During the month of May, the BACC posts have revolved around the Texas Library Association’s webinar with the co-bloggers which took place on May 19. Over 60 participants from around the country attended the webinar . In addition to Texas, there were participants from Tennessee, Georgia, Missouri, Virginia, and more; at least one person joined us from Germany! It was exciting to see so many people all coming together to share ideas and discuss collaboration in the school library.
Judi Moreillon kicked things off by asking, “Is your school collaborative?” In an informal chat poll, the response was almost evenly split. We still have work to do. Why is collaboration important? Judi said it perfectly, “Working together, we can achieve more than we can individually.”
The discussion continued and soon the chats were filling up with ideas of what collaboration looks like in your school library. These ideas showed the changing image of school libraries:
What would a new person see when they come into your library?
- Welcoming greeting
- Buzz and flurry
- Students working in groups
- Teaching on online tools
Where is student input reflected?
- Student art
- Smiling faces
- Comfy chairs
- Hours of operation
- New coffee shop
- Group study rooms
- Student display boards
- Student book trailers
- Casual corner
- Student work on website and in library
- Reading buddies
- QR codes
- Book spine poetry
- Chatterpix Kids on website
- Science research and poster sessions
- Stop motion animation
- Students submit designs for website banner
This is not the library of yester-year!
Next, we were encouraged to think outside of just the traditional classroom teacher/librarian collaboration. Who else could be a collaborative partner? Again, participants shared great ideas:
- Curriculum coaches
- Bilingual teachers
- Preschool teachers
- Student teachers
The consensus was that collaboration is about cultivating relationships. A great place to start is with new teachers. Rebecca Morris recently published an article about this in the June/July issue of Knowledge Quest, “You’re Hired! Welcoming New Teachers to the School Library.”
So, how do you earn their trust?
- Become a curriculum expert – you are first and foremost a teacher
- Melissa encouraged us to, “Teach more, librarian less.”
- Ask to go to curriculum training sessions, even for areas outside a typical library focus
- Train teachers after you attend conferences
- Offer to do “little things” to make friends and build relationships
- Service at the point of need. We are in the business of “servant leadership”
- Use online tools to organize content, such as Symbaloo or LibGuides
- Above all, stay focused on the student
One participant said, “Teacher do not always realize the depth of which we can help them. They think we are only there for the students.” One of the AASL dispositions for school librarians is “perseverance.” This may be the time to practice this disposition! Don’t give up – let them see the great things the librarian can do for the teachers with the ultimate goal of positively impacting students.
A final take-away for collaboration with teachers: What is your elevator speech for collaboration?
Ask the teachers: How can I help you? How can we together make an impact in increased student learning?
Judy Kaplan next reminded us of the importance of collaborating with the administrators. After all, the librarian often has the same “big picture view” as the administrator.
Find your entry point:
- Find a daily chance to interact
- Build a relationship
- See the big picture – think from an administrator point of view
- Active listening, empathy, humor”Massage the message”
- Return on investment – scarcity of resources, time, and money
- Mission and vision drives the activities – get involved on committees – be at the table
- Show what you are doing in the library – important at budget time!
- Find your allies
The take-away for collaboration with administrators: What is your library’s brand? Tie it to the mission and vision of the school.
Finally, some of Lucy Santos Green’s thoughts were shared. How can we collaborate with the greater community?
- Parents who own businesses can be great partners
- Public librarians visit to share summer programming
We were reminded that the community includes more than just the students and the teachers. What are you doing to collaborate with all of the stakeholders in your school community? Start by identifying them. Then think about the take-aways from this month and particularly from the webinar. As another school year draws to a close, I challenge you to consider these questions
- What is your elevator speech for collaboration?
- What is your library’s brand?
Spend time this summer developing and practicing these, then share with the community of school librarians on this blog and in your local area. You might be surprised at the results.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/5041738157 Original image created by Libby Levi for opensource.com. Used under Creative Commons licenses, Attribution and Share Alike