Sometimes it seems as though what you say keep falling on deaf ears. Whether you are explaining to a teacher that Google is for searching not researching or sending emails to the administrator, somehow there is a disconnect and your message is not received. It’s as though there’s no reception on your phone and you’re standing there asking, “Can you hear me now?”
Some solutions for business leaders were offered in John R. Stoker’s article entitled “How to Achieve Recognition by Results.” With some tweaking, the 10 approaches he recommends can be applied in the education setting and may offer you ideas to help you get you heard. I’m going to discuss the first five this week with the conclusion next week.
First and foremost, Continue to do the Work. Of course, you will, but the important part of this step is to watch your attitude. You need to maintain a positive mindset. Not an easy task when you feel disrespected. If you have Mission Statement (which is your purpose and that of your program), keep it in mind to motivate you. I am always surprised to see how many librarians don’t have one – nor do they have a Vision Statement which can inspire you to push on and help when negative thoughts become overwhelming.
Stoker’s second suggestion is Look to Make a Difference. Yes, that’s what you have been trying to do all along and what is likely frustrating you. However, in this case, it’s also about doing it differently. You know the classic line from Einstein about repeating the same action in hope of a different result. Stop driving yourself crazy. Instead, try new methods. If you have been sending e-mails, try a handwritten note to teachers in a grade level or subject area. In an age of digital communication, the personal touch is more likely to be welcomed. And again, don’t attempt too much. Just enough to see if it works.
I have long recommended you Support Others in Their Work. While this is your goal and where you are likely feeling frustrated, there are two ways to handle this. First, get to know them as individuals. As their trust in your builds, so will their willingness to come to you for support. In addition, try to discover what kind of help your teachers and administration actually want, don’t assume. This way what you suggest comes across more easily as support rather than criticism.
From listening to conversations in the school (remember, this is one of the reasons to take your lunch where the teachers do), try to discover their next unit of study, and then ask the teacher to stop by for coffee and maybe a snack because you have something special for them. That’s when you can show the database that will make their students more successful. Offer to locate resources for any future unit. Notice, you didn’t send out an email blast. You made it personal.
Humbly be Right, Stoker writes:
If you come up with a solution that is a resounding success, keep your mouth shut. Let people draw their own conclusions. If you go out of your way to celebrate your individual success, rather than put the focus on the team effort, people will look for ways to discount your contribution, identify your weaknesses and let it be known what an arrogant and pompous individual you are. That also means that you do not want to go fishing for compliments. Let your results speak for themselves and let that be the end of it.
I once had a science teacher who kept explaining her curriculum was too tight to bring her students in for me to teach them the research process. We had a friendly relationship so I was able to cajole her into bringing her students in for one period. The kids were incredibly successful. This was not the time for an “I told you so”. Instead, I said we could do it again whenever she wished. At the end of the year, she told me the lesson in the library had affected all the rest of their research and the following school year, she brought them in for three days in a row to get them started.
The fifth idea is to Offer Concrete Evidence. There is so much talk about big data and needing to prove results, but despite years of accumulating evidence on how school librarians and libraries affect student learning no one seems to be listening. Isn’t the data important? Yes, it is, but once again it’s impersonal and has no emotional connection to your building and school until you can show direct application and result.
Data with your students will find a more welcoming audience. Use evidence-based practice to highlight how key district/building goals are being achieved in the library. Then you can follow up with the impact studies. If you state has done one, so much the better.
I’m curious to hear if any of these resonate with you. Are there ways you are already putting this into practice but could make some changes to get even better results? Next week – the rest of the list!