Every year I am amazed at the way in which my role somehow changes and morphs around how I am needed in the current teaching and learning situation. The basic role of managing resources both physical and digital remains the same but the scope and vision of my role changes as teaching and learning needs arise that can be met by the school library and teacher librarians.
The American Association of School Librarians has developed “National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries” (AASL Standards) which build on the already adopted AASL Standards Framework for Learners. The teacher librarian plays a vital role in supporting learning within these standards.
Effective oral, written, and multimedia communication
Accessing and analyzing information
Curiosity and imagination
He goes on to say that:
“School librarians are the resident experts in the development of these skills. Accessing and analyzing information, collaborating across networks, cultivating curiosity and imagination—this is the life blood of an outstanding school library. More importantly, these are the skills that will allow our students to become thoughtful and engaged citizens equipped to navigate a world full of increasingly complex information.”
This clip by Dominique Sullivan and Jennifer Lunny illustrates that the roles of school libraries and Teacher Librarians are changing. This has been happening for some time and the possibilities make the library an exciting place to be!
Every year, on Valentine’s Day, the English Department joins with the IRC in a little bit of silliness that actually becomes a very successful time of reading for enjoyment. We have been doing this with Year 8 or 9 English classes for six years. Even students who do not normally read for pleasure take part enthusiastically and have an opportunity to experience many genres especially selected for their age group.
It was announced yesterday that I was the Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year 2012 What an incredible honour and privilege! I have been inundated with congratulatory emails and social networking messages from family, friends and colleagues – many of whom know what the role of Teacher Librarian entails.
It has been interesting to hear the reactions from many who do not know what a Teacher Librarian does in the day-to-day life of the school library. A relative of mine jokingly said to my daughter: “So what did she do to win this award… invent a new Dewey Decimal System or a new way of filing?” … I want to thank my two Cert III qualified Library Assistants who make it possible for me to do much less of the “book” work behind the scenes (shelving, cataloguing, covering) and a lot more of the specialized teaching role that is that of Teacher Librarian!
The role of Teacher Librarian means
• Working with and for the whole school community – not just a few classes, but all students, teachers and administrators and even parents and grandparents
• Selecting and providing resources for all curriculum taught in the school – not just books both physical and digital but also online links to sites and database access to authoritative works in journals, magazines and newspapers
• Determining how new technologies can be best incorporated into units of work to make the tasks more interesting and/or collaborative
• Assisting in the teaching of ICT skills across the curriculum – for both staff and students
• Promoting reading and literature – this is a constant, enjoyable, daily part of the job as literature is discussed with students and teachers looking for appropriate reading material. Events to promote reading need to be organised (We have Library Lover’s Day, Grandparents in the IRC, National Simultaneous Storytime, Book Week Activities and a Book Fair every year)
• Leading in introducing new pedagogical skills (Guided Inquiry has been introduced and is being used widely at Broughton and the Teacher Librarian teaches along side the class teacher to assist with supporting the process, information literacy skills and digital literacy skills)
• Having a voice on various collaborative school committees to discuss school policy and direction (eg IT Committee, Assessment Committee, Professional Learning Committee)
• Caring for students who use the library as a refuge from the playground and often develop new friendships in this environment
• Overseeing and assisting students in the library since it has become the school’s “lounge room” (where students relax together before school and at lunch, collaborate together over projects, play board games, read quietly or discuss books together)
• Display work for all classes and students K-12 in a prominent place for the whole community to share in their achievements
The list could go on. Above all Teacher Librarians are passionate about what they do, about promoting life long learning for everyone – which means finding new ways of teaching and learning and promoting older ‘tried and true’ methods, accessing new digital literacies but still using the best of the old, integrating learning and making it relevant to a student’s experience and ‘supporting’ all who enter our library doors!
At a time when the role of Teacher Librarian is so misunderstood and therefore many TLs (Library Media Specialists) are disappearing from schools under budget restraints, we need to ‘shout it out’ and make School Principals aware of the role – and the need for information specialists in every school.
The Dewey Decimal System barely comes into it ☺
In her latest post in An awfully big blog adventure, award winning author of 60 books for children and teens, Linda Strachan says:
We all know that children have to learn the skill that is reading so that they can discover the joy of losing themselves in a book, the delight of living new experiences through the characters in their favourite books
…we need our schools not only to help children learn the skill of reading but to find joy and delight in a broad range of books, to help them to become enthusiastic readers.
She goes on to discuss the role played by the school and Teacher Librarian in the of promotion of books and reading.
The role of teacher Librarian is to foster and improve Digital and Information literacy across the school. Both teachers and students need to become expert information users.
“In the white paper Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, professor Renee Hobbs from Temple University mentions skills that show digital and media literacy, including accessing information, solving problems, working collaboratively, communicating effectively, and analyzing data and evidence.“
Teacher Librarians assist collaboratively with the implementation of Information Literacy into the curriculum. Read more about this in this post on the Converge site:
This video “addresses the forces of change that are causing educators globally to rethink what education for today’s students should involve.”
Students are moving from learning about an historical body of information to becoming life-long learners manipulating information to solve and innovate in inquiry projects.
How do we help them to become capable of managing their own learning and to be learning forever? Information literacy and digital literacy is the key and this is the special role of Teacher Librarians as they team with classroom teachers in the school.
The winning entries of this challenge have been published and focus on the work done in school libraries – a great source of ideas and also advocacy for the role of Teacher Librarians in school libraries everywhere.
In Australia, 2012 is the National Year of Reading and I know that in our library we will be working hard to promote literacy in all subject areas with a focus on integrating the library (IRC)and Teacher Librarian in teaching and learning activities across the school (K-12).
View the winning entries here: