Friday, March 3, 2017

10 Ways to Bridge the Gap Between the Library and Classroom

Working as a school librarian poses many challenges.  One of the biggest challenges is finding a way to get teachers to collaborate with you.  Since starting my new position in December, I have been trying to come up with creative ways to get involved in any and all aspects of the school curriculum.  Here are some things I have done to get involved.

1.  Send Out a Monthly Newsletter to staff  . . .

My chosen medium for this is Smore.  Smore is a fabulous way to send out online newsletters.  It is easy to include web links, photos, even videos.  I like to send out my monthly newsletter to teachers via email, and also embed the newsletter in my library website.  Smore offers users 5 free newsletters per year, and has different subscription plans if you need more.  I opted to pay for my Smore account, because I needed to create more than 5 Smores per year.  It has proved to be worth the money.  

2.  Plan a Schoolwide or Gradewide Event . . .

After only working at my school a few weeks, I began planning World Read Aloud Day for our 5th Graders during their Language Arts classes.  This gave me an opportunity to show these teachers the wonderful way we can use Skype with their students.  At the end of the day, we planned a read aloud for our 5th graders.  They were read aloud to by teachers, staff, and 8th grade students.  The day was a huge success!

3.  Find a Way to Connect Weekly With Teachers . . .

A few weeks ago I decided to begin connecting weekly to teachers through a weekly tech tip blog.  I have tried to focus on one small tool that teachers can use in their lessons/curriculum.  Since our school has Google Education Suite, and we are now 1:1 with Chrome books.  It made sense to begin by focusing on Google.  I didn't think it was enough to only send the blog out and offer nothing else, so I am staying after school two times per month for 30 minutes to go over one or two programs covered in my blog.  The sessions I have done have not attracted a ton of teachers, but it seems to be growing.  Its always a good idea to have some sort of a handout, so if a teacher stops by later you can give them something to get started.
When I first started working in my district, my library did not have a website.  It is so important that the library has an online presence for both teachers and students.  This is a great way to promote things you are doing in your library.  It is also a place to include your calendar, online catalog, and websites for students and teachers.

5.  Offer to do Professional Development Trainings . . .

When I interviewed in my district, I made a point to make it clear that I would like to take a hand in providing professional development to teachers.  This March I am presenting on how to use Skype and Google Hangouts in the classroom.  This is a great way to promote how the library can help.  When teachers realize the librarian can make their life easier, they are sure to take you up on your invitation to help.

6.  Think Outside the Box . . .

Sometimes teachers really do not fully grasp how librarians can add an awesome technology tool to their lessons.  Just recently I had a teacher ask me to help come up with pre-reading questions for the book Holes.  I turned this into an awesome lesson integrating the tool Kahoot.  The kids loved it and so did the teacher.  Now I took this one step farther, by asking the teacher if she would be interested in connecting with another class who is also reading Holes through Skype.  Now, what started out as a no-tech lesson has turned into an awesome high-tech lesson.

7.  Create Interactive Displays . . .

If students are interested in what you are doing in the library, they will tell their teachers about it.  In February we did Blind Date With a Book and I had so many teachers ask me about it.  We also do monthly STEM Challenges in the library.  So many teachers have asked me about it and are now starting to think about how I can help them with their lessons.

8.  Take Time to Talk . . .

When teachers come into your library stop what you are doing and chat.  Believe me what little task you are attending to (unless you in the middle of a class) can wait.  You may find something out while you are chatting that can lead to a collaborative project.

9.  Get Involved in Curriculum or Grade-Level Meetings . . .

If time permits go to any curriculum or grade level meetings.  This is a good time to promote how the library can help teachers with their lessons.  Do you know of an awesome web tool teachers can use?  Did you just get a book that might fit into your teacher's curriculum perfectly?  Meeting when teachers are planning their curriculum is a great way to connect.

10.  Involve Teachers in Your Purchases . . .

Keep teachers involved in your purchases.  Find out what they are teaching and what you need to back up their curriculum.  Take advantage of trials for databases and subscription based programs.  Send passwords and usernames to teachers and ask them for feedback.  Chances are if they do not like the program as a trial, they will not use it if you purchase it.


  1. Hi Anastasia

    A great list which makes it perfect to share with teachers. I too write a blog that provides advocacy for school librarians that you might find interesting. The more we share this kind of information with teachers the more they will understand how to use their school libraries. Keep it up!

    1. Thank you! I love your blog. Its awesome to know someone in the field from England. Would love to set up a skype/tho sometime with you and your students.

    2. Sorry that was supposed to be google hangout

  2. I actually live in Guernsey which is a Channel Island off France. We are part of the UK though :) I am assuming you are in America? Where? I am Head of Schools' Library Service over here so have a few schools that I could help you connect with. Are you on twitter? You can find me @Elizabethutch I share a lot there too. Great connecting with you.

    1. I am in New Jersey. My Twitter handle is @anastasiahannek I am also very active on Twitter. Thanks!

    2. Hi Anastasia, I have just come back to this blog when the person below commented. I have tried to find you on twitter and your handle seems to be wrong. Can you post it again please. I would love to connect our students if we can.

  3. It is a great list of ideas. I already run activities and interactive displays. I do like the idea of a monthly newsletter and website. I am in Adelaide Australia.