Dear Dr. Laura
Every fall I lose my voice when my seasonal allergies kick in. I want to start planning now so I’m ready when that happens. I’m not the kind of sick to stay home, just the kind that leaves me voiceless a day or so, What kinds of things can I do to be ready with library plans when the voiceless day happens?
Hi, Quiet Librarian
I totally understand where you’re coming from. I’m an allergy sufferer also and usually lose my voice a day or two each fall when they start burning the sugar cane fields in my area. I know the farmers need to burn the fields, but it wreaks havoc on so many people like me. So, you need to have some library backup plans in reserve for those off-days when you are a little under the weather. Of course, if you are truly sick then you need to stay home for everyone’s well-being.
If you are in a district where they hire substitutes when the librarian is absent, then you need some great lesson plans that you have written out in detail and left in a prominent place in your library. I was never that fortunate. If I was absent, my library was simply closed.
I have heard of teachers taking their classes to the library to swap out books when the librarian is absent. If that’s going to happen in your library, be sure you have left clear instructions on how to turn on your circulation system or leave a printed out form where the students write their names and which books they took. If you train some library student helpers in each class, they would be more than ready to help supervise when the students are checking in/out books. But, you will know your students well enough to know if that’s even remotely possible or not.
Now, let’s get down to the question you originally asked. What can you do if you are voiceless? If you are fortunate enough to have classroom teachers visit the library with their students, then write out instructions of what you would like the students to do that day.
Storytime can come in a variety of formats. Follow it up with a drawing activity where they draw their favorite scene from the book.
Storytime Online - https://www.storylineonline.net/
Volunteer student readers - possibly with the addition of Novel Effect https://www.laurasheneman.com/post/october-s-tech-tool-novel-effect
Parent volunteer readers - possibly with the addition of Novel Effect https://www.laurasheneman.com/post/october-s-tech-tool-novel-effect
Set up centers/stations in the library. If you practice these enough, the students will have no problem implementing them on your voiceless day. I shared some simple ideas in this blog post about PreK. https://www.laurasheneman.com/post/what-am-i-going-to-do-with-prek
Have computers/iPads set up and allow students to explore the databases or other pre-approved sites you have linked on your library webpage.
Use a text to speech tool from time to time to talk to your students. Then on the day when you really need the voice assistance, your students will already be familiar with it.
Use Microsoft’s “Speak” text-to-speech feature to read text aloud that you type on Word, PowerPoint, etc. https://support.office.com/en-us/article/use-the-speak-text-to-speech-feature-to-read-text-aloud-459e7704-a76d-4fe2-ab48-189d6b83333c
Create a Voki and use it to give instructions to your students. https://www.voki.com/
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You can do this! It is essential you nail down your library classroom management routines https://www.laurasheneman.com/post/classroom-library-management so when a time like this comes around, your students are well-behaved and ready to learn from you no matter what your voice sounds like.
Take care of yourself! Drink hot tea and try all the other home remedies people will tell you about. You can survive this time well with a little forethought and careful planning.
The Librarian Influencer of the Week is high school librarian Connie Guerrero from Goose Creek ISD in Baytown, Texas. https://www.laurasheneman.com/post/you-have-the-best-job-in-the-building-with-connie-guerrero