Educating Preservice Principals and Classroom Teachers

This month the BACC co-bloggers are sharing their thoughts about the “Pre-service Toolkit for Principals and Teachers” recently released by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

what-every-preservice-teacher-should-know-about-working-with-the-school-librarian-1-638The Educators of School Librarians Section (ESLS) of AASL developed this toolkit to help practicing and preservice school librarians and school librarian educators talk with our constituent groups about how school librarians help library stakeholders reach their goals. The opening line frames the toolkit in terms of the interdependence of all members of the school learning community: “There is no question that the success of school library programs depends upon the support of the principal and the school librarian’s ability to collaborate with teachers” (2).

AASL charges school librarians with serving their schools in five roles: leader, instructional partner, information specialist, teacher, and program administrator. There are many challenges inherent in educating preservice principals and classroom teachers regarding the capacity of state-certified school librarians to serve in these roles and improve teaching and learning in their schools. These challenges include the sad fact that too many schools lack a professional school librarian on the faculty and preservice principals and classroom teachers may not have had first-hand experience of working with a dynamic school librarian.

In my role as a school librarian educator, I have had two exceptional opportunities to speak with preservice principals and classroom teachers. Thanks to Teresa Starrett, my Texas Woman’s University colleague in Educational Leadership, I have had the opportunity to speak with future principals enrolled in a course called Professional Development and Supervision in Education. I have posted resources online for a 60- or 90-minute agenda: “What Every Principal Should Know about Evaluating a School Library Program and a School Librarian.” The resources include a one-page assessment based on the school librarian’s five AASL roles.

In 2013-2014, along with TWU colleague Jennifer Richey and Denton-area educators, I had the opportunity to provide two three-and-half hour workshops for a total of 163 preK-12 preservice teachers. At the time of “What Every Preservice Teacher Candidate Should Know about Working with the School Librarian,” they were conducting their student teaching. This links to a Slideshare of the opening session in which Becky McKee and I demonstrated collaborative planning. I published an article in Teacher Librarian magazine about the research study based on these workshops.

These presentations had two things in common. In both, our goal was to change the preservice principals’ and classroom teachers’ paradigm of teaching as a solo activity. We also included a role play of a classroom teacher and school librarian coplanning a unit of instruction in both. This helped the participants see the benefits of coplanning to students, classroom teachers, school librarians, and to principals, too.

Educators of preservice school librarians and preservice classroom teachers and principals “should make concerted efforts to demonstrate the value of classroom-library collaboration for instruction during preservice teachers’ (and principals’) preparation programs. Still, it is up to practicing school librarians to reach out to student teachers and make sure that mentor teachers are given extra attention while they are guiding the student teaching experience” (16). It is also up to those in the field who are providing exemplary practice to show their principals the school librarian’s capacity to contribute to the school’s academic program.

The “Pre-service Toolkit for Principals and Classroom Teachers” provides multiple resources for thinking, discussing, and presenting the roles of school librarians in student learning: articles, blogs, books, brochures and infographics, posters, reports, research, and videos.

Thank you to the ESLS committee members who curated all of these materials and put them together in one easily accessible place.

Works Cited

Educators of School Librarians Section. “Preservice Toolkit for Principals and Teachers.” ALA.org. Mar. 2016. Web. 5 May. 2016. <http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/toolkits/PreserviceEducators_Toolkit_FINAL_2016-03-17.pdf>.

Moreillon, Judi. “Making the Classroom-Library Connection.” Teacher Librarian 43.3 (2016): 8-18.

Moreillon, Judi and Becky McKee. “What Every Preservice Teacher Should Know about Working with the School Librarian.” Slideshare.com. 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 5 May 2016. <http://www.slideshare.net/jmoreillon/what-every-preserviceteacher0314>.

Advocacy Stories as a Recruitment Strategy

we-want-youOne thing I have consistently heard from preservice school librarian graduate students (all of them current or former classroom teachers) is that they didn’t really know what the school librarian’s job entailed before they started their library science preparation program. There are most likely many practicing school librarians who entered into the profession without deep knowledge of the benefits, rewards, and complexities of serving as an educator working in a school library.

In a course I teach called “Art of Storytelling,” students participate in an assignment called “digital advocacy storytelling.” Students begin the assignment by connecting with a core belief in librarianship. They build on their passion for a particular aspect of library work to develop a digital story targeted to a particular audience. They field test their advocacy story via social media, revise it based on feedback, and publish a final version.

Even if these stories were originally targeted to other audiences, I believe students’ advocacy stories can serve as recruitment tools to invite classroom teachers into the profession. Three students from the Spring 2016 class have given me permission to share their stories—stories that make a strong case for why they aspire to serve in the role of a school librarian leader.

Thank you to Lauren Scott (@MrsScott_1), Kathryn Shropshire (@MrsShropshire7), and Maricela Silva for allowing me to share your stories here.

Lauren Scott: Building Bridges Through Collaboration @Your Library®

Kathryn Shropshire: Read Together, Grow Together @Your School Library®

Maricela Silva: Coteach Technology @your library® 4 Lifelong Learning

You can view their one-sentence themes and digital reflections on this assignment on our course wiki.

