The Benefits of Libraries for Teachers and Students

By Frankie Wallace

For a long time, libraries have served as sanctuaries for many students and teachers. Libraries aren’t being visited as often as they once were, but educators can still benefit from utilizing libraries in their lessons. Additionally, they provide a place of solitude and refuge from the hardships associated with day-to-day school life. Within the rows of books, there are other worlds to escape to, history to be revisited, and information to gather.

Library Importance

Many consider libraries to be dead because of today’s focus on technology. This is a common misconception; in fact, many libraries are thriving across the country. As a teacher, offering the chance for your students to spend time in their local library will continue the support that is needed for libraries to keep their doors open.

Including a visit to your local library in your curriculum can benefit your students. It is there they have access to the news stories and history of their town that they cannot find in any other library. Today, many of the libraries’ newspaper collections and historical photographs are being digitized and are available on their websites. However, research being conducted on students shows that information retention for data obtained in print is greater than digital media.

By enabling your students to become library patrons, you are empowering them to utilize a space that can act as more than just a place to study. In addition to access to information, libraries offer many benefits as an institution:

  • They serve as a community hub and meeting place.
  • They can offer a place for oral histories and storytelling.
  • Libraries create ties and partnerships between community members and organizations.

The Internet’s Role in Change

Many people aren’t going to the library anymore because they can find answers to questions online so easily. The danger of the age of the internet, however, is the lack of credible sources. This has created a need for instilling critical analysis skills to enable our students to conduct effective research. Although there are a number of perks of the age of information, access to credible resources available at the library simply can’t be beat.

With a deliberate focus on sustainability in schools around the globe, many teachers and students are asking themselves how to lessen their carbon footprint — and the answer can be found in supporting their local library. For example, much of the population believes that by purchasing a book to read on their tablet, they’re helping to reduce waste. Many people also prefer to own their books, rather than renting them — but neither of these things are necessarily good for the environment. Especially after the rise of big booksellers like Amazon, it turns out that purchasing books online is actually worse for the environment than just borrowing the physical book from the library — whether digitally or not.

However, a lessened impact may be true when purchasing or reading books online in some communities. For those that live in rural areas, the combination of technology and library support can be found online. If a student or teacher possess a library card, they can gain access to any of the digitized material on the library’s website, including e-books. Making information gathering available to all populations has always been the goal of public libraries.

New Discoveries

Libraries provide a safe space for students to focus on their learning as well as access information from their numerous resources, including librarians, texts, and technological offerings. One study found that students whose first language is something other than English benefit from libraries the most. As a teacher, making libraries feel more available and beneficial may open new pathways for students you couldn’t have anticipated before.

As a teacher, placing your student in a library can offer an opportunity for them to discover new interests. What students see in their feeds and their searches on the internet are all tailored to their previous preferences. They see the same advertisements in their social media for video games and clothing lines as a result of their search history. Their newsfeeds are filled with reports from questionable sources and saturated with pop culture.

Introducing them to new sources of reliable information can open them up to a range of thought-provoking, diverse perspectives. From their pre-K years to the day they reach for their high school diploma, books can help children learn how to take better care of themselves, make informed decisions, and strive for greater social equality. For example, Kindercare lists nine books that can help kids learn how to eat better, potentially avoiding major chronic health conditions later in life.

Moreso, allowing a student to disappear among the stacks of books at their local library may offer a chance to explore new worlds they have never known. Fostering independent reading has been found to significantly increase vocabulary development and reading comprehension. It also empowers students with the ability to use different technologies and become more competitive when they enter the global workforce.

Due to the diverse offerings at the library, there is something to appeal to every learning style and individual student. As a teacher, the numerous educational tools are invaluable resources, enabling you to develop more cohesive and engaging lessons in your classroom. If you don’t have a library within your own school, consider scheduling your next field trip to explore your local library.

11 Time-Saving Tips for Teachers

A guest post by Lauren Adley

Teachers are often overwhelmed by the numerous lessons they have to plan, the piles of marking waiting for them, and the various tasks on their to-do lists.

Here are useful time management tips that will help teachers tackle those tasks and reduce those piles efficiently.

