As I reflect on the eight courses I have completed in the Teacher-Librarian program, I realize the most important job for a TL is to promote ourselves and advocate for our school libraries. It saddens me to hear comments ranging from, “Oh, you have lots of time to manage ‘your books’ because you don’t have to do report cards” (other teachers), to “Really? You teach kids? I thought you only took care of books? (public)” There is this stereotype that we sit behind a counter all day with books, and our job isn’t the same as a classroom teacher. It’s not the same, but it’s no less important. As Teacher-Librarians, we need to promote ourselves and our skills, and ensure that our colleagues know how we can support them and the students in our school community.
So, yes, this course did focus on reference services, but these services do not exist unless we share our knowledge of our resources with our colleagues. Ann Riedling, in Reference Skills for the School Librarian says that “successful reference services for school librarians consist of three components: 1) knowledge of the library media collection, electronic information resources, and tools; 2) effective conversational skills (communication); and 3) competence in selecting, acquiring, and evaluating resources to meet students needs (4). My weak areas, and this is not based on any evaluation tool but my own reflection, are 1 and 2. Throughout this course, I have learned how to ‘select, acquire, and evaluate resources‘. As a relatively greenTeacher-Librarian (7 months), knowledge of my print collection continues to grows on a daily basis. The digital resources – District databases – are readily available and I have used them with the students, but I am still becoming familiar with all of the options available. My ‘conversational skills’ are effective with the students, but what I have realized is I need “to ensure that everything possible is done to keep the channels of communication open and flowing” with all of the staff (99). This term, I have connected with four staff members (Grade 1, 2, 3 and 5), and have made plans to extend their classroom curriculum in the library. Many of the staff will approach me regarding fiction and non-fiction resources, but I believe they are unsure about how my role as TL can support them in the classroom. Perhaps this video below, which I created as my final advocacy project for LIBE 477 can provide an overview.
WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS?
Share, share and share some more – weekly newsletters, library website, staff meetings, posters, lunch learning – I need to do this because if teachers are aware of the resources available, where to find them and how I can help students find them, the library will be used on a more regular basis for research purposes, and student learning will improve.
WHY DO I NEED TO SHARE?
In Term 3, my intermediate students are beginning Genius Hour projects. I’ve discovered that many students struggle with independent research because they do not know where to find the information. Despite our lessons about District databases, their first choice is Google. Lessons during Term 1 and 2 did focus on how to do an effective Google Search, but students choose the first site, give it a cursory skim and claim they cannot find any information. I need to share information about reference sources – both print and digital – with my colleagues so they can reinforce the use of these resources in their own lessons. I believe that by sharing and collaborating with my staff, that students will learn strategies to become more efficient in finding reliable information, and improve their digital literacy skills. Before I outline my next steps, here is a TED Talk by Doug Belshaw that outlines the eight elements of essential digital literacies.
WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS?
Teacher-Librarians are a valuable and necessary part of every school. Our role is evolving, and becoming even more important as newer technologies become commonplace in our libraries and classrooms. We need to ensure that our voices are heard and that our students, colleagues, administrators and parents understand that our libraries are a learning hub, and a warm, caring and safe place for ALL of our students. Teacher-Librarians have the privilege of connecting with every student in the school, learning their name, what they enjoy reading, and what they are learning in their classrooms. I loved being a classroom teacher and spending my day with 24 students, but I love being a TL even more because I get to share my love of books and technology with every person in my school. Share your passion and tell others why you love libraries and Teacher-Librarians. On Twitter, use the hashtags #bctla, #tlchat, #librarian, and #library. There are many others, but these are a great place to start.
Riedling, Ann, Reference skills for the school library media specialist: Tools and tips, (Third Edition). Linworth.
All other references have been hyperlinked within this blog post.