Capture the Joy of Learning

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Advocacy should be a cause for celebration-viewed, not as a chore, but as a daily attitude described by Lucy Santos Green earlier this month. Advocacy is the narrative of the wonders of learning that happen every day in the school library learning space. The quiet moments of getting lost in a book, the boisterous interaction over a shared game or makerspace creation, the intentional researcher discovering a treasure trove of information, or the hum of conversation about ideas and opinions. This is the day to day evidence of the purpose for “the third place,” the library space where the all learners-students and adults- are welcome to access a variety of resources for pleasure and knowledge in a safe supportive environment. (Johnson, 2011)

Inquiry is encouraged and no question is “dumb.” It’s a space for collaborating, doing,  and connecting physically and virtually. It’s local and global.  It belongs to its users. They can tell the story in so many effective ways.  Teacher librarians are master facilitators, spinning the plates.  We  have to nurture our storytellers, and give them opportunities to shine a light on their learning through blogs, websites, videos, newsletters, interviews, podcasts, spotlights on projects and process, awesome reading and writing.  They can deliver an authentic message that has power beyond our words. We just have to provide the venues.

Here’s an example from a young student in Harpswell, Maine:

Once we begin to think of advocacy as a total immersion activity, and not a once a year special event, we can begin to focus on the sustained impact of school libraries and programs in an educational community. If we think about advocacy as collecting the stories, (and not so much about “data/evidence,” even though that is the essence of it), we flip the narrative. Sharing the stories through a social media platform, such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, or a blog, can be a snapshot into the school library world. Keep a camera handy, and set aside a few minutes to upload and highlight the joys of learning that happen from week to week. Involve the students and teachers, and give them a chance to tell the stories.

Heidi Huestis, teacher librarian at Charlotte Central School in Charlotte, Vermont has a lively blog that is aimed at the home and  school connection, and she encourages students and families to talk about what goes on in the school library in a weekly blog post. Take a look at some of her recent “stories” for inspiration. BooksLiveOn: https://booksliveon.wordpress.com/

How do you tell your stories?

References:

Huestis, H. (2015). BooksLiveOn. Weblog. < https://booksliveon.wordpress.com/>

Johnson, D. (2011). School libraries as a third place.  Doug Johnson: Writing Speaking and Consulting on School Library and Technology Issues. Web. <http://www.doug-johnson.com/dougwri/school-libraries-as-a-third-place.html>

Koch, L. (2014) Bury Me in the Learning Commons. Video. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFtpYH0KIQY>

 Image:

Judy Kaplan Collection

 

Leadership in Technology Integration

As many know, Wednesday, February 6, 2013 is the second annual Digital Learning Day. Educators from around the country will be sharing and celebrating effective strategies for integrating technology tools into 21st-century learning and teaching.

In light of this national conversation, I would like to recommend a research article by our co-blogger Melissa P. Johnston: “School Librarians as Technology Integration Leaders: Enablers and Barriers to Leadership Enactment.”

In the conclusion of her study report, Dr. Johnston summarizes the enablers and the barriers to technology integration identified by the participants in her study who were teacher leaders and school librarians:

Enablers for all participants:

  • supportive principal,
  • opportunities for a leadership role and responsibilities,
  • the desire to make a difference for students and teachers,
  • professional development opportunities,
  • and a sense of obligation to get involved.

Barriers:

  • time,
  • exclusion from a leadership role and responsibilities,
  • lack of funding,
  • and inadequate staffing.

Enablers unique to school librarians included:

  • support from professional organizations,
  • support from district library administrators,
  • serving in a dual role as school librarian and technology specialist,
  • and technology expertise.

Barriers identified by school librarians included:

  • competitive relationships with instructional technologists,
  • lack of support at the district level from a library administrator,
  • and lack of technology expertise (Johnston, 2012, p. 27).

In light of this research, educators can use Digital Learning Day to rededicate ourselves to working collaboratively with each other and with professional organizations to create dynamic learning opportunities for students that effectively integrate 21st-century tools. Let’s break down the barriers and shore up the enablers for the benefit of learners!

References

Johnston, M. P. (2012). School librarians as technology integration leaders: Enablers and barriers to leadership enactment. School Library Research, 15(1). Retrieved from www.ala.org/aasl/slr.

Word Cloud created at Tagxedo.com

Evidence-based Instructional Partnerships

As a card-carrying instructional partner, I am always on the trail of research to support my experience. I have served as an elementary, junior high, and high school librarian. I have been a 5th-grade classroom teacher, a literacy coach, and district-level mentor for school librarian colleagues. My experience has shown me that instructional partnerships have great potential to improve students’ learning and educators’ teaching. I know I am a much better teacher as a result of learning side by side with my peers.

Still, in this age of accountability when “anecdotal” evidence is too often dismissed, it is important for educators to read research and learn from studies in the fields of education, library science, and technology to deepen their understanding of the potential, process, and impact of instructional partnerships. Ross Todd describes this cycle of research and practice, practice and research in this way

“Research informing practice and practice informing research is a fundamental cycle in any sustainable profession” (Todd, 2007, p. 64).

In that pursuit, I have been reading publications related to Phase Two of the New Jersey Study conducted by Ross Todd, Carol Gordon, and La-Ling Lu. According to the results, in collaborative culture schools the instructional partner role of the school librarian is highly respected and prized by administrators and fellow educators because of the school librarian’s positive impact on student learning outcomes and “cost-effective, hands-on professional development [for educators] through the cooperative design of learning experiences that integrate information and technology” (Todd, Gordon, & Lu, 2012, p. 26).

When educators coteach and coassess student learning outcomes, we learn from our peers through job-embedded professional development practiced in our daily teaching practice. On a wiki page for a TWU SLIS course Librarians as Instructional Partners, I have posted a series of videotaped testimonials from K-12 classroom teachers and an elementary principal regarding the positive impact of instructional partnerships between school librarians and classroom teachers. You will need a TeacherTube account in order to access them: http://ls5443.wikispaces.com/Collab_Testimonials

What are your experiences with instructional partnerships? How does your experience align with the results of the Phase 2 of the New Jersey Study? Are there colleagues and administrators in your building who could provide powerful testimonials regarding instructional partnerships?

References

Todd, R. (2007). Evidence-based practice in school libraries: From advocacy to action. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada (Eds.), School reform and the school library media specialist (57-78). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Todd, R. J., Gordon, C. A., & Lu, Y. (2011). One common goal: Student learning. Report of findings and recommendations of the New Jersey library survey, phase 2. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries. Retrieved from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/images/stories/docs/njasl_phase%20_2_final.pdf