COVID-19 School Librarianship – Part 1

Promotion for MASL virtual webinar PD

[Note: This is the first in a series.]

MASL Leads

As rumors of school closures and transition to remote learning began to circulate in Maine, my Voxer chat started blowing up with voice and text messages from my fellow MASL (Maine Association of School Libraries) board members. How could we support not just our members but our community of Maine school library staff in this uncertain time of need? Our president-elect Jennifer Stanbro (Skillin Elementary School Learning Commons, South Portland Schools) proposed a Zoom meet-up: a “pop-up” webinar style as an open forum for sharing. Initially we planned this for a weeknight, but as more schools were announcing closures over the weekend, we made the decision to move the date to a Sunday afternoon.

Text from a Facebook post publicizing MASL virtual meet-up

We promoted this event through e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook, and had over sixty attendees at the event from all over the state, including staff from the Department of Education as well as the Maine State Library. In terms of logistics, we had a host/moderator, as well as a note-taker, and a few board members who were prepared in advance to share. Sixty folks may not seem like a lot for some readers, but for our organization this was a really good showing, and included people from some of the distant corners of our state. 

Screen capture of resources from MASL meet-up

Resource Curation – Because That’s Our Jam!

So what do you think happens when you get 60+ library staff people together? We start sharing resources with each other! Our MASL President Amanda Kozaka (Cape Elizabeth Middle School Library and Learning Commons, Cape Elizabeth) was diligent about capturing the many resources we were speaking about as well as those shared in the Zoom chat. 

Below are just a few of the highlights that got our participants excited:

This virtual meet-up was the boost that many of us needed to face the unknown during the week ahead. I left the meeting feeling proud of our organization’s leadership and the school library community in Maine. MASL hosted a second meet-up the following Wednesday evening, and we plan to continue these gatherings in the weeks ahead. 

District Leadership – Remote School 

My own district–FiveTown CSD (high school) and MSAD#28 (elementary and middle schools)–is in our second year of using Remote School Days (RSDs) to replace up to two snow days per year (recap after our first RSD in 2019). Having some experience with RSDs placed our teachers at an advantage for adapting more quickly to the unprecedented situation we are currently faced with. 

  • Schoology – At the high school, we are in year five of using this as our online learning platform. Teachers and students are comfortable with this as a way to deliver and receive content materials, engage, share content, and interact with each other. 
  • Kajeet – In an effort to provide digital equity for our students, we identified those families without WiFi at home, and provided them with Kajeets for working at home.

The RSD expectations during a snow event is for asynchronous instruction. However, what was new for us, in the COVID-19 era, was that we were being asked by our district to provide synchronous instruction, with a modified schedule at the middle and high school levels. Stay tuned for the next installment of this series!

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Author: Iris Eichenlaub

Iris Eichenlaub is the Librarian/Technology Integrator at Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport, Maine. She is the 2017 Knox County Teacher of the Year, and was named an Inspiring Educator in 2017 by the Maine Education Association. Iris serves on the board of the Maine Association of School Libraries as the chair of professional development. Follow the story of the Edna St. Vincent Millay Library via Facebook (@ESVMLibrary or https://www.facebook.com/ESVMLibrary) or Instagram (@ESVM_Library or https://www.instagram.com/esvm_library).



Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Intellectual Freedom, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models, Technology

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