ON LIBRARIES: In With The New (Standards)

appy New Year! There is always a flurry of activity around the beginning of the year. Resolutions, goals, intentions, new things to try, old things to toss.

One of the big new things to embrace? The new National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries.  Have you bought your copy yet? Are you excited, or hoping it will go away? (HINT: Go for the former. The latter isn’t happening.) I blogged about this change back in September (the post is here and gives you several links to help you start), and since then I’ve heard about them at the AASL conference in November and started using them. It is a change I am definitely excited about.

Many of you have been put off by the price tag of $199 if you are not a member of ALA.  Even the cost of $99 to ALA/AASL members has caused some gasps. But recognize, these will be our standards for the next ten years. You may as well bite the bullet and get started. If memory serves the old standards, Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs, cost about $45, but it but had only 64 pages!  The new standards comes in at a hefty 314p.  That’s almost five times the size – so it’s practically a bargain! 

Personally, I have been immersing myself in the National School Library Standards in order to update an online course I’m teaching starting January 17.  Since it’s a course text, I had to re-do much of the syllabus, rewrite sections of my lectures, and change topics for discussion as I figured out how to introduce my students to the standards.

The task of wading into these new standards seemed enormous at first.  It’s such a big book and there didn’t seem to be any parallels between old and new standards which would have allowed me to simply insert new page numbers.  It was intimidating, but I am so glad I couldn’t put it off.  The more I explore the Standards, the more I find to like.

I like the idea that there are three Frameworks: one for learners, one for school librarians, and one for school libraries. All three have the same structure so you can see how the same Domains (Think, Create, Share, Grow) and Shared Foundations connect.  It is simple to compare them and once you have familiarity with one Framework, you can easily grasp the others.

Most likely you will want to begin with the AASL Framework for Learners.  It’s a free download and only eight pages so not having ordered the larger book it is no excuse for not getting started. We all are learners and more than ever we need to focus on our own learning. Spend time with the centerfold that lays out the standards for learners. Read the Key Commitments for each of the six Shared Foundations. You will find your old lessons almost always included aspect of the four : (1) Inquire, (3) Collaborate, (4) Curate, and (5) Explore.

Your lessons may not have incorporated Include and Engage but you now should give these two serious consideration Include (the fourth Shared Foundation) articulates the need to incorporate diversity and global citizenship into student learning opportunities. Engage (6) focuses on the ethical use of information.  Both have been components of your practice, but the six Shared Foundations keep them in front of you.  This is not to say you need to include all six Shared Foundation and all four Domains in one unit, but in constructing your units, you should see which ones fit best.

Check the AASL portal for the Standards regularly.  If you “enter” as School Librarians, you will find resources to support you in getting started with the new National Standards for School Libraries.  New ones are added frequently.

Once you have your copy of the Standards, I recommend How Do I Read the Standards? It boils down how the six Shared Foundations and four Domains combine within the three Frameworks, defining the competencies we want to achieve. In addition, it explains how to identify which of the Shared Foundations and Domains you are using in a lesson.  All this in a one-page (free!) infographic.

Another resource I like is Reflect and Refresh: Getting Started with National School Library Standards. Again, a single page PDF, it briefly explains “What Should I Know?” What Should I Do?” and “What Should I Share?”

Do check the Professional Development AASL is offering.  Upcoming events as well as archived ones are available.  Choose one and get started.

It is a new year and we have new standards.  It’s a bit scary, but it’s also exciting to be here as we truly take our profession and practice into the future.

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ON LIBRARIES: Ease into the New National Standards

The New National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries have arrived. It’s exciting and wonderful but carries a certain amount of trepidation

– What changes will I have to make in my lessons?

– How am I going to find time to learn it all?

– Is there a start date for implementing them?

– Can I just wait a while?

– Do I have to buy the book?

All good questions.  And while I do own the book as I participated in the pre-con on the Standards at the AASL Conference in Phoenix, I don’t plan to sit down and read it through in a week or so.   I have looked at the Table of Contents and been led to some key pages, but I am going to absorb this in small doses.

You can and should do the same.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Excerpts from AASL’s National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries, used with permission.  Copyright American Library Association, 2018. For additional information and resources visit standards.aasl.org.)

Your first stop is the AASL portal for the Standards to download the AASL Standards Framework for Learners.

So much is being loaded here, almost on a daily basis, the site is a bit hard to navigate.  It will be cleaned up but for now, I have given you the link because that’s the best way to start. This will help you see how our new Standards are organized and give you a way to start incorporating them into your lessons in easy steps. See? A framework.

