Almost a year ago, I wrote a post reflecting on my learning in LIBE 477, and contemplated what I would do with my own library. A year later, I am now a Teacher-Librarian, reflecting on my learning in LLED 462, and my first term in the library. Report cards will be going home with students shortly, and as teachers write their report cards, this post will be my communication of my learning as a student.
Essential question – Summary of learning
Our first learning curation for this term asked us to create an essential question. My professional inquiry question was “How can technology support the teaching of the inquiry process across all grades?” I created a plan to teach the inquiry process using the Scholastic Poster (left), through the use of technology. The students are learning inquiry by answering the questions: “What is a story? ” and “How do our actions affect the story of our community?” The progress towards meeting our learning goals has been slow. Access to technology is limited as our school only has 27 working laptops that are shared among 14 divisions. There are only 3 blocks available for library use. I do have 5 iPads for use in the library, but the District has implemented a new, very finicky, management process, where apps are downloaded from one server. There have been issues with apps being pushed out to all iPads, and some apps not appearing at all. Another obstacle is that classes only have 30 to 40 minutes in the library on a weekly basis. In this short time, the focus is on promoting literacy, helping students find books, and checking them out. My time with the students is limited. I have also been working on school-wide initiatives with the principal as I have the privilege of seeing every student. I feel my first term in the library has been a huge learning curve, and I have accomplished many things (especially with the physical space), but I am struggling with accomplishing all of my goals. How can I focus on literacy, school-wide initiatives, and teach them inquiry at the same time? How do I set priorities?
Evolution of Learning Curation
My learning curations focused on inquiry, questioning, technology, student-centered learning, and social justice. Initially, I believed that my learning was only connected to the prompts in each module. On reflection, each curation, and Assignment 3, collectively contributed to answering my essential question: How can technology support the teaching of the inquiry process? Questioning is step one in the inquiry process, so learning how to ask good questions is necessary. Technology has many different uses – learning, citizenship, entertainment, presentation, curation, networking, social justice – so understanding the possibilities for teaching through technology is necessary. A student-centered library allows students a choice in their learning (and voice), and how their learning space is organized (space/place). Allowing students a variety of choices to reach their learning goals, is an integral part of the inquiry process and is embedded in the new BC Curriculum. As I reviewed my Learning Curations, and all of the Learning Modules for LLED 462, I began to create a web using they keywords from each module. The Wordle below is a visual representation of topics I have encountered in this course, and in the library.
Each one of my Learning Curations has connected with my role as Teacher-Librarian, and did collectively work towards answering my Essential Question, though not in the way I envisioned. Though this course is now complete, I will continue to work through the Spiral of Inquiry until I am satisfied with the results.
As a reflection on my first term as a new Teacher-Librarian, I focused on building partnerships with staff, and connecting with the students. My focus has been on learning the new ADST curriculum and exploring how I may be of value to teachers in implementing this in my library, and in collaboration with teachers in their classrooms. “The most valuable resource that teachers have is each other. Without collaboration, our growth is limited to our own perspective”. ~ Robert John Meehan
Plans for the future
I have a huge ‘To Do’ list that I created in August, when I first entered the library. Slowly, things have been crossed off, but there is so much more to do, both with the physical space, and the digital space. I take pride in the compliments I receive about the changes that have occurred in the physical space. Students are wanting to spend time in the library. I have also made an effort to support teachers in the classroom with implementing G Suite, and creating a weekly lunch hour ‘Google Gathering’, where we discuss (and learn) the different ways to use technology with the students. There is still so much more to do….
Advocate – I have approached the District for a crate of 15 Chromebooks for my library, and have suggested that every library in the District should have dedicated technology. How are we to teach 21st century skills to our students when we have no tools? The PAC in my school has gifted 5 iPads to the library, for which I am very grateful, particularly to my Principal, who asked not once, but twice on my behalf. I will now have 10 iPads in my library that I can use with all of the students. I am so fortunate, but what about other schools? Districts?
As TLs, we are short of resources, technology, time and support. I am learning, very quickly, that TLs need to advocate for more time. Our roles have changed, and we cannot effectively promote all forms of literacy, collaborate with our staff, maintain our collections and libraries, and create a warm, welcoming, and safe space in our reduced schedules. Now is an important time for us to advocate, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling in favour of the BCTF regarding class size and composition.
Learn – As a new Teacher-Librarian, I am still learning the breadth of responsibilities required in my role. It is daunting, and just as we learned while on our teaching practicum, we do not truly understand the demands of our jobs until we plunge, head first, into our own library. Here is what I need to learn:
- The best methods for management of the students, staff and physical space. A library is very different from a classroom, in size and function, and I want it to be a place of tranquility, with a slight hum of engaged activity, not chaos.
- Time is of the essence in the library. I have each class for 30 – 40 minutes once per week, and I have a specified amount of time for administrative tasks. In the classroom, you can simply carry activities through to completion, but this can be more difficult in the library. I will learn how to be more efficient with choosing learning tasks, and with management of the library. There has to be a more efficient way to manage check in/out of books…
Embrace – I never truly understood the role of the TL, until I became one in August. I love working with all of the students and staff in the school. At times though, I feel disconnected. I am not always present at Staff meetings or Professional Days because I am only at school on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The staff always make an effort to keep me informed and ask my opinion. Though my time in the library has been short, I have embraced the position, the staff and the students, and will continue to learn and collaborate with everyone in the building.
Photo by Clay Junell Some rights reserved