Well, as you can see, my reflections dropped of rapidly once we returned to the building. I’ve been working on a big collection development project; more about that later in 4th Quarter reflections.
Returning to the Building
All staff was required to return to working in the building on February 25th, except for Mondays (asynchronous days). We’ll be continuing this until the end of the school year. I was very nervous about this, on two counts: the risk of COVID-19 infection, and the challenges of being able to understand what people are saying. The latter was the most worrisome to me.
I have had a hearing impairment since I was 5 years old, and have worn hearing aids for most of my life. This resulted (in my non-medical opinion) from a severe reaction to the pertussis vaccine at that age. The result was nerve deafness, which basically means brain damage. There is nothing physically wrong with my ears. I have come to realize that increasing the volume level is only part of the solution to understanding. Auditory processing difficulties are a large part of my hearing impairment. This means that I am constantly gathering clues from a number of sources, including sound, context, and reading lips, to understand meaning. Under normal face-to-face circumstances with a small number of people, I can do this quickly and accurately enough that people don’t realize I have a hearing impairment. COVID-19 has changed this.
As you can imagine, everyone wearing masks has been a nightmare for lip-readers. My audiologist explained that my midrange hearing loss means that I have trouble distinguishing between consonant sounds. Lip-reading replaces that information. Without that, I’m basically hearing only vowel sounds–try that and see how it works for you. If I have context, I can make good guesses about what’s being said, but if someone starts talking to me and I have no idea what they’re talking about, my guesses get pretty random. Sometimes I can’t even tell that someone has started talking to me, leading people to believe that I’m purposefully ignoring them.
Here are some things I’ve tried:
- Clear plastic masks don’t help. It doesn’t work if I’m the one wearing it–everyone else has to be wearing them for it to work. Also, they steam up, and often press against the wearer’s lips, so I can’t read their lips anyway.
- Having people stand 6 feet away and pull their mask down is not recommended, but often is the quickest way to understand them.
- Having paper and pencil so the speaker can write to me is very helpful, but extremely awkward, especially for students. Sometimes that’s the only way I can understand proper nouns, or names.
Fortunately our meetings are still held in Zoom, but sometimes people need to wear masks while they’re attending. Most of the time, to be honest, I stay in my office and avoid talking to people.
Library Lunch Bunch
The bell schedule changed once teachers and students started to come back to the building. Now, instead of 4 blocks with an hour for lunch, we have 8 blocks with 24 minutes for lunch.
The four lunch shifts run from 10:36 to 12:36. I expanded my office hours to run from 10:30 to 12:40, Tuesday through Friday. I rarely have anyone show up, but every now and then Yordy comes in to hear more of my read-aloud of So You Want to Be a Wizard, and sometimes Gaming Club players come in to play Minecraft. At least I’m remaining available.
Gaming Club: Minecraft
Quite a few students have signed up for a Minecraft: Education Edition account. They have to fill out a Google form to join the Gaming Club Canvas course, then they have to fill out a Player Agreement to get a Minecraft account. Our Network Engineer is usually very prompt about creating accounts. Only a few students play on our shared server, which I run during lunch and during Gaming Club, but they’re welcome to play with other Gaming Club friends, too. I’m betting their thinking skills will improve just from playing.
Business as Usual
On Mondays I go out with the Bookmobile. Tuesdays through Fridays I’m available for Library Lunch Bunch. I spend most of Wednesdays in grade level meetings. I submit a weekly newsletter article for publication on Fridays. The rest of the time, I’m either ordering new books (eBooks and print) or cataloging new books.
Library Plan for Hybrid Instruction
Here’s the email that I sent to staff. I don’t know if anyone actually read it.
As of now, this is our plan for hybrid instruction:
- The library is used for Ms. Bollinger’s classes
- The Reading Terraces (outside, next to the library) are open for anyone
- First come, first served
- Please let us know when you need one unlocked
- Students must be accompanied by an adult
- Library stacks (shelves) will be closed except for library staff
- Students and teachers may continue to put print books on hold (reserve) in the library catalog
- Reserve books for hybrid students delivered to ELA classrooms upon request
- Reserve books for remote students placed in front office for pickup
- Reserve books for all students placed on Bookmobiles on Mondays, weather permitting
- Instructional collaboration is still strongly encouraged
- Library instruction will be remote from library office
- I am happy to pull print books and/or recommend online resources for you
- Library Lunch Bunch continues on Zoom
- Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm (all lunch blocks)
- Students are responsible for getting back to class on time
As always, please let us know of any way we can help you. We are here to support your instruction and your students’ learning.
Most of our books come in fully processed and cataloged, but I still tweak the records, and often the spine labels. One advantage of running my own library is that I get to decide how things are organized. Here are some changes I make:
- change the copy price to the actual retail price, rounded up to the nearest dollar
- add Genre tags (655) and Local tags (658)
- remove subject headings from Library of Congress (the Juvenile fiction sub-tag makes it look like nonfiction in our catalog)
- change 741.5 classifications to F for fiction, or the Dewey class for nonfiction – the only books that stay in 741.5 are biographies and how-to books
- series books have Vol.x at the bottom of the spine label, and the series name added to the book title in the catalog record (I wish that for multiple series by the same author, I had used Vol.1a, Vol.1b, etc., so shelvers could keep series together more easily.)
- if a series is written by multiple authors, I classify the books under the series name
- sometimes I change the Dewey class if it makes more sense for our collection
- sometimes the catalog record we receive is wrong, so I fix it
Although the books are fully processed, we still need to stamp our address inside and check the books in before displaying or shelving them. We also put a New Books bookmark in each one. Our Library Assistant takes care of that. Since students aren’t directly using the library, we’re just shelving the new books.
I feel vastly under-used this year. I’m not letting myself worry about it, since I know the classroom teachers are overwhelmed from the constantly changing situation. It seems like as soon as we get used to one way of conducting classes, we have to change to something different. I’m grateful that I have plenty to do behind the scenes in the library, both remotely and in person. I’m also very thankful that I have my own office to work in, both for safety and for focus.