Student Ownership

I’ve got two highlights from my day, both of which involve student ownership of the library.

The first is the Library Intern program. At the end of last year, a few girls wanted to become “library helpers”–helping sort books for shelving, recommending books to other kids. They picked it up again this year, and we now have kids every day asking to become library interns (boys, girls, all grade levels). We asked the founders to come up with some Rules for Library Interns–because we need to have some structure (when there are 10 interns on duty at once, it’s bit overwhelming!) and some quality control on the shelving that they’ve started doing. I’m not sure if you will be able to read it in this photo, but here they are:

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My favorite of the rules are:

  • Always shelve with a buddy.
  • Anybody can be an intern! We are not exclusive.
  • Keep reading so you can make good recommendations!
  • Be nice and helpful to all library patrons.

Here are some of the interns:

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I love the enthusiasm of the interns, and I’m so proud of them for coming up with a really solid list of rules that solved some of the problems that were popping up with the growing numbers. One rule is that only 3 can be behind the desk at once (I gave them permission to break this rule for the photo op!). I think the next task for the organizers/leaders will be to create an intern schedule, but for today, the rules were a wonderful start in adding some structure.

My other highlight is the organizing of the Makerspace.  Makers were greeted this morning with a closed space and this sign:

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[The Problem:  Cleanup.  1. Stuff randomly thrown in bins, so you can’t find what you need later.  2. Mess on counters.  (Could be worse, but needs work.)  The Solution(s): ??? You all come up with some!! Please!]

The kids have, in general, been good about keeping the counters clean, but this has been accomplished at times by just tossing everything into an empty bin. I wrote the sign above and then also pulled off all the bins that were full of random stuff and put them on the tables. There were about 8 bins just filled with mixtures of fabric, needles, duct tape, electronics components, scissors, etc.

I think during activity period, they just looked at the sign and then walked away. (I was with a reading class, so I’m not sure.) Then during lunch, a few kids came and made a plan. A different (more detailed) system for the bins. Putting smaller bins inside larger ones. More labeling. Etc. And getting it all sorted out today, during recess.

Then recess came.  The usual big crowd showed up, and the planners passed along the plan to get to work–they had already started going through bins and were prepared to just do it themselves, but they asked for help. A few kids ran out the door to go to recess, but lots of them stayed. And this is what happened:

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They got it done!!  They cleaned out all of those bins; created their new system; even sorted types of thread into different bins! I am SO PROUD of these kids.

The lesson that I take from both of these stories from today is this one: TRUST THE KIDS. Trust them to solve problems, especially problems that arise as a result of giving them freedom/choice. I can’t count how many people have asked me, when discussing Makerspaces, about whether mess is a problem. Of course it’s a problem! It will continue to be a problem! I told the kids today that things would get messy again, and when they do, we now have a way to deal with it. They don’t have to be perfect; they just need to be willing to take responsibility for the less fun parts of having ownership of the library. And they are absolutely willing and able.

I’m happy. Tired, but very happy and oh so proud.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Student Ownership

  1. This post is SO inspiring! I’ve been wanting to a maker club up and running, especially once the weather gets bad and it’ll be indoor recess for most of the winter. I’ve had a similar clean-up concerns during library class though, so I think I’m going to ask the students to solve it first.

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