What’s Next: Things I’ve Learned from Distance Learning

It has been almost two months since Virginia schools have shut down. Teachers and librarians have been adapting and changing so they can still connect with and teach their students.

Changes for Next Year

The question that I have been thinking about is how will this experience change my library and the services that I offer students and teachers?

Add More Digital Resources

As an elementary librarian, I have always been adamant about using most of my budget for actual books. Until now, my philosophy was that real books were more important to get into elementary students’ hands, than digital. But walking into my empty library and seeing thousands of books sitting on the shelves was eye opening. I suddenly wished that I had digital formats for my most popular books.

Since schools have shut down, many publishing companies have been offering free resources until September. Our school district uses Mackin and they have provided hundreds of free e-books to its schools to use until September. I immediately downloaded them to our site.

When I put in my next order for books, I will make sure that I save some of my budget for e-books.

Teach Students How to Access My LibGuides

I also will spend some time making sure that all of my students (and parents) are well trained in using my LibGuides. This is a library website by Springshare that all of the libraries in our district have.

Having LibGuides provides a place for students, staff, and parents to access all library resouces. My LibGuides are a valuable tool during distance learning. My only problem was that not all of my students knew about it.

Next year, I will make sure that I promote the site better and that all of our families are adept at using my LibGuides.

Make Every Day Special

The most important lesson that I have learned from this whole thing is to make every interaction with teachers and students special. You never know when you will see that person again. We get so caught up with our busy schedules and our to-do lists that we tend to work on autopilot.

Next year, I hope that I have learned to stay present and enjoy each moment as it occurs.

I have also started thinking about how busy I was. All of this extra time has allowed me to reevaluate my school work schedule. Perhaps I need to look at some of the extra things I have been doing. For next year, I am going to commit to staying present and not overloading my schedule. I would rather commit to doing a couple of extra activities really well instead of running ragged trying to do “all the stuff.”

When I look back on this time away from school, I hope to see it as a time of personal growth and self-reflection. A time where I have made positive and healthy changes that are reflected in my library.


Author: Colleen R. Lee

Colleen R. Lee is a former middle school English teacher and Elementary Teacher. She is currently the Elementary Librarian at Greenfield Elementary School in Chesterfield County, VA. Follow her on Twitter @MrsLeesLibrary.

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1 reply

  1. I am an elementary school Media Specialist at 2 schools, grades pre-k -5. My problem with all this digital when returning to school is that I don’t have any computers in one school in the Media Center and only 2 in my other school. Yes, I can request the chromebooks, but often the setup takes up a lot of the 30 mins. that I have with some classes. Digital is good but there is nothing like being able to offer a child an actual book.

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