Chapter 9 Collaboration by Judi Moreillon
Way back in the 1990s during the National Library Power Project, I participated in a course for Library Power librarians offered by Ken Haycock. A question he asked at that time has been a reoccurring theme in his writing. When asked whom they serve, “most [school librarians] would answer students, yet the primary clientele in terms of power, impact, and effect would be teachers” (Haycock 2017, 3). This understanding of the importance of collaboration with colleagues is, in my view, the foundation for school librarian leadership.
Learning During Preservice Education
As those of us who have served in school libraries know, many classroom teachers and administrators lack an expectation or an experience of classroom-library collaboration for instruction. Preservice preparation programs for educators/administrators are jammed with state-level requirements and do not, as a rule, include information or an experience of collaborative work with school librarians.
When I taught at Texas Woman’s University (TWU), two doctoral students Ruth Nicole Hall and Becky McKee and I organized and provided annual workshops for preservice classroom teachers about how they could work collaboratively with their school librarian for the benefit of their students and to benefit their own teaching (see the “What Every Preservice Teacher Candidate Should Know about Working with the School Librarian” Slideshare on my presentation wiki).
During those years, preservice principal educator Teresa Starrett invited me to present to her curriculum and supervision classes. Our work included a grant-funded crowdsourced video of testimonials from principals and other administrators from across the country: “Principals Know: School Librarians Are the Heart of the School.”
It would have been ideal if these future colleagues had direct experience of working with school librarian candidates during their preservice education. (This was not possible for our online library science graduate students and in-person classroom teacher and administrator colleagues at TWU.) If direct experience is not possible, currently practicing school librarian educators can help provide information and examples/scenarios for preservice administrators and classroom educators as we did throughout my seven-year tenure.
Instructional Partnerships in Practice
In Chapter 8 Advocacy, Kristin and TuesD note the importance of reaching out to classroom teachers for collaborative work. They wrote: “Messages should help classroom teachers visualize working with the school librarian by providing actual examples of the past and potential partnerships that could be possible” (Sierra and Chambers 128).
The vignettes in Chapter 9: Collaboration offered by elementary school librarian Matt King and middle school English language arts teacher Jenni Kramer and librarian Kat Berg provide examples of collaborative work and testimonials to the power of classroom-library collaboration for instruction – and for job-embedded professional development.
Initiating and Promoting Partnerships
There are times when collaborative partnerships form spontaneously and organically in the context of schooling. However, it is my experience that it often takes one person – usually the librarian – to initiate partnerships.
Providing examples of successful partnerships, especially in terms of student learning outcomes and educator development on the part of classroom teachers and the librarian, are ideal ways to get to “yes!” That is true even if the examples are from the librarian’s work in a different school or district, or with educators at another instructional level. Examples provide school librarians with credibility.
Each of my coteaching reading comprehension professional books includes twenty-one examples of teaching reading to learn in collaboration with elementary and secondary colleagues in every discipline. In addition, I published/copublished two on the National Council of Teachers of Reading ReadWriteThink.org to spotlight for site users, classroom teacher colleagues, preservice school librarians, and school administrators how classroom teachers and school librarians can elevate student learning through coplanning, coteaching, and coassessing student outcomes and the effectiveness of their instruction.
As the second librarian at Sabino High School, I collaborated with the ceramics teacher to co-design and coteach “Behind the Masks: Exploring Culture and Self through Art and Poetry.” Students researched mask-making from various cultures, recreated cultural masks, and composed poetry to share their understandings. Then, they created personal masks and poems to reflect their own cultures. The classroom teacher learned to use rubrics for assessment.
When I served as the literacy coach at Van Buskirk Elementary, I collaborated with classroom teachers, the school librarian, and art teacher to co-design and co-teach “Peace Poems and Picasso Doves: Literature, Art, Technology, and Poetry.” Third- through fifth-grade students applied reading strategies to comprehend literature, created artwork and poetry, and used technology tools to publish their work. Classroom teachers learned new ways to integrate technology into the literacy curriculum.
Classroom Teachers as Advocates
When school librarians help others meet their needs, those library stakeholders will become our advocates. Helping classroom educators and administrators succeed is at the center of the work of school librarians. AND it is important that school librarians turn support for the librarian and library program into actionable advocacy.
“With whom in your school do you share your vision for building a collaborative culture of learning?” (Moreillon 157).
Note: If you are a School Library Connection subscriber, you can assess the entire Chapter 9 Collaboration as part of the Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage Book Study Kit.
Haycock, Ken. 2017. “Leadership from the Middle: Building Influence for Change.” In The Many Faces of School Librarian Leadership, 2nd ed., ed. S. Coatney and V. H. Harada, 1-12. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
Moreillon, Judi. 2004. Peace Poems and Picasso Doves: Literature, Art, Technology, and Poetry. ReadWriteThink.org. Available from http://www.readwritethink.org/classrcoom-resources/lesson-plans/peace-poems-picasso-doves-93.html. Accessed December 19, 2021.
Moreillon, Judi. 2021. “Collaboration.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 139-158. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
Moreillon, Judi, and Diane Roderick. 2003. Behind the Masks: Exploring Culture and Self through Art and Poetry. ReadWriteThink.org. Available from http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/behind-masks-exploring-culture-395.html. Accessed December 19, 2021.
Sierra, Kristin Fraga, and TuesD Chambers. 2021. “Advocacy.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 123-138. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.