Advocacy and Collaboration Support Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has created an opportunity for school librarian advocacy. School librarian leaders and advocates from across the country are working together to ensure that their state- and district-level decision-makers include the important role of school librarians and libraries in preparing future ready students in their ESSA plans.

The message we intend to convey is that more than at any previous time in history, when information and technologies are changing at an astounding rate and “fake news” and “alt facts” are proliferating, the expertise and guidance of school librarians must be highly valued and utilized by other educators and students. ESSA Title II, Part A, notes that school librarians are responsible for sharing professional learning for colleagues and disseminating “the benefits of new techniques, strategies, and technologies” throughout the district.

Correlational research studies have shown that school librarians and effective school library programs positively impact student achievement (Gretz 2013, Scholastic 2016). School librarians’ roles in positively impacting “student achievement, digital literacy skills, and school climate and culture” are specifically mentioned in ESSA (“Title 1”). In addition, school librarians support “rigorous personalized learning experiences supported by technology” and ensure equitable access to resources for all students (ESSA, 2015, “Title IV, Part A.”)

In their advocacy efforts, many school librarian state associations have benefited from the support of workshops offered by our professional association, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Last fall in order to support state-level ESSA advocacy efforts, AASL provided ESSA trainings in 30 different states in just 60 days. AASL provides ESSA and School Libraries information on their Web site.

In some states, like Arizona, the Teacher Librarian Division is part of the larger state-level library association. The Arizona Library Association Legislative Committee and Leadership team took a lead role in informing the Arizona Department of Education about the critical importance of including specific language related to the work of school librarians and the role of school libraries in educating future ready students. It is encouraging when academic, public, or special librarians speak out on behalf of preK-12 school librarians.

It is even more encouraging when classroom teachers, school administrators, parents, and other community members raise their voices in support of the essential roles of school libraries and libraries in preparing students for college, career, and community readiness. If you are someone who is concerned about the quality of education students are receiving today and will receive tomorrow, please find out how you can ensure that school librarians’ work is specified in your state- or district-level ESSA Plan.

School districts will look to their state-level plans to determine their priorities for school improvement. By incorporating language related to school librarians and libraries in ESSA, we can collaborate to support all students and educators in having access to an instructional leader/information specialist and the print and electronic resources they need to succeed.

Works Cited

Gretz, Frances. School Library Impact Studies: A Review of Findings and Guide to Sources. Harry & Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, 2013, www.baltimorelibraryproject.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2013/09/Library-Impact-Studies.pdf

Scholastic. “School Libraries Work! A Compendium of Research on the Effectiveness of School Libraries,” 2016, Scholastic.com, http://www.scholastic.com/SLW2016

U.S. Department of Education. “Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).” Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) |U.S. Department of Education,
https://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/index.html

Image Credit:

Howard Lake. “Speak Up, Make Your Voice Heard.” n.d. Flickr.com, https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5260/5540462170_d5297d9ce8_b.jpg

Re-commitment to Collaboration

Like many of you, I reflected on my most satisfying accomplishments and my incomplete projects of 2016 before settling on my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions. Although I am big on setting short-term achievable (daily/weekly) goals, it’s helpful for me to have a year-long big picture plan as well.

This year, I will re-commitment my professional work to collaboration within school learning communities and outward into the larger local, state, national, and international communities as well. As they have for more than twenty-five years, my resolutions focus on the literacy work of school librarians and school library programs.

In 2017, I will:

