Today we have a guest post from Stephanie Vukovich. She’s an elementary library media specialist in Ohio. She’s been sharing in our Learning Librarians Facebook group, about her classroom management system that is PERFECT for the library.
“Last spring I accepted an offer for my dream job- I was going to be a Library Media Specialist in an amazing elementary school. Like any good librarian, I did my research. I read books. I learned all the ins and outs of the library. I even went to several elementary schools in the area to job shadow experienced librarians so I could learn what made them so successful.
One librarian in particular seemed to have the perfect library. Her students were model students! I marveled at their quiet straight lines, their listening skills during story time, and even the manner in which they used whisper voices as they milled around looking for the perfect book. I asked if all her classes behaved as nicely as the few I had seen that day did, and she proudly assured me that yes, yes they did. I asked if she had a secret, and she simply said “I model everything. They know what the expectations are and strive to meet them everyday.”
That was truly a light bulb moment. It was so simple, but it was a detail that can sometimes be overlooked in the hustle and bustle of a library full of eager little learners. I knew I needed to put just as much time and thought into my classroom management strategy as I did in maintaining the library.
Enter Michael Linsin’s book titled Classroom Management for Art, Music, and PE Teachers. His point strategy was straight-forward, no-frills, and easy to manage. Each class would work together to earn points for expected behaviors. I modified his strategy to work for me and my students. I decided on five points.
One point for entering quietly.
One point for good listening.
One point for good effort.
One point for lining up quickly and quietly.
One point for returning library books on time.
Bulletin Board for Classroom Management Points
I set up a bulletin board near the library doors and posted all five points. In the middle of the board I placed a chart and listed each class. On the other side of the chart I posted my “Five Point Hall of Fame.” Classes who earned all five points that week had their name displayed on the board. When classes reached a certain goal, they’d earn a whole-class reward.
Implementing the point system went so much better than I had ever dreamed. I modeled every procedure, and my students learned quickly. Some of my older students were more reluctant in the beginning. There hadn’t been any sort of expectation under the previous librarian, and to them, my expectations seemed strict and unnecessary. “Mrs. So-and-so didn’t make us do that!” was a common phrase I heard during the first few weeks. “I’m sure your classroom teacher does things differently than your teacher last year. Sometimes change is good!” was my standard reply. Within a few weeks, they were all on board. When everyone followed the procedures, we had a lot more time to have fun!
At the end of library, I go over their point tally after each class while they are standing in line waiting to leave. “Did we enter quietly today? Were we good listeners?” Surprisingly, they’re much tougher critics than I am! I look at the overall behavior of a class. I won’t ever penalize a group if one or two students are struggling to follow the expectations. I’ll then write their total for the day on the chart and we’ll look and see how many more points we need to reach our next reward.
Handling rewards is super easy with this system! Once a class reaches their goal, I’ll circle the number on the chart. I’ll give them their reward the following week, then make a line through the circled number to indicate that they’ve received their reward. They’ll then start working toward their next goal. The most popular reward has been an extra book checkout. Free choice seating, new bookmarks, and a free day with centers are also very popular and cost little to nothing.
The point system has been a simple and straight-forward way to manage classes in the library. Every student knows what is expected and is able to meet those expectations. Sometimes they might fall short, but it strengthens their resolve to do better next time. Each trip to the library is another opportunity to earn five points. I don’t have to address behavior issues very often, which leaves me time to do what I love- share the magic of reading with my students.”
Thank you so much for sharing, Stephanie! You’ve helped us all get a great start to a new school year!
Friends, if you want to continue the discussion or ask questions, please stop by our Learning Librarians Facebook page. It’s easy to interact there and collaborate with librarians from around the world.