I find that I grow in my professional practices by asking other people about the strategies that work for them. In this post, I am following up on last month’s discussion about educational changes and adaptations since the COIVD-19 pandemic began. School districts have different policies, and it is interesting to compare the adaptations that have been made. This week, I asked school librarians and educators more questions. Specifically, I asked about the most critical services offered by school librarians. I asked them to share any advice that they had for other educators. I have listed the people that graciously answered my questions. I share their responses below.
- Be flexible and give yourself grace. We are all collectively struggling, and we will all collectively be “behind.”
- Take as many precautions as you can, and try not to worry.
- Be open to teaching differently and recognize the positives with the negatives.
- Reach out to your peers for support.
- Be sure to set boundaries and set up a plan to manage your time. It helps when you make time for yourself, step away from work at a specific time, and at least one day on weekends, no matter how much still needs to be done. Try not to check email or messaging apps after a set time.
- Embrace the change, but make sure your voice is heard.
- Find your team. We do not have to face all these struggles alone. If you can focus on one part of your work and perfect it, then keep adding in the next layers until you’ve gotten to a version of “normal.”
- Focus on your students. Do not forget their mental, social, and emotional needs. As educators, we focus on pleasing everyone–the student, the parent, the administration, and ourselves. If we focus on making the students happy and motivating them to succeed, the rest does not matter.
- In the midst of all that is new and stressful, remember your why. Why did you become an educator? And if you can’t remember your why today, allow your colleagues and loved ones to encourage you so you can come back tomorrow ready to try again.
- You are not a burden. Use your leave days. They are yours. If you are burnt out, you are no good to your students.
How School Librarians Are Helping Teachers
According to my interviewees, librarians accelerate learning when they initiate the following actions.
- Teachers need help with finding resources for assignments.
- Teachers and students need virtual resources. Teachers are always looking for things that students can independently do when they are in small groups. Also, any kind of social-emotional help is appreciated. Kids are more vulnerable right now. I’m seeing riskier behaviors, less emotional control, and more helplessness from the kids. Any books or activities that relate to these times are fantastic.
- Teachers need help getting books to students. Librarians can do a curbside service for virtual students and support teachers by sharing new digital tools.
- Librarians can attend committee meetings to ask teachers about the support that they want during this time of need.
- Create special collections of digital resources.
- Develop tutorials or reference documents for using technology platforms and district-approved apps such as Google Meets and Google Classroom.
- Assist with converting lessons to formats that can be used virtually. Visit online classrooms because students are tired of being taught by the same teachers every day.
- Tell students and teachers how to log in and view articles and books available for check out.
- Co-teach or be a guest lecturer.
- Model new educational technology. Disseminating technology advice encourages teachers to investigate new tools.
- Provide extra literacy opportunities for students to improve their fluency and comprehension skills.
- Show teachers how the learning management system works.
- Teach students how to create virtual content.
- Create prerecorded and interactive lessons focused on digital citizenship.
I hope this information has generated ideas that you can use in the new year. As usual, I am sharing professional development. We are getting close to the holidays. I hope you will enjoy your time with your loved ones and get some much-needed rest.
Author: Daniella Smith
Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently the Hazel Harvey Peace Professor in Children’s Library Services at the University of North Texas.