  • complete my forthcoming book Building a Culture of Collaboration: School Librarian Leadership and Advocacy. In the book, due to my editor in mid-June and scheduled to be published at the end of 2017, I will make the case with all library stakeholders for adopting a systems thinking approach to classroom-library coplanning and coteaching;
  • write, blog, make presentations, and generally shout out about the inquiry learning and reading comprehension foundations of the book and the potential of these responsibilities and a systems perspective to create opportunities for future ready school librarians to increase their impact on teaching and learning;
  • continue to work with the Arizona Library Association and the Teacher Librarian Division to advocate for inclusion of the essential roles of school librarians and libraries in the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan. Once in place, I will advocate for the return of school librarian positions across Arizona, focusing first on districts in and around my home in Tucson;
  • continue to serve on committees of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and promote and support the worthy work of the association (including the celebration of AASL’s 65th anniversary);
  • work with practicing school librarians to support their collaborative work within their schools and in their collaborative work with community agencies and organizations. I will write about and promote their success; (See my 12/30/16 ALSC blog post “Gimme a C (For Collaboration!) that features a school-library public-library collaboration for summer reading.)
  • expand my thinking about how school librarians and school library programs can make a difference in family literacy, particularly for babies and preschool children. Helping our communities prepare children for formal schooling is an investment in each individual’s long-term life choices and in the health of our neighborhoods and cities;
  • continue to honor and promote the work of public library and healthcare providers who are making a difference for families through books for babies programs. Yesterday, in Tarrant County, Texas, the Fort Worth Public Library and the JPS Health Network began their 2017 initiative to give a copy of my book Vamos a leer/Read to Me to every new mother. In 2017, the Friends of the Dallas Public Library and Parkland Health Systems are continuing their program “Books for Dallas Babies,” which began on January 1st, 2016;
  • and I will enact my library values in my professional and civic life.

There is much work to be done to promote equity and justice.

With a huge thank-you to author-illustrator Melissa Sweet for Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White, my pick for the most outstanding 2016 information book for children, I set my resolve with an excerpt from a letter E.B. White wrote in 1973:

“Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day” (White, cited in Sweet 132).

And I would add: Let’s work together for equity, social justice, and the betterment of all!

Work Cited
Sweet, Melissa. Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Twibbon courtesy of the American Association of School Librarians’ “It’s in Our Hands” 65th-anniversary Celebration

Professional “Gratitudes”

continental-divideEvery night for the past year, I have been recording my “gratitudes” in a journal. I began this reflective and hope-building practice after I learned that Texas Woman’s University rejected my proposal to continue in my associate professor position as a telecommuter from Tucson. (After seven years, commuting for my marriage was no longer emotionally or financially sustainable.) These daily notes to myself capture my thoughts as I negotiate this transition time in my life. This reflective practice provides me with reminders of my many blessings.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, many speak aloud of the things for which we are grateful. While I have often thought about my “professional” blessings, this may be the first time I have written them “out loud.”

I am grateful for the many friends and colleagues I have met and worked with throughout my school librarianship career. There are simply too many of you to name.

As a member of the American Library Association (ALA), American Association for School Librarians (AASL), Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC), Arizona Library Association (AzLA) and Teacher Librarian Division (TLD), Texas Library Association (TLA) and Texas Association of School Librarians (TASL), I have had the opportunity to get to know and learn with outstanding librarian practitioners, researchers, and literacy advocates.

While I have been a member and have been periodically active in education associations, my commitment to (school) librarianship has been and continues to be the overarching theme of my professional work. I am grateful for the people who lead and participate in library organizations. We share a set of core beliefs that come from our hearts and reach out as we serve children, youth, and our communities. I am blessed to be in their company; I am honored to call so many colleagues friends.

The photograph above was taken in 1998 at the 3M corporate compound at Wonewok in Minnesota. At the time, I was serving on the AASL @yourlibrary® Task Force. Those of us who participated enjoyed three days of thinking, planning, and playing that, for many of us, solidified our commitment to advocating for the professional work of school librarians.

Like many of my Wonewok colleagues, I felt “under the spell” of the Northern Lights and the incredible beauty of the grounds at Wonewok. In the above photograph, a number of us posed where the Northern (Continental) Divide intersects the St. Lawrence Divide near Hibbing, Minnesota, with waters draining to the Arctic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes.

I believe the school librarian profession is at another one of those watershed times in our history. In the federal education legislation called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), school librarians are included as key faculty in educating students for the future and collaborating with classroom teachers to co-create dynamic learning spaces and opportunities for all members of our learning communities.

Thank you especially to the ALA Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff for her tireless and unwavering advocacy efforts on behalf of school librarians. And thank you to AASL and our dedicated members who have provided 30 (!) state-level ESSA trainings in the past 60 days. Whew! You are a wonder.

Thank you to all of our colleagues for offering our expertise and care to children and educators through our professional work. As we move forward together, and to show my gratitude, I recommit myself to our mission to provide each and every student in the U.S. with a full-time state-certified school library professional who serves her/his school community as a leader, instructional partner, information specialist, teacher, and program administrator.

Image Credit
Photographer Unknown – from the Personal Collection of Judi Moreillon

Some of those pictured: Connie Champlin, Susan Ballard, Terri Grief, Harvey, Barbara Jeffus, Doug Johnson, Carrie Kienzel, Keith Curry Lance, Deb Levitov, Eileen Schroeder, Rocco Staino, Barbara Stripling, Hilda Weisburg, Terry Young, yours truly, and ???

Reflections on Professional Learning, Part 2

library_values_2This post is a continuation of last week’s reflection on my take-aways from the 2016 Arizona Library Association Conference.

I hope BACC readers who were at the conference will comment on their learning, including adding reflections on sessions I was unable to attend.

One of the reoccurring connections for me on the second day of the conference Friday, November 4th, was the importance of library values. This word cloud captures just some of the values embedded in the competencies for librarians as codified by our professional organizations: the American Library Association Core Competences, Association for Library Service to Children’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries, ALA/AASL Standards for the Initial Preparation of School Librarians, and the Young Adult Library Services Association Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth: Young Adults Deserve the Best.

Jessica Jupitus and Lori Easterwood provided the “Libraries Transform, But How?” opening keynote on Friday, November 4th.  When Jessica and Lori worked together a four-year goal of the Sacramento (CA) Public Library’s strategic plan was to increase positive public awareness about library services and increase participation in library programming. At the time, Jessica and Lori were young adults themselves. They used deliberately provocative titles, such as Punk Rock Aerobics and Heavy Metal Yoga, to attract 18 to 28-year-olds to programs. For me, their program connected to the library values of inclusion and diversity.

In my presentation “Storytelling Matters: Reach Out with Digital Advocacy Stories,” I invited participants to reflect on their library values and connect their values with a program or service and an audience they would like to bring into the library. Participants used a graphic organizer to develop a meme, one-sentence theme, think about the needs of their target audience, and identify some free or low-cost Web 2.0 tools to create their stories. On the resource page for the presentation, I shared examples of school and public library digital promotions. After the session, I added an example that participant Claudine Randazzo shared with the group. The testimonials in the video on behalf of the Coconino County bookmobile tell the story of this service so well!

As always, I was inspired by the values in action of those who received awards at the AzLA service and author awards luncheon. Congratulations to TLD’s own Patty Jimenez for her Follett School Librarian of the Year Award. I believe that at least one award recipient embodied each of the values in the word cloud above.

Sunnyside Unified School District (SUSD) librarians Kate Street, Jennifer Flores, and Fran Stoler presented “Extreme Library Makeover: Making Spaces for Student Creation and Collaboration.”  They shared their journey in “creating a digital age library in a 1970s space.” Their Web page includes a timeline, floor plan (for Sunnyside High School), movable furniture, and flexible spaces. For me, their “Extreme Makeover” work connects with the library values of freedom of expression, empowerment, and literacies.

Some of the renovations included smart tables, mobile whiteboards, kiosks, “Nemo Trellis” (new to me) and more. Kate, who is the librarian at Sunnyside High School, reported that the library’s new sound studio has been the most successful aspect of their renovation in terms of student creativity and ownership. Fran, who is the Desert View High School librarian, noted that the positive attitude of the librarians, students, teachers, and administrators was as important in their renovation efforts as were the renovations themselves.

As noted in last week’s post, Sunnyside is a 1:1 technology district and students are eager to spend time away from screens! Jennifer, who is the librarian at Los Amigos (Elementary) Tech Academy, shared some low-cost, low-tech strategies for library renovation, including painting walls and tables with whiteboard paint, board games, and freshly painted walls. Los Amigos uses a 50/50 model with students engaged with tech 50% of the time and interacting face to face (f2f) 50% of the time. Jennifer’s goal is to increase community involvement during the f2f time — to bring in the funds of knowledge in the community to mentor and teach the students.

As Miguel Figueroa noted, for librarians, a societal trend is simply “trendy” unless we view it through the lens of our library values. If we examine the signals in society that confirm a trend exists, we should then explore that trend to see if it aligns with our library values. When it does, librarians can work together to create library services and programs that will meet the current and future needs of our communities. Thoughtful librarians can take action to develop innovations that matter.

Every professional learning experience provides opportunities to meet new colleagues and to get to know long-time colleagues better.  At the TLD Mixer on Thursday night, I enjoyed the conversation with Jean Kilker, Patty Jimenez, Cindy Reyes, and Leslie Preddy. It was rewarding to connect with former University of Arizona graduate students and know they are doing great work in libraries across the state.