Page three lists the Common Beliefs which is “How … we define the qualities of well-prepared learners, effective school librarians, and dynamic school libraries.”  I discussed these six in my blog on September 25th.  You can look at that if you want to review the Common Beliefs.

The centerfold is where the big new is.  It is the AASL Standards Framework for Learners. From there are two additional frameworks. One for School Librarians and another for School Libraries. (We have dropped the word “program” because we want the focus on school libraries.) The good news is all three follow the same structure.

The frameworks are tables. Reading across are the Roman Numerals identifying the six competencies that form the Standards:

  • Inquire
  • Include
  • Collaborate
  • Curate
  • Explore
  • Engage

Beneath each is a one-sentence key commitment.  For example, Explore says, “Discover and innovate in a growth mindset developed through experience and reflection.”

Visit the Ogden School District Library program by clicking the image

Reading down the chart are the four domains:

  • Think
  • Create
  • Share
  • Grow

You may remember these from Learning for Life (L4L).  These are connected to the domains of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Think is the Cognitive Domain.  Create is Psychomotor, Share is Affective, and Grow is Developmental.

The Shared Foundations and Domains form a grid with each box having two to five competencies identifying what the learner is expected to do.  For example, the box formed by Inquire and Think says, “Learners display curiosity and initiative by:

  1. Formulating questions about a personal interest or a curriculum topic.
  2. Recalling prior background knowledge as context for new meaning.”

So, if you were to use both in your lesson you would refer to it as I.A.1. and 2.

Depending on your learning unit or your own preference, you can focus on Inquire through Think, Create, Share, and Grow.  Or you can choose to have students Create through all or some of the Shared Foundations.  You can pick and choose as you wish.

web banners available from AASL website

If you would like to see the Frameworks for School Librarians and School Libraries and you are not quite ready to purchase the National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries, consider getting the AASL Standards Mobile App from the Apple App Store or Google Play for $19. You can’t get it at the ALA Store but a description of the App is given there.

This is my route to slowly implementing the Standards, but you have many helpful resources on the Standards Portal.  There are videos you can watch, or you can download the one-page PDF on Where Do I Start? 6 Action Steps for Getting to Know the New National School Library Standards. Keep checking the Portal. New resources are being added quickly, and it will become better organized.  Meanwhile keep exploring it to find treasures.

You do need to get around to buying the book.  The $200 price tag for non-AASL members and even the $99 cost for members has been something of a sticker shock.  Since I advocate for all school librarians to be members of AASL, let me point out that first time membership is $119 – so for an additional $20 you have the book for $99 and a one-year membership in AASL with all its resources such as e-COLLAB and Knowledge Quest. And this volume is equal to what was in Empowering Learners, Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action, and A 21st-Century Approach to School Librarian Evaluation. Which really makes it a bargain.

What have you done to get started with the new Standards?  What do you like best about them so far?  And if you need help to come up with the cost to purchase the book – post to our Facebook group and see if anyone has suggestions and ideas.

ON LIBRARIES: Confessions of a Conference Junkie

It’s true.  I admit it I am totally hooked on library conferences. On Wednesday afternoon I will be flying to Phoenix to attend the AASL Conference.  The following week I will be at my state library association’s conference.  I am already registered for ALA Midwinter in Denver (yes, winter in Denver) in February of 2018.

Those of you who haven’t attended any of these, particularly the ALA/AASL ones, may wonder how I got hooked and why I keep going.  It started innocently enough.  I went to my state conference. And one of the reasons I chose to go was because it was easy to get to the site.

It turned out to not only be familiar but a lot of fun. A number of my librarian friends were there and the vendor reps for the most part were the ones who called on me. I got to see several programs that were helpful, some of which were led by people I knew so I could follow up with them.  There were some nice freebies (now called swag), and I met more librarians from my state who I hadn’t known before.

I continued to attend and I became known by leadership people which led to my being asked to serve on committees.  Although it was a bit scary, I tried one.  It accelerated my learning curve, and I became a truly active member of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (then called EMAnj).

Then in 1979, (yes, I have been a librarian for a long time), I attended my first ALA Annual Conference.  Along with Ruth Toor, I had written my first book – The School Librarian’s Almanac – and thought it was time to look at the larger scene.

That year the site was easy again. It was held in New York City. As a New Jersey resident who was born in New York, I was comfortable there. Lots of the New Jersey librarians I had come to know also attended.

