Back to School is upon us, and librarians all over the country will soon (if not already) be headed back to the heart of the school, the library. We understand that school librarians wear many hats these days, so we’d like to make things a little easier for you. Will your school be face-to-face, distance-learning, or a blend? We have created a small back-to-school guide to help you prepare and make the best of this coming school year.
A Good Place to Start
How school looks this year will be different for every librarian, but it’s good to be prepared for a change in restrictions so that you have a plan in place. The AASL is the perfect place to help you continue to navigate your different roles withing your schools COVID plan.
Back-to-school for Librarians as Educators
Librarian Media Specialists do their fair share of teaching and back to school is a great time to take advantage of those skills. To start the year off right, try these suggestions:
Curate Resources for Teachers
Librarians love resources! Work together with your colleagues by providing easy-to-access (both online and on paper for students with limited internet), updated resource lists for parents and teachers that are directed towards specific needs, skill levels or age groups.
Use Design Thinking to Address Digital Learning
Take a Design Thinking approach! Digital learning platforms can become a barrier to a child’s learning if they don’t know how to properly use them. How to fix that? Use the 5-step approach: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. Host several age-appropriate back-to-school technology sessions where you can provide tips for digital communication and educate new and returning students on navigating your school’s Digital learning platforms.
By defining their problems and getting their feedback in your session, you will be able to find a solution for every family so that they have the digital skills needed for a successful year. Could your school library benefit from a digital collection? If you’d like to try out our gold-standard digital collection of audiobooks and e-books, you can get six months free!
Provide Personalized Learning Resources and Strategies
Whether or not students have an official Individualized Education Plan, many top educators suggest that all teachers create individualized learning plans in the classroom this year to address the learning gaps that distance learning and shutdowns have created.
How can you help?
Research, gather, and recommend strategies that support differentiated instruction. Want some help curating a collection that includes all types of readers? Check out our category packages that can save you both time and money. You can browse the collection here.
How Does Back-to-School Look in Your Library?
Don’t Let Masks Get in the Way of Relationships
Does your school require masks? If so, create a name badge with a picture of your face on it, so students can see your face and recognize you. You can also consider using a clear mask for students to see your smile, while also allowing English Language Learners to see your mouth moving, an essential piece of language acquisition. Clear masks are perfect for creating an accessible environment for your hearing impaired students. Check out our webcast with Cece Bell for more tips!
Adaptability is key this year to navigating how the physical environment at the school library may look. Start by updating social distancing requirements (if any) and have the guidelines in place where visitors can see. Guidelines, for example, may go over library capacity, the flow of traffic, library access and use of materials or maker spaces, technology and seating arrangements.
Create a Digital Presence
Consider a page on Google Classroom with a welcome newsletter that goes home with students and posted online to communicate the changes in library policies to stakeholders. For example, is the access to library space restricted or have the restrictions been lifted from last year? Has the circulation policy been extended or shortened? For more COVID resources, visit our Covid Resource Page.
Back-to-School Tips on Keeping Remote Learners Engaged
- Do you have students who will be studying remotely this year? Here’s a blog that offers a creative way to have remote checkouts.
- Host virtual book clubs, online book fairs, offer back-to-school crafting kits that students can pick up curbside or just bring home from school.
- Revamp your online library site like this librarian did with google drawings.
- You can plan and create interactive virtual field trips or library orientations with free online apps like Surveymonkey and Goosechase. Gamifying the process is what it’s all about!
- Reconnect with your local public library for the new school year and let students know what resources they offer them outside of the classroom, like free tutoring, access to maker spaces, or additional reading resources.
- Looking for more ideas? Visit our page on resources and solutions.
Here’s to making the best out of this new school year!