If you haven’t set foot in a school building at the end of the year lately, you’ve forgotten the feeling in the air. Textbooks get turned in and students feel liberated long before the last bell rings. Teachers are trying to control chaos and interest students in keeping busy. Award assemblies are held. Parents visit. Celebrations for "anything" occur. Paperwork piles up. Deadlines drop onto teachers daily.
For librarians we balance trying to extract books from students hands (after we’ve spent all year focusing on getting them into their hands) with last minute creative activities and instruction to relieve frantic faculty members. As we put thousands of books away, students wander in to gaze longingly at crowded shelves and beg to simply sit and read. Every year I hear students say, "I didn’t know we owned that! When did you buy those?I" Then they bargain for the opportunity to borrow a book just for an evening.
Computer inventories, textbook inventories, student overdue lists, end of year reports. All of these demand our time. In fact, I stayed til 7:30 tonight flagging student records with overdue books. Why do that after school? Tomorrow I will participate in Game day with another teacher. I am trying to keep the students my most important concern because I truly believe a caring adult in their lives makes all the difference at this age. Our students will be heading off for summer vacations and some to simply sitting in homes. Will they have an adult there to listen daily? Will their parents have the energy to work all day, then take them to the public library for books? Will they have any opportunities to gather together with friends to talk about what they are reading and what their interests are?
I cannot solve all their problems. I’ve been too exhausted to even write lately. But tomorrow, the last full day, I’ll take my sets of MahJong to school and interest group after group in the noisy game of Chattering Sparrows. The students will not remember any worksheets they complete at the end of the year. They are running out of time to read just one more book. Hopefully they will remember socializing with their friends and learning an international game.
I promise you’ll have the rest of the countdown and all those reviews beginning next week as SLJ transitions to a new blog format. In the meantime, why don’t you share some of your stories of the end of the year activities in a library?