Collaboration and Leadership

Chapter 9: Collaboration by Judi Moreillon“Collaboration is THE key to co-creating a values-centered culture of deeper learning.” (Moreillon 2021, 141)

Maximizing Their Impact
As school librarians enact equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom (EDII) in their collaborative work, the school community will help them reach for social justice for all students. In schools with effective school librarians, EDII extend beyond the library and permeate the entire school culture. When school librarians collaborate with classroom teachers, specialists, and administrators, all students will experience the benefits of an EDII-infused learning environment.

Through coplanning, coteaching, and coassessing student learning outcomes, collaborating school librarians advocate for EDII in their daily work and influence the instructional practices of their colleagues. Effective school librarians integrate the diverse resources of the school library as they coplan and coteach. They ensure equitable student access to resources in all formats and to assistive technologies. School librarians coplan and coteach for student choice, voice, and differentiation in teaching and learning strategies, student activities, and learning products. Alongside their colleagues, they guide students in reading for learning in order to make sense and critically analyze and use ideas and information.

In schools with effective school librarians, collaboration results in instructional improvements for educators, including school librarians, and improved learning outcomes for students.

A Collaborative Culture of Learning

Graphic: A Collaborative Culture of Deeper Learning (Moreillon 2021, 139)(Moreillon 2021, 139)

How can school librarians be leaders in co-creating a values-centered culture of deeper learning?

Instructional Leadership: What If?
Given the emphasis on literacy and reading in schools and districts, it makes intuitive sense that students’ reading and writing proficiency and standardized scores would be better in schools with strong library programs.

Research also bears this out. Decades of research indicates that there is a positive correlation between learners’ attending schools with full-time, state-certified school librarians and higher scores on standardized reading tests (Gretes 2013; Lance and Kachel 2018). As Todd notes, deep reading for comprehension and meaning making is the foundation for constructing knowledge (2015, 13). If school librarians seek to guide students in making meaning from texts and creating new knowledge, then the school librarian’s role in reading is critical.

“The school librarian is an instructional partner who models and supports independent reading and the development of reading comprehension through curricular planning, instruction, resources, and literacy activities. School librarians:

  • Co-design, co-implement, and co-evaluate interdisciplinary lessons and units of instruction that help learners increase reading proficiency through inquiry learning experiences.
  • Collaborate with classroom educators and specialists to integrate paper and online reading comprehension strategies in library instruction that supports learners’ development” (AASL 2018).

How can school librarians maximize their impact on student outcomes in the areas of reading and writing while centering EDII in their work?

Collaboration and Leadership
If school librarians are to be instructional leaders, then aligning their expertise in teaching/coteaching information literacy skills through inquiry and research with effective strategies for elevating students’ reading and writing proficiency is essential. Bringing school librarian values to the collaboration table helps spread EDII and principles of social justice throughout the learning community.

Fact
In order to be information literate,
students must be able to comprehend the information they read/view/hear.

Intentionally addressing comprehension strategies during information literacy instruction is a pathway to success for students. One critically important reading comprehension strategy is activating or building background knowledge. When readers connect to ideas and information that reflect their experience, they are more likely to be motivated to read because they have a foundation of knowledge on which to build new understandings. Readers who lack such background knowledge will struggle unless they are guided to build such knowledge or if they havealready incorporated this comprehension strategy into their reading toolkits.

Coplanning for and coteaching reading comprehension and writing strategies must be central to school librarians’ work. Providing students with equitable intellectual access to ideas and information is a way for school librarians to bring principles of EDII into the classroom curriculum. Through diverse, inclusive collection development and coplanning with other educators to enact student-centered practices, school librarians can help all students succeed while they influence the values of their colleagues.

In order to reach their capacity, school librarians must diffuse their value for equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom throughout the school learning community. They do this by collaborating with others and in the process, achieve leadership and enact social justice.

Reflection Question
In order to achieve a school culture of deeper learning, what role have you played or will you play in bringing conversations and actions related to social justice (EDII) to the fore in your teaching, school, district, and community? (Moreillon 157).

Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage Book Study
This is the final blog post in this book study of companion writings to support the content of the book. The contributors to the book and to this book study resource hope we have given you some examples, inspiration, and motivation to further your own values-centered practice in the areas of equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom. “We hope you will use your voice to affirm your commitment to library values and have the courage to enact them in collaboration with library stakeholders” (Moreillon 2021, 157).

