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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Helpful Informational Handouts from the School Librarian

Helpful Informational Handouts from the School Librarian - School Librarians can save time if we anticipate common questions from students, teachers, administrators, or parents, and prepare helpful informational handouts that are customized for each type of patron. Here are some suggestions & FREE downloads. #NoSweatLibraryStudents, teachers, administrators, and parents often have similar questions about our School Library Program. Such common questions include the hours we’re open, materials available for checkout and length of their checkout periods, how to access specialized online resources, general policies & procedures for visiting or using the library facility, and how the School Librarian can help patrons with skills and activities.

We can save a lot of time if we anticipate these questions and prepare helpful informational handouts that are customized for each type of patron. For our handouts to be truly useful we need to provide a broad overview as succinctly as possible. The key is careful organization of just the information each patron needs, provided in an easy-to-navigate format.

Following are images and explanations of the different handouts I use in my middle school library. You may wonder why I have so many items with redundant information, but each print document serves a particular purpose for a patron at their time of need…an essential goal of any school library. (Click to enlarge images; some handouts link to a free download of the document.)

HELPFUL HANDOUTS FOR STUDENTS

  • Library Bookmarks – A school librarian can never have too many free bookmarks as useful handouts for students. By creating my own templates and purchasing a wide range of bright-colored cardstock, I can quickly provide hundreds of these that are more purposeful and less costly than those available from vendors. I customize 2-sided bookmarks for library information, for Dewey and Fiction Subjects, for reading promotion of special collections and read-alikes, as overdue book reminders, and even as lesson supports. I keep these displayed on the circulation counter for students to take as they need them.
    Fiction Subjects
    image of Fiction Subjects bookmark
    Create your own
    Subject & Topical bookmarks:
    Download my FREE
    5-bookmark template PPT file

    NoSweat Library 5-bookmark template image
    Read-alike topical bookmarks
    Snip of several colorful topical bookmarks side-by-side
    Overdue Bookmarks Download O/D template from my
    FREE Librarian Resources page.
  • Sample Library Info Bookmark & BrochureLibrary Information Bookmark & Brochure – Don’t waste time during upper-grades library orientations giving information that returning students have heard before. I offer a Student Library Brochure to those who need the reminder. Such a document is also useful for students who transfer in during the school year, so I give a handful of these to Student Services to include in their new student packets.
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  • Join my mailing list to gain access to my e-List Library that includes this Book Shelving Handbook for students. #NoSweatLibrary #shelvingbooksBook Slinger Handbook – Middle school students love to shelve books…don’t ask me why. Rather than use an inordinate amount of time explaining shelving, I have a pictorial handbook that explains library organization and shelving guidelines. I can hand one to a student, and when they hand it back I ask if they still have questions; they rarely do, so my handbook must work.
    Join my mailing list & you can download the Book Slinger Shelving Handbook for your library!

HELPFUL HANDOUTS FOR TEACHERS

  • New Teacher FAQs sheet - School Library resources and what the School Librarian can do for a teacherNew Teacher Library FAQs – The first time my principal invited me to talk to new teachers I realized what I had to say would be quickly forgotten among all the other “stuff” they’d get, so instead I created a handout with a colorful infographic about School Library Services on one side and a Classroom Inventory Guide on the other (new teachers like to know what ‘standard’ furniture & equipment they should have in their classroom).
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    I place these on the tables before new teachers arrive for their meeting (in the library, of course), and most teachers begin reading it immediately. When my turn comes, I merely introduce myself and let them know I’ll be around to answer any additional questions they have. Often some return to the library later—with the handout—to talk, so my strategy works…and I have an opportunity to discuss collaborative lessons specific to that teacher.
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  • Create An Easy-to-Use Library & Media Guide for Your Teachers! - School Librarians can provide teachers with information about the library, the school, and technology with this compact flip-guide. It's easy to make and teachers can tape it up where it's super handy for their computer, their phone, and for lesson planning. Read more about it... #NoSweatLibraryTeacher Quik-Flip Guide – Information about the library, the school, and technology. After initial setup it’s easy to update, which I do every other year. Sometimes I use different colors for each sheet, sometimes I use a bright neon color for all of them…whatever makes it jump out and say “Use Me.” Distributed at the start of school, my teachers tape or staple it to the wall beside their desk or computer for whenever they need this information.
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    The 4 sheets of letter-size paper, printed on both sides, offer a huge amount of informational space; folded at various sizes, collated and stapled together, they make an easy-to-navigate 8-tabbed booklet:

    • About the Library – map; checkout period for students, teachers; # computers.
    • Library Lessons – orientations; info-lit skills; tech integration.
    • Library/Librarian Services & Instructional Resources – collections; A/V/D equipment, collaboration.
    • Library Website & Online Resources – picture showing site with top-level resources.
    • Cable Channel Lineup – provider list + internal channels for media feeds.
    • Copyright Law & Fair Use Guidelines – media use chart; website evaluation.
    • Tek Tips – district services with logins & PWs; building’s networked printers.

HELPFUL HANDOUTS FOR ADMINISTRATORS

  • New Principal Information Booklet - Help a new principal understand what you do as a School Librarian with this information booklet.New Principal Information Booklet – I’ve had 3 different principals during my years as a school librarian. When a new principal arrives, I give them a folder of documents explaining the library budget funds I’m responsible for, the library and school services I provide—Instruction and Curriculum, Communication, Materials Management, and Special Projects—and end with a page of personal information I want a principal to know. My new principals have found it very beneficial.
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  • Internet Laws in a Nutshell – A document that explains how FERPA, COPPA, and CIPA apply to students using technology. Administrators & teachers may not have been given this information before…or perhaps they have but just not in a “nutshell.” Admins have asked me to distribute this to teachers at a staff development day just before school begins.
    You can download this document from my FREE Librarian Resources page.

HELPFUL HANDOUTS FOR PARENTS

Our first PTA meeting, which is our Open House/Meet the Teacher night, is an opportunity to introduce myself to parents, and my principals have always allowed me time to give a brief presentation. I also make available 3 different parent brochures as listed below. A stack of these brochures is also given to Student Services for parents of new students enrolling in our school, and to our front entry Welcome Desk, to be available for parents at any time.

  • Library Information Brochure for Parents - How parents can help their kids achieve greater success by using library resources.Parent Library Brochure – This brochure reiterates some of the information given at the presentation about how the library and I are here to help their young ones achieve greater success in their classes.
  • Parent Tek-Tips – I’m fortunate that our school district offers so much online access and so many online services to our parents and surrounding community. This brochure covers the main resources parents may need help using: private student email service, course outlines, student information service with access to grades, online library resources, online curriculum services, and online training for common tech tools.
  • Volunteer Guide – This booklet encourages parent volunteers to help their child by helping the librarian with various in-house and online library tasks; included is a shelving guide similar to my student one.

HELPFUL HANDOUTS FOR OTHER LIBRARIANS

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