Books are an important part of education, although some educational reformers have raised questions about the necessity of textbooks in classrooms. In fact, there is a movement in some places to eliminate texts altogether. It's true that many books are expensive and sometimes contain inaccurate information. Nevertheless, textbooks are important tools for all teachers to use as reference and teaching material.
New teachers are faced with creating a curriculum for their students. A good textbook is an important aid in helping them overcome the challenges of creating effective lesson plans each day. In fact, with all of the other obstacles and situations new teachers have to face in the classroom, a textbook can be a real lifesaver. All teachers must use their texts responsibly — as a springboard to teaching important concepts and information.
One of the reasons critics disparage textbook use is that many teachers rely on them as the only instrument of education. If that is the case in your classroom, and a textbook is the only instrument of education, you are not fulfilling your true role as a teacher.
It is important that you keep accurate records when you first assign textbooks to each student. Assigning textbooks in an irresponsible manner can lead to expenses equal to the cost of hiring a new teacher. To a lesser degree, it can cause a “book crunch” the following year if a school does not order enough replacement texts. New and experienced teachers must have a clear, easy-to-use method for assigning texts; otherwise it will eventually have very personal repercussions on the teacher.
Most schools will provide you with a method to organize book assignments. This will usually take the form of textbook cards. Use them to start off your organization method — you'll need to fill out the cards, organize them where they are safe, and deal with new student arrivals as the year progresses.
It is also a good idea to periodically hold textbook checks to ensure that students have not lost their books. By doing this early in the year, students will have time to find books they have misplaced. It also encourages students to keep track of their books.
Some schools do not have enough texts to provide each student with a copy to take home. This often happens at the end of a textbook ordering cycle. The school began with enough texts for every student, but through student growth, book damage, and attrition, the textbook count has dwindled. When this happens, teachers are forced to use texts from class sets.
Managing class sets can be a nightmare if you do not have a good system in place. This is because books have a tendency to walk out of the classroom with students. Rather than return the books they're using, many students simply forget and put them into their backpacks through habit. Therefore, you should create a system to handle assigning class sets to students.
One method you can use is to assign a book to each desk (as opposed to each student). It's easy to visually check at the end of each class to make sure all the books are there. Another method is to have the textbooks assigned to the students in the class. Each student has an in-class textbook card. You could house the books on a bookshelf convenient to the students, and they would be responsible for getting their book before the period starts. The students would then be responsible for replacing the books at the end of class.
Students Without Textbooks
On some days, at least some of your students will forget to bring their textbooks to class. If your lesson requires the students to refer to or read from their textbooks, you will have a problem on your hands. Your three options are:
Not allowing participation without the required textbook.
Allowing students to share their textbooks with others.
Allowing them to check out a textbook for the day.
If you do not allow the student to participate, this could easily lead to distractions for the rest of the class. The student might become indignant and cause disruptions. And the education of the student would be lost for that period.
Sharing texts might work for certain assignments. For example, if you are reading a play out loud in an English class, the students could sit next to each other and read from the same book. However, this often leads to distractions between the students sharing the book, especially if they are close friends. Also, if your lesson does not lend itself well to sharing books — for example, students may be taking an open-book test — sharing might not even be a viable option.
Many schools have multiple storage areas for textbooks. Sometimes there are numerous copies of the book you need just gathering dust somewhere on campus. Make sure to ask around for any “hidden” storage areas so you can check for extra copies of the textbook you are looking for.
If you are lucky, you will have the luxury of having a few extra textbooks to lend out to students who have forgotten their own. You should have a quick and easy system in place to handle this type of situation. For example, you could keep the textbooks behind your desk and have a sign-out sheet. Students who have forgotten their books sign out a loaner for the period. Then, if the book is not returned, you know who is responsible.
Checking Out Other Books
Many teachers have other books in their classrooms that they allow students to borrow and read. This is especially the case in language arts classes, where students are required to read other books for assignments. If you plan on having books that students can borrow, you need to create a checkout system.
Once again, make sure to create a system that is easy to understand and use. You should definitely restrict book checkouts to specific times in your class. Make sure that students clearly understand the procedures for checking out books in your class.
Keep a checkout sheet at your desk. You can choose to have the students be responsible for writing down the book's title, their name, the date, and the class they are in while you watch, or you can take care of writing it yourself. This provides you with a record of who has borrowed your books so you'll know whom to contact if they are not returned.