Flexible scheduling refers to the schedule that a school librarian uses in the library or media center. Traditionally, the school library has a fixed schedule where classes come to the library once per week at a fixed time. A librarian who chooses to use a flexible schedule allows students and classes to come to the library when the need arises rather than at a fixed time.
A flexible schedule allows for students to have more access to the library to exchange books, use technology, and conduct research. A flexible schedule also allows the library to be an extension of the classroom. Because of the openness of the schedule, librarians are able to conduct more programs in the library and visit classrooms to collaborate with classroom teachers on their lessons.
American Association of School Librarians Position Statement on Flexible Scheduling
“ Schools must adopt the educational philosophy that the library program is fully integrated into the educational program. This integration strengthens the teaching/learning process so that students can develop the vital skills necessary to locate, analyze, evaluate, interpret, and communicate information and ideas. When the library program is fully integrated into the instructional program of the school, students, teachers, and school librarians become partners in learning. The library program is an extension of the classroom. Information skills are taught and learned within the context of the classroom curriculum. The wide range of resources, technologies, and services needed to meet students learning and information needs are readily available in a cost-effective manner.
The integrated library program philosophy requires that an open schedule must be maintained. Classes cannot be scheduled in the school library to provide teacher release or preparation time. Students and teachers must be able to come to the center throughout the day to use information sources, to read for pleasure, and to meet and work with other students and teachers.
Planning between the school librarian and the classroom teacher, which encourages both scheduled and informal visits, is the catalyst that makes this integrated library program work. The teacher brings to the planning process a knowledge of subject content and student needs. The school librarian contributes a broad knowledge of resources and technology, an understanding of teaching methods, and a wide range of strategies that may be employed to help students learn information skills. Cooperative planning by the teacher and school librarian integrates information skills and materials into the classroom curriculum and results in the development of assignments that encourage open inquiry.
AALA Position Statement on Flexible Scheduling continued…
The responsibility for flexibly scheduled library programs
must be shared by the entire school community.
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION endorses the philosophy that the library program is an integral part of the districts educational program and ensures that flexible scheduling for library centers is maintained in all buildings and at all levels.
THE DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION supports this philosophy and monitors staff assignments to ensure appropriate staffing levels so that all teachers, including the school librarians, can fulfill their professional responsibilities.
THE PRINCIPAL creates the appropriate climate within the school by advocating the benefits of flexible scheduling to the faculty, by monitoring scheduling, by ensuring appropriate staffing levels, and by providing joint planning time for classroom teachers and school librarians.
THE TEACHER uses resource-based instruction and views the library program as a integral part of that instruction.
THE SCHOOL LIBRARIAN is knowledgeable about curriculum and classroom activities, and works cooperatively with the classroom teacher to integrate information skills into the curriculum.”
AALA Position Statement on Flexible Scheduling continued…
Teachers provide support for media center programs with students, parents, faculty, and community.
Teachers show support for the actual schedule and the teacher-librarian.
Teachers plan related units, research projects, enrichment activities, literature appreciation activities with media specialist and reading specialist.
Teachers provide input to media specialist on additional resources for media center collection.
Teachers ensure that students have a need for the information/services of the library media center.
Teachers collaborate with the school reading specialist and ESOL teachers.
Role or Benefits of Flexible Scheduling for Librarians
To develop a program enabling the classroom teacher to meet curriculum goals.
To assist students in identifying and locating materials.
Assist in selecting proper materials plus usage, understanding, and applying information.
Assist in creating, producing, or presenting information.
Assist in developing an interest in and appreciation of literature and the media center.
To plan and teach with teachers integrating the media center/information seeking skills into the curriculum.
Role or Benefits of Flexible Scheduling for Librarians continues:
Plan and implement reading and literature appreciation activities, along with reading specialists.
Perform training and technical functions for support.
Plan and implement with teachers activities supporting classroom curriculum.
To establish a professional relationship with teachers, co-teachers and a connection with students.