It was somewhat overwhelming, but thrilling at the same time.  It was SO much bigger. As I walked to the Convention Center I saw so many people wearing conference badges and carrying the bags attendees were given.  I struggled a bit to choose among so many programs.  There were more vendors than I ever heard of, but I did see a quite a few familiar faces among the reps. And the swag was amazing. I came home with bags, books, bookmarks and other great things for my library.

One of my best memories from that conference was meeting Isaac Asimov.  I had loved his works since I discovered them while in high school.  He even kissed my cheek.  I didn’t want to wash it.

Sitting at the food courts and sharing tables I met so many librarians from all over the country. There even were some from countries around the world.   I was learning even when I wasn’t at a program or in the exhibit hall.  I was hooked.  I never looked back.  I couldn’t wait for the next conference.  Fair Warning—conference going is addictive.

Since that time I have never missed an ALA Conference. I remember going to Toronto, Canada in 2003 for the first joint conference with the Canadian Library Association.  It was made even more memorable because shortly before the conference, Canada experienced an outbreak of the SARS virus.  Those of us who didn’t decide to skip the conference were made extremely welcome.

After attending ALA Annual for several years, and taking volunteer positions in my state organization I became the president-elect of NJASL and was therefore a delegate to AASL’s Affiliate Assembly. Since it met at ALA Midwinter in addition to annual, I attended that.  And discovered it was the same and different from Annual.  Smaller in some ways, without as many programs, there were still committee meetings, great exhibits—and of course, swag.

In my new position I met our national leaders. I was surprised to discover how approachable they were. Before long I was serving on AASL committees.  In 1980, AASL had its first conference.  I didn’t the first or second (they are every other year), but I did go to the third held in Atlanta, GA. Aside from a family emergency that caused me to change plans at the last minute, I have attended every AASL Conference since then.

I had no choice but to be hooked. So many programs, so many vendors.  And all of them directed to school librarians.  It was perfect.  When AASL began holding its National Institutes, commonly known as the Fall Forum, I couldn’t wait to attend.  These were very small, and focused on a single topic/issue of importance to school librarians. It was the perfect setting for intense learning.

So here am I once again eagerly packing for an AASL Conference. (I will be skipping my blog next week as I will be in Phoenix.) What do I have to show for it?  Well, the swag does accumulate.  I will never need to buy a canvas bag.  I always have a huge supply of pens and post-it notes plus assorted helpful items from thumb drives to earphones.

More importantly, to a great extent, the leader I am today came about as a result of all my conference going.

Are you a conference junkie?  Which ones do you attend?  What are some of your best memories? What would be a good first one for you – state, AASL, or national? Wanna join me in New Orleans next year?

 

 

 

 

 

ON LIBRARIES – Up To Standards

Are you ready for the new AASL Standards or are you feeling some trepidation about them?  As a leader, you must get up to speed rapidly so you can tweak and revamp your lessons as necessary.  It is natural to want to cling to what you have known and used since 2007, but stop and think — it’s been ten years.  How much has the world changed since then?  How much have you changed? You – and your students – are doing things you couldn’t possibly have done, or even imagined, then.

The new standards will be brought out at the AASL Conference in Phoenix, November 9-11.  I will be there and attending one of the pre-cons on them on Thursday. There’s still time to put in a pre-publication order so you will be ready to go as soon as possible. Click HERE to go to the order page for the standards. And HERE for the Standard Framework preorder.

Meanwhile, AASL has set up a portal to get you started by providing the philosophical base of the new standards.   I recognized the need for new standards but there was so much in the old ones that I liked, I had a few concerns.  Thanks to the portal, I am eager and more prepared to embrace the new. Let’s walk through them together.

Start with the Common Beliefs. The existing standards had nine. The new ones have six. The first,  “The school library is a unique and essential part of a learning community,” promotes the program on a far wider scale than the old which stated, “School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills.”  As in the old standards, a short paragraph explains the Belief in more detail:

  • As a destination for on-site and virtual personalized learning, the school library is a vital connection between school and home. As the leader of this space and its functions, the school librarian ensures that the school library environment provides all members of the school community access to information and technology, connecting learning to real-world events. By providing access to an array of well-managed resources, school librarians enable academic knowledge to be linked to deep understanding.

The second breaks new ground by declaring the worth of librarians. “Qualified school librarians lead effective school libraries,” positions us as indispensable, stating:

  • As they guide organizational and personal change, effective school librarians model, promote, and foster inquiry learning in adequately staffed and resourced school libraries. Qualified school librarians have been educated and certified to perform interlinked, interdis­ciplinary, and cross-cutting roles as instructional leaders, program administrators, educators, collab­orative partners, and information specialists.

Complimenting Common Core, the third belief states, “Learners should be prepared for college, career, and life.”  The explanatory paragraph addresses our unique contribution to student learning:

  • Committed to inclusion and equity, effective school librarians use evi­dence to determine what works, for whom and under what conditions for each learner; complemented by community engagement and inno­vative leadership, school librarians improve all learners’ opportunities for success. This success empow­ers learners to persist in inquiry, advanced study, enriching profes­sional work, and community partici­pation through continuous improve­ment within and beyond the school building and school day.

Mirroring, “Reading is a window to the world” from the old standards, the fourth proclaims, “Reading is the core of

personal and academic competency.”  We must never forget our commitment to literacy and the accompanying paragraph succinctly defines it.

  • In the school library, learners engage with relevant information resources and digital learning opportunities in a culture of reading. School librari­ans initiate and elevate motivational reading initiatives by using story and personal narrative to engage learners. School librarians curate current digital and print materials and technology to provide access to high-quality reading materials that encourage learners, educators, and families to become lifelong learners and readers.

Much like “Equitable access is a key component for education,” the fifth Common Belief is, “Intellectual freedom is every learner’s right.”  Our profession is staunchly committed to this right and has officially been so since ALA’s Bill of Rights was first adopted in 1939.  The new standard states:

  • Learners have the freedom to speak and hear what others have to say, rather than allowing others to control their access to ideas and information; the school librarian’s responsibility is to develop these dispositions in learners, educators, and all other members of the learn­ing community. 

The final Common Belief is, “Information technologies must be appropriately integrated and equitably available.” This is a call to action as so many schools do not have adequate information technologies, and the new standards recognize that with this supporting paragraph:

  • Although information technology is woven into almost every aspect of learning and life, not every learner and educator has equitable access to up-to-date, appropriate technology and connectivity. An effective school library bridges digital and socioeconomic divides to affect information technology access and skill.

Do you think anything is missing from these Common Beliefs?  Don’t be too quick to decide.  The new standards also have six Shared Foundations, summarizing Competencies for Learners. The infographic link shows how learners Think, Create, Share, and Grow with each of them, and how librarians lead the way.

There is certainly lots to take in and learn, which makes me grateful for this preview from AASL. I was very proud in 2007 of the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. I think I am going to be even prouder to represent and lead from these.  I can’t wait to dig into them.

What do you think of these beginning documents?  Is there anything that stands out for you? Are there any which particularly that excite or motivate you? What are you doing to get ready for the new standards?

 

 

ON LIBRARIES: Leading Larger

You have taken on the challenge, and you are now a leader.  You look for ways to showcase the library program. Perhaps you have started a Makerspace or instituted a way to connect regularly with teachers and possibly parents. Teachers ask you for help because they have learned you are a resource for them.

These are all significant achievements.  But don’t rest on your laurels.  You need to continue to grow as a leader. Once again you have to step out of your comfort zone, and, if you haven’t done so yet, it is time to serve your state association.  Your first foray at that level may be to be on a committee or chair a small one. Once you volunteer you must participate fully.

And I can hear many of you saying, “I don’t have time for that.”  While there is a great measure of truth in that statement, it’s a story you are telling yourself.  In my blog on “The Stories We Tell Ourselves,” I wrote “Most of you are very busy, but the fact is in our world no one can find time.  You have to make time.  Which means look at what you are doing and determine priorities.”

Why should serving at the state level be a priority? Aside from the altruism and giving back to the profession, what do you get from fitting one more thing into your already busy schedule? Leaders keep learning. As a committee member, you meet with other librarians. Should you chair a committee, you will be attending board meetings. In both cases, you will have regular discussions with your colleagues, and if you have ever attended a conference, you know the conversations you have with your fellow librarians are usually as beneficial as the programs themselves.

If you are a committee chair, the board meetings will give you a larger picture of what is happening in your state. What are the big issues? What is the legislature doing that will impact library programs and schools? As the other chairs make reports and share their views, your perspective gets larger.

Your vocabulary increases as well. Not your everyday vocabulary, but the one that deals with libraries and education and policy.  In talking about these concerns and potentially challenging situations, you become more fluent when you speak with others, whether it’s teachers or administrators. You sound like the expert you are becoming, and your comments take on greater value.

In other words, you get a good return on your investment of time.

