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?
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>
Judy Kaplan Collection