Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On the Road

This morning I had the chance to take one of my Play to Learn programs on the road to another branch.  I like doing things like this, because it connects me with a totally different group of kids and pulls me out of my comfort zone. Below are some of my reasons for traveling, plus some advice.

So Why Travel?
  • This time I traveled due to staffing.  A staff member had left, a program was scheduled, and there wasn't anyone to do the program before the new person came on board.  At our location, we can usually find subs to cover reference desk shifts.  Programming is much more difficult and requires a specific skill set.
  • I like to do programs at other locations because they make me think.  What I mean by this is that my normal kids and parents know me.  Many have been coming since they were babies and just follow the age progression up through our programs.  They know how our programs are run, why I do what I do, and how they should behave.  A new group will give you new experiences.  In addition to getting "Well, Miss Alicia doesn't do it that way", you get to share your thoughts with new people.  Can you explain your program?  Can you explain why you are doing what you are doing?  Why is coloring important in your program?  What programs do you offer in the future?  I think of it like a test.
  • Maybe you have done a really awesome program and want to take it on the road to another location.  Sometimes it is easier and more efficient for one person to create a program, such as when we did Life Size Candyland (more about this in a future post), instead of duplicating the effort multiple times.

My Advice
  • Know your space.  I am used to running programs in a room that can hold 100 people.  This morning I ran in a program that held 20.  What you can do in a large room is totally different than what you can do in a small room.
  • Be prepared.  Know ahead of time what supplies you will need and coordinate with your location.  Do they have everything you need (glue sticks, tape, paper, etc.)?  Should you bring supplies (crayons, flannelboards, etc.)?  Ask someone to assemble what you need ahead of time.  This way you won't be constantly asking a staff member where things are the day of the program.  Some questions are okay, but too many take that staff member away from their job.  After all, you are doing the program, not them.
  • Be flexible.  No matter how prepared you are, you will forget something.  It's not the end of the world.  Have a mental backup plan or extra activity.
  • How are you going to transport your program?  Personally, I would use a large bin or tub.  This way, as you prepare the parts, you can add it to the tub.  They tend to be waterproof (for rainy or snowy days).  It will also keep everything together so the back of your car doesn't look like this or your box of crayons doesn't scatter in a mud pile (true story):

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