Teacher librarians wear many hats, and some hats cross many roles listed in a job description. In our daily school library hustle and bustle, we may not think of ourselves as professional developers for our colleagues, but indeed we wear that hat in many ways. This is not a radical new idea, but merely a recognition that providing access to new information, new literature, new technology, and new pedagogy for teachers in our schools, has always been part of our mission, and is based in a collaborative model. As Ken Haycock has said, teacher librarians lead from the middle, not from a position of power, but through social influence. (2010, 2)
So let’s take a minute to focus on the myriad ways we interact to share access to information and ideas with our teaching colleagues, and to be intentional about improving and expanding our PD offerings. As you begin your new school year, set a goal to incorporate your PD hat into your other roles. Be sure to share that goal with your administrator, so s/he will be able to see that you wear a PD hat!
This month BACC bloggers have opened up a discussion about reaching out to our colleagues with PD opportunities-the why and how. Judi emphasized the necessity for building personal and professional relationships as a foundation for credible PD, and she shared the experience of Becky McKee, a District Librarian in Texas. Both Judi and Karla spoke about the curriculum connections that are at the heart of our work with our colleagues. That’s our ticket into the game! Karla introduced a metaphor for the teacher librarian as a lighthouse, a beacon to guide our fellow educators to new professional learning. Karla suggested multiple access points to provide PD. Both have shared many excellent ideas, all with the aim of collaborating for student success in our schools.
Goal setting for integrating PD through collaboration
Step 1: Self Assess: Think about your daily, weekly, monthly schedule-as an instructional partner, curriculum specialist, technology integrationist, educational leader, and teacher. Ask yourself:
- What do I know about the various school improvement initiatives in my school district? How does my SLP support both student and teacher success? How can I help?
- How do I know what teachers need to help improve student learning in the various content areas? How do I/can I find out? Do I wait for them to come to me, or do I approach them with a new idea about teaching and learning, or new resources? How do I build relationships?
- What do I do well? What activities have worked well for sharing meaningful professional development opportunities? One to one, small group, team, PLC, PLN, or CoP? Face to face, online learning management system? Virtual library website resources? Where do I look for new PD ideas?
- What are some new (or underused) curricular resources in the library collection that meet the initiatives in the district? What is the best way to introduce them? How will I engage teachers who are in their silos? How can I make the learning interactive? How can I provide a feedback loop? How can I make it fun? How can I be the guide on the side?
- How can I model new technology applications and ways to integrate 21st Century skills (critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration) for both educators and students? How can I provide meaningful connections to their interests and passions?
Step 2: Make plan to try something new. Gather resources, outline a framework and timeline for your activity. Provide for continuous feedback to monitor success. Design the activity with individual choice and engagement in mind. Learning should be fun! Give it a go!
Step 3: Evaluate and reflect on strengths and challenges. Make adaptations for the next time. Encourage others to share and reflect. Hand out badges or rewards-recognize effort and results. Take photos, and share through social media!
Haycock, Ken. “Leadership from the Middle: Building Influence for Change.” Ed. Sharon Coatney. The Many Faces of School Library Leadership. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited, 2010. 1-12. Print.
Image: Judy Kaplan Collection