It’s About Purpose

As we get closer to the end of the year, increasingly frayed nerves, and AP testing, I again try to come up with a meaningful plan of what to do with the students that teachers randomly send to the library during their class time. You know the ones: perhaps they are known as “troublemakers,” or perhaps it is just entire classes who have completed their AP testing and now the teacher doesn’t know what to do with them. In the past when I have questioned such decisions (because the teacher certainly does not come to the library with them or provide a project…or notice), the teacher explains, “Well, they said they wanted to come to the library.”

Um, yeah. Of course they did. (Wouldn’t you rather be in the library, relatively unsupervised, with nothing specific to accomplish?) This year, however, I want to be intentional with purpose. What is the purpose of a teacher sending a student (or their entire class) to the library: for them to work on a project or for the teacher to get a break? What is the purpose of the library during the time when the students trickle in: academic, student union, etc.?

I’ve decided my best course of action, besides asking the Principals to request that teachers keep their students in their classrooms, is to clarify a teacher’s purpose when/if they send an unsupervised class to the library. For example, do they need the students to work on a project and therefore need my help? It’s a complicated dichotomy: I love helping students, and I always want them to feel welcome. However, I also do not want other faculty to view the library as “free babysitting.” Otherwise, I end up with all the AP classes, yearbook, photography, orchestra, etc. classes all in here at the same time without their instructor or a defined purpose.

Has anyone else tackled this issue? (I hope it’s not just me.) What did you do?

I’ll let you know how it goes…

2 thoughts on “It’s About Purpose

  1. It might be a good idea to establish some boundaries with teachers in advance of the time(s) you know this will be an issue. Clarify that if a class is coming to the library the teacher must be coming with them. You can address the project/no project thing separately, but it might be easiest to start with “if your students are here, so are you.” If it’s individual students, perhaps establish a pass/sign-in system (if your school doesn’t already have one) and ask for the purpose of the visit. If there’s a few teachers who are regularly sending students with no tasks, you can address that directly with them, rather than the entire faculty.

    Even if you don’t ask your principal to say anything, it would be a good idea to give them a heads up that this is an issue so they can back you up if need be. If you don’t want to be perceived as tattling/whining, you could frame it as “I’ve encountered this issue and I’d appreciate your advice on how to address it.”

  2. In a previous school, I made (created, printed and copied) slips for teachers to give kids when they were sent to the library, and the kids gave them to me. That way it forced an interaction between me and the kids, and it also forced the teachers to actually think and write WHY the kids were coming to the library. It was very informal, and there were certainly kids who didn’t bring their slips and I would just email teachers when that happened.

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