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I’m at a school that doesn’t have a Teacher Librarian. While I’m the Reading Specialist, and this library position is not part of my portfolio, I supervise a couple of students who come down during a nutrition break to reshelve books. Since I’m predominantly based out of the library, I can also create open-ended literacy opportunities, which can support learning when teachers bring down their classes for time in the Learning Commons. Book exchange is a part of this time, which is why I need some way to get books reshelved, and I’m grateful for these Grade 8 students who come by every day that I’m at school.

An Unexpected Reply

Last week, there was one day that only one student came by. As always, she reshelved all of the books, straightened up the bookshelves, and then went to build with some of the blocks and LEGO in the back of the library space. I was doing some of my work up front — sharing documentation and replying to emails — but I asked her where her friends were on this day. She mentioned that both students were away. I said, “If you would rather wait until they come back, that’s okay with me. There are not too many books to put away today. You could always do it tomorrow.” It was her response that I did not anticipate, and that I’ve been thinking about ever since. I encapsulated her thinking in this tweet.

And yes, I do have more than one “great helper” in the library, but I ran out of characters to explain everything.

I Appreciate Quiet Too!

Honestly, I could probably pick one day a week to have these library helpers come, but I kind of like the excuse to be in the library for a full nutrition break. Often it’s silent in there and I can get my work done. Sometimes other teachers come by to share some classroom experiences, to reflect on our plans for groups, or just to enjoy lunch together. I like this too, as whispered conversations without any background noise seem to be so much calmer for me. I’m starting to think that this is how I restore before starting groups again after the break.

What Does This Mean For Kids?

As an adult, I can choose this quiet option any time that I want. Students are not as fortunate. This Grade 8 student mentioned that her class is usually quite loud during the nutrition break. I get it: kids want to talk and play with each other as they eat. Think about a staffroom: it’s rarely ever quiet, and usually full of different pockets of conversation as educators connect over at the sofas, over at the microwaves, and over at the tables. I would not want to stop this talk for adults or kids, as maybe this opportunity to share, to laugh, and to have fun, are ways that they restore. I wonder though how we can also create quiet spaces for students that need them. Any ideas? This student wears earphones, but I have to wonder if that is enough.

Looking Ahead To Next Year

We’re in the midst of staffing season right now, so I don’t have all of my job details about next year yet. If I am still back at the same school, I’m thinking about starting a Quiet Club: it could connect with Library Helpers, but also be a place where students can come to read, listen to music (with headphones), and play some quiet games just to restore their energy. Have others done this before? What has it looked like for you? Kids might not have the ease of finding a silent space like I can, but maybe I can do a little bit to help make one for them.

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