We are excited to share this guest blog written by Rebecca Toltz, Teacher Librarian at Bourke St Public School.
Rebecca shares that she finds her role equal parts challenging and rewarding. Her biggest challenges are finding the right book for young readers and having time to do it all.
Welcome to a day in our NSW Department of Education primary school library.
It’s Monday, week 6, term 2. The band is in full-practice mode and it’s 8:15am.
Our school library isn’t what you would call a traditional library.
When I first started at the school several years ago, I was surprised by how few books and shelves there were, and by the flexible-style of furniture. Today the collection has doubled, and reflects current trends towards a smaller non-fiction collection, with larger fiction, picture book, and graphic novel collections.
Having worked in traditional school libraries before this school, I have adjusted to flexible learning spaces, student whiteboards, cloud-shaped coffee tables with whiteboard surfaces, no circulation desk, and students making choices about their workspaces.
While some things are new, many are the same.
Our school day begins with outdoor lines, and a quick assembly. Classes then move off to their morning lessons with their teachers.
My timetable is made up of each class coming to the library for 60 minutes a week, giving classroom teachers RFF (Relief from Face-to-Face teaching).
Since COVID our school is running on two timetables (Infants & Primary), with separate break times. Given the small grounds of this school site, this has been an adjustment that has stayed in place.
However, Infants library classes are running during primary break times and my breaks and playground duties are during Infants break times.
Having time outside to just get a bit of air and chat to students on playground duty has been a welcome change. I really appreciate this break from routine.
Today’s classes are an assortment of stages. I start with a kindergarten class, and we read Happy Hippo by Charles Santoso for the Premier’s Reading Challenge. Students across the school will have at least one text shared during each library lesson - everyone will complete the Premier’s Reading Challenge.
Kindergarten watch a clip on the interactive screen about hippopotamuses, discuss what makes these creatures happy, and then discuss what we look for to make ourselves happy. Using Canva I’ve created a worksheet for students to share their responses with words and drawings.
Next there is a stage 2 class. Like stage 3 classes this week we are using last week’s National Simultaneous Storytime text (Give me some space by Philip Bunting) & WeVideo to create book trailers using the trolley of Chromebooks in the library, as part of the CBCA (NSW) ‘Collide book trailer competition’.
We were fortunate to receive free access to WeVideo via T4L last year. This initiative has been a real blessing, and I wish all schools and staff had full access to this online video editor.
Opportunities to engage and create for real audiences, challenges and excites students. Prizes and recognition are real motivators too.
When planning for this term I was striving to adapt and incorporate real student projects that I could use with the Information Fluency Framework. Combining traditional information skills, media skills, and literacy skills the framework has given me a scaffold for building library lessons.
Within the challenge of creating book trailers and working collaboratively, there are opportunities to discuss sources and permissions for online images and music.
Next week stage 3 students will work in groups using a 2021 CBCA Notable text, while stage 2 will view, critique, and edit their work from this week.
Stage 1 students today logged into their Premier’s Reading Challenge records and added titles they have read recently. The logging in is a skill that requires patience, bonhomie, and perseverance with younger students.
Within the course of the day I have admin time for clerical work (I do the lot, from shelving, covering, running Oliver Library reports listing non-borrowers, and setting up a book display for Reconciliation Week today), wet-weather duty and end the working day farewelling the drumming tutor and her students.
My biggest challenge some days is locating the right early chapter book for young readers. Other days, time management or shelving. It’s easy to get bogged down in the ‘...if only!’, but generally, it’s a rewarding and challenging job in equal parts.
School library staff do more than just read. We know that!
But responses to the Annual School Library Survey reveal a general sense that not enough is known about the amazing work that you do.
Share your story with us and help us to promote your role. Whether you are a Teacher Librarian, Librarian, Library Officer, Library Technician, Library Assistant… whatever your role, we’d love to hear from you!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.