Do you allow students to serve as library assistants? This can be a very touchy topic in elementary schools. Should the children ever be released from class to work in the library? How can you train, manage, and supervise students when you are already swamped? How do you correct errors and maintain positive attitudes? How do you choose volunteers? How can you balance access so everyone has opportunities? How can you create respect for the activity?
We do a pre-test for third and fourth graders every year. I had thought about not offering it this year, but the teachers requested it. I test them on 17 areas to see how much knowledge they have retained and where I should begin instruction. (Every year they bomb the section on index and glossaries) I use MS Excel for my spreadsheets and graphs to communicate with grade levels. Individual teachers maintain the charts to help them decide when to teach certain standards. Students work HARD to successfully complete the test so they can qualify to be an assistant.
This year only 6 had perfect scores or missed only one question. It is not an easy test. These six assistants were able to help with the book fair preview for kindergarten and first graders which was a coveted prize!! I keep working down the list to train the next tier levels so they can attain assistanship later in the year. Some teachers award 15 minute passes throughout the year to be an assistant, but then I have more duties in training and supervising.
Some of my very favorite volunteers are my resource students. Our library tasks can be broken down in to many steps. This is a skill that I feel rather good about. I can access whether a student can organize, answer the phone, deal politely, run a computer, help someone else, and complete a task. My resource students understand when I emphasize doing something correctly the first time and they concentrate to comply. They are often much more friendly to other students than my gifted students.
The big problem we face is limiting the number of volunteers to a manageable amount. Coordinating the work of others takes time. How do you arrange elementary volunteers?