Teacher Hack: Classroom Library

My 7th grade English teacher had the very first classroom library that I had ever seen. It consisted of twelve books, and many of them were old and worn, but they were books for us, and I thought that was pretty spectacular. Since I already had my mind set on being a teacher, I vowed that I would also have a classroom library. Fast forward...

Today, I teach 6th-8th grade GT ELAR, and I'm lucky enough to have the classroom of my dreams. It's HUGE, and I have access to every resource I could dream of using. I've also got spectacular space to store all of my classroom library books, and I'm proud that I've built a pretty great one to offer to my students.

Sure, I'm an ELAR teacher, but I believe every single classroom, regardless of content area, should have some sort of library. It's become a heartbeat for my students and me. It's a hotspot for conversations, a meeting spot for kiddos to share book recommendations, and a place for me to have important chats with my kiddos as they come browsing for their next great find. I find a lot out my students at our library shelves!

When I first started gathering books for my library, I collected softcover editions. I found myself frustrated and disheartened by the condition of the books when they returned. Torn covers, rumpled pages, and bent corners. Ugh! The kids' backpacks, lockers, and general wear and tear were greatly shortening the shelf life of the books.

Hoping to find a solution, I decided to start adding only hardcovers in the future. It was a little more costly, but I figured the longer circulation life would make the cost increase worth it. However, while those books were lasting longer, the dust covers were completely destroyed. Books had to be reshelved with missing covers, and, you guessed it, they weren't getting checked out at all! We all know the covers really matter! 📚

It was then I decided to check classroom books out without their dust covers. If the covers sold the books, then they didn't need to go with the students. The "sale" had already been made! From that need, this #teacherhack was born.

Today, students select a book from the shelves to borrow and bring it to me. They write their names on sticky notes and place them on the inside of the cover. They leave the covers in our classroom where they are stored in a filing cabinet drawer, and the books go out into the world to be read and loved. When students are ready to return the books, they retrieve the covers, remove the sticky notes, and reshelve the books. The covers always stay beautiful, crisp and fresh! If students are searching for a specific book to check out, they can look at the covers in the filing cabinets to see who currently has it. When I notice a cover has been hanging in the cabinet for some time, I check in with that student to see if they need more time with it or simply forgot to return it. As the end of the year nears and we close the library for checkout, I use magnetic clips to hang the covers on the board until they are returned. So simple. And it's been a classroom game changer for me!


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