12 Great Tips to Help Students, Teachers, & the School Librarian

12 Great Tips to Help Students, Teachers, & the School Librarian - Here are 12 tips and tricks that can help you manage the school library and promote it—and the School Librarian—to students and teachers. Remember, the most positive Library Promotion we can do is through our actions rather than our words! #NoSweatLibraryDuring my dozen plus years as a School Librarian I’ve picked up several ideas from colleagues, from my listservs, and from racking my brain to find solutions to a problem.

Not only have those pointers helped with managing the library, they’re also good library—and librarian—advocacy. Whenever we do something memorable for students or for teachers, it builds rapport and promotes our school library services. It’s good to remember that the most positive Library Promotion we can do is through our actions rather than our words!

Now, let me share with you 12 of the best of these tips and tricks.

FOR STUDENTS:

  1. For School Library Media Month, create a patron called “Winner! Winner!” and check out a few dozen books to that patron. Re-shelve the books (still checked out). When a student checks out one of the books, a pop-up message tells you “This item is checked out to Winner! Winner!” The student ‘winner’ gets a little prize like a bookmark, poster, or acceptable snack item.
    (Idea from Michelle Burger LMS, Beach Elementary School, Portland, OR)
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  2. I use a laser pointer to direct students a location they’re having trouble finding. By pointing to the aisle and the sign on the end of a bookcase, I can quickly guide them when I’m busy with others at the circulation desk or in a different area of the library.
    linebreakA Tip to Help Students: Create Series Signs of Book Covers - Students like to read a book series in order, so help them out by making signs with the book covers in order and attaching them to the pertinent shelves. #NoSweatLibrary
  3. Help students track series books with signs showing the covers of the books in order. I make our signs with a simple slide presentation app. When printing, use options for multiple slides per page, then laminate and tape the signs to the inside backs or uprights of shelves.
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  4. Purposeful decorative signage – Even a “fun” poster, can serve a purpose when placed where it relates to content. Here’s what I do:
    • DK Eyewitness books come with posters, so I write the relevant Dewey numbers on the posters and put them on the ends of related bookcases or on the wall at the end of the aisle. The colorful posters invite students to find those books on the shelves and serve as location reminders.
    • At the end of our 973 U.S. History and Historical America aisle are posters of the Statue of Liberty and Texas cattle brands. Both posters tell students it’s the location of U.S. and Texas History fiction & Dewey books.
    • On the ends of the Spanish Fiction bookcase is a reading promotion poster written “en Español”—both a locator and language practice.

FOR TEACHERS:

  1. A Tip to Help Teachers: Create Customized Passes to the Library - Create a personalized library pass for every teacher, laminate them, & teachers can use a dry-erase marker to write on them. When students return, the teacher just wipes off the pass. Join my email list & you can download the editable template FREE! #NoSweatLibraryLaminated Library Passes – At the start of each school year I create a Library Pass for each classroom teacher. (4 passes fit on a sheet of letter-size paper.) Since they’re laminated, teachers use a dry-erase marker to write student names and their purpose for being sent to the library. When students return, the teacher just wipes off the pass. Attaching a magnetic or stick-on clip allows the teacher to attach it to the wall near the door. You can get the template by joining my mailing list!
    (I also create 6 numbered & laminated passes for me to send students to their locker for overdue books. All 6 fit on a sheet of letter-size paper.)
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  2. Teacher’s CAB: Classroom Accessories Bin
    When I arrived at my school library I found several dozen black plastic magazine bins. Since we have an online magazine database service, I don’t keep print copies so what to do with all these bins?
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    I realized they would be a good way to dispense small items that teachers use every year. I labeled a bin for each classroom and distribute them at the start of the school year; teachers turn them in at the end of the year and I place them atop the bookcases for the summer. They’re very popular with teachers, who keep them handy by their desks. The items in the bin are:

    • a teacher dictionary
    • TV remote control
    • my Quik-flip Teacher’s Guide to the Library
    • their laminated Library Pass mentioned above
    • their room’s color-coded plastic hall pass with extra inserts
    • blank USB drive to back up important documents from classroom computer (purchased in bulk by the principal)
    • select teachers get a digital camera to share with other hallway teachers

    When I dispense the CAB, I also include a Classroom Inventory sheet listing the A/V/D equipment in their classroom and any barcoded teaching materials checked out to them for the year.

