Saturday, March 1, 2014

All.The.Things. Gack!

In thinking about how to balance the programs we offer, the class was asked to share an example of how they changed a program, grew it or adapted it to create a better balance. This is one in a series of posts in which class participants responded to the prompt: Share an example of a way you evolved a program that led to a more successful outcome.

Michelle wrote about what it was like to have new programming responsibilities with built-in expectations and decisions she made to create balance in her programming.

I'm lucky that I do programming primarily for 0-5 year olds. However, last year due to staff turnover, I was given K-6 programs until another staff member could be hired. It was HARD to balance everything while doing all of the other things I was supposed to be doing. I was trying to do all the programs as my predecessors had done, and on top of this, I was a newly hired staff person as well! It was not an awesome situation.

Looking back, I think I could have saved myself much anguish if I would have done programs my own way, instead of trying to do things the way others had done. I was still unsure of myself and my programming at the time and did what seemed to be the easiest way to do things. I got burnt out quickly and told the newly hired person that I couldn't keep it up. She told the director and they promptly cancelled the K-6 programs for the rest of the spring. I was upset, simply because I didn't want the kids to go without programs, and I didn't want to be the root cause of the cancellations!

After more burnout during SRP, I realized that I couldn't go on like I was. I cut out a couple different programs, revamped storytimes, and made what was left better. I now am the "assistant" during our homeschool programs, in which I do minimal planning (one activity is mine to plan, usually the craft portion). I plan the "family" programs, which are once a month and are larger scale than storytime or homeschool programs. Many feature outside entertainers or are more of a party atmosphere, which is much easier to plan for catering to large groups.

As far as strategies go, my main strategy now is "Leave good enough alone!" I don't overplan or overthink what I'm doing. I keep things age-appropriate, streamline, and make programs FUN. I previously thought I should act as a teacher and force kids and caregivers to learn something. Thank goodness I snapped out of it and realized that kids will learn through fun and that I don't have to force anyone to play!

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