After you have seen the benefits of serving on the board of your state association, think about running for an office.  Yes, the time requirement will be larger, particularly if you run for president, which is normally a several year commitment depending on your state. Usually, it’s a progression from vice-president to president-elect, president, and then past-president.  Each with its own special duties. But with greater responsibilities comes greater learning. The quickest way to start this is to use the AASL website to Get Involved.

If you do choose to be on track to become president, you will learn the true meaning of leadership. The responsibility for what happens to the profession and your association will rest on you. But you get to listen to others (and it’s vital that you do). You may testify at your state legislature concerning issues of importance to school librarians. Reporters who need a comment about school libraries will come to you.

You can’t get that training anywhere else. You are definitely “out front” for all to see.  While that sounds scary, remember you have at least a year or two as vice-president and president-elect to get the experience.  When you become president, you probably will have moments of doubt. Everyone does. But your confidence and belief in yourself will have grown tremendously.  Back at your school, the administration will recognize and most often treat you like the leader you are.

There are still more steps for you to take.  As president, you will have opportunities to attend national conferences, usually ALA, and be a part of AASL’s Affiliate Assembly.  Now your perspective gets even larger as you view events on a national level.

It’s time to consider volunteering to serve at that level.  While my personal commitment is to AASL as the only organization that speaks solely for school librarians, you might choose ISTE or AECCT.  The idea is to keep leading larger.

For many years, I worked on and chaired AASL committees.  I often said I should have gotten CEU credit for each of them.  I learned so much.  Most recently I have been appointed to ALA committees.  I had to leave my comfort zone.  I knew AASL.  I had many friends there and people know me.   But leaders, including myself, need to keep learning and growing. Currently, I am on ALA’s Committee on Professional Ethics and the Information Literacy Committee.  While I see the issues as they impact librarianship as a whole, I bring the perspective of school librarians to my fellow committee members.

As in the past, I have learned far more than I expected.  I have widened my circle of friends at ALA. The expense—of time and money—has brought a valuable return. While some of you cannot afford to travel to distant conferences, be aware that most committee work is done on conference calls and there are virtual memberships.

I have written many times – being a leader is not an option.  It’s a job responsibility, and it’s a personal responsibility. Leadership brings positive attention to the library program which results in more respect for it and makes it more likely you and the library will not be eliminated.  It also is personal because you become a role model for other librarians who have yet to take on the challenge of becoming a leader. As business management author Tom Peters has said, “Leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders.”

ON LIBRARIES – The Highly Effective School Librarian

When school librarians are recognized as a leader they are called highly effective.”  Until now the best tool for evaluating this has been the Danielson Framework – Library Media Specialists, but thanks to ALA Past Presidents Sari Felman and Julie Todaro their ALA Initiative,  “Libraries Transform – The Expert in the Library has given us something more precise.  Now we can point to eleven competencies based on the National Policy Board for Educational Leaders’  Professional Standards for Education Leaders (PSEL).

Thanks go to Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns who have created a way we can self-assess and determine our own route forward. The website for School Librarian PSEL Competencies – Building Our Expertise has directions and the host of resources you need to act on what might be the best PD you ever had.

To help you get started, I will unpack what is available for you on the website.

First, there are 11 Competencies they have identified along with the explanation for each:

  1. Mission, Vision and Core Values – Effective School Library leaders develop, advocate, and enact a shared mission, vision, and core values of high-quality education and academic and/or professional success and well-being of each learner.
  2. Ethical Principles and Professional Norms – Effective School Library leaders act ethically and according to professional norms to promote each learner’s academic success and well-being and/or practitioners’ professional success.
  3. Equity and Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness – Effective School Library leaders strive for equity and inclusivity of educational opportunity, and culturally and linguistically responsive practices to promote each learner’s academic and/or professional success and well-being.
  4. Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment – Effective School Library leaders design, deliver and support intellectually rigorous and coherent systems of curriculum, instruction, and assessment to promote each learner’s academic and/or professional success and well-being.
  5. Community of Care and Support for Students – Effective School Library Leaders cultivate an inclusive caring and supportive school community that promotes each learner’s academic and/or professional success, personal interests and well-being.
  6. Professional Capacity of School Personnel – Effective School Library leaders develop their personal professional capacity and practice to best support other school personnel in order to promote each learner’s academic and/or professional success and well-being.
  7. Professional Community for Teachers and Staff – Effective School Library leaders foster the development of a professional community of teachers and other professional staff to promote each learner’s academic and/or professional success and well-being.
  8. Meaningful Engagement of Families and Community – Effective School Library leaders engage families and the community in meaningful, reciprocal, and mutually beneficial ways to promote each learner’s academic and/or professional success and well-being.
  9. Operations and Management – Effective School Library leaders manage resources and operations to promote each learner’s academic and/or professional success and well-being by creating an inviting environment, providing a flexible program, developing the collection, curating and organizing the resources, integrating digital and technology access, managing appropriate funding and encouraging critical thinking to create a community of lifelong learners.
  10. School Improvement – Effective School Library leaders act as agents of continuous improvement to promote each learner’s academic and/or professional success and well-being.
  11. Literacy and Reading – Effective School Library leaders promote reading for learning, personal growth, and enjoyment (and) are aware of major trends in children’s and young adult literature. They select reading materials in multiple formats to support reading for information, pleasure, and lifelong learning. They use a variety of strategies to reinforce classroom reading instruction to address the diverse needs and interests of all readers. Literacy takes many forms (EX: digital, information, cultural, etc.) that all rely on the foundational literacy of reading.

