January Library Challenge: Dealing With Difficult Classes

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Welcome to January! Since I started teaching in 2001, I have always had a name for the first day back to school after Christmas break. It’s really a terrible name, but I’ve called it that since January of 2002.

I called it The Worst Day of the Year.

In reality, it never ended up being that bad a day. The “worst” part was always the getting up. The dragging myself out of a warm bed on a freezing January morning. It was the fact that I’d gotten used to staying up late and sleeping in. It was having to get back into the routine. It was the fact that spring break was nearly three months away.

Let’s flip the script on the “Worst Day Ever”

I know some of you are also dreading the end of the holiday break. I wanted this month’s challenge to be something to truly help you get past this “Worst Day” mentality that I always had as a teacher in January. Instead of focusing on the worst day though, we’re going to focus on learning to love our most difficult classes. Or at least liking them a little bit better.

While doing the challenge tasks, I want to ask you to keep three things in mind. These three things will shape how successful you are at tackling your difficult class and how much you enjoy the process.

Think of these three things as the mantra for the January Challenge:

  • Stay positive.
  • You can do this.
  • You are not alone.

I have been a librarian at schools serving students from age 3 to age 20. Looking back, I’ve had many classes and grade levels that helped/forced me to grow my teaching style. Today though, I’m going to focus on three classes that were among my most challenging.

I do not claim to be the expert on difficult classes. If you read my posts below, you’ll see that I didn’t handle those situations perfectly, and I have mixed feelings about how the classes turned out in the end.

But here’s the cool thing: Our Facebook Group is currently over 600 members strong. We have a wide variety of experiences from all grade levels and several countries. I may not be the expert, and you may not be the expert, but as a group, we have thousands of years of collective experience. We can help each other tackle the difficult classes and hopefully help turn them into our favorite classes. All our students–many of whom may also be experiencing their “worst day” of the year–need us to love their class unconditionally, especially if it’s the “difficult” one.

This page will serve as our home page for the January Challenge. I will post documents and links here so they are all in one place. The only links that won’t be on this page are the Rafflecopter link for the challenge and the live videos I do in the Facebook group. Both of those are available in the FaceBook group only.

I also want to create a forum for you to discuss your own “most difficult” classes. These could be current classes that you have questions about, or they could be past successes or challenges. You can post them to the group yourself, or you can send them to me to post to the group anonymously. We are here to help each other, and the more discussion we have, the better we will be able to handle current or future challenges.

Not in the FaceBook group? Click here to join (it’s free!). The group is specifically for school librarians and others who have an interest in school libraries. I do also have some classroom teachers in the group.

Challenge Tasks

This month has lots of challenge tasks, but most of them have to do with thinking and reflecting and planning. Because they require plenty of processing time, I’m going to release this month’s task list one week at a time. Each task list will be accompanied by blog post about the task or a Facebook Live or both. I will link everything here as I post it.

This month’s Freebie:
Introduction to Ancient Greece

In my Difficult Class #2 post about fifth grade library apathy, I mentioned a Greek mythology unit that worked wonders in getting the students a bit more excited about library. I taught that unit over 10 years ago and do not have any of those materials anymore. Instead, I will release a new piece of a fantastic Greek mythology unit you can use with your middle graders. The first part is a freebie PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation. This self-directed presentation is a great introduction to Greek mythology!

Week One — Identifying which class or grade level to focus on

Week One Challenge Tasks

My Difficult Class #1–Grade 3 (Texas)

My Difficult Class #2–Grade 5 (Texas)

My Difficult Class #3–Grade 8 (Texas)

 

Week Two–Procedures > Rules

Week Two Challenge Tasks

Post: Library Rules and Procedures

 

Week Three–Entry, Exit, and Checkout Procedures

Week Three Challenge Tasks

Post: Entry, Exit, Checkout Procedures, PK-Grade 1

Post: Entry, Exit, Checkout Procedures, Grades 2-5

Post: Entry, Exit, Checkout Procedures, Grades 6+

Related Links

On Libraries: Dealing with Difficult People by Hilda K. Weisburg

Better Class Sessions in the Library: Doing Things That Matter by Miriam Tuohy

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