FOR LIBRARY MANAGEMENT:

  1. To remove permanent marker from whiteboards, shelves, tables, etc., go over it with a dry-erase marker. When dry, just erase with a dry cloth or dry erase spray cleaner and a cloth.
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  2. Use yellow highlighter to write “Original” on the master of a print document; it keeps you (and others) from using it and the yellow doesn’t show up when you make new copies.
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  3. Keep mouses and headphones from being taken off computers by securing cables with a plastic self-locking tie and attaching to piece of hardware on the back of the CPU case.
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  4. To keep track of pieces of A/V/D equipment, take a digital photo of the item with all its accessories. Create a document with the photo and label the accessories. Print & laminate it, then attach to the main piece of equipment so whoever checks it out can see all the parts to be returned.
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  5. Classroom Patrons – In my state, education law precludes teachers being financially responsible for items used by students. So, for books or other items that students will use in the classroom, I created a “Classroom Number [X]” user account for each classroom. I check out items to that account to track them and document circulation, then discharge them when returned. If items are missing I do notify the teachers and they usually find them; however, if an item is still missing at the end of the school year, I just charge it to Missing Items.
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    I also use Classroom user accounts to check out items that are barcoded but permanently in classrooms, such as projector screens, TVs, whiteboards, and presentation carts. This allows me to keep a permanent inventory of these items in my system without associating them to teachers who may come and go.

  6. I purchased letter-size acrylic self-stick sign holders and put them inside the windows of the library doors. Various printed signs facing outward alert students and teachers to that day’s library activities and, facing inside, I put reminders for students as they walk out the door. I store the signs right in the holders, and since they’re open on 3 sides it’s easy to change signs.
    image of library door signs

I hope your find these tips and tricks helpful in your own School Library. If you’ve discovered other great ideas, please share them with the rest of us in the comments below!

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Create a Customized School Library Orientation for Teachers

Create a Customized School Library Orientation for Teachers - Teacher attitude toward the school library determines student use of our facility. School Librarians can show teachers the benefits of collaboration & library visits by creating a customized library orientation that features materials and Library Lessons for their first content area units of study. #NoSweatLibraryAt the start of each school year, we have School Library Orientations for students, our goal being to encourage them to use the library and its resources. But this rarely puts us at the top of most students’ list of where to go for information or guidance on school assignments. How might we overcome that disconnect?

What predisposes students to use the school library as a primary resource for learning? The answer is obvious: teachers have the most influence over whether students use the school library! If they regularly bring students to the library for class assignments, then students learn that the school library is the first, best place to go for answering questions and solving problems.

Thus, we need to boost our credibility with teachers, show them how we can increase student achievement. We must familiarize them with our products and services…not an overview, but their particular content area and specific classroom assignments.  We do that by creating a customized library orientation for our teachers.

THE SCHOOL LIBRARY HAS WHAT TEACHERS NEED

The twofold purpose of a teacher library orientation is to convince teachers we have exactly what they and their students need for any curricular unit, and to encourage them to collaborate with us on their lesson activities. Just as we do with student library visits, we can’t inundate teachers with everything we have; we just offer what they need for their immediate upcoming task. Accordingly, our custom library orientation need only show teachers the library’s resources for their 1st grading period topics of study.

First we determine what the school library has for each subject. Using subject-area curriculum guides or lesson plans, make a list of library resources that can enhance upcoming topic activities:

  • professional teaching materials
  • a cart of books for student use
  • online subscription database features
  • topical periodicals or realia
  • a particular library lesson.

