Questions Part 1:Discipline

My mentoring posts generate comments now and again.  They also are convenient when I get questions from interns when they get their own libraries.  Here is a recent question (actually one of several ) from TeacherNinja:


I have a million questions. Discipline for one (because now I have two hour long classes, sigh, and they are squirrelly!)


This post might help some…but you have to remember that my experience is mostly with secondary school.  I haven’t taught an elementary student since 1988!

Rowdy or Restrictive

One of the biggest differences with discipline in an elementary and a secondary library is that as a high school librarian, I have the ability to give kids a little “vacation” from the library. Some new librarians cringe at this idea because of their desire for the library to be all things to all people.  I can understand that desire.  But trust me – that way lies insanity.  For you and ultimately for the kids.

However, when you provide the planning time for teachers, sending kids out of the library is not an option.  If you have a full time assistant, he/she can provide an isolation area where the student can be given a supervised “time-out” period of whatever duration you feel is age appropriate.  You should figure out an easy way to document these “time-outs” so that you can see patterns that might need to be discussed with the principal or guidance counselors.  Here is the form that works for me:  Discipline Record

If the student receives an “time-out” of a few days or more, you will need to keep the teacher(s) informed:  Teacher Notification Form

If the behavior patterns do not improve, you might need to use your school’s discipline referral form to ratchet up the consequences.

Along the way, you will need to keep the parents in the loop.  Here is my parent letter.  There is a typo or two in the letter.  I haven’t uploaded the corrected copy yet. This form actually outlines my whole process.  The full text of the letter is included in the “Rowdy or Restrictive” post I linked to above.  Parent Notification

I would definitely recommend talking to the teacher about the situation. They might have tried and true methods that work with many students and might have some ideas for particular students as well.  I know some librarians have luck with putting a child’s name on the board the first time they have to speak to them.  You tell all the kids that you plan to do this.  The name is up there as a silent reminder to them.  If the problem persists, then they get a check mark, which means an automatic “time-out”.

That’s the end of my limited store of wisdom I am afraid.  I wish I could remember more about my elementary days…. This district used to be K-12 in one building and I did it all … with an assistant thank God, or I wouldn’t be here to tell the story. 🙂  I enjoyed all the levels, but I must say that high school is where I was meant to be.  It was great when we opened an elementary school and I became 6-12, but it was even better when we opened the high school.  I absolutely LOVE this age.  I can make jokes and they (mostly) understand them.  I will miss the kids every day when I retire.

More questions and more “answers” to come.  Stay tuned….

One thought on “Questions Part 1:Discipline

  1. Thank you so much. I’ll look over the materials you linked to. I was busy this week, but didn’t have as many problems because the kids I have this quarter are A) older and B) working on a project they seem moderately engaged in. I guess that’s the secret. Keep feeding them little projects that they enjoy enough so they don’t get bored and cause problems. As for the ones that do or can’t help it, I like your suggestion of simply having them go work with another adult (if one is available) for that time.

    Thanks so much!

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