Pandemic Musings from a School Librarian

2020-2021 Is Like No Other

This school year has been incredibly difficult, definitely the most difficult of my 14 years of teaching. I feel very discombobulated, constantly creating and restructuring lessons to fit online limitations, a shorter time block, and a different class rotation schedule. Then there’s the obvious; I’m not in the library. My students aren’t in the library. How can we teach library lessons with no library, or if you’re in school, without book browsing and check out? I’m also very aware of how strange this is for my students, their new needs, all of the new technology they’re using, and the stress that many of our families are feeling. I can relate! I have my own elementary age children, so I’m also juggling work and parenting responsibilities. When I stopped and thought about what would be possible this year, at first, I was at a loss. I had to take a step back and think about what we can do. What is my why? What are my strengths? What I can do to make all of my students’ experiences better in this moment?


My strength, and the strength of our positions as school librarians, is in building relationships. We get to watch our kids grow from year to year, introducing them to new friends and new experiences through the magic of books, helping them find reliable information with research skills, and teaching them about all of the resources that are available to them in-person and online. We can help our students feel connected to each other and to our school by creating a positive, affirming, creative, and loving space. This year has obviously been different, but we can still build relationships! We can still enjoy and learn from books! We have more internet access than ever! So that is exactly what I’ve been doing.

 All the Positives

This year I've gotten to meet siblings and grandparents, hear original songs and stories that my students have created, and we've taken the time to talk when kids are feeling lonely or frustrated. I've gotten to meet everyone’s pets, including a hamster named Donut. We’ve read so many amazing books, like our Black-Eyed Susan nominees, helping our students see the world beyond their homes, use the power of imagination, and discover perspectives that they may not encounter otherwise. We got the chance to do the Hour of Code, we’ve done author and illustrator studies, we’ve done mindfulness exercises with picture book pairings, we’ve written thank you notes to teachers, staff, family, and friends. We've even used the magic of the internet to visit other places on virtual field trips, such as our National Parks, the Amazon Rain Forest, and even an Alaskan Musk Ox farm.

 Learning and Growing

This year is hard, but it is definitely not a loss. Our kids are learning, growing, asking questions, and working hard. We are building relationships. This year, more than ever, we need to teach our students about kindness, empathy, resilience, positivity, and community. All of these things are still happening each day in our virtual library.

 About the Author

Casey Grenier 

Casey Grenier is the school librarian at Beach Elementary School in Calvert County, Maryland. She has been teaching virtually from her renovated basement office and finding new strengths she didn't know she had!  Follow Casey on Twitter @Casey_Grenier.

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