SLJ Leadership Summit

Fall is the time for conferences in the world of school libraryland. I chose to attend the School Library Journal Leadership Summit in Philadelphia. This was my second year attending this summit. Last year I met some wonderful school librarians from around the country that have now become my professional collaborators and friends. I find that this summit provides opportunities to learn from speakers and panels, as well as time to spend networking with and learning from other school librarian leader participants.

The theme of the summit this year was “Advocacy and the E-Volution,” focusing on how technology and the needs of our 21st century students are transforming our roles within the school and our programs. Yet upon further exploration of speakers, panels, and their topics I found the Common Core was a prevalent theme as well in what they were calling “Librarians at the Center of the Common Core: Summit within the Summit” which immediately piqued my interest. As I tell my students every week I believe Common Core is a huge opportunity for school librarians to collaborate, teach, and demonstrated their value in the educational process.

I found this year that my take-aways from this summit were varied and somewhat conflicted. As usual for me at any conference, I always seem to get the most out of the real-world school librarian speakers. I am drawn to the practical – what is working out there for people and what is not.

I especially enjoyed hearing the energetic MIchelle Luhtala from New Canaan High School Library talk about her role in technology and how they are dealing with BYOD as this is an hot topic right now and I find myself very concerned about the digital divide aspect.

But it was the second day of the summit where the focus was on the Common Core that interested me most. The day began with a focus on “Nonfiction at the Forefront of the Common Core” with a panel of authors taking about their works and making the connections to the Common Core. They each spent time explaining why nonfiction is such a valuable tool in learning and talking about ways that school librarians could collaborate with teachers in this aspect of the Common Core, some ideas included: using authors as models of research and writing, making the connection to primary sources and drawing evidence from them, balancing and teaching perspective within a text, comparing and contrasting, and art in conveying meaning.

Also the Coordinator of School Library Programs & Partnerships in New York City, Melissa Jacobs-Israel, spoke about how school librarians in NY are working together to address the Common Core and how it can directly tie to the AASL Standards – as she said “This is what we do!” I agree wholeheartedly with her sentiment in that when you sit down and really look at the Common Core a great deal of it is what we teach as school librarians and this is also illustrated in the AASL Common Core Crosswalk. This is a chance for school librarians to step up and take on a leadership role to be proactive in collaborating with teachers to plan instruction and co-teach.

Yet even at this conference of school library leaders I still heard other participants who just still don’t seem to get it. I heard whining about the Common Core and having to teach to the standards. I guess I am still amazed in that as much literature that has been devoted to this topic, the time spent making connections for school librarians to what we do to the Common Core, and the collaborative efforts of so many school librarians, that there are still people struggling to see that this is indeed an opportunity for school librarians.

So I wonder: What are you doing in your schools to to utilize the Common Core as an opportunity to step up to lead and be proactive in collaborating with teachers to plan instruction and co-teach?





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