Be the lighthouse

A few years ago I conducted a research study looking at the resources used by high school teachers (See link below). I wanted to know about teachers’ understandings of library resources and how they used the resources in their instruction. One of the findings from┬áthis study that has stuck with me is that teachers are spending a lot of their own time finding the perfect resources to use in instruction. It seems that few are using the textbook as more than a supplementary resource and they are searching many different sources for additional resources. This is where the school librarian can and should step in. The librarian should be that source for good information beyond the textbook and beyond what is found in the print library collection.

lighthouse-585944_1280 There are many great resources available online that are free for teachers, but they need to know about them and they need to know at the point of need. Just like a lighthouse guides boats to safe harbor, we need to be there when the teachers need us, when they are searching in the dark for the perfect resources. We know the most effective way to teach library skills to students is when they need to use the skill, and the same is true for teachers. They are more likely to use a resource if it directly relates to the curriculum that is being planned and taught right now.

A few tips to get you to them at the point of need:

  • Regularly attend grade level or department meetings. (If your schedule does not allow you to attend the meetings, ask the lead teacher to share meeting minutes so you are kept in the loop.) Find out which units are coming up soon and go to the meeting with a couple of resources that directly relate to the upcoming units.
    • Follow up with an email that gives direct links to the resources. Offer a prize (small candy, etc) to anyone who shares with you how they used the resource with their students.
    • Offer to co-teach a lesson using the resource. This will take the pressure off the teacher since you will be there to share the new resource with the students.
  • Share general tools and resources with the entire faculty. Ask for a 5-minute spot at the beginning of each faculty meeting to share one or two new resources.
    • Use this time for sharing general resources and productivity tips. Make sure there is something that would be helpful to everyone.
    • Make it fun and interactive. For example, use Poll Everywhere to have all teachers vote on the treat you will provide in the library one day the following week. Give them a chance to share quick ideas of how the tool can be used in their classroom. You get to show them the tool, they get to use it, and they come into the library the next week for a special treat.
  • Know the curriculum. Nothing goes further than knowing what the teachers are teaching. Take the time to make a curriculum chart for the whole school, not just the core classes. What is being taught in the elective courses? What skills do they cover in PE? As the librarian, you can see the big picture and the connections across disciplines.
    • Make room on your chart to write in new resources as you find them. It is easy to lose track of all of the new apps and resources, so make a note. Then share them with the teachers when you know they will need them.

Get ready to be the lighthouse and guide the teachers to the resources when they need them.

On Thursday I will share some great free resources and tools that I have found recently that will help you extend your reach beyond the library walls.


Collins, K. B. (2012). Resource provisions of a high school library collection. School Library Research, 15. Retrieved from:

Lighthouse picture from Pixabay, in public domain.

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