so high on?

One of the key pieces is that planning is greatly simplified - a matter of tagging ideas you read in blogs or hear from colleagues into a manila folder, Evernote, Pinterest or into whatever “possible ideas” bin you favor. Checking publisher and author sites, books in the collection and google results in possible activities.  This very low-level on-going "aha!" planning lets staff address their other work without being overwhelmed as a program is decided upon and the date of the event approaches.

Keeping the action within the program conversational and letting kids discover on their own contributes to the ease and simplified planning. By allowing kids more agency within the program, staff become free to guide rather than lead. One thing you quickly discover is how much kids enjoy the program when they have responsibility and freedom to direct their activities and make discoveries, talk about a book or author or the process they are going through.

Worried about helping staff transition between over-planned programs and unprogramming? To create staff buy-in, encourage spending less time on preparation by connecting the budgetary dots: too much time spent prepping a stand-alone program isn’t financially worth it for the institution. 

Consider partnering with an over-planner and modeling planning and doing a program together to show how preparation can be kept simple and the program rewarding.  Goal setting with staffers can also be helpful. Challenge staffers to spend no more than 2 hours of prep per school-age program.  Also encourage strategic thinking: if you spend money or time buying or creating a prop, where else can it be used.

The results are more mellow preparation, less emphasis on process and more on relaxed chatting and activities that relate directly to books.

Stop by Amy's blog today to discover our Pinterest page full of programs and a real life example of how unprogramming works! 

Unprogramming series
Part 5 - Why It Works!

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