We may find we don’t have materials for every subject teacher need, especially if curriculum or lessons have changed. We can still help: School librarians get numerous materials catalogs through the mail, and we can organize vendor catalogs by subject so teachers can easily browse catalogs to give us purchase requests.

HOW TO SET UP A TEACHER LIBRARY ORIENTATION

  • Teachers Need a School Library Orientation, Too! - A School Library Orientation for teachers shows them we have the resources they need for curricular units and that collaborating with us on Library Lessons will benefit them & their students. Here's how I do it... #NoSweatLibraryThe days before school begins are packed with professional development and preparing for students, so teachers need to see we respect their time. Don’t schedule a single teacher orientation, but rather, set up a self-paced visitation available throughout the day.
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  • Just as we capture student interest, “hook” teachers with food, like desserts and sweets! If you can’t do all that preparation, ask the PTA to help provide goodies. Intrigue teachers with a personalized invitation and a clever name, like “Desserts and Dewey”. Many online tools allow us to easily customize a document with colorful graphics for each subject.
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  • With students we focus on a single objective, and we need to do the same for teachers. To fulfill our objective to show teachers what we have for them, create a thematic display of selected physical materials using a table for each subject area. Include professional items in different formats as well as student-use materials.
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  • Just as we give students a meaningful activity to practice what they’ve learned, give teachers an activity that directs them to other bookshelf materials after they’ve examined their table materials. We can create a “Dewey map,” or better yet, create a short scavenger hunt for teachers customized to their content units—I call mine What “Dewey” Have For You?
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  • Show teachers we’re responsive to their curricular needs by giving them highlighters & sticky notes to mark bid vendor catalogs with needed materials they haven’t found by browsing their subject bookshelves.
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  • Spotlight digital library subscription resources that support first grading period topics. Designate certain library computers for each subject’s relevant services for the first grading period, and facilitate exploration into articles or features with a brief “how to” or WebQuest. (This can serve as a basis for student WebQuests.) Group like-subject stations so those teachers can sit together to collaborate.
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  • Let teachers experience how you customize a Library Lesson. Set up a lesson station with a slide presentation or video about copyright. Offer a copyright chart with guidelines for fair use of print or digital materials, printed on both sides and laminated, to take back to their classroom as a quick yet effective reminder during the rest of the school year. If we already have a Library Lesson for a 1GP topic, offer a copy of the Lesson Plan document to invite collaboration and a library visit. (Be sure your LP shows their Subject Standards!)

MY TEACHER LIBRARY ORIENTATION TIME SAVERS

  • My personalized invitations include an “orientation lesson guide” to give teachers a preview of what they’ll do, and it allows them to work independently through the lesson whenever they choose to visit the library during the day.
  • For subject signs on tables I use the plastic magazine holders I’ve set up for vendor catalogs. I have colorful graphic sheets taped to the sides to identify the subject, so I just grab them and place in the center of the appropriate table.
  • To one side of the catalog container I put teaching materials like DVDs, kits, or idea books. To the other side, I offer a sample of a dozen or so books that are helpful for students. I include a topical list of other books for a classroom bookcart, and to promote teacher collaboration I suggest they begin a project with the bookcart in the library because there’s more room for students to spread out. (I keep these lists updated with new purchases because I use them to compile topical bookcart materials.)
  • Within pertinent subscription services, I bookmark articles or create folders so teachers or students (or I) can rapidly find needed resources at a later time.

LONG TERM BENEFITS OF A TEACHER LIBRARY ORIENTATION

A successful faculty library orientation results in an increase in lesson collaborations and scheduled class visits. We won’t have every teacher participate every year, but many return periodically to check out new materials, especially after a standards, curriculum, or textbook update.

With more teacher-scheduled Library Lesson visits we overcome that disconnect between student orientation and student use. Students become more familiar with library offerings and more comfortable seeking out the librarian and library resources.

If you’ve not yet had a formal teacher library orientation, I encourage you to plan one now. Showing teachers that we consider them a primary partner in library services goes a long way to making the school library—and the School Librarian—a valuable resource for the school.

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