New 2020-2021 Practices to Keep in the School Library

“What are some new things that you have done this year that you will continue in the future?” This a question that the middle school librarians in my district were asked at our May professional learning community (PLC) meeting.  

This is a topic that had already been on my mind. I have always found it helpful to reflect upon the school year as the year is winding down. This year has been unlike any other. We have changed models and changed schedules many times–the word “pivot” has become a normal part of our experience. Thus, I feel it is even more important to reflect on this past school year. What specific new library practices did I implement or use this school year that would improve, simplify, or expand services to my school community? Below are some of my initial thoughts.

Practices to Continue or Expand Next School Year

Co-Teaching Using Our Learning Management System (LMS). While my district had previously been one-to-one and some teachers were using Google Classroom, this school year my district implemented the Canvas Learning Management System and all teachers are using Canvas. I became a co-teacher in more than forty Canvas classrooms in order to collaborate with my colleagues and specifically to teach how to access resources, to teach information literacy and digital citizenship skills, to share book talks and virtual book browsing activities, and to share curriculum resources. I would like to keep this practice next year even though we will likely be in person. The use of Canvas has strengthened my collaboration with teachers and has facilitated my direct communication with students. It also allows me to directly share and grade the assignments for my lessons.

Using Instructional Videos (Screencasts). I have created several how-to videos for our school community while we were virtual. The videos include how to access and use our e-book collection, how to place holds in Destiny, how to cite sources using MyBib, how to use technology tools (like WeVideo), and how to fix some frequent technology issues. I would like to continue to add to the library of instructional videos next year. These videos will be especially useful in allowing me to reach more students. (There are times when my teaching schedule is booked and other classes need the same instruction.) The videos are also useful for students who are absent or want to watch the video as just-in-time learning.

Virtual Events. This year we had our state senator and state representative record themselves reading chapters of class novels for March is Reading Month. These videos were then shared with all of the English language arts teachers. We also held a virtual author visit with Supriya Kelkar during our advisory time. This allowed all students to be a part of these events from their classrooms. I would like to continue and expand these types of virtual events next year. It has allowed more staff and students to share in the experiences and I have received positive feedback from both staff and students. 

Book Binge! I have been running a “Book Binge” program for both virtual and in-person students.  Currently, whether virtual or in-person, students must place holds on books in our Destiny Library Catalog, and then books are delivered to their classrooms or put outside for curbside pick-up. To participate in “Book Binge,” students submit a form with answers to a few questions including their favorite activities, favorite genres, last good book that they have read, things that they dislike, etc. I then put together a small stack of books for them based on their preferences. I check the books out to them and deliver them to their classroom or put them out for curbside pick-up. Students are always very excited when I deliver their book binge stack to their classrooms! The feedback has all been extremely positive. Thus, I would like to continue this program next year. It is a great way for students to get suggestions on what to read next. Oftentimes during a normal school year, the library is very busy and students will not want to interrupt me for suggestions.

There may be other practices that I change next year based on my experience this year. I will continue to reflect as the school year winds down.

How about you? What new practices are you going to continue next year? Please share your ideas in the comments.

Author: Kathy Lester

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models, Technology

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3 replies

  1. Thank you for sharing the positive outcomes of our profession’s collective crash course in pivoting, Kathy.

    All the the practices you intend to keep make a difference in student learning, classroom educators’ teaching, and position you as a leader in your school learning community. Brilliant, really!

  2. Debbie Siegel, Spanish River High School, Boca Raton, FL

    This year our high school face to face saw fewer that 25% of our enrollment. As a result the library was the overflow room for those misplaced students with several teachers instructing from home. The challenge to get students to enter the space during lunch and to circulate books was a struggle. Battle of the Books took a huge virtual surge and my after school reading club with guest authors was almost non-existent.

    Beginning in late March 2020 I spent many hours on site distributing devices for at-home student use. I checked over 2500 devices out to students, staff, office personnel and paraprofessionals to finish the school year out. We are definitely going 1-1 for the fiscal 2022 school year.
    My supply money was used to purchase web cameras for teachers and tripods to accommodate hybrid learning on interactive flat panels provided by the school board.

    I changed up the normal model and opted to put out Google Classrooms for community service hours. I transformed my school site and state funding to eBooks and rented class sets of books for teachers. We saw a larger population reading and my after school book club even created an SEL book during May from our book discussions. My end of year student survey results are about to be tabulated for suggestions as I plan to reopen our school library next year. For sure it is going to have an eye opening transformation.

    I’m not sure what next year will bring but most teachers will not be using department funds to purchase paper for their classrooms. I’ve made a commitment to our students and myself to open the library media center during lunches with our We Dine Together Club for open microphone poetry slams, board and digital games for students and of course I am doubling down on print pleasure reads for our YA peeps. We are never looking back.

  3. This is a wonderful article reflecting the COVID protocols during that era. The whole education community had to innovate and improvise new ways of getting the books into students’ hands. I started my job in 2021 as the schools reopened and many educators left this field as they did not want to gauge what was coming next. I always volunteered in my kid’s school library and my Middle school Librarian coaxed me to apply for an elementary opening. This is my second year and I LOVE IT!!

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