Saturday, March 17, 2012

Duty calls

These are the panels we had made for the Chinese New Year season - spring!

In many ways I was fortunate to start in a brand new school and set up systems from the very start. One of the things I insisted on was that the library space be part of the playground duty roster. It is one of the coveted duties in the school as it is warm in winter, cool in summer and the noise level is not too high for weary brains and bodies. We have 3 rostered lunch duties a day across the school in the library space. This equals 15 a week. I do 3 of these, plus I am on duty before school, recess & after school just by being present in the library at these times. Our biggest crowd is definitely lunch times with up to 250 students from both primary and secondary coming to the library during the 90 minutes. The PYP TL does 2 of the rostered duties plus a bus duty. So all up, the library staff do 5 of the 15 lunchtime duties in the library.

We have support staff who spend the lunch times in the library (they roster their breaks before, during or after the student lunches) to help with the circulation, smart card top up and other library issues. The teachers on playground duty are there for supervision.

Why did I insist on this? For one, I believe it makes very clear that the library is everyone's space. I manage it, but it belongs to everyone. It also allows the TL's to run lunch time activities that are not held in the library, it allows the TL's to get to the staff room to mix with other staff and form relationships, plant seeds for collaboration, and get a feel for what is going on in the school. It also allows me to to work with the secondary students in an informal 1:1 on projects & problems they have in the library with them, without having to worry about the supervision aspect. When I am away on a duty day, the replacement knows what to do and it is not an alien space for them.

What do the teachers get out of this? They see the students in a different place, they can chat about what they are reading and doing, sometimes they are asked for help on school work that may not be in their own subject area. They are exposed to the resources we have in the fiction and non fiction, and they gain an understanding of how the library works. It is also a pleasant place to have a duty. One teacher uses it as his time to find new reading material and is often helped by the students.

Our school principal has one duty a week in the library, it is his only duty all week. I think this gives a message that the library is an important place to be. He was taken off the roster for a little while due to his travel commitments, but insisted he be put back on as he enjoyed the low key opportunity for him to mingle with the students allowing him to see what the students are doing and of course, what we are doing on a weekly basis and how busy a place the library is.

It has been successful on so many levels, however, it could not work as well without as many support staff (3) that we have who are able to be 'on duty' during lunch times.

Does anyone else have the library as part of their school roster system? How does it work for you?


Eileen Hurley said...

Hi Dianne,
Yes, at my school lunchtime is a duty open to all teachers. I don't do any of them, but deal with before school and morning break. Teachers like the duty, as it is climate controlled and not chaotic. It frees me up for all the things you mention and if I'm helping one student, I don't have to worry about what's going on elsewhere.

No sign of our principal, unfortunately...

All the best,

Steph Gilchrist said...

Yes. We have a variety of people doing duties from EA to staff. I don't think we could manage the volume without them. The TA does 3 and I do 2 breaks and we have others join in. I agree wholeheartedly with your rational.

tgaletti said...

Hi Dianne,

I loved reading your post - as always! It's super how you have organized everything and I totally agree with you that students should get a chance to come to the library during break times. It's a special opportunity to interact with students and to promote the library.
Our library is open to students throughout the day and it is usually super busy the first 30min before classes begin, at recess and lunch time. It has been like this throughout the five years I have been here and I wouldn't want it differently. I absolutely treasure the time with the kids, to chat informally about books, school work and other stuff (soccer results, music, movies...;), to help students find resources and recommend books. This has helped me so much in getting to know my students better (and they me) and to promote the library. I sometimes organize activities but even when there is nothing "special" happening, we always have lots of students in the library.

Cathy Nelson said...

We have a set of rotating teachers to help in the morning before school as we have roughly 200 students each morning. It does help to have them in here, and best, they get to see how kids use the library as there is always a variety of activities going on! We also have club meeting sin our conference rooms, and those teacher sponsors are floored at what all is going on. I have 3 lunches to contend with too, so I may propose a duty position form our cafeteria be moved to the library like the morning positions. GREAT IDEA! Our numbers certainly warrant the help.