Last week I blogged about meeting the challenges presented by collaborating with teachers. To be able to truly effect a transformation in student learning we need to work with the whole community. Creating collaborative relationships with teachers is not easy given your full workload, but building wider collaborations can be even more daunting and you probably have not considered developing them.
It’s time to address how to make those connections. You can start with small steps, but you need to make continuous progress so these stakeholders view the library program as vital to student and the entire educational community. To review, the first Guideline under “Teaching for Learning” in AASL’s Empowering Learners states:
The school library program promotes collaboration among members of the learning community and encourages learners to be independent, lifelong users and producers of ideas and information. (p. 20)
The actions supporting the Guideline expect the librarian to:
- “collaborate with a core team of classroom teachers and specialists to design, implement, and evaluate inquiry lessons and units
- collaborate with an extended team including parents, community members, … museums, academic and public libraries… to include their expertise and assistance in inquiry lessons and units
- work with administrators to actively promote, support, and implement collaboration
- seek input from students on the learning process.”
Your next target is the administrators. You might be thinking it is impossible to get my principal to promote collaboration when he/she doesn’t realize what I do and is only focused on test scores. It’s not about what the administrator knows. It’s your job to inform and to do so in a way your principal is open to receive the message.
One easy opening is through Makerspaces. You may have already started one, but if you haven’t, start planning one as soon as possible. At the beginning, you might be the only one leading it, but you can eventually enlist interested teachers who are willing to share their hobby/experts in an area. Students are sometimes able to run a Makerspace and it’s a great opportunity for them to show their special talents and leadership skills. Eventually parents and others might contribute.
Present the idea to your principal. Show how it connects to STEM. Administrators are looking for ways to increase STEM opportunities for students and this is a natural. If you start small, it usually doesn’t require much money to get the project launched, but ask for funds as part of your proposal. By supporting the Makerspace even in this small way, the principal has a stake in its success and is therefore more involved with the library program.
Take pictures and make videos of kids at work. Share them with administrators – and the Board of Education. Follow district procedure about photographs of students and see if you can post these on your website. Include an invitation to parents and others to volunteer to lead a Makerspace.
Survey students to find what they would want added and announce the areas for which you need leaders. As the program grows you will need more money. Have kids work on making a video to raise the funds through one of the crowdsourcing program such as DonorsChoose.org.
Hour of Code is another way many librarians are showing the connection between the library program and STEM and getting support –and recognition—from their administrators. As always, make sure to get the word out to parents and the wider community showing how the librarians transform student learning.
In the same vein, send your principal quarterly and annual reports even if they are not required. Although you include statistics such as the number of classes and different subject areas addressed, focus on student learning. Use Piktochart or Issuu for a visual report packing interest and showcasing what you do. With the information in hand, your principal will be much more likely to listen to your future proposals and be willing to “actively promote, support, and implement collaboration.”
- Next week, achieving the final action step: “collaborat[ing] with an extended team including parents, community members, … museums, academic and public libraries… to include their expertise and assistance in inquiry lessons and units.”