Working together in collaboration with others, school librarians can transform teaching, learning, and the cultures of schools and communities. Together, they can stand up for the hard things that lead to social justice in education.

Works Cited
American Association of Schools Librarians. 2018. “Position Statement: The School Librarian’s Role in Reading.” ALA.org. Available at https://www.ala.org/aasl/advocacy/resources/statements. Accessed December 27, 2021.

Gretes, Frances. 2013. “School Library Impact Studies: A Review of Findings and Guide to Sources.” Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Lance, Keith Curry, and Debra Kachel. 2018. “Why School Librarians Matter: What Years of Research Tell Us.” Phi Delta Kappan Online. Available at http://www.kappanonline.org/lance-kachel-school-librarians-matter-years-research. Accessed December 27, 2021.

Moreillon, Judi. 2021. “Collaboration.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 139-158. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Todd, Ross J. 2015. “Evidence-Based Practice and School Libraries: Interconnections of Evidence, Advocacy, and Actions.” Knowledge Quest 43 (3): 8–15.

Classroom-Library Collaboration for Instruction

Chapter 9 Collaboration by Judi Moreillon

“Collaborating educators believe that their instructional practices develop at a much greater rate with more assured improvements when they collaborate” (Moreillon 2021, 144)(Moreillon 2021, 144)

Way back in the 1990s during the National Library Power Project, I participated in a course for Library Power librarians offered by Ken Haycock. A question he asked at that time has been a reoccurring theme in his writing. When asked whom they serve, “most [school librarians] would answer students, yet the primary clientele in terms of power, impact, and effect would be teachers” (Haycock 2017, 3). This understanding of the importance of collaboration with colleagues is, in my view, the foundation for school librarian leadership.

Learning During Preservice Education
As those of us who have served in school libraries know, many classroom teachers and administrators lack an expectation or an experience of classroom-library collaboration for instruction. Preservice preparation programs for educators/administrators are jammed with state-level requirements and do not, as a rule, include information or an experience of collaborative work with school librarians.

When I taught at Texas Woman’s University (TWU), two doctoral students Ruth Nicole Hall and Becky McKee and I organized and provided annual workshops for preservice classroom teachers about how they could work collaboratively with their school librarian for the benefit of their students and to benefit their own teaching (see the “What Every Preservice Teacher Candidate Should Know about Working with the School Librarian” Slideshare on my presentation wiki).

During those years, preservice principal educator Teresa Starrett invited me to present to her curriculum and supervision classes. Our work included a grant-funded crowdsourced video of testimonials from principals and other administrators from across the country: “Principals Know: School Librarians Are the Heart of the School.”

It would have been ideal if these future colleagues had direct experience of working with school librarian candidates during their preservice education. (This was not possible for our online library science graduate students and in-person classroom teacher and administrator colleagues at TWU.) If direct experience is not possible, currently practicing school librarian educators can help provide information and examples/scenarios for preservice administrators and classroom educators as we did throughout my seven-year tenure.

Instructional Partnerships in Practice
In Chapter 8 Advocacy, Kristin and TuesD note the importance of reaching out to classroom teachers for collaborative work. They wrote: “Messages should help classroom teachers visualize working with the school librarian by providing actual examples of the past and potential partnerships that could be possible” (Sierra and Chambers 128).

The vignettes in Chapter 9: Collaboration offered by elementary school librarian Matt King and middle school English language arts teacher Jenni Kramer and librarian Kat Berg provide examples of collaborative work and testimonials to the power of classroom-library collaboration for instruction – and for job-embedded professional development.

Initiating and Promoting Partnerships
There are times when collaborative partnerships form spontaneously and organically in the context of schooling. However, it is my experience that it often takes one person – usually the librarian – to initiate partnerships.

Providing examples of successful partnerships, especially in terms of student learning outcomes and educator development on the part of classroom teachers and the librarian, are ideal ways to get to “yes!” That is true even if the examples are from the librarian’s work in a different school or district, or with educators at another instructional level. Examples provide school librarians with credibility.

Each of my coteaching reading comprehension professional books includes twenty-one examples of teaching reading to learn in collaboration with elementary and secondary colleagues in every discipline. In addition, I published/copublished two on the National Council of Teachers of Reading ReadWriteThink.org to spotlight for site users, classroom teacher colleagues, preservice school librarians, and school administrators how classroom teachers and school librarians can elevate student learning through coplanning, coteaching, and coassessing student outcomes and the effectiveness of their instruction.

As the second librarian at Sabino High School, I collaborated with the ceramics teacher to co-design and coteach “Behind the Masks: Exploring Culture and Self through Art and Poetry.” Students researched mask-making from various cultures, recreated cultural masks, and composed poetry to share their understandings. Then, they created personal masks and poems to reflect their own cultures. The classroom teacher learned to use rubrics for assessment.

When I served as the literacy coach at Van Buskirk Elementary, I collaborated with classroom teachers, the school librarian, and art teacher to co-design and co-teach “Peace Poems and Picasso Doves: Literature, Art, Technology, and Poetry.” Third- through fifth-grade students applied reading strategies to comprehend literature, created artwork and poetry, and used technology tools to publish their work. Classroom teachers learned new ways to integrate technology into the literacy curriculum.

Classroom Teachers as Advocates
When school librarians help others meet their needs, those library stakeholders will become our advocates. Helping classroom educators and administrators succeed is at the center of the work of school librarians. AND it is important that school librarians turn support for the librarian and library program into actionable advocacy.

Reflection Question
“With whom in your school do you share your vision for building a collaborative culture of learning?” (Moreillon 157).

Note: If you are a School Library Connection subscriber, you can assess the entire Chapter 9 Collaboration as part of the Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage Book Study Kit.

Works Cited
Haycock, Ken. 2017. “Leadership from the Middle: Building Influence for Change.” In The Many Faces of School Librarian Leadership, 2nd ed., ed. S. Coatney and V. H. Harada, 1-12. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Moreillon, Judi. 2004. Peace Poems and Picasso Doves: Literature, Art, Technology, and Poetry. ReadWriteThink.org. Available from http://www.readwritethink.org/classrcoom-resources/lesson-plans/peace-poems-picasso-doves-93.html. Accessed December 19, 2021.

Moreillon, Judi. 2021. “Collaboration.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 139-158. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Moreillon, Judi, and Diane Roderick. 2003. Behind the Masks: Exploring Culture and Self through Art and Poetry. ReadWriteThink.org. Available from http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/behind-masks-exploring-culture-395.html. Accessed December 19, 2021.

Sierra, Kristin Fraga, and TuesD Chambers. 2021. “Advocacy.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 123-138. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Site- and District-level Advocacy

Chapter 8 Advocacy by Kristin Fraga Sierra and TuesD Chambers

Blog post by Judi Moreillon

“When professionals combine our expertise for the benefit of students, there is transformative power in collaboration” (Sierra and Chambers 127).(Sierra and Chambers 127)

Chapter 8, like every other chapter in Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, includes two vignettes from practitioners in the field. Erin Godfrey Bethel contributed a vignette focused on a reading promotion initiative at Washington Elementary in Tacoma, Washington, that became a successful advocacy project for the library and her librarian role in the process. Chapter 8 co-author TuesD Chambers contributed a district-level public relations turned advocacy effort in Seattle Public Schools (SPS).

Site-level Advocacy Reaches District-level Advocates
In her vignette, Erin shared her main motivation for seeking and enacting a reading program grant called the Global Reading Challenge (GRC). She implemented the program in her school with a vision for increasing a focus on reading and on the school library as a hub—a welcoming place for all students, especially young people who had not found acceptance elsewhere in the school.

This initiative involved students in the planning process and in organizing teams of readers. Erin used social media to promote the GRC. Each year since its inception, the number of participants has increased and the program has expanded to other schools in the district. Parents and businesses got involved in supporting the GRC and when the district-level competition was held, Erin invited district decision-makers to attend. A win-win-win for students, administrators, and community means a win for the school librarian.

District-level Advocacy
In her vignette, TuesD writes about how a district-wide newsletter representing the work of the entire school librarian cadre of SPS made a huge difference in decision-makers’ understanding of school librarians’ critical roles. The newsletter began as a communication tool among librarians themselves—to share their work and learn from one another’s practice. They also wanted a way to amplify their work that aligned with the SPS Strategic Plan and goals for literacy learning and share it with site- and district-level decision-makers.

The result was a collaborative competition that improved practice among the school librarians while it influenced the understandings of the work of school librarians of families, district leadership, and community members. Spotlighting specific school librarians, libraries and their literacy-focused programs demonstrated how librarians matter to the students in the district. Collaborative competition boosted librarians themselves in elevating their practice. The district-wide newsletter provided direct evidence of the importance of librarians’ work to district goals.

School Librarians as Advocates for the School Library Program
In both of these examples, site- and district-administrators, parents, businesses, and other community members became knowledgeable about the roles of the librarian and library in students’ learning. If and when Erin or TuesD’s librarian cadre need support – a specific “ask” from their advocates, there were supporters with first-hand experience of the influence of school librarians and the impact of school libraries.

“It takes a special kind of curator to gather these voices for others to see and hear until our advocates’ voices become impossible to ignore. It takes a certified school librarian leader who is a library and librarian advocate” (Sierra and Chambers 137).

As they note at the end of their chapter, Kristin and TuesD proclaim that school librarians must be the curators who gather and provide the evidence that will enlist other voices to step up on behalf of their work. School librarians must engage in public relations as curators of their own influence and impact in order to grow advocates. That truly makes school librarians their own best advocates!

Reflection Question
What is one method or example of advocacy that you want to improve upon and why? (Sierra and Chambers 137).

Work Cited
Sierra, Kristin Fraga, and TuesD Chambers. 2021. “Advocacy.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 123-138. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Advocacy Is Not Optional

Chapter 8 Advocacy by Kristin Fraga Sierra and TuesD Chambers
Blog post by Judi Moreillon

“Spreading the message for stakeholders to advocate for the program is an essential activity for today’s school librarian, particularly during school closures” (Sierra and Chambers 123).

Kristin and TuesD began their chapter with a note about the critical need for advocacy, particularly in times of stress and change such as the school closures that occurred while they were writing Chapter 8.

In their experience (and in my own), school librarians who are leaders must be intentional about communicating and building relationships with library stakeholders in order to develop a team of advocates who have first-hand experience with the value of working with a state-certified school librarian and providing students with access to the full range of resources available through the school library program.

Advocacy is not optional.

Creating the Welcoming Space
Before communicating the value of the library program, the librarian must create a space in the library that serves all students, educators, administrators, and families—all library stakeholders. These are some strategies for building a space for belonging:

  • Focus on students first;
  • Listen intently to library stakeholders when they express their needs;
  • Distribute marketing tools such as surveys to collect feedback.

In all cases, make changes to the policies, physical space, programs, and teaching and learning opportunities based on feedback from library stakeholders.

Communication Strategies
The coauthors provide many examples of public relations communication strategies that build library stakeholders knowledge of the value of the library program. These are some:

  • Newsletters with section tailored to the needs of specific stakeholders;
  • One-page infographics that summarize the influence and impact of the library program on learning and teaching;
  • Flyers and invitations to literacy events and teaching and learning opportunities offered in the library space;
  • Social media posts that promote books and share the learning experiences of students’ literacy-focused clubs;
  • And more.

Building Relationships
In every aspect of their work, school librarians must be intentional relationship builders. Putting people first is a leadership behavior.

Whether this focus is evidenced through policies such as late fees or lost materials, providing diverse resources to equitably meet the needs all educators and students, or teaching and learning activities that are inclusive of multiple perspectives, the focus on people means that school librarians will build a cadre of advocates as an organic aspect of their work. Others will have first-hand experiences of how the work of the school librarian and the resources and activities in the library program made a difference in their learning and teaching.

“Strong advocacy work is absolutely necessary to the survival of the school library and is a core, undeniable element to the position of the school librarian” (Sierra and Chambers 124). (Sierra and Chambers 124)

Responding to School- and District-level Priorities
While school librarians will have particular areas of expertise and interest, if they are to be successful, they must align their work with the perceived needs of the school and district. They must be able to tell a “library story” that matters to their decision-maker stakeholders

“We need to keep in mind that library numbers and statistics
are pretty meaningless to anyone else unless they are connected
to your school and/or district priorities”
(Len Bryan cited in Sierra and Chambers 129).

This does not mean stepping away from the work of school librarianship and serving as a reading intervention teacher or technology coach throughout the school day. Rather it means, showing administrators with those needs that the work school librarians do will help them reach their goals. In these cases, improve students’ reading proficiency and students’ and educators’ use of educational technology.

This means teaching and coteaching with classroom teachers to achieve student learning targets, assessing student learning outcomes, and determining how to improve instruction in order for more students or all students to reach standards-based learning goals.

With these data in hand, school librarians will demonstrate to administrators how their work matters, and administrators will understand and value school librarians’ impact on teaching and influence on student learning.

Reflection Question
“What types of advocacy efforts have you led or been a part of in your career or schooling experience and what were the outcomes?” (Sierra and Chambers 137).

Work Cited

Sierra, Kristin Fraga, and TuesD Chambers. 2021. “Advocacy.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 123-138. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.