Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Tuesday Slice: Rethinking reader engagement


I am a librarian.  Connecting readers with books, interacting with students during read-alouds, prompting discussions on genres, teaching students how to navigate databases and cite sources--it's what I do.  I enjoy my job so much that when I am in my library, these responsibilities feel like privileges.  Seven years in, and I still pinch myself sometimes, grateful that I found my niche.

Library lessons didn't stop in March; they went online.  I helped students find books to read--but only the ones who asked.  It would have taken a lot of digital detective work to hunt down which of my 1250 students was aimlessly wandering our virtual aisles of ebooks without checking anything out.  I did read-alouds--but they were pre-recorded, no faces looking back at me, no vibe to prompt where I should pause and interact.  I had a few virtual read-alouds and discussions with classes and book clubs--but they were stilted due to technology restraints.  I provided links to databases and password sheets, offered personalized screencasts to help students navigate online--but I wasn't there looking over their shoulder to point out details, encourage them to dig further, remind them where the citation tools were located.

There's a very good chance that at least part of my job will be virtual in the fall.  There are some details that are absolutes, such as quarantining book returns for 72 hours before making them available again, and disinfecting the library in between classes.  That's assuming that we'll have students checking out books and receiving in-person, socially distanced lessons.  Education has veered toward collaboration as a standard, but we'll have to learn how to teach elementary students to do so in a virtual setting.

I will be on a different campus next year, faced with the task of building relationships with a new group of readers.  But will I be able to adequately do my job, especially for the readers who need this relationship the most?  I'll spend the rest of my summer thinking about it.      

6 comments:

  1. Your line: Education has veered toward collaboration as a standard, but we'll have to learn how to teach elementary students to do so in a virtual setting....has been on my mind, too. Somehow, virtual at first glance feels like going back to sitting in rows and working alone. I too want to be supportive of collaboration. And will spend the summer thinking how to do this with 6-ft distance or kids working from home. Do share your summer thinking and I will to! Maybe through blogging, students can collaborate!! (Just thought of that as I give you feedback!)

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    1. I like the idea of blogging, Sally, especially for reading response. I would hope that at my "new" Title I school, everyone in need took advantage of the district's technology handouts in the spring (Chromebooks and hotspots)...otherwise, it's going to be tough to connect. My first thought is to maintain checkouts, at minimum, by appointment if necessary.

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  2. Yes! I have a huge classroom library and I wonder how different that will be. I read aloud to an empty screen too, so sad! Somehow we will all have to adjust to whatever comes our way, but nobody says we have to love it...

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    1. Erika, the current recommendation is to "quarantine" print materials for 72 hours after extensive handling; after that, there's not been evidence of viral residue to cause infection. Hope that information is helpful! But yes, I have to get back to reading aloud, even if by Zoom...the reading to a screen became painful as the weeks went on.

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  3. My wife was am elementary librarian and she loved introducing young readers to new books. Don't know how she would navigate these times.

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    1. It is definitely different, running a library program remotely. It will be even more so as I transition to a Title I school, where students may not have the same level of print-rich environments as my previous campus.

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