As a librarian, you have many responsibilities. Therefore, any opportunity to save time is a good one. A few minutes saved here and there can help make the day run smoother and maybe even give you a chance for a much needed rest. To help you save some time this year, we asked an elementary librarian to share some of her time-saving tips with you.
1. Find a lesson plan format that works for you.
I use planbook.com. It’s a paid subscription, but it’s only $12 a year. It helps me keep organized without having to carry a big binder or notebook. (There’s also a free iPad app with a paid subscription.) It takes some time setting it up, but once it is ready, it makes my life so easy. The program has a feature that allows you to link standards to your plans. Later in the year, I can make a chart of how many times the standard was taught. This helps me fill in the gaps. Want to know the best part? You can give a substitute a student access code and they can view your plans for the day. I can paste a link for a video lesson or game. I can also attach any worksheets or handouts. My circulation instructions/procedures are included too, so I can take off last minute if one of my children is sick. You can try it out for yourself with a free 30 day trial.
2. Stop using seating charts.
Seating charts can be time consuming when you have 24 classes. I forget which classes need a seating chart or which classes need their seating chart adjusted. Instead, I have a reading rug that my students sit on when we are having story time or a group discussion. My Scholastic Dollars helped make this purchase. I printed a photo of the rug and taped each square to a popsicle stick. When students enter the room, they pull a stick from the cup and that’s where they sit for the entire class period. Next week, they choose a different stick. This has helped so much. If I’m not standing at the door with the cup ready to greet the class, they know exactly what to do when they enter the library. This also helps with students that get a little jealous of classmates when they don’t get chosen to sit next to a certain student.
3. If you teach any extra classes, such as RTI, find an easy program to use.
This will help you avoid spending a lot of time planning. Every year, I teach an enrichment class during the RTI time at my school. I felt like I was spending all of my time, planning for this daily 30 minute class. I asked my principal if she would purchase Scholastic News and Science Spin for the RTI enrichment classes. Luckily, she approved and I spend less time planning for the week than I did for a day before the Scholastic News purchase. It’s been a lifesaver! There are online resources, games and videos to use with each magazine. The students love the program, especially when they get to take a full color magazine home each week. If your principal isn't able to purchase something like this for you, you can consider using Scholastic Dollars from your Book Fair.
4. To speed up circulation time, have your school photo company print student IDs to use as library cards.
They will print the IDs on photo paper and not charge me a fee. If I want them printed on plastic cards, they charge a fee. To make the process faster, I display their library cards in a pocket chart. Students can locate their card quickly and I it doesn’t take me any time to put them away. I keep them at the end of the school year to use for the first quarter of the next year. That’s when the new cards finally arrive. It’s a very exciting week for students when they get their new library cards. As new students enroll, I take their photo a make them a photo card too. It might not match exactly, but they don’t care as long as their photo is on their library card.
5. Find a good classroom management routine.
I’ve always struggled with classroom management. It seems like I can never find a good routine. My school has used the clip up/clip down chart for a few years now. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try using this for the entire class. When a class gets to the top of the chart, I give them a reward. So far, I’ve given out bookmarks, stickers, movie time, games on the iPad and candy. It has been working so well! The best part is that I forget to move their class clip, it’s not the end of the world. Usually, the students will ask me when we line up to leave and I have one of them to move the clip.
6. Keep track of your remotes.
I’m always losing my remotes. To help keep me more organized, I Velcro them to the wall next to my computer. I can always find my remotes and so can my substitutes.
7. Use a special signal.
When the students are working or reading quietly, I don’t like to give them loud orders to clean and line up. Instead, I blow a train whistle. The students know when they hear the whistle; they should stop working and begin cleaning up. When they are ready, they line up. This also signals to students that if they still haven’t checked out their library book, they should be in my circulation counter with their library books.
How do you save time in your library? Want to thank Amy for a great idea? Share with us in the comments!
This post is written by Amy Blythe. Amy is the librarian at Plattin Primary and Telegraph Intermediate in the Jefferson R-7 School district in Festus, Missouri. She spends each morning at Plattin with students in preschool through second grade. She spends afternoons at Telegraph with students in third through fifth grade. Her schedule is VERY challenging, like many of yours. Amy wanted to share some time saving tips with my readers today.
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