On going professional development: Inquiry blog post #3
Most school libraries have a “Professional Collection” of resources, journals, articles, publications that can be signed out by staff members at the school. I actually did not know about this Professional Collection as a teacher, in the past schools I have worked at, and I am worried that some of the teachers at my school currently may also not be aware of the full capacity that our library holds, for themselves and their students. The first day I walked into my library, I took some time to take it all in, analyzed the way it was organized, and started to brainstorm ideas of what I may like to change.
One thing that I really appreciated about my current library is the placement of our Professional Collection. It covers one entire wall and is clearly labeled that it is for the staff, and not for student access (although no students are coming into my library at this point anyways).
One issue I see with our collection is that it is PACKED so full that it would be overwhelming for a staff member to come into the library and independently find what they are looking for. I have plans to weed this section in the coming weeks, to condense it down to the more recent and relevant materials. I will take before and after pictures and post them once I get around to accomplishing this task.
On the topic of weeding, I think it has been years since my library has been weeded. Putting books away can be a challenge because the shelves have reached their limit. The idea of weeding makes my environmental heart screech. I had a conversation with a more experienced TL the other day, and she said “when all the teachers are in their classrooms, I sneak outside with a cart full of weeded books and throw them in the dumpster”. THE DUMPSTER?? (my heart hurts thinking about it). She explained that the books that need to be weeded are not books kids should be reading, or in this case we are also talking about the professional section, so these books are no longer helpful or relevant to the teachers either. Many recycling companies will not take discarded books, as they are often a mix of paper and plastic. I am hoping to find a way around throwing them in the trash, but I have yet to figure that out. My first step is to dive in and start weeding. Once this is done, I will have a smaller, more condensed, professional section but it will be much easier to find relevant resources, rather than sifting through a mess before coming across something that will be helpful.
How can we evolve and adapt this practice to be more responsive to the personalized needs of the educators, staff, admin, parents, and other members of our educational community?
I personally like to see my role as Teacher-Librarian as the behind the scenes “helper-elf”. I am often given requests, and I do everything in my power to make it happen (sometimes through my very specific set of skills, other times just pure elf magic). If a teacher needs a bin of books put together on a certain subject, I can do that for them. If a student wants a specific book, I can put it aside for them until their book exchange day. Sometimes parents ask for books on a certain subject, and I can help them with that too. If someone comes to me with a question and I for some reason don’t have an answer for them, I spend time researching until I am able to help them.
I found this video called Teachers + Teacher Librarians = Better Learning by Students Need School Libraries to clearly lay out how Teachers and TLs can work together to create a better and more cohesive learning environment for the students.
What can I do differently, or new, this year that better support their inservice?
Unfortunately, most of my time this year so far has been taken up by in class books exchanges, and preparing the bins to bring to each class. This leaves very little time for collaboration or co-teaching with the inservice teachers. My hope is that next year will look so much different than this year, so I will be able to fulfill all the plans I have brewing in my mind. It is very peculiar to enter a new job, at a new school, during a pandemic, but we are making it work!
We as TLs have so much to offer, but we are often overlooked. The article 12 Ways a School Librarian Can Help Teachers by Barbara Paciotti (who wrote a guest post on 2 Peas and a Dog) outlines well a variety of ways in which TL can support teachers. Below are just a few of the many things we are, and that we are able and qualified to do.
We are Experienced Teachers:
- We teach the 5 essential literacies: reading, content-area literacy, information literacy, digital/technology literacy, and media literacy
- We specialize in teaching student inquiry & research skills
- We know how to foster & promote independent reading
We are Instructional Partners:
- We can help create cross-curricular projects with other subject area teachers
- We can show you how to integrate and teach technology skills
We are Informational Specialist
- We can curate print & digital resources for your every need
- We have a comprehensive understanding of intellectual property, copyright, and fair use guidelines for using a variety of materials, and we can teach students, and advise teachers and administrators, on their proper use.
We are School Leaders:
- We communicate with parents and the community about school activities and events
- We make the School Library the “go-to” place for students, teachers, and administrators
The Island TL
Paciotti, Barbara (2 Peas and a Dog). (2020, June 14). 12 Ways a School Librarian Can Help Teachers. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.2peasandadog.com/2018/07/12-ways-a-school-librarian-can-help-teachers.html
Students Need School Libraries. (2020, October 15). Teachers + Teacher Librarians = Better Learning. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://youtu.be/uKtZ_unsHHo