Sunday, September 6, 2009

Flexible scheduling

I used to work in a school where all the primary classes were scheduled to come to the library for borrowing and a 'Library Lesson'. In the beginning it was release time for the teachers - they would dump the classes and run. The lessons were 45 minutes long which included the borrowing time and the lesson. We were expected to write reports on what the students achieved in these library sessions.

The other teacher librarian and I lobbied to move to flexible scheduling and after many months we did so, but by then I had handed in my resignation and was moving on. The person who replaced me didn't quite understand the concept and the flexible scheduling was declared a failure and the classes were then scheduled in again with an interesting twist that the teachers were to accompany the class to the library and co planning was to take place before the lessons so that skills could be integrated into the curriculum. This of course didn't work very well because the Teacher Librarian didn't have time to go to any planning meetings as they were too busy teaching.

Now I am in a school where we have flexible scheduling, and I have been thinking about how this is working out and if it is working as well as it should in my first unit of giving it a go and if I am giving it enough 'go'.

I have found I am the one who needs to be very specific about what I want to be involved in and do with the students. I have a list of information literacy skills that I believe each year group need to be proficient at by the end of the year but I cannot cover all of them. I need to select the most important ones and work these into the planning for each unit.

The other thing I have found is that I need to be proactive in making appointments with the classes. I cannot wait for them to come to me, I need to be in their face about getting into the classes. I need to be at all the planning meetings - without an invitation if need be.

So, my actions for this week will be to go to the year 6 teachers with a short list of skills we need to focus on in this unit. These will include using noodletools, citing sources, accessing the on line databases we have for information and using their accounts of our library system. I need to make a time to visit with the classes this week, and, I need to make sure all of the links and databases are ready and working. I need to attend the planning meeting that is scheduled this week and the ones after that.

I cannot wait for the teachers to make the first or second move, I need to be working on this all the time and make it a priority to make it work well. I need to remember the teachers probably have not worked with this model either so I have the responsibility to create a model that works for everyone.


AISB Library said...

I look forward to hearing your progress with this. I also am working in a fixed/flex schedule and am finding the "flex" part is taking more time that I thought. It's good, I think, because it means they are letting me in and taking advantage of what I can offer, but it's definitely a big time and energy commitment.

I am also struggling with the logistics of keeping track of which standards are "done" with which classes, since not all teachers at a grade level work with me as much as I'd like.

Anyway, I enjoy your posts. Your cross-school planner is on my "to-do" list.

Sarah Ducharme

Linda O said...

I think that teachers often have no experience working with librarians and often very little experience colloborating or co teaching or any of those things. Some schools teachers are quite on their own, some have grade level meetings and planning that work, some have meetings that don't accomplish anything. What I think we need to be open about is the time it takes to work together. The benefit is there for us and the kids but it takes time and practice.

MrsE said...

I worked as an elem. librarian for a number of years. The system that worked best for me was scheduled k-3 classes with teacher in attendance as well and open scheduling for 4-7 classes. Most of the intermediate teachers wanted to have a regular book exchange time separate from their research visits. In one school the administrator got term plans from all the teachers which he then passed on to me. I could look through them and see where I could fit in skills, where I could alert teachers to great resources and where there were gaps in what the library was able to provide. I have a collaborative planning guide which I would be happy to pass on to you if you'd care to send me your email.

Anonymous said...

Flexible Scheduling does not work for infant schools. As a TL who has come from the classroom environment, I know for a fact how disruptive this is for the classroom teacher/student.

Stacey said...

Hi Everyone!
I teach at a school in Singapore and am the TL for students from 3-6years of age. My colleague (who works mainly with students between 6-8) and I maintain both a flexible and a fixed timetable.

Our fixed timetable is the book exchange schedule. These are 20min. blocks when teachers can bring their class to exchange books. Some teachers choose to send students in small groups as opposed to the one block time. We are also open before, during and after school for students to exchange books so the fixed timetable is just insurance that every child does in fact come to the library to choose books each week.

The flexible timetable is what my colleague and I use for our integration and collaboration with teachers. We are on the school's long range plan and, in collaboration with our curriculum leaders and lead teachers, decide which units would be best for our integration. During our integration, we work with students on information literacy, literacy, and unit of inquiry connections (we are a PYP school).

Although we do sometimes have to push people for one more meeting and we sometimes struggle to achieve purer forms of collaboration, our system works quite well.

Within our flexible schedule, we've also left time periods when we have time to do one-off type projects with keen teachers.

Although this is only our second year with this model, we are finding that it is generally successful. There are always bumps and wrinkles, but we're open to change and dialogue to ensure that we maintain best practice for our students.

Library Blog said...

I think flex scheduling is a process. At our elementary school we introduced it last year in grades 3,4,and 5. I thought it was brillant and the lesson so much more relevant to what kids were learning. I also have to say that last year, I focused on what teachers wanted and this year I want to focus more on my standards and skills. At the beginning of this year our school was in-serviced on Professional Learning Communities (PLC). A big part of PLC is collaboration. This has really helped the computer coordinator and myself. Flex scheudles take lots of time, trust, and flexibility.

Megan said...

"I have a list of information literacy skills that I believe each year group need to be proficient at by the end of the year..."

Diane - would you be willing to share your list of information literacy skills?

Megan said...

Sorry I spelled your name wrong. Here's the n I forgot. :)
P.S. I'm the colleague from Stacey's comment.

Dianne said...

I should have explained more in my post ...
We currently have a scheduled time for all primary and some secondary classes to visit the library for borrowing / quiet reading time.
The flexible part is working within the framework of the units of inquiry co teaching information literacy and inquiry processes. I have committed to working with each year group at least once through the year using this model. I just need to make it work, if I don't it won't work!

Amy said...

I was comforted to hear your thoughts on each group at least once. Last year, my first year, I went too fast and did not properly plan with the teachers. Therefore some of the collaborative research time was not ideal. This year I have a better schedule, better collaboration forms and I happen to be taking a Grad class on collaboration in the media center. I look forward to keeping track of your progress this year.

Anonymous said...

Flexible scheduling is a lame excuse for teacher-librarians to get out of doing their fair share of work.

Riddell said...

It sounds like Anonymous, of Sept. 21 comment needs to read a few articles about flex schedules - anyone with suggestions?
I am just starting the jouney toward flex scheduling, and am facing many of the same negative comments from my Gr 4 and 5 teachers, who are getting the first crack at flex scheduling.

kdaly said...

To Anonymous,
Flexible scheduling is MORE work, not less. Would you like it if a non-teacher said that all elementary school teachers do all day is cut and paste things? You shouldn't judge about things that you haven't personally experienced. Believe me, a mixed flexible/fixed schedule has me hopping every minute of the day.