As a librarian, you might find yourself sitting in PD sessions on classroom management or reading books thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me!” As a librarian, we interact with students in a unique way, and the same classroom management techniques that work for classroom teachers might not work for us. However, I’ve compiled tips on classroom management for librarians that I’ve seen success with.
You’ll find that you can use these strategies whether you see students multiple times a week or even sparingly. You can also use them no matter the size of your library, or your access to resources!
1. Mystery Student
This is one of my favorite techniques because you don’t need an involved system or even an explanation. For example, you might say, “I have a mystery student. Do you know who it is? This person is quietly reading their book.” When you say this, you’ll likely see students change their behavior to match the desired behavior.
After a certain amount of time passes or at the end of class, reveal who the mystery student is. You can give the student a small prize, or you can have the class give a clap or cheer. You could also put several students’ names on a random name generator to show you recognizing several people on task and have the generator pick the prize winner.
2. Stay Consistent
When students don’t see you every day like their classroom teacher, it can be difficult to keep them consistent with routines and expectations. They might forget what is expected, or simply try to push the limits!
If students are not following the library expectations, make sure you immediately and consistently correct the behavior. Practice routines as often as needed, and don’t be afraid to stop an activity and practice routines.
3. Use a Reward System
A reward system is perfect for classroom management in the library because you can use it no matter the consistency students see you. You can use reward systems as a whole class goal system, for students to earn points individually, or you can use it for specific students.
Personally, I use Digital Rewards for the School Library. They are on Google Slides, and students earn digital stickers when they meet a specific goal. For example, a goal might be keeping the library clean. When I catch a student putting away books or cleaning up trash, I could give them a “gumball” to put in the machine on their digital sticker board.
4. Behavior Think Sheets
I have found this classroom management technique works best after you have offered behavioral corrections first.
A think sheet is a way for students to reflect on their behavior and the impact that it has. It can also help you gain insight into why a student is acting a certain way. Draft a document with fill in the blanks or writing space and keep copies handy for when you might need them.
5. Manage Library Check-Out
Nothing is more chaotic or stressful than when you have a line of students waiting to check out a book. Students will often start misbehaving in line, their volume gets loud, and you can’t really keep an eye on what’s going on.
To manage this, only allow one table to check out at a time. When students find a book they want, they can return to their seat and begin to read or work on a task. Once you notice a table is full, ask that specific table to check out books.
6. Have a Special Spot in the Library
Another classroom management tip for librarians is to have a special spot for students who are consistently on task. This is an easy way to reward students, and you can recognize new students each week.
Some perks of the special spot might be getting to check-out first, lining up first, and/or having access to fun seats, pillows, or writing utensils. When the class ends, have the students in the special spot pick new students for the following week. They should state why they chose that student.
7. Call and Response
Sometimes, it’s the simple tricks that work the best! This classroom management tip for librarians is an oldie but a goodie. When you need students’ attention, use a call and response. You will need to teach these to students, so I suggest picking one or two and using them consistently. Some examples are –
Teacher: Shark bait
Students: Hoo Ha Ha
Teacher: Readers are…
Teacher: 1, 2, 3 All eyes on me
Students: 1, 2 Eyes on you
8. Punch Cards
This is a similar technique to the classroom points system, but it can serve different purposes. If you don’t have technology in your classroom or don’t want to use an app for tracking points, this is a great option.
Give students a punch card with a goal (such as 10 slots). When you see students on task, hole punch their card. Once students have gotten all their punches, they can earn a reward. You can keep students punch cards on a binder ring or have them keep it in a folder.
9. Ticket System
If you want a reward system that’s low maintenance, this is the one. Create a few large tickets that you can display in a pocket chart. When you start class, add one ticket to the chart. When you see students on task and working hard, add more tickets to the chart.
If they have five tickets by the end of class, everyone earns some type of award. This can be something simple like having five minutes of game time or an extra brain break.
10. Communicate with Other Teachers
This may be the best classroom management tip for librarians. Because we have limited time with students, we don’t have as much time to try different techniques and tools for students. If you are struggling with a particular class or student, chat with their teacher to see what they would recommend and what has worked so far.
I hope these classroom management techniques have been helpful! If you want library lesson ideas or other librarian tips and tricks, you can check out my other blog posts.