Are you missing your students? Feeling adrift in a sea of unknown? I get that.
My name is Angela Christianson, and like you, I'm a children's librarian for a reason—I want to open the window of the world of books to kids, everywhere and anywhere that I can. I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999 and have spent my career as a children's librarian, mostly in public libraries doing everything from baby storytime, toddler storytime, teen programming and even outreach into underprivleged schools and residential juvenile detention centers for incarcerated teens. What I love most about being a children's librarian is finding the right book, for the right child, at the right time and seeing that lightbulb go off above their heads. The connection to the kids is at the heart of my love of my career.
As I scroll my social media feeds, I'm seeing a lot of librarians and teachers express how much they miss their students. With school closures happening too quickly for you to get actual closure and saying goodbye before students were sequestered at home, those feelings are completely understandable!
Also, just on a personal level, I encourage you to acknowledge that you are grieving. You don't get to see the kids everyday face-to-face anymore. You went into education because you love kids. It's OK to be grieving seeing "your kids" every day in the flesh. Let yourself feel all the feels. It's part of what makes you a great educator!
While you're apart from your students, find new ways to connect—virtually. Here are a few suggestions to get your creative-connecting juices flowing!
- Create a 30-second Vimeo video and password protect it. Then email it to the teachers asking them to send it to students. Vimeo has a FREE option. You DO NOT have to pay. Here are instructions on how to do that.
- Read aloud and share a chapter a day. Many of you might remember reading serial fiction or listening to a favorite show on the radio. Pick books by grade level and read a chapter aloud once a day and record it in .mp3 format. Kids can close their eyes and listen. Hearing you read might bring some calm into their lives right now. Here are some resources where authors/publishers are giving permission to use their work for education in the COVID-19 era.
- Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Children's Books, Macmillan, Little Brown Young Readers, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and Lerner
- Author Kate Messner has compiled a list that includes guidance from Scholastic, Chronicle Books, Bloomsbury Kids, Candlewick, Little Brown Books, Boyds Mills & Kane and Abrams.
- Create personalized eCards. Remember those eCards that got shared relentlessly a few years ago? Bring 'em back! Create eCards for your students. Encourage them to send one back to you! Here's one platform that makes it easy to make free eCards.
- Use FlipGrid for remote connections. FlipGrid is a social learning platform that allows educators to ask a question, then the students respond in a video. Students are then able to respond to one another, creating a "web" of discussion. It even has a FREE account option. You can create a virtual "classroom" online and send students a prompt for them to reply via video (max time for student responses is 1:30). I have a friend who is using this successfully in her Middle School Spanish classes by giving assignments via FlipGrid and students post video responses! Here is a video on getting started.
While we all know "this too shall pass," it's not easy right now. I hope these ideas help you reengage with your students and YOU get that "kid time" you need and THEY get the "you time" they need!
What ideas do you have to share?
Note: Junior Library Guild does not know your district's policies. Use good judgement and seek advice from district leadership if you are unsure on using these resources. Nothing in this post is to be construed as legal advice.