Monday, 30 March 2009

Discipline - the never ending struggle

Sometimes trying to maintain order and discipline feels like your bashing your head against a brick wall repeatedly. Often that brick wall also feels like it has glass sticking out of it. Not to sound superior or stuck up but I can't really empathise with the students in my college as I was never an unhappy teenager. I was quiet yes but I didn't experience the angst that I see here on a daily basis. Maybe not being able to understand them is one of the problems. But what else contributes to poor behaviour in the library. Well here's what I've got so far:

- Students don't see the library staff as figures of authority
- Students are often bored
- The library is too small to cope with the large numbers of students and we have to keep them quiet because the silent area isn't a seperate room.
- Hormones!
- Poor line of sight/poor library design
- Bad weather
- Students don't see the library as an extenstion of the classroom
- Library is unsure of it's function and the students react to this

Any other ideas?


  1. Do the library staff adopt any teaching roles, i.e. with regards to information literacy? I was just thinking, from my studies about school libraries, that heavy involvement in curricular activities may reinforce the librarian's authority. But the problem swings the other way, should the library be an extension of the classroom - or would this create a psycological barrier for students who might otherwise find it a refuge? In some ways it's such a catch 22 problem.

    P.s. When teaching in a secondary school I also noticed the relationship between student behaviour and bad weather. I wonder if anyone has taken it further and compared behaviour to the lunar cycle...

  2. In Sixth Form the library staff do not take on a teaching role but from what I've seen in school libraries they do. This would definately reinforce the librarian's authority but we just don't have the chance to work in that way. If we were learning support then maybe but we aren't viewed in that way which I think is a problem. A librarian's function is to support learning so why aren't we considered learning support officeres?

  3. We have all those problems in a secondary rather than 6th form library. So, tout ça change...
    How about chess for bored students, or scrabble, and developing a league. Oh yes, what about go! You might find mentors and offer times for lessons.

  4. I lost my comment when I signed in!!! Darn that blogger! I suggested chess, scrabble or go for bored students. Start a league with a prize! Look for mentors to teach go or chess and have classes at stated times.

  5. I work in a secondary school with a sixth form and the main problem is that the sixth formers think they are adults and do not want to abide by the same rules as the rest of the school - no chewing gum, no music, coats off etc.. A small minority get very stroppy. We have dealt with this by banning them from the library for a limited period time and informing the head of sixth form, who is very supportive.
    The younger years play a lot of chess and Scrabble in the library - the sixth-form ony occasionally. The trouble is this creates more noise so we have now introduced Chess and Scrabble free days.

  6. I guess there are always problems no matter what you try to do! I would like to trial run the games and see how it goes. It may be a disaster. Bridget, do you have major discipline problems in your library? We get back chat, foul language and often students come right up into our faces and shout at us. You can see why I am so distressed about the discipline issue.

  7. We do get back chat and defiance, refusal to leave and being sworn at (although not often). We we have encountered these problems we refer them to more senior staff who have dealt with them promptly, backing up any decisions we have made about banning from the LRC. Nobody is banned for ever but we do ban for short periods, or certain students are only allowed in at certain times or by themselves. Problems are often caused by groups and if you can isolate individuals it makes them easier to speak to as they are not 'performing' in front of their peers.
    Good luck with the games!