BACC Webinar Wrap-up

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
  • Talking
  • Buzz and flurry
  • Co-teaching
  • Students working in groups
  • Teaching on online tools

 Where is student input reflected?

  • Music
  • Student art
  • Smiling faces
  • Comfy chairs
  • Hours of operation
  • New coffee shop
  • Group study rooms
  • Student display boards
  • Student book trailers
  • Casual corner
  • Lunch/socialization
  • 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:

  • Art
  • Curriculum coaches
  • Sped
  • PE
  • Music
  • PTA
  • Coaches
  • Bilingual teachers
  • Theater
  • 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.

brand community Original image created by Libby Levi for Used under Creative Commons licenses, Attribution and Share Alike


Connecting with your Community

In one of my first posts for BACC, I blogged on Resource Sharing for Manpower. In this post I discussed how important it is to involve your parents and community members in the school library program, enriching your school library program, expanding the expertise and resources you offer teachers when collaborating, and maximizing your impact on student learning.

For the Building a Culture of Collaboration Webinar, I will be discussing the different options and groups to consider when developing these types of connections. Judi posted this earlier but I am adding the webinar information again in case you missed it:

Webinar Information:
May 19, 2-3pm Central Time: Building a Culture of Collaboration (Collaboration Series) – FREE

Register at

All Webinars will be recorded. A link to the recording will be sent to all registrants (i.e. you may want to register even if you know you cannot attend the live event). All Webinars will carry Continuing Education credit.

For my portion of the webinar I will be talking about networking, identifying parent connections, the potential of social organizations, knowing your neighborhood, business partnerships, and religious institutions. Hope to see you there!


Connecting With Teachers

In the upcoming Building a Culture of Collaboration webinar, the co-bloggers invite you to connect with us for a lively discussion about sparking and sustaining collaboration with stakeholders in our schools and communities. So far this month, Judi proposed some self assessment questions about collaborating with students; last week Judy added questions about collaborating with administrators; and this week I will add some things to think about when developing relationships with teachers.

During my years in practice other school librarians used to often ask me “how do you get teachers to work with you so much?” I was always surprised by this question because to me it was just a natural part of my job as a school librarian – working with teachers. But it was also something that was hard to put into words when thinking of how to respond to this question.

We all know the importance of working with teachers and the research on the various roles of the school librarians repeatedly illustrates the importance of developing relationships with teachers, but I think it is the “how” part that is sometimes difficult.

So hopefully our discussion on May 19th can focus on the “how” of making that connection with teachers and the sharing of strategies to cultivate this all important relationship.

Some things to think about:

  1. Approaching Teachersworking together
  1. Foundational Steps to Developing Relationships
  1. Proactive Strategies
  1. Publicize the Benefits of Collaboration

Bring your thoughts and strategies so that we can share and learn from one another on May 19th!

Connecting With Administrators

In the upcoming Building a Culture of Collaboration webinar, our co-bloggers invite you to connect with us for a lively discussion about sparking and sustaining collaboration with stakeholders in our schools and communities. Last week, Judi proposed some self assessment questions about collaborating with students.  This week I will add a few questions about collaborating with administrators.  We encourage you to be ready to share your ideas with us on May 19th.

Riddle for the week:

Galaxy (1)



What do the solar system, a skeletal system, an economic system, an ecosystem, and a school system have in common?   On the surface-maybe not so much, but they all fit the definition of a system as “a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole.”  Now that’s a big idea!

School systems, not matter how large or small, are complex systems, and administrators are leaders who are charged with synchronizing all the interrelated and interdependent parts to provide a quality education for children in local communities. Successful administrators, (superintendents, assistant superintendents, curriculum and technology directors, business managers, and principals and other leaders in individual schools)  engender a big picture view of all the moving parts necessary to fulfill the mission for public education established by local school boards, within state and federal laws.  That’s a huge job, and an awesome responsibility.

The school library program is one of the interdependent parts of a complex system, and how are teacher librarians prepared to connect and collaborate with administrators on all levels?  How can we demonstrate that our expertise and knowledge of curriculum, resources, information and communication technologies (ICT), and teaching pedagogies are key elements of the complex whole? How can we reach out to assist them, and in return give them a chance to see the benefits of a strong school library program?

Here are some questions to ponder:

1. How have you communicated with your superintendent (or someone in his/her office), or your principal in the last two months?  Has it been a relationship building experience?

2. Have you invited administrators to visit and celebrate student learning in your library media center?

3. How well do you understand the district or school action plan that sets priorities for educational achievement?

4. Is your mission statement for your SLP aligned with the larger mission of the district or the school?  Is your mission statement visible for all to see in your physical space or your virtual space?   Do you have a brand that supports the “complex whole?”

5. How do you develop yearly goals that enhance the overall direction of the administration? How do you let them know that you are doing that?

6. Do you have an up to date job description and an evaluation system that reflects your various roles?

7.  Are you a member of a leadership or curriculum team or committee?

8. How could you reach out to offer your expertise for administrators?  Have you offered professional development for administrators or office staff?

9. Administrators are responsible for legal aspects of school operation and curriculum.  Have you reached out to clarify policies that are central to the SLP such as intellectual freedom, ethical use of information, internet privacy and filtering, and so on, that have the potential for disruption in a school district?  Better to be proactive, than reactive.

Bring your ideas to the table, so that we can learn from one another. See you on May 19!