Defining our Parent Cafe
The Thursday and Friday before March Break, the Elementary Librarian and I conducted our first Parent Cafe in the Library. Now, a week later, I’m still trying to figure out whether I would define it as a failure or as a success.
A brief introduction…
- Our goals – welcoming parents into the Library, explaining a bit about our reading/library philosophy, helping parents navigate reading level vs. interest levels, and demonstrating the features of our Follett Destiny program.
- Timing – We scheduled two sessions during times that appeared to work well with Parent-Teacher conferences in Elementary and Middle School and with the Middle School Speech Tournament Finals.
- Agenda – We split the time between talking through our slides, taking questions, and helping parents use the Follett Destiny program for themselves.
- Advertising – We put out the details with a Smore flyer sent via e-mail one week prior. Brief details went out with our weekly All School Bulletin on the two Wednesdays before the events. Elementary and Middle School parents were invited via teachers’ weekly class newsletter and the Middle School weekly Student Calendar handout.
- Food – Yeah, we tried to entice with homemade cookies, delicious coffee, and refreshing iced tea.
Defining it as a failure…
To be honest, I’m not sure that the balance of preparation for outcome made it worth it. We had a grand total turnout was 7 parents – 6 on Thursday and one on Friday. There was a lot of extra food left.
Defining it as a success…
- If I examine our list of goals, we definitely succeeded in meeting those. I think every one of those 7 parents felt welcomed, left understanding our reading/library philosophy a bit better, now knows how to search for books by reading level and interest level, and was able to successfully log in to the Destiny program and explore it a bit on their own.
- The small group allowed for more time for questions and hands-on experience with Destiny.
Learning from our failures and successes (i.e. preparing for next time)…
- This was our first time offering anything like this in the Library…and we had 7 people show up! I actually think this was a great way to ease into the idea.
- Rather than solely relying on digital forms of communication to advertise our next Parent Cafe, I’d like to ask the 7 to personally invite other members of the Faith community. I think we solidified 7 library advocates last Thursday and Friday and they have the potential to be some of our greatest advertisers.
- I think we scheduled this one on the best possible days. They were days that we had more parents than usual on campus. I think the timing of the end of Quarter 3 wasn’t the best, however. We’ll look at doing our next Parent Cafe at our Back-to-School Afternoon at the beginning of the school year (in August).
- One hour was a really good amount of time. Just long enough to be able to say what we really wanted to say and just long enough for the parents to be able to ask questions and try out the online tools we discussed.
- Another positive was that the Elementary Teacher Librarian and I were both available to work with parents after that hour was up. Neither of us had a pressing schedule which meant that we could stay after to answer more questions.
- And the food was delicious. We’ll definitely keep that at our next Parent Cafe.
While I still remain a bit discouraged that we didn’t have the turnout that I was anticipating, I think this first Parent Cafe was, ultimately, a success. There are definitely things that we can improve and build upon for the next Parent Cafe. And those are fairly easy to define.
We needed to start somewhere…and we did. And next time, we’ll do even better.