Tech/Library Flex Scheduling in Elementary School

I have a meeting next week with my administration about flex scheduling of tech lab time. So, I thought I would put my thoughts to y’all in the blogosphere to help me out and give me your thoughts on the following.

I work in an elementary school and we are trying to move to what they call a “Flex Schedule” for technology lab time and library time. This time is suppose to be flexible in that teachers can sign up for time in the computer lab or time in the library as they need it so that it fits or is integrated more within the curriculum and their teaching. The idea is a good one; the problem is we are facing two main problems in implementing it.

1. In order for true flex scheduling to work the lab or library and the IT and Librarian need to be accessible when the classes want to come in. The flex scheduling is only in 4th and 5th grade so we still teach 40 minute blocks to K-3 grades. So our time is not truly flexible. When teachers want to use the lab or our services we are busy, they get frustrated and quit using the flex time all together.

2. Trying to get teachers to move away from the traditional block prep time is difficult. The teachers like to schedule there 40 minute blocks and for good reason. They know when they have prep, the kids know when they have computers, and everything fits nicely into a schedule. How do we move teachers into an anytime information mind set?

What would be idea (and we are in the middle of building such a place) is to have the library and tech integrated into one big media center where information flows from books to digital format and back again where learning is about information and not ‘teaching technology’ and ‘teaching library skills’ but in teaching ‘Contemporary Literacy’ as David Warlick put it. (Currently the tech lab and library are set up in a very traditional 1990s way and a hallway apart from each other)

I believe creating the above space is a key component to moving to a flex schedule that allows for anytime information. But how do I/we work a schedule that allows for this? Do we go to a full flex time where even Kindergarteners have access when they need it? Can this even work? I’m I even asking the right questions? I’m calling on you librarians and tech teachers out there to give me some thoughts. How are you running your school’s program?

Looking for help

Jeff

9 Comments

  1. Jeff,

    I would look to change the position of the “tech teacher”. In my district we have never had a tech teacher. Instead we have “tech integrators” (I am one of them). Instead of being locked into a teaching schedule I have full flexibility to be available to teachers as needed.

    I provide professional development to the teachers of my building by appointment, afterschool open sessions, and occasional days when the principal gets subs for teachers to release them. Most importantly, I am available to team teach with the teachers of my building in their classroom. The classroom teacher will cover the content and I cover the technology. This provides a great professional development opportunity for that teacher (it’s not a speciial where they leave to correct papers). Typically, teachers will use me for the first (sometimes second) time they do such an assignment. After that they take it on their own.

    This arrangement creates an atmosphere where technology is integrated into the curriculum (not divorced from it) and empowers teachers to teach with technology. I do this in the middle level, but it has been successfully done in our elementary schools as well.

  2. Hi Jeff,

    You might want to take a look at a paper for School Library Journal (that nearly got me kicked out of ALA) on some of the merits of fixed library schedules. You can take or leave the paper itself, but some of the reactions it engendered are really interesting.

    All the best,

    Doug

  3. I love connected conversations. Here I was opening this up from my RSS reader to leave a comment suggesting you look at Doug Johnson’s work and then grabbing the URL to e-mail to Doug….

    But Doug was already here!

    Having done this in technology – I worked in a partial fix/flex schedule – I can say definately give Doug’s article a careful read. There are positives and negatives in both areas.

  4. Hi Jeff,

    I happen to be going through the same challenge as you did. I am now an elementary tech teacher and following a fixed schedule where I try to integrate tech into whatever units I could and at the same time teaching the kids necessary tech skills. We are now looking into a flex scheduling which is the trend. I was just wondering how it worked out for your school at that time. Can you please give me some thoughts on how it was implemented at your school and how it worked?

    I would appreciate anybody else’s insight on this too :) Thank you all!

    • Flex scheduling was the tend…now it is full integration where there are no tech classes at all in the elementary. Many schools have gone to a fully integration model and that I believe is the trend we’ll see in the coming future. In the elementary specifically. Flex scheduling works if you can get the teachers to understand how it works. It’s a step towards full integration where the skills that students need are taught “just in time”. It works best if you the technology teacher can sit in on team meetings so that those flex times in the library and computer labs are just a part of the lesson rather than add-on after thoughts. That’s when it works the best.

  5. I am incorporating the flex schedule into technology this semester and have 2 main problems: 1) parents are upset because they think their children will not have the traditional 10-15 minutes of typing practice each week and 2) teachers are scheduling themselves for the same time each week, falling back into the traditional black scheduling even though we have the new flex schedule. Do you have any ideas or resources I could look into? Thanks!

    • Hi Amanda,

      1) Parents often get upset when school doesn’t look the way it did when they went to school. I would encourage to keep communicating with them through newsletters, sharing articles, etc. You have to help change their mindset about what school looks like in 2016.

      2) How was flex scheduling introduced to the staff? Most teachers want structure and stability in their schedule, so if you allow me to sign up for a time to bring my kids in all year that’s what I’m going to do. One way we did this as we transitioned at a school I worked at was that we only opened up the signup schedule two weeks in advance….and gave priority to teachers who were working closely with the librarian and tech person. That helps to force the collaboration between me (teach person) and the teacher to work on collaborative projects.

  6. Jeff,
    Thank you for responding to my post. I have one more additional question – did you use a particular website to have teachers sign up, or did you simply send out a new spreadsheet with the schedule every two weeks?

    • I used a Google Calendar that was shared so any and all teachers could book their own appointment right on my calendar. It made it easy for everyone to see where I was and who I was meeting with.

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