Ask. Help. Listen. Repeat.

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September 25, 2021 by Dr. Robbie Barber

I’m officially renaming this year to “The Hardest Year Ever”. Last year, SY21, was the “Strangest Year Ever”. Last year was hard and difficult to manage, the threat of the unknown, the worries, the isolation. This year, however, is everything magnified from last year but with less teachers, less subs, worse facilities in terms of air handling and cleanliness, and more issues with being in-person while students and teachers contract COVID-19 or are quarantined.

In these times, how do school librarians and instructional technology support and academic coaches help?

Ask. Hallway conversations work. So does hearing or reading information from admin and asking how you can assist. Asking isn’t trivial or as easy as it sounds. It requires you to be vulnerable to receiving an answer you can’t anticipate. That means, that sometimes you receive an answer you cannot help with. It’s a horrible feeling but it is part of the process. Hopefully, you can help direct the issue to someone who can. But don’t be afraid to ask.

Help. At this point, you should have several delivery mechanisms. You may use in-person help, handouts, emailed information, online practice tool, etc. But you need to make sure that the anyone cares enough to open your email or read your handout. It is on you – not those you’re helping – to tie this to their question and showing how it answers it. It’s easy to create directives or “help” that you pass down. You cannot stand back and say, well I offered it. That’s not helping, it’s just adding to their stress. Sometimes you bring treats!

Listen. Listen in the hallway. Listen to their questions (or lack of questions) as you work with people. Listen to the students – did the teacher share how to do something? Listen in the classroom – do you see your lesson being used or discarded? Do not get disheartened or mad or even disappointed. Sometimes our best lessons do not work the first time. It’s okay, this is a learning process, not a one-and-done.

Repeat. Start over and ask. Most of us actually do not learn by being shown something one time. We need to repeat, practice, and go back over it.

This is teaching, plain and simple. Support personnel may not have a specific curriculum but they should know the curriculums that our teachers use. And, maybe the most important thing of all is to not judge. Everyone is stressed and in disarray. Breathe in and try the lesson again. 😁

You can be stressed too. But, you’ve got this!

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