I left the conference hopeful for the future of librarianship. I know there is no shortage of work to ensure that our libraries continue to work with our community members to improve lives. I also know we can do it. Yes, we can!

Post-election comment: I believe it is especially critical that librarians rededicate ourselves to practicing and promoting the core values of our profession

Image Credit
Word Cloud created at Wordle.net

Flexible Scheduling = Time for Learning

flick-gator_cheerleadersDuring the SLC Connection “Classroom Library Coteaching 4 Student Success” Webinar held on October 13th, several participants asked questions about library scheduling. Some of us stayed online after the hour to talk a bit more about scheduling for classroom-library collaboration.

This has long been a tension for school librarians, particularly those who serve in elementary schools. Without a flexible schedule is it difficult to collaborate with classroom teachers and specialists and provide students with deeper learning opportunities.

In fact, a week later during Leslie Maniotes’ “Guided Inquiry Design in Action” Webinar on October 27th, Leslie noted the importance of classroom-library collaboration and stressed the inquiry phases needed before students formulate their questions: open, immerse, and explore. Thorough preparation for successful inquiry learning takes time.

In my experience, inquiry phases should occur over a reasonably short period so that students’ passions are engaged. This helps them become self-motivated as they begin their inquiry and supports them in making a commitment to their learning. Fixed library schedules were school librarians are working with students at one set time each week, usually for 30 to 50 minutes, simply does not lend itself to classroom-library collaboration for guided inquiry.

Roger Grape, school librarian at Blackshear Elementary in Austin, Texas, created at a digital advocacy story to promote flexible schedules: “Bendy, Twisty, Flexible Scheduling!” In his Animoto video, Roger notes that the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) promotes flexibly scheduled school libraries as a best practice.

“Classes must be flexibly scheduled into the library on an as needed basis to facilitate just-in-time research, training, and utilization of technology with the guidance of the teacher who is the subject specialist, and the librarian who is the information process specialist” (AASL). See the entire AASL Position Statement on Flexible Scheduling.

As Roger says, “You need the best from every member of your team” (Grape). Librarians with flexibly scheduled libraries have the opportunity to serve students and teachers at the point of need. They have the opportunity to engage students and collaborate with teachers to guide deeper learning.

As I suggested in the “Coteaching” Webinar, school librarians can find a friend on the faculty, or one who teaches an age-level or in a discipline in which you have a particular strength, or approach a colleague who has expertise you lack and form a collaborative relationship. If you are working in a fixed schedule, ask that person to “give up” her/his planning time in order to coplan and coteach and build a case with administrators and colleagues for the efficacy of classroom-library collaboration supported by flexible scheduling.

Side note: If you are attending the Arizona Library Association Conference in Tucson this week, please considering participating in my session: Storytelling Matters: Reach Out with Digital Advocacy Stories. You, too, can make an effective advocacy video like Roger’s; his has over 800 views!

Works Cited

American Association of School Librarians. “Position Statement on Flexible Scheduling.” American Library Association. 17 July 2014, http://www.ala.org/aasl/advocacy/resources/statements/flex-sched.

Breeze, Chris. “Flick-Gator Cheerleaders.” Wikipedia: Cheerleading, 25 Jan. 2009, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheerleading#/media/File:Flick-Gator_Cheerleaders.jpg.

Grape, Roger. “Bendy, Twisty, Flexible Scheduling!” YouTube.com. 20 Mar. 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWo3FWmQVhM

Collegiality: A Foundation for Partnerships

thundercakeI have just moved back to my full-time home in Tucson, Arizona. Although the unpacked moving boxes are annoying, rearranging my life has had its benefits. One of them is reassessing the books on my shelves and pondering the limited space I now have for hard copy books.

In my bookshelf explorations, I came across a photo album that included some of my fondest moments as a practicing school librarian. One of them was taken at Gale Elementary School in Tucson (circa 1998) when I offered a “thundercake” beginning of the year social event for classroom teachers and specialists.

In Arizona, the new school year begins toward the end of the summer monsoon rain season. The connection to Patricia Polacco’s book gave me the opportunity to share the story and my hopes for the “ingredients” that would make our school program a success that year. During the social time, I encouraged my colleagues to share their hopes and dreams for the upcoming year.

Of course, I displayed new books and resources, but most importantly I reached out to build relationships with my colleagues. Thanks to Patricia Polacco’s book and “thundercake” recipe, I offered a tasty invitation to increasing collegiality as a foundation for future classroom-library coplanning and coteaching in the new school year.

The first few weeks of a new academic year are an ideal time to focus on building relationships. If you haven’t yet invited your colleagues into your school library for a social time, consider baking a “thundercake” and talking with them about how you can work together to create exciting and effective learning experiences for and with preK-12 students this year.

Image Credit

Polacco, Patricia. Thundercake. New York: Philomel, 1990. Print.

Note: Welcome back to the Building a Culture of Collaboration® (BACC) Blog. Over the summer months, changes in the co-bloggers life commitments have resulted in the blog becoming, at least for the time being, a solo activity for me, Judi Moreillon. I will miss reading the ideas, thoughts, and questions posed by my BACC colleagues.

May Musings About Telling Our Stories

little chromebooks that can be moved around and 2 rocking chairsAs I look at topics that the BACC co-bloggers have addressed in the past few months, I see an overarching theme that has emerged, and it is a theme that reveals the morphing nature of our profession.  All libraries-academic, public, private, and school are transforming and adapting services and resources for information and digital age learners in today’s world.  Successful libraries are led by dynamic, creative professional librarians who have a vision for the future, and are willing to advocate for the value of libraries in their individual communities or institutions.

In a democratic society, libraries provide intellectual and social clearinghouses for citizens to learn and grow. Librarians continue to curate collections and to respond to a user’s individual and unique information and literacy needs.  Since Benjamin Franklin envisioned the public library in Philadelphia, equitable access to information has remained the mission of libraries as educational institutions for all citizens.   That mission is even more important in contemporary society, with the digital divide that continues to separate the haves and have-nots.

Those of us who have discovered librarianship know this is an exciting and dynamic profession for the future, and we want to share the good news and attract like minded folks to join our ranks.  How do we dispel old fashioned notions about libraries and the role of the librarian? How do we get the word out?  Who are the movers and shakers we need to target to promote library programs and to expand the profession?

For libraries to continue to be relevant and accessible for learners, we have to tell our users’  stories and our stories, too.  We have to show how transformed library learning spaces are impacting our communities.  We have to counter old fashioned ideas about libraries of the past with fresh visions of the present and future.  We also have to answer the question, “Why do we need libraries, since we have the internet, and everyone has a smartphone?”  That question will not go away…

Earlier in the month, Judi Moreillon highlighted examples for spreading the word to pre-service administrators and pre-service teachers in graduate programs who are pursuing educational careers in schools. Fortunately, the American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians provide many resources to help tell our story.  The AASL Pre-service Toolkit for Principals and Teachers (2016) that Judi shared in her post, “can help to educate future principals and teachers about the significant role that quality library programs can play in student learning. The resources can also be shared with practicing principals and teachers, who would benefit from learning more about the impact that a quality school library program can have on their schools.” (2)

Of the varied and comprehensive resources in the toolkit, I would like to focus on two excellent advocacy tools for practicing school librarians to share with administrators and classroom colleagues. Now that “new rules” have been established in the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 2015 (ESSA-Every Student Succeeds Act), school librarians have to maximize opportunities to share the impact of school library programs on transformational learning for digital age students, so let’s be active participants in future educational directions.

Ideas from the toolkit:

Why do we still need libraries?

As you walk the walk and talk the talk, share this article by Ann Martin and Kathleen Roberts. Start a conversation about digital learning….

Martin, Ann M. and Kathleen R. Roberts. January/February 2015. “Digital Native ≠ Digital Literacy.” Principal Magazine, 94 (3): 18-21. http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/MartinRoberts_JF15.pdf  (accessed May 25, 2016)

This article in the magazine of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) explains that although today’s K -12 students typically show confidence and familiarity with digital tools, there still exists the need for professional instructional guidance from school librarians in evaluating information, navigating online spaces with safety and civility, and learning productive use of online tools and spaces.

Capstone Projects and Student Learning

Many schools have implemented capstone projects to demonstrate proficiency based learning.  Do you have capstone projects in our school?  What is the role of the school librarian in providing guidance and support for passion projects and community based learning projects?   What individual interests are supported in relevant library resources? How are school librarians actively involved as facilitators for student inquiry and proficiency?  Use this informative report to spark ideas with principals and co-teaching colleagues.

“AASL Senior/Capstone Project Task Force Report, May 2014.” http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/advocacy/AASL_ExecSummary_SeniorCapstoneProjectTF_2014.pdf  (accessed May 25, 2016)

This preliminary report on the implementation of student-centered Senior/Capstone Projects explores the many ways in which school librarians can be involved in such projects. In addition, it offers links to multiple resources in the United States, including exemplars of school librarian leadership and classroom teacher collaboration. View the related Position Statement on the Role of the School Librarian in Senior/Capstone Projects.

Planning Ahead:

As you look forward to summer months and plans for a new school year in the fall, take time to reflect on ways to continue to tell your school library stories through the lens of the learner, and the lens of all the wonderful folks who work for successful learning in a school community. Be part of the story!

 

Works Cited:

AASL Senior/Capstone Project Task Force Report.  ALA.org. May 2014. Web. 25 May 2106. <http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/advocacy/AASL_ExecSummary_SeniorCapstoneProjectTF_2014.pdf>.

Educators of School Librarians Section. “Preservice Toolkit for Principals and Teachers.” ALA.org. Mar. 2016. Web. 25 May. 2016. <http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/toolkits/PreserviceEducators_Toolkit_FINAL_2016-03-17.pdf>.

Martin, Ann M. and Kathleen R. Roberts. January/February 2015. “Digital Native ≠ Digital Literacy.” Principal Magazine, 94 (3): 18-21. Web. 25 May. 2016. <http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/MartinRoberts_JF15.pdf>.

Image: Judith Kaplan Collection

 

Educating Preservice Principals and Classroom Teachers

This month the BACC co-bloggers are sharing their thoughts about the “Pre-service Toolkit for Principals and Teachers” recently released by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

what-every-preservice-teacher-should-know-about-working-with-the-school-librarian-1-638The Educators of School Librarians Section (ESLS) of AASL developed this toolkit to help practicing and preservice school librarians and school librarian educators talk with our constituent groups about how school librarians help library stakeholders reach their goals. The opening line frames the toolkit in terms of the interdependence of all members of the school learning community: “There is no question that the success of school library programs depends upon the support of the principal and the school librarian’s ability to collaborate with teachers” (2).

AASL charges school librarians with serving their schools in five roles: leader, instructional partner, information specialist, teacher, and program administrator. There are many challenges inherent in educating preservice principals and classroom teachers regarding the capacity of state-certified school librarians to serve in these roles and improve teaching and learning in their schools. These challenges include the sad fact that too many schools lack a professional school librarian on the faculty and preservice principals and classroom teachers may not have had first-hand experience of working with a dynamic school librarian.

In my role as a school librarian educator, I have had two exceptional opportunities to speak with preservice principals and classroom teachers. Thanks to Teresa Starrett, my Texas Woman’s University colleague in Educational Leadership, I have had the opportunity to speak with future principals enrolled in a course called Professional Development and Supervision in Education. I have posted resources online for a 60- or 90-minute agenda: “What Every Principal Should Know about Evaluating a School Library Program and a School Librarian.” The resources include a one-page assessment based on the school librarian’s five AASL roles.

In 2013-2014, along with TWU colleague Jennifer Richey and Denton-area educators, I had the opportunity to provide two three-and-half hour workshops for a total of 163 preK-12 preservice teachers. At the time of “What Every Preservice Teacher Candidate Should Know about Working with the School Librarian,” they were conducting their student teaching. This links to a Slideshare of the opening session in which Becky McKee and I demonstrated collaborative planning. I published an article in Teacher Librarian magazine about the research study based on these workshops.

These presentations had two things in common. In both, our goal was to change the preservice principals’ and classroom teachers’ paradigm of teaching as a solo activity. We also included a role play of a classroom teacher and school librarian coplanning a unit of instruction in both. This helped the participants see the benefits of coplanning to students, classroom teachers, school librarians, and to principals, too.

Educators of preservice school librarians and preservice classroom teachers and principals “should make concerted efforts to demonstrate the value of classroom-library collaboration for instruction during preservice teachers’ (and principals’) preparation programs. Still, it is up to practicing school librarians to reach out to student teachers and make sure that mentor teachers are given extra attention while they are guiding the student teaching experience” (16). It is also up to those in the field who are providing exemplary practice to show their principals the school librarian’s capacity to contribute to the school’s academic program.

The “Pre-service Toolkit for Principals and Classroom Teachers” provides multiple resources for thinking, discussing, and presenting the roles of school librarians in student learning: articles, blogs, books, brochures and infographics, posters, reports, research, and videos.

Thank you to the ESLS committee members who curated all of these materials and put them together in one easily accessible place.

Works Cited

Educators of School Librarians Section. “Preservice Toolkit for Principals and Teachers.” ALA.org. Mar. 2016. Web. 5 May. 2016. <http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/toolkits/PreserviceEducators_Toolkit_FINAL_2016-03-17.pdf>.

Moreillon, Judi. “Making the Classroom-Library Connection.” Teacher Librarian 43.3 (2016): 8-18.

Moreillon, Judi and Becky McKee. “What Every Preservice Teacher Should Know about Working with the School Librarian.” Slideshare.com. 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 5 May 2016. <http://www.slideshare.net/jmoreillon/what-every-preserviceteacher0314>.

The Recruitment Conundrum

readerToo many jobs, not enough applicants…

Successful school librarians lead by example, and share the passion for their unique role within a school community with their students, colleagues, administrators, and the wider world.  For the past four years in this venue, BACC bloggers have attempted to capture some of the joys and challenges that keep us energized and committed to our profession, even in the face of budget cuts, ever shifting educational “reforms,” and the information and technology tsunami.

Now we are looking to a future that includes renewed possibilities for strengthening school library programs across the country.  Traditional school libraries are being reinvented as 24/7 learning spaces or learning commons, in a variety of schools. Makerspaces are the current buzz. Research studies continue to demonstrate the correlation between strong school library programs and student success by multiple measures. ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act, 2015) is finally on the books and language that recognizes the role of school library programs, resources, and certified professionals is included. There are new guidelines that open areas for funding resources for school libraries and professional development for school librarians.

Telling our stories, listening to others…

As Judi and Karla have shared in their posts this month, there is a growing need for new school librarians to replace retirees and to staff open school library positions in school districts across the states. They have suggested ways for practicing librarians to encourage teacher colleagues to consider making a shift to the largest classroom in the school-the school library.  We need to tell our own stories of how we made the journey, and the difference that it has made in our lives.  (Indeed, the bloggers did that in February 2016!)  We need to listen to their stories, too, and to encourage them through collaborative teaching experiences, and by suggesting that they sample a school librarianship course or two.

With the idea that we tell and listen to stories to promote and recruit new school librarians, I decided to ask a few of my current students about their journey to the world of librarianship.  The adult learners in the course are very goal oriented and focused on new ideas and skills that will help them succeed as school librarians.  They have a range of backgrounds and experience in education, mostly in literacy or humanities, and more recently, from educational technology.  Each person brings a distinctive voice to the group, and it is a pleasure to have them contribute to our shared learning.

So here’s a sample of what I heard:

  • Having been an educator most of my professional life, I find library work to be a really wonderful fit for me at this time. It gives me an opportunity to lead collaboratively with a focus on curriculum.  It provides opportunities for teaching and learning for me, though not the full time role of a classroom teacher.  I love children’s literature and the difference it can make it readers’ lives, and my life. Libraries are exciting places to be:  They have the potential to be on the forefront of innovation—providing new resources, equipment and learning environments to bring education forward in this changing world.  Libraries create a space for creativity and curiosity whether it be makerspace, arts programs or reading clubs.  Libraries can be a vestige of welcome, calm and delight, and an antidote to high stakes testing.    —-Eileen Riley: email correspondence April 22, 2016
  • As a child I dreamed of becoming a librarian. I had a collection of books that I would check out and stamp. I found that I was attracted to the LMS endorsement because there were only 6 classes in the sequence that I would take in order to gain my endorsement.  It seemed to be a manageable goal that could be accomplished since each class was taken during a fall, spring, and summer semester. I did have two other classes that I have to take since I do not have an education degree.  I have been able to take one of the classes last semester and have one other class to take.  The classes are a hands-on experience for me.  I enjoy working with the other classmates and am able to discuss different situations that occur in the library.  The benefits of the LMS are to provide an environment where one can gain life long learning skills, and to be a leader who promotes literacy and technology skills.        —-Faith Lucas: email correspondence April 19, 2016
  • I always wished to be a librarian. I kind of forgot about that wish, though, when my “real life” became my life! Four years ago I was a traveling literacy specialist for kindergarteners in suburban CT, and worked in a bunch of different schools each week. I used the libraries for books, for work space and to take my kiddos to…it all came back to me that I wanted to be a librarian, especially in a school. When we moved up to VT and I realized I could have a fresh start, I went for it. Our pivotal conversation two years ago changed my life! Thanks, and hooray!    —Kristen Eckhardt: email correspondence April 19, 2016

We need you in our school libraries!

In Vermont, the Agency of Education publishes a list of shortages for educator positions, and the library media specialist (school librarian) position has a perennial spot on the list. The University of Vermont School Library Media Studies courses are designed for educators who want to add that endorsement to their teaching licenses. There is also an option for enrolling in a Masters of Education program, with a concentration in school library media studies and additional education coursework to complete the program with an advanced degree.  Some candidates are experienced educators are looking for new options, and are attracted to the program. Other candidates who enroll in the courses have been hired to fill vacant jobs, and are working within provisional licensing regulations.

Telling our stories to administrators:

In this small rural state, there has been a continued tradition of support for school libraries, and there are not enough certified professionals to fill all the positions in the state. Professional school librarians continue to advocate, individually and together for school library programs, by communicating with administrators about the impact of school libraries on learners.  Administrators play an important role in recruitment, and they need to have current data and information that will inform their decisions about the role of the school librarian..

Superintendents and principals are often the headhunters and recruiters who identify educators from within their ranks who might be willing to make a shift to the role of the school librarian. Those folks are encouraged to enroll in the UVM two year program, or some other recommended graduate program in school librarianship. Once the educators are committed to the required coursework, they may be hired as professionals with a provisional license under the direction of the school district. Upon completion of the courses and a practicum, the educators are eligible for a Vermont prek-12 endorsement as certified library media specialists. When administrators recruit from within, and encourage and support the professional learning of potential school librarians, they will get a return on their investment through a valued employee whose professional skills will enhance the teaching and learning for all members of the school community.

We are all stakeholders in the future for school library programs, so get out there and do your part. Spread the word locally and globally! Tell your story!

Image: Judith Kaplan Collection

 

Advocacy Stories as a Recruitment Strategy

we-want-youOne thing I have consistently heard from preservice school librarian graduate students (all of them current or former classroom teachers) is that they didn’t really know what the school librarian’s job entailed before they started their library science preparation program. There are most likely many practicing school librarians who entered into the profession without deep knowledge of the benefits, rewards, and complexities of serving as an educator working in a school library.

In a course I teach called “Art of Storytelling,” students participate in an assignment called “digital advocacy storytelling.” Students begin the assignment by connecting with a core belief in librarianship. They build on their passion for a particular aspect of library work to develop a digital story targeted to a particular audience. They field test their advocacy story via social media, revise it based on feedback, and publish a final version.

Even if these stories were originally targeted to other audiences, I believe students’ advocacy stories can serve as recruitment tools to invite classroom teachers into the profession. Three students from the Spring 2016 class have given me permission to share their stories—stories that make a strong case for why they aspire to serve in the role of a school librarian leader.

Thank you to Lauren Scott (@MrsScott_1), Kathryn Shropshire (@MrsShropshire7), and Maricela Silva for allowing me to share your stories here.

Lauren Scott: Building Bridges Through Collaboration @Your Library®

Kathryn Shropshire: Read Together, Grow Together @Your School Library®

Maricela Silva: Coteach Technology @your library® 4 Lifelong Learning

You can view their one-sentence themes and digital reflections on this assignment on our course wiki.

School librarians are in the very best position to identify classroom teacher colleagues who have the “right stuff” needed to be passionate, exemplary school librarians. If every school librarian would recruit even one classroom teacher to pursue further education in school librarianship this year, our profession could be in a better position to staff all preK-12 schools in the U.S. with outstanding school librarians.

What’s your school librarian story? How will you share it to advocate for the profession and enlist exemplary classroom teachers to join us?

Word Art Image created with Microsoft