Saturday, July 11, 2009

Library Schedule 2008-2009- Where do we go from here?

I'm taking a look at next year's schedule. I have 23 fifty-minute classes (1 more than last year, 7 more than the year before). I don't even have the words to express how I feel about this. This schedule makes it impossible to ever collaborate with teachers. This schedule does not allow for ample planning time. This schedule leaves no room for me to do digital storytelling with Streetside Stories during the last hour of my day. This schedule reflects what my school thinks about the is a place to drop the kids off so teachers can have a prep. Time for me to think about my career path. Is my participation in this schedule considered acceptance?


jamie said...

I so understand your problem. I have 37 classes to fit in per week, and although I have all sorts of great ideas about activities I could/should be doing with classes, there is simply not any time or value placed on it by admin. I see each class 20 or 25 min per week, during which time they must choose books as well. Librarians are responsible for all Internet Safety curriculum as well, so there's little time left for literature information literacy skills, etc.

Teachers are supposed to stay with the classes and help with book choice, take part in lessons, learn from modeled technology integration, etc. Largely they do not, despite repeated reminders from admin and reminders & bribes from me.

Additionally each morning I attend grade level PLC meetings for 45 min. However,there is no time for library collaboration during these meetings. There is too much data study/assessment reports, etc. required during these meetings for me to get any more than cursory library items discussed during this time. FAR too much for the teachers to do, document, fill out, assess during this time for them to even do what is required of them. They are far too stressed for me to get any meaningful collab done.

I've toyed with an entirely flexible schedule, which at this time I could do, since I am not yet a part of the fine arts/pe rotation. However, I am certain that many, many teachers would not bring their classes to the library at all, and I don't have admin support to require them to--they don't even all come regularly with a fixed schedule!

I don't know the answer. I'm hoping someone has some suggestions. Is it possible to meet literacy/information literacy goals in the modern elementary library? I'm sure it is. I would love to hear ideas.

Monarch's Librarian said...

I don't know how you do it with 37 classes! Each of my 23 classes are fifty minutes and I am a part of the PE and Music prep rotation. I met an elementary librarian at NECC who checks out books every other week so she can teach full 50 minute lessons during the weeks without checkout. I will definitely use that one. Thank goodness I have an assistant or I would feel like I am drowning in books.

Teachers never stay with their students because I am a part of the common planning time rotation. There are only a couple of sessions in my day where the teachers are not scheduled to meet and they take that time as a free prep. Like you teachers, our teachers have data talks but I am not a part of that conversation. At any time I could have my assistant take my class and attend, but I would not overload my assistant (there are huge equity issues in play at my school dealing w/ race, education, opportunity, and equity in the work place when it comes to our non-teaching staff). Which battle do I fight?

Ann said...

I totally understand your frustrations with having a packed, fixed schedule. I can not offer any solutions, just support as I have a fixed schedule with 27 classes and only 45 minute blocks per class. with increased enrollment for next year, I'm guessing I may have 2-3 more classes next year to squeeze in--leaving me less time for program administration duties. I am on the music, art, and pe rotation, too. A couple of teachers will stay with their class if we are working on a project that needs extra assistance and I let them know in advance. Otherwise, I am planning release time for the teachers.

I do like the idea of having book exchange every other week, but my school community has many avid readers and I don't think that would work best for us. The flexible time needs to be done either before or after school is in session. That is why I am going to try to set up a wiki with collaboration tools and teacher resources so they have access to information when they need it.

I have done a few staff development sessions with technology and more staff are starting to approach me for help and to collaborate. Our principal is very receptive to doing more staff development throughout the year so this will help me demonstrate my leadership and willingness to help them. Start with one or two colleagues that are receptive to planning together and go from there.

Are you passionate about teaching the elementary level? Maybe working at the middle school or high school level would be worth considering since teachers at this level have more of a flexible schedule and often can work and plan with you. I enjoy teaching the elementary level despite the fixed schedule. I'm trying to figure out more creative ways to collaborate. (working lunches in the media center, or hosting a few days after school each month to provide differentiated training or planning with staff by appointment)

Just know that you are not alone in this situation.

Monarch's Librarian said...

My "passion" is never a question. I love working at the elementary level. I want to have something left of me to offer to my family at the end of the day. I have worked at the middle school level and found myself in a position that felt more like "textbook clerk" than librarian. I'm beginning to feel that there is no happy medium for school librarians...especially at the elementary level.

I have a wiki ( that is heavily used by my PLN and widely used by the teachers in my district but rarely used by teachers in my own school site. I am only 1 person and there isn't enough of me to plan lessons K-5, execute standards-based lessons, implement a new digital storytelling project, collaborate with classroom teachers, take care of myself, and take care of my family.

I spent my 1st 3 years as a librarian giving up my mornings, lunches, and after school time. That is not sustainable. I would cry just about every day after school due to exhaustion. Now, my before school, lunch, and after school time belongs to me.

DJ345 said...

I will have 31 classes of Pre-K, K & 1st grade each week. Each class wil come for 45 minutes as I am part of the rotation. I will not have an aide. I sympathize deeply with all of you. We just have to do what we can and try to take care of ourselves. I know I worked late too many days last year for my health and well-being.

I plan to spend more time and effort on attracting volunteers at the first of the school year. I, also, am planning to use some strategies from "The Big 6 Goes Primary" by Barbara Jansen to incorporate more information skills into the weekly lessons. I will continue to collaborate "on the fly" by building personal relationships with the teachers who have a desire to use the library. I am trying to make our library website an on-demand resource library for our learning community.

We eliminated three classes last year and was hoping to develop collaborative projects with the GT program or 1st grade teachers during my open periods. However, my 7 Pre-K classes have been extended to 45 min from 20 min. So, now, I am looking for good ways to extend my Pre-K lessons to fill the new time slots.

The disconnect between what school administrators and school boards think about the role of librarians and how we see ourselves can be very daunting. Interestingly, our district acquired a new evaluation checklist for librarians last year. It did not cover lesson planning, classroom management, or teaching skills. Instead, it was about collection development, purchasing, cataloging, information delivery etc. This disconnect is why the AASL standarsd should be as free as possible. They should be in administrative journals, plastered on billboards,etc. I am not sure what it would take to develop a consensus of what our role in schools should be.

Best wishes to everyone in the new school year, however. Hang in there! I believe we do make a difference to our students, even when it seems we are not noticed, underappreciated and taken for granted.

Monarch's Librarian said...

Thanks so much for your comment. I'm sure my admin has never read AASL standards. He is new to our school and this is his first time experiencing what a school librarian can do.

I'm hanging in here. It's good to know you are are hanging with me :)

LifeLongLearner said...

Oh I so appreciate the previous comments. This is my second year in a brand new elementary school of 580 PreK-5 students. I'm feeling like a "planning period" for our teachers with 30 classes coming on a fixed schedule each week. My library clerk is only with me on 2.5 days. I would love to be able to collaborate with teachers more but find it difficult. Any ideas about how to feel like I'm applying the AASL standards without burning out in year two?