The Original Plan vs. What It Really Looks Like

This year I have been teaching students who are face to face as well as those who are learning remotely. At the start of the school year, I had grand plans. I was going to do all the things and be awesome! Reality looks a bit different and I have had to reevaluate based on the needs of my students and that of the library program. Here are things that are working and those I have had to adjust. 

Book Checkout

My students are not able to come to the physical library. That means that I have to bring books to them.

The Original Plan: 

    • Bring a set of books to preschool students during their library class
    • Have students in kindergarten and first grade request books using a book request form
    • Have students in second and third grade place books on hold using the library catalog

What It Looks Like 


I currently bring a set of books to all preschool classes. These books are rotated each week to provide variety. Those that are not checked out are placed in the return wagon when I come back to the library to be quarantined. This process has been fairly simple and the students seem to find things they want to read even with the limited choices. 


The biggest change to my original plan is that kindergarten students were not ready to make the requests using the Google Form for a variety of reasons. So I am bringing books to them like I do with preschool classes. Again, they do not seem to struggle to find something each week and the books are rotated for variety.  

First Grade:

With first grade, they fill out a request form during each scheduled library class. I had to start with this form printed for students to fill out, and then we transitioned to filling it out using their iPads. This is a Google Form that has visual pictures for a variety of popular categories. The categories have been updated over time based on what students are looking for. One change is that a notes section was added to the bottom to allow them to type specific topics or titles. This form allows remote students to make a request at the same time as in-person learners. This took several classes for students to become good at filling it out! I have a few students who I still assist each week, and we are two months into school. 

Second and Third Grade

With second- and third-grade students, putting books on hold in the catalog is working. It has not been an issue for third-grade students at all! They are rocking it! With second grade it has been a bit more challenging! The username and passwords that our school uses have been harder for those students to learn. They have needed a lot of reinforcement to learn the multiple steps they need to complete. We are finally getting it, but again, it just has taken patience and time! 

Remote Learners:

For remote learning students, there is a form that can be filled out each week to request books and those books are sent home on Fridays with other classroom materials for the upcoming week. This process has remained the same so far this year!

Pulling the Books

The Original Plan 

I was going to pull books for each class by the next scheduled class

What It Looks Like 

My school uses a seven-day rotating schedule. This means I only see students every seven days. This was too much time between when the book requests were made and when the books were being delivered, so it had to modified. Now, I pull book requests within three to four days of when the request has been made. I wish it could be faster, but that is just not possible. We have some amazing assistants that have been hired at our school this year. They are helping a ton, but they help all teachers in the building so they are not available all the time. I block out time each day to pull materials for students in order to stay on top of it. This is a good problem to have, but it is one of my biggest challenges and the most overwhelming part of my job at the moment.

How I handle hold notices has really changed. I used to just print a big long list from Destiny with all the holds at once. The issue was I was not able to focus on a specific class since they were all mixed together. What I have discovered is you can print hold notices by homeroom. There is a notice printed for each individual student. It is put with the books when they are ready. This has really helped me focus on a certain group of students and get books to kids faster! 

If I am not able to find a book for a student I put a sticky note with a stamp that says the book is not available and to try something different instead. I purchased this stamp on Amazon for $10 and it definitely has been worth it. 

Book Return 

The Original Plan

    • Use a wagon labeled for each day of the week
    • Books would be returned and placed in the wagon for that day
    • The books would be quarantined for a week and then checked in the following week

What It Looks Like 

This process is working!  Keeping track of when books can be checked back in is manageable. Additionally, I take the wagon around the building to pick up books from the classrooms as well.  

Teaching All Students

The Original Plan 

    • Teach both in-person and remote students simultaneously
    • Continue both fixed and flexible scheduling 

What It Looks Like 

I started the year using more asynchronous lessons so that balancing in-person and remote students at the same time would be easier to manage. However, I did not have a way to work with those students who were remote. It was difficult to access student learning or talk to them about books. I also found creating those types of lessons was very time-consuming. Now, I use more synchronous lessons using Zoom whenever possible. 

I had a hard time engaging students who were learning remotely at the same time as those in a socially distant classroom. One of my biggest challenges has been reading aloud. I have found using e-books has helped immensely! I am able to share my screen and show those students at home while allowing the students in the classroom to see the pictures even if they are in the back of the room. Another challenge has been making lessons engaging without using as many physical materials. Using simple games or apps like Flipgrid and Kahoot! has really helped too!

In the past, I have taught students in preschool and kindergarten on a fixed schedule each week and taught first through third grade on a flexible schedule. This year in order to provide more consistent instruction, if we were to go remote, I have a fixed schedule with all classes in preschool to third grade. These lessons provide planning time for teachers.  

Additionally, I am still scheduling collaborative lessons with first- through third-grade teachers where we are co-teaching and building lessons together. I am still providing teachers with a monthly menu of options, and they are still coming with their own ideas too. Time can sometimes be more of a challenge since I have more scheduled classes, but we are making it work! For me, it was important to continue the collaborative lessons and remain as flexible as possible. That way when we are able to go back to a completely flexible schedule the foundation and relationships are still there! 

Staying Organized

The Original Plan 

I cannot say I really had an original plan related to organization. I am a fairly organized person and have many processes in place. What I can say is my organization has definitely changed this year.

What It Looks Like

We use Canvas as our learning management system. I have found that posting as much as possible there has been very helpful! I post the links to presentations and games, as well as embed images and videos right into the site. Anything I can add I do! That way when switching between classrooms quickly (sometimes in less than a minute) I do not have to worry about where something might be saved on my computer or if I will be able to find it! It is a lot of work on the front end, but having it linked in one place makes access and management easier. 

The Awesome Sauce

The Original Plan

    • Continue all the extra programs that I was doing before that made the library program awesome! This includes Bagels and Books, live book talks with classes, monthly newsletters, and more!

What It Looks Like

This is the one that keeps me up at night! Everything takes twice as long right now. That means that something has had to give. Many of these bonus programs I am not able to manage right now. Maybe as the year progresses I can add some of them back in, but my focus has been on quality instruction for all students and getting books into kids’ hands. Right now, that has to be enough!

Some Positives

  • There have been some policies I have been able to change. For example, I used to fill out a due date slip for preschool students each week. This has not happened this year and no one has missed it!
  • I have been really focusing on the why of what we are doing and it is helping me be more reflective.   
  • I have been willing to say let’s see what happens. Some of my best lessons this year have been ones where I walk in and do not know for sure how it is going to go!
  • Giving myself permission to say I cannot do something! I am someone who often says “yes.”  I still say “yes” a lot, but I am giving myself permission to say my plate is full or that I need some help. 

How has your year been going? Let me know if you have any helpful tips! 


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).

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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1 reply

  1. I enjoyed reading your well-written assessment of and reflection on the ins and outs of how your hybrid year is going. You are working hard to ensure that your students have books in hand that they’re interested in reading. Kudos!

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