Monday, May 16, 2011

Hello We Are At Your School

CC: kerryvaugh (Also, where I wish I was...)
12 elementary schools. 3 middle schools. 5500+ copies of our summer program schedule distributed.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for Summer Reading Club school visits!

I called the schools in March to schedule a time to visit and talk to the kids about the Summer Reading Club. I am lucky to have very enthusiastic principals and almost every school in our district allows us to come. With increasing pressure on schools to squeeze every moment of instructional time in that they can, some of the schools don't like to take any time away from class time. While I would love to visit every school, I respect the principals' decisions and usually even if we can't come talk to the kids, we can at least send them our summer calendars.

This year, one of our largest schools is not able to have us come and visit, so I'm very interested to see how this affects their students' participation in the program. Traditionally, this has been one of the schools with the highest percentage of participation. Of course, I am hoping that the numbers will not go down, but a little part of me hopes that the numbers do go down because it means that the school visits are effectively promoting the program!

Most of the elementary schools are having us speak at their morning assemblies. This means a lot of early mornings for us, but (like Sarah said) I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get into the schools and promote! At our smaller schools, I offered the possibility of classroom visits instead of assemblies and next year I'll be offering that to all the schools. Some schools prefer the assemblies and a few have taken us up on the offer of doing classroom visits.

While doing classroom visits does take longer, I think the kids get more out of it. It's a smaller setting where we can customize our spiel to the grade level and the kids can ask questions more easily. We spend no more than 10 minutes per classroom, whereas if teachers have to take their kids out of class and get them settled in an assembly, it can take up much more time. (Since most of the schools have us at their morning assemblies this year, it's not taking up as much class time as it has in the past!)

I am not into elaborate skits, so I keep it simple. We tell the kids about the Summer Reading Club and about some of our summer programs. We let them know that we have summer reading clubs for all ages (even adults, so they can challenge their parents to participate, too!).

At the middle schools, I am going with our teen librarian and we have a table in or near the cafeteria. We spend one day there with the table set up through all the lunch periods and we tell the kids about the Summer Reading Club and allow them to register. We bring summer calendars and bookmarks advertising the SRC and some of our programs.

Visiting the schools is a great chance to see the kids in their natural element and for months afterward, we'll get, "You came to my school!" when these kids come into the library. Yes, it's a LOT of work and it can be exhausting, but we're paving the way for a great summer ahead!

Who else is doing school visits right now? What works for you?