School librarians are in the very best position to identify classroom teacher colleagues who have the “right stuff” needed to be passionate, exemplary school librarians. If every school librarian would recruit even one classroom teacher to pursue further education in school librarianship this year, our profession could be in a better position to staff all preK-12 schools in the U.S. with outstanding school librarians.

What’s your school librarian story? How will you share it to advocate for the profession and enlist exemplary classroom teachers to join us?

Word Art Image created with Microsoft

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.

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

TASL Talks

TASL_color_borderA number of state-level school librarian associations host blogs to share information with their membership and to promote the work of their members. The Texas Association of School Librarians (TASL) publishes such a blog and pushes it out to members and prospective members via a statewide distribution list as well as through social media channels.

TASL Talks: Legislative and Advocacy for YOU is managed by the TxASL Legislative and Advocacy Committee with “the goal of forwarding to TASL membership and school librarians across Texas useful information about school library advocacy.”

Three members of the committee, Dorcas Hand (@handdtx), Becky Calzada (@becalzada), and Susi Grissom (@SusiGrissom), facilitate the blog. In addition to their own posts, they invite and support other TASL members in posting to the blog.

Last week’s post was by Amy Marquez (@Amy_DZ1), school librarian at Marcia R. Garza Elementary in Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District in San Juan, Texas. Amy shared how a “living history museum” project responded to a request from her principal and met the needs of students. When Amy’s principal mentioned the idea of 3rd through 5th-grade students dressing up as historical figures for Halloween, Amy expanded on this idea to include students conducting research using an online database. Amy accomplished the “living history museum” project in a 30-minute per week fixed-schedule environment.

Crowdsourcing a blog is one way to ensure that fresh ideas are shared and new voices are heard. Bravo to the TASL Talks: Legislative and Advocacy for YOU leadership for making this resource effective and a constant source of professional development for TASL members and others.

TASL logo used with permission

Literacy Is a Team Sport

This month the BACC cobloggers will share ideas about collaborative reading promotions and literacy events.

While every school librarian strives to make the library the hub of learning, we also know that it takes a whole-school approach to supporting students as they engage in literacy for the 21st century. Enlisting all members of the school community in promoting reading is necessary.

And as this video demonstrates, it’s fun! Stony Evans is a library media specialist in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He collaborated with Lakeside High School (LHS) coaches Joe Hobbs and Karrie Irwin to co-develop the “Train Your Brain Ad” video starring the LHS Cross Country Team. Lakeside Superintendent Shawn Cook made a cameo appearance in the video. Kevin Parrott was the videographer.

Congratulations to the whole team at Lakeside High!

This is one example of how library leader Stony Evans is reaching for his goal “to create lifelong learners through literacy and technology.” Visit Stony’s Library Media Tech Talk blog.

How did I learn about this outstanding example of collaborative reading promotion? From Stony’s Twitter feed @stony12270, of course.

Which members of your faculty will work with you to promote literacy in your community? What about your library student aides? How can they reach out to their classmates and serve as cheerleaders for reading? Here’s an archived example from Emily Gray Junior High/Tanque Verde High School from Teen Read Week: Books with Bite (November 2008)!

We can accomplish so much more when we work in collaboration with others. On Thursday, I will share a school library – public library literacy collaboration.

Video linked with permission – Thank you, Stony and your team

Reaching Out to the ELA-R Department

ELAR_LibraryI asked Becky McKee, District Librarian, Mabank ISD, to share more details about a brief mention she posted to the Texas Library Connection distribution list about her initial efforts to reach out to teachers in a district where she is new this year. She has given me permission to share what she did when she had five minutes to talk with middle/junior high school (JHS) English language arts and reading (ELA-R) teachers where they were participating in another meeting.

First, Becky gave each teacher a copy of the “You Might Need a Librarian If” handout. (See BACC post from Monday, August 31st.) She followed that up with giving way four prizes. The first prize was a fancy spiral notebook to the first ELA-R teacher who could tell her about something that she/he wrote over the summer. Then she talked about the importance of students seeing adults compose. She volunteered to help develop some short opportunities for writing.

Next, she gave away a 2015 Texas Lone Star Reading List to the first teacher who volunteered to talk about a young adult novel she/he read over the summer. Then Becky talked about the importance of students seeing adults read, and previewed a Lone Star Contest that she plans to implement for JHS teachers.

Then she gave away a poster that said: “Today is a great day to learn something new” to the first person who could tell her something new they’d learned during the in-service that week. (Becky noted that her principal was lingering in the area and really liked this; she smiled when Becky asked the question. This was strategic on Becky’s part.)

Finally, Becky gave away a bag of snack mix to the person who had the closest birthday to hers. In this way, all of the teachers knew a little more about Becky, and Becky knew at least one other person’s birthday.

Becky reported that later that day she had a productive conversation with the JHS ELA-R department head about some writing ideas and a reading teacher followed her suggestion about a specific title for her remedial reading class and asked Becky to order a class set of the book.

Assessment: Success!

Get your school year off to a positive start. Reach out. Be warm, friendly, and ready to serve.