What does Flexible Scheduling in the School Library/Media Center look like? Elementary School Example Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday M o r n I n g 8:00 – 9:30 2nd Grade Earl 10:30 –11:00 Story time Kindergarten Reading Wright 1:00 – 1:20 4th Grade – Wheat (book check-out) 8:00 – 9:00 Math 1st Grade Pendergrass 9:15 – 10:15 2nd grade Spelling Wilson 12:30 – 1:30 6th Grade Math Butler 8:00 – 8:45 Book Talks 5th grade Pineda 8:50 – 9:35 Social Studies 1st Grade Ramirez 12:30 – 1:30 6th Grade groups -Math Butler 8:30 – 9:00 Unit 1st Grade Montgomery 9:00 – 10:00 2nd Grade Wilson 11:00 – 11:30 Story Book 1st Grade Ramirez 8:30 – 9:00 Sight Words 1st Grade Montgomery 9:00 – 10:00 2nd Grade Earl 11:00 –11:30 Story Book 1st Grade Ramirez A f t e r n o o n 1:00 – 2:00 2 nd Grade Science Wilson 1:30 – 2:30 6 th Grade groups Science Butler 1:00 – 2:00 5th Grade groups Science Pineda 1:00 – 1:45 Team Mtg. 2nd Grade Reading Specialist ESOL, Teacher And Teacher-Librarian 2:00 – 2:30 Story Book 1st Grade Pendergrass
“ The best part of flexible scheduling was the freedom it allowed me to collaborate with teachers and "dig deeper" into the curriculum. I sat in on team planning meetings and felt very involved in the instructional goals of our campus. Not being on a fixed schedule also allowed time for lessons that need to extend beyond a class' one visit per week. Time is much more plentiful and I felt like my library lessons were much more meaningful. I loved being able to teach with teachers... not just teach!”
Joy McGregor provided testimonials from principals, teachers, and librarians in her article "Flexible Scheduling: Implementing an Innovation." The following is a testimonial from a principal:
“ I think the media specialist is in a better position to impact on curriculum goals and to make sure that her efforts and the teachers' efforts are collaborative and correlated. I think for teachers, probably the advantages are making sure that the children are provided with opportunities and information that they might not have access to in the classroom. I think the children have the advantage of knowing that the media center is a working environment where INFORMATION POWER is felt throughout the day and is not restricted to just one set of activities or just to check out books. I guess I don't see any disadvantages.”
The following are more testimonials from McGregor’s article:
I love the flexible schedule because it allows me to send the students as they need to get a book or as they need to do research and doesn't tie me to a certain time, and the students can read as much as they want to because they can go and get more books and don't have to wait until the next week to get a book.—fourth-grade teacher
It's a lot easier to be able to say, “Why don't you go check it out in the library? That's a great question.” And feel comfortable that they can go to the library and be able to get the help and look it up without me trying to schedule a time, like, “OK, that's a great question, but we'll have to look it up next week when we go to the library.”—third- and fourth-grade teacher.
Creighton, Peggy M. "Flexible Scheduling: Making the Transition." School Library Monthly 24.5 (2008): 24-27. Web. 9 Oct. 2011.
McGregor, Joy. "Flexible Scheduling: Implementing an Innovation." School Library Media Research 9 (2006). Web. 12 Oct. 2011.
National Center for Education Statistics. The Status of Public and Private School Library Media Centers in the United States: 1999-2000 . By Barbara Holton. Washington, D.C., 2004. Web. 10 Oct. 2011."Flexible Scheduling: Implementing an Innovation." American Association of School Librarians. Web. 9 Oct. 2011.
"Position Statement on Flexible Scheduling." American Association of School Librarians. Web. 9 Oct. 2011.
Shannon, Donna. "Transition to a Flexible Access Library Program in Two Library Power Elementary Schools." School Library Media Quarterly 24.3: 155+. Web. 12 Oct. 2011.