Thursday, October 13, 2011


I wish I was an every-single-day blogger like my hero Teri Lesesne. Or even three times a week as I have done for a while in the past. But I am not yet quite un-busy enough to get my act together for that. However there are times when nothing fills the bill for me like a blog post so here goes...and I am FARMING OUT THE REST! I had a wonderful response to a question last week and want to share it (with her permission). The question do you help ratchet down the fear that helicopter parents have about their kids? The wise answer was from:

Lisa Hunt, NBCT 2005
School Library Media Specialist
Apple Creek Elementary
Moore, OK

And here is what she said:

Helicopter parents? I combat that in the way I run the library. Our students use self-check-out and it works. Students beginning in 1st grade learn their ID number, type that into the Circ Desk and check out their own books. I have a rug below the Circ Desk keyboard and we have a rule... one person on the rug at a time. I do this to begin lessons on Identity Security. No one needs to see the screen when someone is doing library business. One person on the rug and everyone else waiting patiently in line teaches students that it is wrong and rude to peer over someones shoulder as they conduct business, and society expects us to be able to wait patiently in a line for our own turn. Students need these lessons to do business as adults at an ATM, the Post Office, a bank, or any other place they conduct private business.

So, this expectation sets the stage. I also use Skoob the Shelf Elf as part of my library behavior program. His message demonstrates expected library behavior from the students. They work as a class to earn the Golden Shelf Elf certificates that I award (and additional recognitions.) I build cooperation and teamwork among the classmates when they come to the library.

Now, back to those Helicopter Parents. I've watched over the years as parents and some primary teachers are amazed at the behavior our students exhibit in "Their Library." The sense of ownership that students feel is the best part of how I run the library and that is why it works. Recently, our district opened a new elementary school that took 150+_of our students. That faculty "voted" that the librarian or clerk would check out books and there would be no self-check-out. ( I was incensed that my friend who was opening that library would allow the faculty to make such a decision, but she said she was going for unity.) Anyway, many parents (many of them volunteers in that library) complained that students weren't feeling the ownership of their library like "they had at the old school" and it was because they didn't independently check-out books and make their own behavior decisions when they visited the library. That was one year ago, and this year the librarian took back her domain and changed several things.

My point here is that my students learn independence and demonstrate pride in the way they operate in their library. Parents (and there have been many) and even some of my teachers have exclaimed "I love the way you allow students to have this control! It really boost their esteem to do their own business. I never thought my 7 year old was capable of doing something like this without adult help." I even had one teacher new to our building but with 11 years experience (other states and other districts) tell me, "I love the way you run this library. It is the most efficiently run school library I've ever used." For the first time in 5 years I have no assistant this year. Also, know that our district is a flexible scheduling district and library time is not part of the rotation.

Basically, I combat helicopter parent syndrome by building independent information literacy. I tell students in almost every lesson, "You are becoming good consumers of information, and you need these skills to survive!"