A year ago I shared a post called Momentum in a Fixed World. In this post, I shared the goal to move to a flexible schedule. Just as planned we transitioned to this type of schedule with the first- and second-grade students this year. The library works with 261 students that are enrolled in preschool to second grade. We decided to start with our oldest students when making this change. This is a new approach for everyone involved and will be the main focus of my library journey this year.
Setting the Stage:
- Presenting to My Colleagyes: My school director has been very supportive of this transition from the start. She sees the value in the library having a flexible schedule. Last June, she gave me the opportunity to roll out “the plan” at our faculty meeting. I shared the library data from the year and then explained the flexible model. This gave me a chance to share the benefits with all faculty members. This also allowed me to share that first- and second-graders would still be learning the same skills as before, but they would no longer be in isolation.
- Questionnaire: In an effort to start the collaborative process, I had teachers fill out a quick questionnaire if they had an idea in mind. This way, I can now revisit these notes to see what we can build on together. I received eleven questionnaires from that meeting. Two collaborative projects have already been developed from the ideas!
Starting the Year:
- Team Meetings: In August, before school began, I got myself invited to the team meetings. In these meetings, I shared my vision for what this type of schedule would allow us to do. I gave my colleagues talking points in case parents should question the new schedule. We also discussed what concerns the teachers had.
- Menu of Options: Many of the concerns were related to trying to add me into their already busy schedule. To help show teachers that the goal was not to be an “add on,” but to be a part of what they were already doing, I came to the meeting with a menu of options. This menu is meant to be a la cart. I stressed that these were just ideas. We could do all or none of them based on what fit best for the needs of their students. I plan to create this on a monthly basis with different lesson options that will tie to the curriculum. This way they can see the many ways I can be helpful to them. Additionally, I will have evidence to show the administration when they ask what I did to help develop a collaborative relationship with each teacher. This is not meant to replace their own ideas, but just give us a place to start.
- Digital Planning Form: I shared a collaborative planning form that was created in Google Forms with all teachers from preschool to second grade. This form can be submitted if they have an idea they would like help with. When shared, I walked teachers through the steps of creating a bookmark so they all have the form at their fingertips.
One Month In:
During the month of September, I was able to work with first- and second-grade students on thirty-six collaborative lessons. I have seen these students more than when using a fixed schedule. Additionally, teachers are beginning to see some of the ways we can “marry” our curriculum to accomplish more with their students.
What We Are Still Working On:
- Keeping My Mojo: For me, the most challenging thing so far is trusting myself and my direction. It is easy to get caught up in what is not working instead of focusing on what is. Remaining positive is usually a strength for me, but I have found that I have been second-guessing myself. I do believe that a flexible schedule will provide the most benefit to the students I teach. Yet, remaining confident can be difficult when not everyone shares your vision. This is something I am going to have to keep reminding myself as the year moves forward.
- Book Check Out: We still have a fifteen-minute check out time each week. I would like to move to a come-when-you-need-a-book type system, but for now we are using a group check out model. I have been training the teachers how to check out books. This will make it so I do not always have to be there during check out. Then I can make more time available for collaborative projects.
Do you use a flexible schedule in an elementary school library? Please share your story!
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven 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 school 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. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).