When we talk about equitable access in the library, we are usually referring to access to books or to technology, but something I try to focus on in our library are learning experiences. That could mean a read aloud, a high tech STEM activity, or a virtual field trip, but it doesn't have to be. During this time of year, it's important for us to remember not all of our students have access to materials, time, resources, or a mentor at home to help create a "something" for that someone special in their life for the holidays.
Our county tends to be pretty affluent, but many of our families in our school are not. The poverty is partially hidden by living beyond means or by local organizations like the amazing United Way. I'm so glad we have been reading Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen with the staff this year. While I have taught in high poverty (100% free lunch) when I first started teaching and I grew up not knowing how our grocery bill would be paid, I still struggle with feeling removed from the poverty mindset as I have grown accustomed to teaching here. Understanding our students and their life experiences helps me be the best librarian I can be to offer authentic learning experiences for them. Jensen mentions that "for many students school is an obligation, not a joy or a privilege" and often it is because there is not a support system. I hope by doing something like this, I'm helping students take ownership of their space, that I'm showing empathy instead of pity, and even though I cannot change their bank accounts, I can help "fill their emotional account."
I've had these Chromebook boxes in the storage room for almost a year because I knew I wanted to use them for a MakerSpace project (honestly, thinking for Cardboard Challenge but that did not happen this year) and this was the perfect recycling project! My wonderful media clerk, Michelle, and I cut out the boxes and used our die cut machine to make sturdy, rustic looking ornaments for our kiddos. If we had older children, I would say let them create their own ornament from the cardboard but due to safety concerns and time constraints, we cut them out for our students. We gathered our markers, scrap paper, extra ribbon, and a hodgepodge of things I could find at the Dollar Tree in town.
I can't wait to have our kiddos come in to make something to take home or to give to a special friend!! I'll make sure to update with pictures as our students come in to create!
I think I will add this to my Future Ready Librarian goals outline as a project to do each holiday season.