Thank you again to Becky for allowing me to share her marketing strategies and her success! You can reach Becky on Twitter @bsmartr_educatr or rsmckee@mabankisd.net

Word Cloud created at Wordle.net

Making Connections at the Beginning of the School Year

This month the BACC cobloggers will share ideas about the various types of professional development opportunities school librarians can offer for  faculty, staff, and community members.

Unshelved_Quiet_LibraryFor librarians who are new to a school and for librarians reaching out to new faculty members or administrators, first impressions count! As this Unshelved cartoon so accurately (and yet so unfortunately) shows our profession continues to struggle with long-outdated stereotypes. (I began my career as a school librarian twenty-five years ago. We NEVER had a “quiet” sign or “shushing” in our library!)

The wise school librarian presents herself, her work as an instructional partner, and the resources of the library in an open, friendly, and upbeat manner. He will want to show his commitment to students’ and teachers’ success and follow through with actions that reinforce his words. She will want to show she is smart, flexible, and ever-ready with a bag of chocolates in her office drawer…

Len Bryan, School Program Coordinator, Library Development and Networking Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, recently posted this information to the Texas Library Connection distribution list: “Instead of reviewing rules, policies, and procedures with teachers and staff, why not present how the library can make their lives easier? This is a great opportunity to reach out and form friendly, collaborative relationships – the foundation of excellent library programs on every campus.” When he served as a school librarian, Len put a letter in every teacher’s mailbox. (He gives credit to retired librarian Lori Loranger, from whom he “stole” it.) This is the Google Drive doc link to Len’s “What Can the Library Do for You?

Experienced school librarian Becky McKee is now the District Librarian for Mabank Independent School District in Texas; she is new in this position. After reading Len’s post, Becky created the handout below to share with teachers at the intermediate, junior high, and high school campuses she will be serving this school year:

You might need a librarian when…

…you have a seed of an idea.
…you need curriculum resources as you develop a unit.
…you need an instructional design partner.
…you need library time for your class to do research.
… you need someone to assist small groups in research.
…you have a recommendation for our library.
…you need a new/different twist for a lesson.
… you need technology in your lesson.
… you need a read-aloud in your classroom.
… you need clarification on copyright laws.
… you need stories or book talks related to your lesson.
… you need personal or professional reading materials.
… you need someone to revel in your enthusiasm for your subject!

Becky gave her “you might need a librarian if” document to her colleagues along with some additional face-to-face outreach. Read about it on Thursday.

Thank you to Len Bryan and Becky McKee for giving me permission to share their work. You can reach Len at: lbryan@tsl.texas.gov and Becky at: rsmckee@mabankisd.net

Unshelved cartoon used with permission

Capture the Joy of Learning

edm 3.jeg

 

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?

References:

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>

 Image:

Judy Kaplan Collection

 

Students as Advocates

April is School Library Month. In Virginia, the governor makes an official proclamation every year acknowledging the importance of school librarians. The proclamation talks about the educational impact made by school librarians and the role of our profession in educating the students in the 21st Century. School librarians around the country spend this month advocating for their programs and espousing the significance of school libraries to the entire school. Who are the best advocates for the importance of school libraries? The students we serve. Truth – school librarians are important in developing 21st century learners. Truth – school librarians play a pivotal role in the school. Truth – school libraries should be the heart of the school. Truth – school libraries MUST be places of comfort and refuge for ALL of our students.
As I write, Congress is working on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and librarians are speaking out to get their voices heard. The NEA and AASL partnered to support a “Twitter Storm” just last week and library supporters tweeted about the impact and importance of school libraries. #GetESEARight Twitter lit up with comments about the importance of school libraries to the people that matter most – the students. Comments such as, “This is our library,” and “It’s a sanctuary,” showed what an effective school library program can mean to the students. Click here to watch a video about what one school library means to the school:

In a video clip posted by YALSA, one girl held up a sign that read in part, “When the world is harsh and unforgiving, I can escape to the sanctuary of a hardback novel, in a corner that is silent.”


When I was a high school librarian, a student leadership group at the school conducted a survey about bullying. We were delighted when they analyzed the results and discovered that the “safest” place in the school was the library! Students commented, “No one would dare bully anyone in the library. Everyone is welcome there!” Our students became our best advocates. They posted signs declaring the library was the safest spot in the school and announced it on the daily announcements. Their library was their safe haven no matter who you were, and they wanted everyone to know it. They wanted all students in the school to know that the library was a place of refuge, where all students mattered.

Watch this inspiring video from Fort Lauderdale Public Library Teens, “I Matter.”

What would your students say about your library? Put it to the test and ask them: Why does the school library matter? Share your video and let your students be your best advocates!

dog in the sun
I’m a dog person. I love to watch our dogs on a sunny day as they follow the sun spot streaming through the window. They can’t get enough and they get up and move as the sun moves. They are content, relaxed, and in their happy place.

The library should be the sun spot for our students. It should be the place they go when they need comfort. It should be the place they seek out for warmth and belonging because they matter, and so does the library – their sanctuary – their place of escape – their home. It’s where their heart is.