1. Clear your laptop

According to Brother International Corporation research, over half of employees spend thirty minutes a week looking for things they can’t find on their laptops. If you clear your computer and organize your digital workstation, you could gain back time that would be otherwise squandered.

Delete documents you don’t need anymore, transfer important files to a cloud service, and make an organizational system that works for you.

2. Organize your desk

Additional research from Brother International shows that two-thirds of workers spend a minimum of 30 minutes every week searching for misplaced items. Piling things on your desk is a sure way to lose them.

Therefore, declutter and organize your physical space:

– Use shelves or labeled bins for everyday submissions.

– Use an inbox/outbox system for permission slips, notes from home, and other things that come to your desk.

– Each item on your desk should have its own place; make sure you put it there every time.

3. Manage papers efficiently

Are you overwhelmed with the piles of tests, memos, attendance forms, and letters? If so, it’s time to bring some order.

– Assign a file drawer for every subject you teach.

– Use colored files to classify papers by topics, like red for quizzes and tests and blue for lesson plans.

– If you haven’t used the paper in six months or more, recycle it.

4. Grade papers effortlessly

Grading student papers is one of the most tiring and tedious tasks for teachers. Pointing out each mistake on a student’s writing can be so time-consuming. Instead, focus on the errors that are directly related to the lesson. Then, create a document with frequently-used comments you can copy and paste. That way, you will automate the process and save time and energy.

5. Plan your lessons online

Planning your lesson is another activity that takes a lot of effort. However, it doesn’t have to be like that if you use lesson planning sites which are great time-saving tools.

Use CommonCurriculum or Planbook to create lessons easily and quickly. Not only can you organize lessons around Common Core standards, but you can also design custom schedules for every class and allow students and other teachers to view your plans online.

6. Use the 2-Minute Rule

When you need to tackle tasks that actually aren’t difficult to do, you tend to procrastinate and wait for the last minute to start. An efficient way to crush your procrastination is to apply the 2-Minute Rule, suggested in David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done.

The rule says that if a task requires less than two minutes to complete, then do it right away. Don’t wait to answer your email or file a document.  Instead, embrace the 2-Minute Rule and boost your productivity.

7. Plan your day

To make the most of your time and use it wisely, it’s crucial to plan your day. Spend a few minutes after school each day jotting down what you’ll do tomorrow. Use an agenda with time slots to schedule every task at the appropriate time. That way, you will use your time more efficiently and get more things done. Without proper planning, you won’t be in control of your time so you’ll be at the mercy of other people’s schedules.

8. Eliminate all distractions

Nowadays there are many distractions, such as social media notifications, emails, text messages, or incoming calls that pull teachers away from their plans and waste precious time.

For that reason, limit your time on social networks or check your emails only twice a day. Also, put your smartphone on Airplane mode while working and avoid unpleasant interruptions. Everything can wait until you finish your job.

9. Automate some tasks

Sometimes you don’t need to work harder to be more efficient, just work smarter. This means you can automate some tasks and save some time.

For example, you probably send many emails to parents and students on a variety of matters. Instead of squandering your time writing the same email over and over again, create some templates you can quickly revise and compose emails in no time at all.

10. Go digital

Printing and copying class materials take a lot of your time. Besides, it requires time to store all the papers and find one when a student needs it.

That’s why you should consider going digital and using cloud services for storing your documents. That way, you will always have a ready copy that your students can download and more importantly you will save time and drawer space.

11. Learn to delegate

Learning to delegate is a crucial skill that every teacher should learn. Use tools that can give you a hand and work more productively.

You don’t have to do everything yourself. Don’t shy away from using aides, paras, or even asking parents or students to lighten your load. There are always some simple tasks that they can assist you with and many are more than happy to do so. As a result, you’ll avoid burnout and feel more energized.

If you’re serious about saving time and recapturing your personal life, try Angela Watson’s acclaimed 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. Thousands of teachers swear by it; you can see what they say here. If you decide to give it a go, do so quickly so you can take advantage of the Early Bird benefits, such as these three free resources to help you spend your summer effectively and early access to the Facebook group so you can begin sharing best practices with other teachers who’ve decided to make a change. Teacher Habits is an affiliate partner of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek.