Hello everyone! Before delving into my first blog post, I would like to thank Judi Moreillon, Melissa Johnston and Judy Kaplan for inviting me to be a part of “Building a Culture of Collaboration”. I have followed this blog and shared it with students and future school librarians for quite some time now, and I am honored to be a part of this project.
I first became a school librarian (without a library clerk) at a middle school located in a large urban district. Due to the district’s size and centralized format, our students benefited from a giant inter-library loan system, plenty of connections with the city public library system, and nearby universities. Consequently, I did not think about resource sharing in terms of books or materials. I thought of it in terms of manpower. How could one person implement all of the instructional partnerships, programs, and academic support systems that I dreamed of implementing? Resources and experiences I knew our students, many of whom were economically disadvantaged, desperately needed? I quickly realized that HUMAN “resource sharing” had to become a part of my library program in big way. Over the years, my library program shared HUMAN resources with neighborhood churches that adopted our school (helping to shelve and check out books); Paws Across Texas – a wonderful organization that brought in therapy dogs and volunteers to help struggling readers on a weekly basis, and local businesses that provided incentives and rewards (many times at no cost) for student reading achievement. These folks helped extend my time and ability to focus on collaborating with teachers for student achievement.
Years later, I moved to a middle school in a small, rural town. HUMAN resource-sharing became more important than ever! There I partnered with the local radio station that broadcast a show from the school library helping to boost family attendance at library literacy nights. The local newspaper regularly agreed to run short notices on the new books and materials we received to help promote the school library’s resources. There is no doubt in my mind that HUMAN “resource sharing” significantly amplified my ability to provide a stronger school library program, and consequently, a higher level of collaboration with teachers, students and parents. My program developed a reputation for being able to network with “out-of-the-box” resources. A science teacher and I connected with a northern university to study the phases of the moon. A language arts teacher and I established a partnership with a Native American reservation that resulted in several years of cultural exchange and rich book study experiences for her 6th graders.
Now, there are even more opportunities for HUMAN resource sharing! Science museums with educational outreach programs, virtual project based learning communities that can connect your students with real-world, authentic issues, after school coding clubs, even a thriving HUMAN resource sharing example spearheaded by the mayor of Nashville! The possibilities for HUMAN resource sharing are mind-boggling (and extremely exciting). When thinking about ways to HUMAN resource share, consider how you can enrich the partnerships you are fostering with classroom teachers. What HUMAN resource can you connect them to? Can you Skype in an expert? Can you involve a community member such as a medical professional or local business owner as a part of your guided inquiry team? Are there untapped HUMAN resources in your area that could provide an authentic audience for student projects? I encourage you to consider HUMAN resource sharing as a way to enrich your school library program, expand the expertise and resources you can offer teachers when collaborating, and maximize your impact on student learning.
Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided inquiry: School libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 17-28.