Every veteran classroom teacher worth their grain in salt will tell you that rituals and routines are a necessary part of the management of their students. It would be impossible to manage a room full of 2nd graders who decide to walk into their classroom and pick what they want to do! It is ineffective, and it will bring you one step closer to insanity!
The same holds true for media centers. The management of library is an art. It takes a lot of finesse because of the many hats that librarians wear. Just as a classroom teacher has a routine for when you can sharpen pencils, the same must hold true for the media facility. The first full month in the library should be solely dedicated to teaching rituals and routines. These will help students in the event that they transfer from one school to another, but also will lead to automaticity and a sense of true ownership in their library!
Rituals and Routines to Think About
As you decide HOW students are to walk into the library and once they are in the library, how they are managed, consider some of these questions:
- Where will they walk?
- How do you want them to walk in?
- Will they sit in assigned seats (HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!)?
- What supplies will you need?
- Will you have the supplies at the tables or in designated areas?
- Will students retrieve supplies on their own?
- What is your procedure for a broken crayon or pencil?
- Can students sharpen pencils at any time? If not, when can they?
- How will you manage incoming and outgoing books?
- Is your drop slot conveniently located? Will students drop off books as soon as they enter?
- Will you have an embedded checkout in your library time? (Most elementary libraries do!)
- How should students approach the check-out counter?
- Do students need library cards or other items to check out books?
- How long will book check-out last?
- When will students check out books? At the beginning of the class or the end? (Many librarians recommend the end. You will have many stragglers who take their time finding a book, and then it’s hard to reign them in for lesson time!)
- How long will your average lesson last?
- How long will your centers last (if you are a centers-based library)?
Management of time sounds easy. However, it takes time to figure out. Remember that time when you finished your lesson early and the kids were looking at you and waiting for what comes next!? The problem was, you had no “next”! By managing your time, you will find this rarely happens!
Invest in a timer – and use it!
You will find that if students stay engaged and busy, and if you provide a sense of ownership to them, then your library will run smoothly! Before you know it, you won’t find yourself standing at the checkout counter, dictating directions over and over. Instead, you will open a book and dazzle a child with words like... “If you like books about happy endings, you are better off choosing another book.” –Lemony Snicket
Which of these procedures will you incorporate into your library this year? Share in the comments!
This post is written by Tracy Blunier. Tracy has been a school library media specialist for five years. She currently works in a primary school (grades K-2). She is a former classroom teacher with a passion for management. Tracy loves organization. She also loves using every resource possible to streamline operations and allow students as much independence as possible.
Do you have advice for fellow librarians? If so, why not write for Elementary Librarian?