My students in my Instructional Design and Development course have been spending the past month observing school librarians conducting instruction at various levels and on various topics. They also spent time interviewing the school librarian about what they observed and their collaborative practices. It has been interesting to see the varied experiences they have had. I also had a few students who have interests in other areas, such as academic and public, which brought a new dynamic and perspectives to the course.
Last night students shared a takeaway from their observation – things they saw that surprised them, things that worked, and things that didn’t work. I was especially glad to hear them talk about seeing practices they had read about and learned about in class in action. They commented on the importance of the school librarian knowing the school’s, the district’s, and/or the state’s curriculum and the difference this can make in what the school librarian is able to do in regards to collaboration and instruction. Several of them mentioned the importance of relationships they observed between school librarians and teachers and the sense of trust. Whereas the students that observed new school librarians noted that they were still trying to build these relationships necessary for collaboration. On the negative side of things I was sad to hear tales of librarians who were not collaborating at all, teaching lessons on AR, teaching “library skill” lessons, and just sitting there checking out books instead of working with students that obviously needed their help.
This is usually the first time most of these students have been into a school library since they were in school as K-12 students themselves and I am always interested in the fresh perspectives on practice that they return with. Several students commented that when they interviewed the school librarian about collaboration and instruction is became a type of self-reflection process for the librarian resulting in the school librarian questioning their own practices.
It makes me wonder how often do we really reflect on our own practices and take the viewpoint of what an outsider would see if they spent a day as a fly on the wall in our libraries.
Thank you for sharing students’ experiences, Melissa. For me, one of the most valuable aspects of this assignment is the reciprocity between the practicing school librarian and the graduate student. I especially appreciate that students report that the interviews prompted librarians to reflect on their practice. These kinds of learning experience can help elevate the profession. Bravo!