For many of us the feeling of connection in our profession has changed by the new educational world since the pandemic. We aren’t engaging with our students and staff in person, and we don’t have the chance for organic conversations that lead to planning and collaboration. Below are a few ways that I found to cope with the loss of face-to-face interactions.
Before the pandemic a main part of my day was popping into classrooms to do book talks and mini lessons. I have moved these same services to virtual meetings for the foreseeable future. Teachers send me links to their Zoom meetings or send me the code to their Google Classrooms for the periods I will be teaching. It’s as simple as clicking the link, joining in on the class, and away we go.
Some teachers prefer to e-mail me and have me create a video of what they want me to teach with students. This works a little differently because I can record the lesson at any time of day and just share it with the teacher through my school YouTube channel. Some teachers enjoy the flexibility of being able to post the video and have students engage with it repeatedly if they need help or when it works best for them in the school day. The only drawback I’ve had so far is the 15-minute recording time limit upload to YouTube.
Every morning from 7:20-8:15 I hold virtual office hours. I am available for any teacher or student who might need me. While I wait for Gchats, video calls, or emails I work on projects that I have on my plate. When something comes up I’m available and ready to plan with whoever needs me.
Weekly Library Staff Check-Ins
To stay connected to my library staff and their needs I schedule a weekly quick check-in. Prior to the pandemic throughout the day we would gather at the circulation desk and catch up. Now we meet via Google Meets to talk about issues that came up that day and connect on a personal level with each other, and I pass along any district library-wide information that might have come up. These virtually weekly meetings have been invaluable to me in keeping that connection with my staff while I am not working in the building.
Our jobs as school librarians require us to be social and connected to our staff and students. If we are to maintain those relationships and grow collaborations during this seemingly isolated time, getting creative is the only solution. I will continue to add new ideas and resources to my toolbox as my goal is to stay connected to others in remote learning environments.
Author: Elizabeth Pelayo
Elizabeth Pelayo is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the AASL AAUP Book Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the nominations committee for the ISLMA Abraham Lincoln Book Award.