It’s that time of year again when testing, proctoring, SAT, FSA, CBT, IPDP, DPGT and our beloved inventory invade our world. But let’s not forget that our students take on the brunt of that invasion. They are scurried into an environment full of silence, anxiety, unfamiliarity and solitude in compliance with state requirements. It feels more unnatural for them than it does for us. Although student test performance impacts our final evaluation, we must not let this bring us down if circumstances have us thinking pessimistically.
Time to turn that frown upside down. We must try to think of our students and aim to bring some joy into back into their lives.
That new and eager teacher librarian we once knew can work some happy magic yet! Make one last ditch effort to freshen your library displays--- even if you don’t feel like it. Make yourself do it for the kiddos. Try using some shelf talkers in bright paper to entice your students and make them smile about a book they might have never seen before (see picture). Curiosity might kill the cat but it will energize our students from that testing-mode trance.
Send home flyers with summer reading lists… start with the SSYRA books! I have a Summer Sale of SSYRA books and bolster the number of books I can buy for my SSYRA program in the Fall (see picture with flyer next to Narwhal display). I make sure I am encouraging students to read those books over the summer as do all of the teachers at my school. Flyers and website updates are a must… don’t forget to push notifications to your school’s app if you have one. If your school uses Renaissance Place, then promote the SSYRA books with their AR levels to entice even more students to pick up a copy and get a jumpstart on reading for the summer. Kids love the excitement of new books… especially the SSYRA books!
Finally, get your students involved in the process. Let them shelve books that are returned in those last few weeks. They love helping. The safe bets are allowing them to handle your Easy, Fiction, and biographies. I try to handle the non-fiction myself to avoid excess student shelving error.
I use a due date card that lists a large number representing the day that book is due. If that day of the month has passed then the book is due the next month on that day. When the books are returned, the students automatically remove the due date card and place it in a basket (see picture –open book and basket over book return). The basket fills up daily. So my students are always asking if they can organize them and file them away in my office on card trays in order by number. I love how eager they are to help. It helps them realize the many things we do in the library and how each small act of kindness brings yet a little more joy right back to us through our precious students. And who cares if our student helpers make mistakes, nobody is perfect… in fact life is not perfect. It stands to reason that our libraries should be a little imperfect as well.
Additionally, try to energize your colleagues with some seasonal quotes or motivational images. I use the staff bathroom down the hallway from the library to send messages of joy to my educational partners in crime… especially when there are less than 20 days of school left! (See “Keep Calm cause Summer is Coming” picture).
By doing these things we can deliver a dose of joy into our lives, albeit a small serving. It’s time to let your hair down and ride the “End of School Year” wave. Just make sure your kiddos feel the joy of that wave as well. Help them remember that the library and it’s keeper, the librarian, is a place of refuge and yes… joy!
May this school year journey end with reading smiles and abundant joy as you embark on the summer of 2018. Happy Readings!
Milene Del Rio has served as an elementary school Library Media Specialist in Miami-Dade County for 25 years with a short stint teaching kindergarten. She is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher who loves to integrate informational literacy into the curriculum with a digital touch. Milene facilitates schoolwide reading programs, book clubs and battles of the books to help students develop a life-long love of reading and the library.