After teaching in a classroom for 11 years I went back to Mansfield University to complete the School Library Program. I am very pleased that I changed direction as the school library is a magical place where each day offers new challenges, fulfilling projects and wonderful opportunities to interact with students, staff, community members, and administrative personnel.
My library has a “fixed schedule” and each class, Pre-K through Fifth-Grade, is assigned one period a week of “Library” as a “special”. My library has a “flex” schedule as well. The children know that as long as the lights are on and they can see me in the room, they are welcome to come in and use the facility. Children come in all day long- some to use the computers to complete a report they are typing, some to spend time in the stacks- browsing and cultivating new authors, interests, or simply enjoying the beauty and atmosphere where they feel welcome.
I work very closely with the classroom teachers to provide lessons during the fixed class period to support enrich and build schema for the lessons occurring in the classroom. I incorporate themes, vocabulary, topics and skills that connect directly to classroom learning. I am able to provide the children with multi-media to support their learning- which strengthens the struggling learning and provides opportunities for the accelerated student to explore the topic on their own level. I consider “Library” class an essential. I consider it an integral part of the children’s academic life and work to promote a love of learning, knowledge of information gathering and evaluating, skills that will stay with these little people as they go out into the world as adults.
I provide special programs for distance learning, have author visits, and host after school programs such as; “Camp-Out with Books” and “Books and Breakfast”. I am involved in planning for the RIF program, Parents as Reading Partners, and supporting the reading series with materials gathered from Inter Library Loans and through our wonderful BOCES coordinator.
In the library I create hands-on learning centers which allow for exploration and team building. I directly teach Kagan’s cooperative learning structures- starting in September, with the Pre-Kindergarten students. I also teach the Win-Win ideals and encourage appropriate behavior and appropriate self-expression. This makes it possible to include cross grade level experiences- creating a web of trust and relationships through-out the building. I am very lucky to work with an amazing staff of talented teachers, forgiving custodians, and flexible administration!
Being a SLMS allows me to visit all of the classrooms, providing materials, giving book talks on new material, facilitating lessons and team teaching information literacy skills. Knowing every child in the school is an added bonus! I remember when I first read that the “Library is the hub of the school”. I didn’t know how that could be- when, as a classroom teacher, I felt that learning happened in the classroom. Now- knowing all five hundred students at my school, working with every single teacher weekly, watching test scores- providing all of the extra time, skill practice, and exposure to each child that I can… I know, beyond a doubt, that the one academic place in the building; the one place that is always open, ready to receive any child- just where they are, and provide them with just what they need- is the school library.
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