Evidence-based Instructional Partnerships

As a card-carrying instructional partner, I am always on the trail of research to support my experience. I have served as an elementary, junior high, and high school librarian. I have been a 5th-grade classroom teacher, a literacy coach, and district-level mentor for school librarian colleagues. My experience has shown me that instructional partnerships have great potential to improve students’ learning and educators’ teaching. I know I am a much better teacher as a result of learning side by side with my peers.

Still, in this age of accountability when “anecdotal” evidence is too often dismissed, it is important for educators to read research and learn from studies in the fields of education, library science, and technology to deepen their understanding of the potential, process, and impact of instructional partnerships. Ross Todd describes this cycle of research and practice, practice and research in this way

“Research informing practice and practice informing research is a fundamental cycle in any sustainable profession” (Todd, 2007, p. 64).

In that pursuit, I have been reading publications related to Phase Two of the New Jersey Study conducted by Ross Todd, Carol Gordon, and La-Ling Lu. According to the results, in collaborative culture schools the instructional partner role of the school librarian is highly respected and prized by administrators and fellow educators because of the school librarian’s positive impact on student learning outcomes and “cost-effective, hands-on professional development [for educators] through the cooperative design of learning experiences that integrate information and technology” (Todd, Gordon, & Lu, 2012, p. 26).

When educators coteach and coassess student learning outcomes, we learn from our peers through job-embedded professional development practiced in our daily teaching practice. On a wiki page for a TWU SLIS course Librarians as Instructional Partners, I have posted a series of videotaped testimonials from K-12 classroom teachers and an elementary principal regarding the positive impact of instructional partnerships between school librarians and classroom teachers. You will need a TeacherTube account in order to access them: http://ls5443.wikispaces.com/Collab_Testimonials

What are your experiences with instructional partnerships? How does your experience align with the results of the Phase 2 of the New Jersey Study? Are there colleagues and administrators in your building who could provide powerful testimonials regarding instructional partnerships?


Todd, R. (2007). Evidence-based practice in school libraries: From advocacy to action. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada (Eds.), School reform and the school library media specialist (57-78). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Todd, R. J., Gordon, C. A., & Lu, Y. (2011). One common goal: Student learning. Report of findings and recommendations of the New Jersey library survey, phase 2. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries. Retrieved from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/images/stories/docs/njasl_phase%20_2_final.pdf

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About Judi Moreillon

Judi Moreillon, M.L.S, Ph.D., has served as a school librarian at every instructional level. In addition, she has been a classroom teacher, literacy coach, and district-level librarian mentor. Judi has taught preservice school librarians since 1995. She taught courses in instructional partnerships and school librarian leadership, multimedia resources and services, children’s and young adult literature, and storytelling. Her research agenda focuses on the professional development of school librarians for the leadership and instructional partner roles. Judi just completed editing and contributing to Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage (Libraries Unlimited 2021). She has published four other professional books including Maximizing School Librarian Leadership: Building Connections for Learning and Advocacy (ALA 2018). (See the book study on this blog.) Judi earned the American Library Association's 2019 Scholastic Library Publishing Award.

3 thoughts on “Evidence-based Instructional Partnerships

  1. Collaboration takes time…school systems say to collaborate but do not build time for collaboration into the schedules of the teachers. How does one get that to change?

  2. Hi Carol M.
    Thank you for your comment and question. You are absolute correct.

    If school administrators expect classroom teachers, librarians, and specialists to collaborate, they need to provide time during the contract day. At my last 7-12 grade school, our principals gave us two out of four weekly faculty meetings as collaborative planning time. As the librarian, I did my best to arrange my time to visit with teachers during their daily planning times. (I did not have a formal regularly scheduled planning time, which gave me the flexibility I needed to meet with teachers…)

    In our online program at TWU, graduate students in my courses use wikis and Google docs to collaborate asynchronously. (For synchronous conversations, they use Skype, Google Hangout, IM, texting, the ole standby – phone calls, and more.) Students often remark that collaboration would be much easier if they were actually working with someone at their school.

    As your post points out, that is not always true. Many collaborators who teach in the same building are using Web 2.0 tools to communicate and plan because they have less than the ideal amount of face-to-face time to accomplish this work.

    The good thing is that when you have invested in a partnership, subsequent planning sessions often take less time because of your established relationship and the strategies you’ve codeveloped to overcome the time barrier.

    I hope others will share their experiences with how to deal with the time crunch that all educators face today.

    Judi M.

  3. Pingback: Flipping Collaboration! | Building a Culture of Collaboration

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