By Leann Svir
Riverview elementary Librarian
When it comes to career choices, teaching is a profession that offers both rewards and challenges. Nothing is more fulfilling than experiencing learning through the eyes of a young person.
However, every day, every moment even, in a classroom, sometimes comes with unpredictable occurrences. This unpredictability requires teachers to be fast thinkers and make more than a hundred decisions each day.
Teachers are fearless, though, and they have a solution. That solution is planning. Planning is not only a requirement, but it is a necessity.
Daily, when my colleagues and I are not with our students, we are reflecting, researching, planning, and implementing strategies intended to promote student growth and academic achievement. We do this while providing our students with safe and nurturing environments.
In 2019, an attack on our country and our very way of life came that was both silent and deadly. It was a virus. A virus that I will not name because It does not deserve the notoriety, but it did bring about many changes. One of the most fundamental changes occurred in education. Within a moment, a task was set before my peers and I to move from in person learning to remote learning last spring.
Because of our planning, we effectively embraced a plethora of platforms and continued teaching without hardly missing a beat. Then when the school year ended, our district leaders and staff worked on long-term plans during the summer months to be ready to continue education when school resumed in the fall.
Knowing it was going to look very different from education in the past, guidelines were put into place to ensure students teachers, and support staff would be able come back into the classrooms safely. One of those guidelines included specialists traveling to students as opposed to students traveling to specialists to cut down on movement within the building.
For my fellow librarians and me, it was a little difficult to embrace, as nothing is more important than to have students in our beloved libraries. This did not stop us, though, as we are fearless too.
This necessary change for library time came with some positive outcomes. My library cart at Riverview Elementary became the L.O.W. Rider (Library on Wheels) and comes to the classroom with music intended to bring excitement to the learning time.
Also, since students cannot visit library shelves yet, books are being promoted to students daily in their classrooms and student relationships are being strengthened as we library teachers have to be very connected to students on a personal level in order to help students select the books that they need and want.
Students have completed interest inventories and have created saved lists using OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog). They have even had lessons on using OPAC at the public library giving them access and connections with a community resource that we are fortunate to have in Great Falls. Use of technology has been at the forefront of the library lessons. Even though recently we moved again to remote learning, we librarians continued to provide our library lessons that met the needs of the individual schools and the students we serve. 42 kindergartners on a Zoom call can be very invigorating!
While teaching has both rewards and challenges, and admittedly, this may be the most challenging year yet, we educators remain fearless.
We will continue the good work we do because even though it feels grim right now we have hope. We always have hope.
I, for one, am never without it for my hope shines in the eyes of my students every time the L.O.W. Rider and I enter their classroom…..for the future they represent for our communities and our country.