Friday, March 28, 2014

Mystery Book Shelf Contest Hits Harding IC

Prior to spring break (spring break was March 3-7), I took some time to self-reflect on how library check-out is going this school year.  I reflected on the positives, the negatives, what am I doing to promote a positive library environment, what do I need to do to continue to support and foster a love for reading , and so on.

This is the first year I am assigned to serve as a teacher-librarian in one building!  This means I have the opportunity to not only teach library skills classes, but also to provide instruction and guidance during scheduled fifteen minute checkouts.  In my six years as a teacher-librarian, I have always wanted to be a part of check-outs, but couldn't due to being shared between two elementary buildings and focus solely on teaching library skills classes and performing other library management-related duties and tasks.  Now I am finally a part of checkouts, and I LOVE it!  It is a perfect time to promote and foster a love for reading, building positive teacher-student relationships, and get to know students on a more "casual" side.

While I was teaching library skills in one building, my paraprofessional would be in the other building doing check-outs and other library-related tasks.  My paraprofessional was beyond amazing and has a deep love for books, so I knew students were in good hands with her for checkouts.  She helped carry out my envision for check-out time to be a pleasant, warm, welcoming, and inviting school library!

I miss Kathy very much!

While I miss Kathy, I have to admit that I LOVE check-outs!  It is my chance to be a "book nerd!"  I can talk about books, promote books, recommend books, and share in each student's excitement over the books he/she checks out.

Obviously, I have painted a positive picture of library check-out.  Unfortunately, when I was self-reflecting, prior to spring break, I pondered a negative situation, one that was making me cranky and crabby at the end of each check-out day.  I was working so hard to keep the school library neat, orderly, and in top shape, but students were trashing the library, specifically the book shelves area.  Each time students would come to library check-out, I felt like a broken record with reminding them to take care of the books, use shelf markers, take care of the book shelves, put books back where they belong, and so on!  I couldn't help but ask myself, "Why have I worked so hard to re-arrange an entire library, weed out books, re-shelve books to become more elementary library user-friendly, and more, but students are trashing the library and not sharing in the same pride I have for our school library?!"

So, this sparked me to focus solely on how to fix this negative situation and reflect more.  I asked my principal and a few colleagues for feedback on how library check-out is going and the situation regarding book care and overall library shelf care.  Based on feedback, I came up with solutions to the problem.  Then I asked my principal and a few colleagues for input on the solutions I came up with based upon previous conversations.  Once I gained their opinions and input, I then decided to implement a new system that would take the crabbiness and crankiness out of me, and place responsibility and pride back on the students.

It took last cycle (March 17-20) and this cycle (March 21-28) to implement a two-part system that puts responsibility on students to take better care of the books, book shelves, and the overall appearance of the school library.

Last cycle, immediately following spring break, I requested two students from each class to make a final "walk-through" at the end of each checkout.  Two students are selected based upon the classroom's "star of the day," "star of the week," "line leader of the day," "helper of the day," etc..  If a classroom doesn't have job roles, then I ask the teacher to select two students "on the spot."  While I informed the class that it still is everyone's job to make sure they take care of the library, books, and overall appearance, the two students will make a final walk-through to make sure the class were responsible.  Two cycles have now passed (last cycle and this cycle), and I am impressed with how serious students are taking the job.  It is quite pleasing, and even entertaining, to watch students get picky, even pickier than I would be, about certain things.

This cycle, I implemented a "mystery book shelf contest."  Originally, I had planned on assigned each class a designated book shelf to take care of, but thanks to Mr. Ben Feight, he suggested a "mystery book shelf."  Prior to each class check-out, I select a book shelf to check it at the end of class.  No one, except me, knows what book shelf I choose.  This makes it even more fun, as students have to work hard at taking care of ALL the book shelves, instead of one.  If the "mystery book shelf" meets my expectations, then I reward the class with a sticker on a class poster.  I admit that at the time of this blog poit, I haven't decided how the winner will be declared, based upon the stickers, or what prize will be rewarded.  Thankfully, the students haven't asked about that part, as the "mystery" part of this is what is motivating to them now.

Already, I love how this two-part system is working to improve book care, book shelves, and the overall appearance of the library!  In just two cycles, I have already noticed that I am not as crabby or cranky at the end of check-out days!  I hope students are excited and taking more joy in sharing responsibilities for taking care of the library!  After all, I want them to come to be excited to come to the library and take pride in it!  I know I am proud of the library!

Stay tuned for more results on how students and I working together to keep the school library clean and a place we all love to visit and be proud of.