This past year the library instruction moved from a fixed to a flexible schedule with first- and second-grade students. The process began during the 2016–2017 school year with a year of momentum. Then, I shared the process further in Journey to a Flexible Schedule in Part 1 and Part 2. After reviewing all the data and reflecting on the year here are some final thoughts:
What I Have Learned:
- Be Flexible: It is about being flexible with teaching styles, change of plans, last-minute ideas, and an ever-changing schedule. Having a plan and knowing how things are going to go is something I prefer. Yet, a flexible schedule does not allow you to always have a plan. It is more about seeing opportunities and working to mold them into collaborative lessons.
- Don’t Take It Personally: Some people will take longer to understand the benefits of a collaborative partnership. Others have difficultly giving up control of a lesson or unit. And many just have a difficult time with change in general. So, I cannot take it personally when someone does not want to complete a project, unit, or lesson. I can always reflect on my approach. There are ways to make partnerships more positive ones, but sometimes it is not about me. It is about changing a mindset and culture. It is about showing others the benefit of a library partnership.
- Collect Data: Collecting data was key to showing the success and the areas of improvement with this type of schedule. Data has been my lifeboat to showing others the value of the library to student learning. It is how I am able to communicate the what and why of the library program. Here is a link to my annual report where I shared data from the year with my administrators.
- Share: As many have said before, “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will.” Sharing with others makes what we do relatable. Honestly, I believe that it is one of the few ways to change a mindset. Sharing, without being pushy, takes work and time. To do this, I started sharing in a monthly newsletter with stakeholders. I share at faculty meetings, on social media, and at conferences. I share with just about anyone who will listen. That way they will understand the impact the library has on student learning.
- Target Understanding: It was clear after calculating how many times I worked with each teacher that there was a big discrepancy between classrooms. In one classroom, I only worked collaboratively with her and her students fourteen times throughout the year. Yet, with another I worked with forty-one times. Now, these “times” could be one lesson or part of a larger project or unit, but regardless it is too big of a difference not to take notice. There are other examples of similar discrepancies. The teachers were offered similar opportunities to collaborate, but some chose not to. In reflecting on why, there is still a need to change the focus from “fitting me in” to combining our objectives to benefit student learning. My plan is to target my slowest adopters using subtle notes (chocolate may be involved) to specific ideas presented to them regularly.
- Share Differently: I realized, when presenting my annual report, that my colleagues were not aware of many of the lessons completed this year. Next year, I am going to send a monthly note to faculty members. It will highlight one lesson that has been completed that fits the collaborative model. I hope that by sharing these consistent snapshots that my colleagues will be thinking about ways the library curriculum can be part of the classroom curriculum.
We will continue this model next year! Additionally, this schedule will be used in third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students next year to allow for integrated learning opportunities to continue.
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a librarian for the past five years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair.