Recruitment to the School Librarian Profession

This month the BACC co-bloggers are sharing their thoughts about recruiting new school librarians to the profession. With many retirements on the horizon and some districts reinstating school librarian positions, there seems to be a dearth of qualified school librarians to fill vacant or soon-to-open positions.

Texas Flag at Veterans' Memorial Park, Port Arthur, Texas

Texas Flag at Veterans’ Memorial Park, Port Arthur, Texas

Recruitment to the school librarian profession is a hot and timely topic in Texas. I can share my perspective from the Lone Star State. Each spring since 2010 (I arrived in Texas in the fall of 2009) school librarians and district-level school library supervisors post job openings on the Texas Library Connection distribution list. Some of these positions are new openings and some are to fill vacancies that were left unfilled in the previous academic year.

Although I do not have hard data to back it up, I suspect that one reason for the shortage of qualified Texas school librarians (at least in this decade) was prompted by the 2011 cuts to school librarian positions and library programs across the state. In that year, a number of my advisees at Texas Woman’s University who were preparing to serve as school librarians changed their focus to children’s or teen services in public libraries. They were justifiably concerned that there would not be school librarian positions when they graduated from their Master’s degree programs.

In the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed by President Obama on December 10th, 2015, school librarians are included in the “essential personnel” category. This designation by the federal government should result in confidence on the part of library science school librarian graduate students and classroom teachers who pursue a career in school librarianship.

Today, for example, the Houston Independent School District (HISD) has a bold advocacy campaign in progress in order to rebuild the district’s school library programs. According to a blog post by Dorcas Hand, co-chair of the Texas Association of School Librarians Legislative and Advocacy Committee, “20% of HISD libraries have no designated staff and another 26% have only a paraprofessional managing circulation. 22% have teachers standing in for librarians, leaving only 32% of HISD libraries staffed with certified personnel” (http://tasltalks.blogspot.com/2016/01/libraries-in-hisd-by-numbers.html).

HISD is actively seeking certification options for classroom teachers to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to serve as effective state-certified school librarians. How can HISD help classroom teachers see that school librarianship is an extension and expansion of the knowledge and skills they have honed as classroom teachers? (Texas certified school librarians are required to have classroom teaching certification, two years of successful classroom teaching plus 24-hours of graduate work in library science or a library science Master’s degree.) How can HISD convince these educators to invest in their own professional growth and pursue graduate-level course work in order to earn certification?

School librarians from across the state of Texas are joining with the HISD school librarians to promote the work, the values, and the potential impact of school librarians on student learning. You can view their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/studentsneedlibraries/

School librarianship needs classroom teachers who believe that:
1.    Reading and writing literacy are the foundation for all learning;
2.    Libraries, reading, and resources create opportunities for students and classroom teachers;
3.    Every student deserves to have physical and intellectual access to ideas and information;
4.    Proficient readers have more life choices, enjoy more satisfying lives, and will be able to participate more fully in society;
5.    Using the technology tools of our times to motivate students, to help them learn, and to produce new knowledge is an essential instructional approach;
6.    Every classroom teacher deserves an instructional partner (a school librarian) who can provide resources to enhance learning and serve as a coteacher to improve student learning outcomes;
7.    They have knowledge and skills to share with their classroom teachers and specialists and position themselves as equal partners who are committed to lifelong learning with their colleagues;

How do we invite these classroom teachers into the profession? By telling the library story… To be continued on Thursday.

Works Cited

Bodden, Ray. “Texas Flag at Veterans’ Memorial Park, Port Arthur, Texas.” Digital Image. Flickr.com. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.

Hand, Dorcas. “Libraries in HISD – by the Numbers.” Blog Post. TASL Talks: Legislative and Advocacy for YOU. 30 Jan. 2016. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.

The Accidental Librarian

Brookline public library

 

 

My forty plus year career as a school librarian began at the Brookline (MA) Public Library, not by plan, but by happenstance. Call it kismet, fate, or just good luck, I stumbled upon what has become a lifelong passion for the essential role of school library programs in educational communities.

Totally green and wide-eyed, recently graduated from college, I needed a job-badly. Here I was on the front steps of the public library with no other good ideas for employment.  It was a last ditch stop in a three month job search, and I was discouraged to say the least. My husband was a first year student at Boston College Law School, and I was a breadwinner without a paycheck.  I remember clearly, as I looked at the imposing building, thinking to myself-maybe they need someone to shelve books.

After applying for teaching jobs in every suburb in the Boston area, and coming up empty, I had come to the conclusion that a career in education was not in my future.  My freshly minted resume with an undergrad degree in American Studies and enough education courses qualified me as a certified secondary social studies or English teacher. My lack of experience or an advanced degree kept me at the bottom of the applicant pool. Not a cheerful picture-at least until that fateful day that I gathered up the courage to enter the library and ask if there were any job openings at all.

Right place, right time…

The twist of fate was amazing, and within minutes of my query, I was sent out to a local school library to interview for a position as a library assistant.  At the time, the public library ran “branches” in all the local schools, something I had never imagined.  They hired librarians and assistants, and provided funding and services to support collection development and instruction for community children in the schools. Books and other educational materials were ordered and processed through the central branch and delivered shelf ready.  The school librarian met with classes for storytime and library skills instruction, and she needed someone to help her manage all the spinning plates.  I was hired, and, as I looked around the wonderful facility, fully stocked with shelves of books, brightly decorated walls, and nooks for reading and learning, I was hooked. Somehow, I knew this opportunity would open my world beyond the confines of a classroom, and I was eager to jump in.

Break for a history lesson…

The timing of my adventures in school library land, coincided with the early years of the landmark ESEA Education Legislation (1965) that resulted from Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”   The original Elementary and Secondary Education Act provided funding for programs to expand and improve educational services for low income families, so that children would have increased opportunities for educational success in both urban and rural areas with concentrations of poverty. While school libraries were available in some schools across the nation, ESEA boosted the implementation of school libraries in a big way. Title II of that legislation provided funds for school library resources, textbooks, and other instructional materials, and gave impetus and funding for school libraries, especially in elementary schools.  School libraries and professional librarians were needed to ensure equitable access to information and resources for literacy. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the demands for a cadre of specialized school librarians versed in library administration and pedagogy gave rise to an increase in advanced library and information science programs for that specialty. Standards for preparation for school library programs have continued to be developed and revised under The American Association of School Librarians, a division of ALA since 1951.

Riding the wave…

I will never forget the total immersion effect of those first few months in the school library-and they were paying me to be there! I felt like I had been given a special gift. There were so many books to read, skills to learn, decisions to make, and people to get to know, both students and faculty.  My mentor librarian took me under her wing, and provided amazing professional development in all things “library.”  By the end of the school year, I knew that I wanted to have my own library, so I began to take courses that would lead to the library media educator endorsement, a two year process.  (Later, I went on to an advanced degree in cultural history and museology, and really learned to research!)  In September, as I returned for my second year at the school, the administration of the school libraries was moved from the public library to the school district, and the library program was integrated into the mission of the school. For many, it may have been a minor distinction, but for me, the connection between public and school libraries will forever be strong.

And so, a few decades later…

Here I am, years later with experiences in a variety of school library situations, from preK through high school, and as a library educator at the graduate level, still excited about the best job in the whole school.  In this profession, the learning never ends, and change is a constant.  For those of us who relish creativity and change, and who honor the mission of equitable access for all learners, the school library will continue to be to go to place for learning in our schools. I’m so glad to have been along for the wild ride!

 

Image: Brookline Public Library

https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3036/2808317102_4fa63f98df_z.jpg

School Librarianship: What’s In It for Me?

tooting_hornsSchool librarians are members of a service-oriented profession. The majority of us come from the ranks of classroom teachers and many of us tend to think of the needs of others before we think of our own.

However, in order to sustain motivation and enthusiasm for our work, we must determine what is “in it for us.” Dr. Ken Haycock who is the director of the Marshall School of Business Master’s Management in Library and Information Science program at USC and a former leader in the (School) Library Power movement, has a famous (in school library circles) saying: “People do things for their own reasons.”

School librarianship has given me the opportunity to teach students at all instructional levels. (I love working with kinders and their heroic teachers for one hour at a time!) Over the course of my career, I have co-taught in every content area, which has provided me with continuous learning from outstanding educators. I have co-developed curriculum to engage and motivate students and have created opportunities for children and youth to use the technology tools of the day in their pursuit of learning and sharing their new knowledge. I have collaborated with classroom teachers, public librarians, and community members to spread a culture of literacy.

But perhaps most of all, I have had the opportunity to serve alongside some principals as co-leaders who guided students and colleagues as we pursued the most effective strategies for teaching and learning. I am proud of the work we accomplished together. I am in debt to the thousands of students and hundreds of teachers who have shared their learning journeys with me.

This deep sense of satisfaction and pride and the opportunity to extend my reach beyond the classroom out into the entire school learning community and beyond is what’s in it for me. I cannot imagine a more fun, meaningful, or impactful career as an educator than that of school librarian. (Yes, principals’ work is meaningful and high impact, but I suspect it is not as much fun!) The desire to spread the potential impact of professional school librarians on teaching and learning and to help future school librarians embrace a leadership role is why I am a school librarian educator today. (That and the fact that I can no longer serve in a school library the way it should be done; I cannot be on my feet from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every school day!)

Tooting our own horns can be difficult for some of our school librarian colleagues. But sharing our essential contribution to teaching and learning is our responsibility. The photograph above of school librarian colleagues Debra LaPlante, Diane Skorupski, and me was taken at the American Association of School Librarians National Conference in Pittsburgh in 2005. We had just completed a collaborative presentation about classroom-library collaboration for instruction called “Sharing Our Exemplary Work, or Why We Should Publish Our Collaborative Lesson Plans.”

Let’s keep on showing other educators and administrators why school librarians are even more needed today than ever before. Let’s exceed our own expectations as instructional partners and leaders in education. And let’s achieve this together.

Photograph from the Personal Collection of Judi Moreillon used with permission

School Library Blogs

This month, the Building a Culture of Collaboration (BACC) co-bloggers are sharing information about school library and librarian blogs. Each of us will spotlight various blogs and bloggers and share why we think these sites are useful resources for school librarians.

Edublog-Awards-1mb7e9dEach year, Edublogs-hosted blogs in various categories are nominated for the “eddies.” (Note: BACC is hosted by Edublogs.) “The purpose of the Edublog awards is to promote and demonstrate the educational values of these social media. The best aspects include that it creates a fabulous resource for educators to use for ideas on how social media is used in different contexts, with a range of different learners. It introduces us all to new sites that we might not have found if not for the awards process.”

Congratulations to Katie Dolan and Kathy Counterman, two Texas school librarians, whose sites earned #15eddies in the “best library blog” category.

Katie Dolan is the school librarian at James Randolph Elementary (JRE) School library in the Katie Independent School District. Katie and her library program earned the top award for the best library blog. Edna Mae Fielder Elementary School Librarian Kathy Counterman, also from Katy ISD, earned the third-place best library blog award.

School librarians use their library blogs for many purposes, including promoting books, reading, and literacy events, publishing student work as well as educators’ lessons, and interacting with students, classroom teachers, administrators, parents, and the community at-large. School librarians can analyze the content of these two bloggers’ sites to get ideas to implement in their own teaching, to lively up their own library blogs, or to get ideas for starting a school library blog in 2016.

#15eddies graphic used with permission

AASL15: Navigating Transitional Times

compass-rose-Download-Royalty-free-Vector-File-EPS-2054So many choices, so little time!  Traveling to attend an AASL Conference is always an adventure for intrepid travelers who come from all over the US and other countries, too. For those who make it a priority every two years, the anticipation builds for the events that cater to school librarians who talk the talk, and walk the walk.  And so AASL 2015 in Columbus, Ohio gave us an overabundance of special moments to treasure, and opportunities to talk shop and to gravitate to new and exciting ideas.

The concurrent sessions once again offered many choices on themes that resonate in the transitional times in which we live-hence the theme of the conference-e-experience education evolution.  Since the other co-bloggers this month have featured several stellar sessions, I will add a couple more to the list of takeaways that have enriched my teacher librarian toolbox.  I will include some links to share with you.  Some of the sessions have handouts that are available through the AASL eCOLLAB.  If you are a member of AASL, you can access that list and see which ones are available for you to download-a good reason to become a member.  Even if you could not attend, you may find some gems that you can use in your own practice.  Take a look!   Some of the sessions were recorded and will be available for registrants sometime soon.  Even if you are not a member of AASL, check out the link and look for complimentary information that is there for anyone to access.

Student Data and Privacy

In the session, “Help Me Figure This Out!” (Saturday, Nov. 7), the presenters addressed several ethical dilemmas around social media policies, (Karla mentioned this last week), copyright and fair use, and student data and privacy.  We live in a data driven world, and we have to be vigilant about data that is collected on our students, and in extension ourselves.

Digital footprints lead everywhere and we can’t be ostriches.  Educators, administrators, and parents have to be informed about access to student information that is collected by the learning management systems and technology platforms that are used in our school districts.  Often, technology applications allow for data mining, and school leaders and individual educators have to read the fine print carefully when they agree to use or purchase a platform or application for student use.

There is a constant drumroll for new apps and many are terrific educational tools, but we have to model evaluation of sources in real time! Fortunately there are organizations and leaders who are there to guide the discussion.  Annalisa Keuler, one of the presenters at this session and a school librarian from Alabama, raised an awareness of this hot topic issue, and curated resources to help.

Believe it or not, we can make a difference if educators demand that we will only use web resources and platforms that pledge not to mine student data.  Let us make sure to support vendors and companies that have signed onto the Student Privacy Pledge.  Take a look at the list of vendors-who is missing from the list? Those who sign it are legally bound to the commitments in the Pledge, and it can be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and State Attorneys General.

If you want to use an new technology tool for education in your school, read the fine print, and if the company or vendor is not on the list, contact them and encourage them to sign this pledge and you will happily use their resources.   Check with your administrators and technology directors and see if they have a data governance policy for the district. If not, raise the issue for the safety of your students. Student privacy is a huge problem in these transitional times.

Collection Development

As libraries transition from traditional models to new active learning spaces, teacher librarians have ongoing dilemmas and angst about collection development for materials in multiple formats, and digital and virtual information.  What should we do with all the stuff???

There were several choices for sessions that tackled how library collections are evolving, and the session led by Michelle Luhtala, Brenda Boyer, Shannon Miller, and Joyce Valenza focused on the connection between curriculum, collection and curation, and instruction.  “Transforming Libraries in Transitional Times” (Friday, Nov. 6),  was jam packed with ideas and application tools to transform the development of appropriate resources that support learning in physical and virtual spaces.  As they moved through their ideas very quickly in the hour long time slot, it was almost TMI. I am so glad that the presenters provided access to the slideshow so that I can absorb the amount of information they shared at a more leisure pace. Here is a link to the slides, that even without their lively narration, can offer tools and ideas that can be useful.  I plan to incorporate some of the information into a course I am teaching next semester.  Great professional development for me, and you, too-Yay!

If you would like to have an idea about other sessions and outtakes led by these presenters and others, be sure to take a look at Joyce Valenza’s Neverending Story Blog that has highlights from #AASL15.

“Knowledge not shared remains unknown.”  Grabenstein, 2013

As November closes, and the holiday season quickly approaches, BACC bloggers wish you all a safe and and happy Thanksgiving!


Works Cited:

Abilock, Debbie, Helen Adams, Annalisa Keuler, Jole Seroff, and Dee Venuto. “Help Me Figure This Out! Thorny & Thought-Provoking Ethical Dilemmas for School Librarians.” AASL Conference 2015. Ohio, Columbus. 7 Nov. 2015. Presentation. <http://libraryschool.libguidescms.com/content.php?pid=675677&sid=5672334>

“AASL ECOLLAB.” AASL ECOLLAB. American Association of School Librarians., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <http://www.ala.org/aasl/ecollab>.

Grabenstein, Chris. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.  New York: Random House, 2013.

Luhtala, Michelle, Brenda Boyer, Shannon Miller,  and Joyce Valenza. “Transforming Libraries in Transitional Times.” AASL Conference 2015. Ohio, Columbus. 6 Nov. 2015. Presentation. <https://docs.google.com/presentation /d/1fJKL03hRXNK85NozVbk2wdZrVmbG2w45rf3kUFU2G6A/edit#slide=id.p.>

“Signatories – Currently 202.” Pledge to Parents Students. Student Privacy Pledge, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <http://studentprivacypledge.org/?page_id=22>.

Valenza, Joyce. “My #AASL15 Story.” Web log post. NeverEndingSearch. 9 Nov. 2015. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2015/11/09/aasl15-my-story/>.

Image:

Compass Rose: http://mt-st.rfclipart.com/image/big/ee-b7-aa/compass-rose-Download-Royalty-free-Vector-File-EPS-2054.jpg

 

 

School Library Research and Conference Events

This month the BACC cobloggers will share information related to the Treasure Mountain Research Retreat #22: “Start a Revolution in the Learning Commons” and the American Association of School Librarians’ National Conference and Exhibition: “Experience, Education, Evolution.” Both events will be held this week in Columbus, Ohio.

treasure_mountainThe Treasure Mountain (TM) Research Retreat is a gathering of school library researchers and practitioners. The first TM was held in 1989 In Park City, UT at the base of Treasure Mountain in conjunction with the AASL National Conference in Salt Lake City (hence the photograph). The group has met since then, usually in conjunction with AASL national conferences. This week’s meeting is the 22nd TM and is being organized by Drs. David Loertscher and Blanche Woolls. You can read more about the meeting from the TM history tab.

Researchers submit papers to be included in the retreat proceedings, serve on panels and discuss their work in table groups. This year, I am presenting a paper called “The Learning Commons: A Strategic Opportunity for School Librarians.” In the paper, I discuss literature and research related to three trends in school librarianship: the learning commons (LM) model, evidence-based practice (EBP), and coteaching. To support this work, I have created an infographic to show how these three can lead to school librarian leadership.

The TM experience often involves collecting data and conducting real-time research. Drs. David Loertscher, Ross Todd, and Joyce Valenza are asking practicing school librarians who have established a LC model in the school library to respond to a brief questionnaire.

The 22nd TM will be the last one that Dr. Loertscher will sponsor. I suspect this important activity for school librarian researchers, educators, and practitioners will continue in another form in the future.

On Thursday, I will share a bit about the preconference workshop I am facilitating at the AASL conference.

BACC readers can learn more about the Learning Commons model by following #LearningCommons on Twitter and the AASL Conference at #aasl15.

Treasure Mountain Logo used with permission

Seeking Online Professional Development: #txlchat

This month the BACC co-bloggers will share snippets of our research in school librarianship and preservice school librarian education. One of our goals is to provide practicing school librarians (SLs) with research-based evidence for how they prioritize their teaching and other professional activities. Another is to spotlight how the co-bloggers prepare preservice SLs for their future leadership roles in their school libraries.

logoSLs must make a commitment to lifelong learning. The changing educational environments in which we work require it. Whether we lead by integrating new resources, tools, or instructional strategies into our teaching or respond proactively to new required curriculum initiatives, effective SLs are called to be leaders in change and to model continuous learning for students and faculty alike.

In order to stay at the forefront, many SLs are making a regular practice of engaging in online professional development (PD). Webinars and social media groups for networking and learning are growing resources, particularly for librarians who serve in districts without district-level supervisors who organize PD for their cadre of professionals. Twitter chat groups are one such venue for self-regulated PD.

In the last academic year, I had the opportunity and pleasure of studying a Texas-focused school librarian Twitter group. The #txlchat meets on Tuesday evenings from 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. CT during the school year. The chat founders, @sharongullett, @_MichelleCooper, and @EdneyLib, and selected core group members actively supported my research by participating in virtual interviews regarding the importance of this PD and networking venue in their professional lives. Twenty-five #txlchat participants completed an online survey and shared their experiences of learning and connecting with this group of job-alike colleagues.

Thanks to the founders’ commitment to archiving the weekly #txlchats on a Weebly site, I had access to data from forty-five chats—from the very first chat in April 2013 through February 24th, 2015 (the last chat included in my study).

This is just a glimpse of what I learned. During the period of my study, 111 Texas librarians and 121 librarians, authors, and others from out of state participated in the chats. It was not surprising that the most frequent chat topic during the period of my study was technology. Thirteen of the 45 chats I reviewed (29%) focused on using technology tools in the library program. Connecting on Skype, being a “connected” librarian, and social media marketing were among the chat topics with the greatest number of participants, tweets, and retweets.

I learned that #txlchat members have a strong sense of belonging. The founders and core group members who rotate moderator responsibilities are committed to making sure all participants’ voices are heard and valued. Everyone involved expressed pride in their participation–both in learning from others and from sharing their knowledge and expertise with the group. My complete study report will appear in the next issue of School Libraries Worldwide. See citation below.

As you consider how you will access PD opportunities in the coming school year, I hope you will consider Twitter as a possible venue. Everyone is invited to participate on Tuesday, September 1st in the first #txlchat of the 2015-2016 school year. Check it out on Twitter at #txlchat.

Coming soon: Moreillon, Judi. “#schoollibrarians Tweet for Professional Development: A Netnographic Case Study of #txlchat.” School Libraries Worldwide 34.3 (2015).

#txlchat logo used with permission

Summer Reading… for Professional Development

professional_capital2Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan earned the 2015 Grawemeyer Award in Education for their book Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. In an education environment that hones the national focus on educator quality as a predictor of student achievement on standardized tests, these authors provide concrete strategies for helping teachers improve their craft in order to build “professional capital” in every school.

It is no surprise to educators who have served in collaborative culture environments that collaboration is a cornerstone of their vision for transforming teaching.

“The most common state in teaching used to be one of professional isolation: of working alone, aside from one’s colleagues. This state of isolation still exists in more than a few schools today, where teaching is not the ‘Show Me’ state, but the ‘Only Me’ state. Isolation protects teachers (librarians) to exercise their discretionary judgment in classrooms (libraries), but it also cuts teachers (librarians) off from the valuable feedback that would help those judgments be wise and effective” (Hargreaves and Fullan 2012, 106). (Parentheses added.)

These authors challenge educators to develop “social capital” in schools built on trust and based on shared conversations and interactions related to instruction. By combining “human capital,” the credentials, experience, and teaching ability of faculty members, and “social capital” educators can create and sustain an effective learning environment.

As instructional partners, school librarians are perfectly positioned to be leaders in building human and social capital in our schools. Through coplanning, coteaching, and coassessing student learning outcomes, we break down the isolation that prevents innovations in teaching and learning from spreading throughout the school. When we coassess our instructional effectiveness with our coteaching partners, educators move toward Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan’s vision of schools with strong professional capital.

Read this book. Meet your principal for coffee this summer. Give it to her or him and make plans to be coleaders on a team that can transform your school.

Work Cited

Hargreaves, Andy, and Michael Fullan. Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. New York: Teachers College Press, 2012. Print.

Library-Powered Students

Our_Library_Hands_Raised_crop_sizedAs my piece of the May 19th Building a Culture of Collaboration Webinar, I will share and invite you to share the many ways school librarians can collaborate to support powerful student learning in our schools. As a former school librarian at every instructional level, I have served in schools with as few as three hundred students and as many as eighteen hundred. Regardless, I always made relationships with students a top priority in my work in the place we called “our” library.

Student library aides, drop-in students, before school, lunchtime, and after school “regulars” may respond to the library’s welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. Student clubs, formal or informal, may choose library spaces for their meetings. School librarians have the opportunity to reach out to the students who frequent the library to build caring and supportive relationships with them.

Through coteaching with classroom teachers, we can show caring and support in other ways. We can advocate for real-world, relevant research and inquiry learning, for thoughtfully integrating technology tools and devices, for student choice in reading and topic selection. When we coplan, coimplement, and coassess student learning, we have a great deal to contribute to student success.

I invite BACC readers and Webinar attendees to conduct an environmental scan of the physical and virtual spaces of their school libraries. Here are some questions to consider:

1. What would a member of your community who hadn’t been in a school library in years see when she/he walks through the door or happens upon your school library Web site?

2. Where is student input reflected in various learning and social spaces in the library or on the library Web site?

3. Where is student learning evidenced in the library? Are final projects on display or linked to the Web site?

4. Are students participating in reader’s advisory by contributing book talks and trailers that are on display or accessible to schoolmates via QR codes, the library catalog, or the Web?

Bring your self-assessment to the Webinar on May 19th. Learn what others may be doing to build a culture of collaboration in their schools through their work with students.

Remix image from Thurston, Baratunde. “I Am A Community Organizer.” 7 Sept. 2008. Flickr. 29 Apr. 2015. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/baratunde/2837373493/>.

Why I do what I do…

johndewey100748

 

TOM (Theme of the month)

Why do I do what I do? Why a teacher? Why a librarian?

When I asked myself these questions, I realized that learning has engaged my mind and my heart forever. Learning is about ideas and connections that help me understand or question the world around me. Learning is a never ending journey, a yellow brick road into the future. Learning is an adventure into known and unknown worlds and can be safe or risky. Learning can be solitary or social.   Learning happens through multiple experiences in many places, with many people, and many opportunities. Learning is personal and leads to self actualization and a life well lived. Learning is FUN!

These are my core beliefs and I believe that everyone, no matter age or circumstance is entitled to pursue his or her interests that lead to learning, and as teachers and teacher librarians, we are responsible for providing supportive environments, resources, and spaces to allow that to happen.  Even more so now for learners in today’s changing world.

We are at the proverbial tipping point between “school” as we have have known it in the past two centuries, and the “school” of the future.  The purpose of education is a hot topic in the ongoing debate about reform in America’s schools, and it is being played out on the national and local level. We have moved from the agricultural and industrial ages to the information age, and the future is still unclear.  Technological change is rapid, but educational change is reactive and slow. Innovation is applauded, but standards and accountability through high stakes testing are often counterproductive. As a society, we have multiple visions for the future of education.  The process will continue to unfold.

Meanwhile, educators focus on learning and learners-just doing the job, day to day.

In spite of the uncertainties, teachers and teacher librarians build their skills as professional educators. Advances in pedagogy and neuroscience provide new resources for rethinking the ways we teach and learn. There is an art and craft of teaching that is embedded in an understanding of how learners access, interpret, and act on information and ideas.  Each learner processes ideas according to prior knowledge, experiences, and personal interests and goals. Teachers develop a range of skills and tools to meet the learners where they are and to help move them along in their learning journey. It is an art to be able to create a community in a learning space, be it the classroom or the school library. It is a craft to be able to enable the individual learners to see themselves as capable learners following their passions, asking thoughtful questions, thinking critically, and sharing their ideas with a wider audience.

The art and craft of teaching develops over time, and is a process that is iterative and expansive.  It requires a commitment to continuous reassessment of teaching goals and practices. Collaborative planning, discussion, and teaching encourage educator and student success in a learning community.  Teachers can model the 4 C’s of 21st Century Skills, and this can have a lasting impact on how schools engage learners in classrooms and school libraries.

Throughout my career as a teacher librarian, and now as a library educator, I have been  committed to sharing my vision of learning with preservice and practicing teacher librarians and educators.  As we move to the future, we have to embrace change thoughtfully and with a critical stance, and to keep our focus on why we all are here-for those young people who come through the school doors each day-ready or not to learn.  How can we help them find their passions and pursue meaningful learning journeys?

 

Image:

“John Dewey.” BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2015. 22 February 2015. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johndewey100748.html