 

The list manages to be reassuring and daunting at the same time.  I would venture to guess most of you are at or close to the Highly Effective level with at least items 1 through 5 as well as 11. But then there are the other five.  How can you work on them when you have so much to do in your day?

The solution is on the website.  Follow these three steps:

  1. Choose the competency 1-11 that you want to work on.
  2. Identify in the rubric your level of Expertise.
  3. Move to the resources to read those recommended to support your growth to a higher level, as well as the AASL resources for all levels

Note that you only work on one at a time.  And it’s the competency of your choosing. Below the list of competencies are links to the rubric for each one.

For example, I find #10 to be very challenging.  To determine how close I come to being Highly Effective, I select this rubric:

10.  Rubric for School Improvement – Effective School Library leaders act as agents of continuous improvement to promote each learner’s academic and/or professional success and well-being.  COMPETENCY 10 RESOURCES
HIGHLY EFFECTIVE School Library leaders create data such as action research to act as agents of continuous improvement to promote each learner’s academic and/or professional success and well-being through an inquiry-based approach, utilizing a variety of instructional strategies to meet a diverse learning population, while collaborating with other all stakeholders to meet the mission core values and curricula of the school community.  RESOURCES
EFFECTIVE School Library leaders use data to act as agents of continuous improvement to promote each learner’s academic and/or professional success and well-being through an inquiry-based approach, utilizing a variety of instructional strategies to meet a diverse learning population, while collaborating with other teachers to meet the mission core values and curricula of the school community.  RESOURCES
EMERGING School Library leaders act as agents of improvement to promote some of the learners’ academic and/or professional success and well-being through an inquiry-based approach, utilizing a variety of instructional strategies to meet a diverse learning population; however,  in isolation from most other teachers.  RESOURCES
INEFFECTIVE School Library leaders do not promote academic and/or professional success and well-being because their program is devoid of any inquiry-based approach and in isolation from other teachers and curricula.  RESOURCES

I feel I am Effective but not Highly Effective at this so I click on the Resources and find:

Calhoun, Emily F. “Action Research for School Improvement.Educational Leadership, vol. 59, no. 6, Mar. 2002, pp. 18–24.

Loertscher, David V., and Ross J. Todd. We Boost Achievement!: Evidence-Based Practice for School Library Media Specialists. Salt Lake City UT, Hi Willow Research, 2003.
Todd, Ross J. “Evidence-based Practice and School Libraries: Interconnections of evidence, advocacy and actions. Knowledge Quest 43.3 (2015): 8.

And now I’m ready to go!

You are undoubtedly more than halfway there.  Start the process, and when you have attained Highly Effective in all (or almost all) 11, share the rubrics with your administrator.  We all need to know—and let others know—we are Highly Effective School Librarians.

How close are you to being Highly Effective at all 11 Competencies?  Which one are you going to start with?

 

 

ON LIBRARIES: Leadership – There Is No Other Option

On Saturday, June 25, I was honored at the AASL Awards Program to receive the 2016 aaslDistinguished Service Award.  As part of the presentation, I had the opportunity to speak and I addressed a topic I have been writing about for years. This is something you know I am passionate about, so I am sharing that brief speech as my blog for the week.

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IMG_3562My deepest thanks to AASL, Baker & Taylor, and to everyone who had a part in nominating me for this incredible honor. To say I was absolutely dumbfounded when I got the news is a giant understatement of how I felt. I have long admired so many of the past winners whom I know personally, and can think of so many others who deserve this award as much as I do.  A good number of them are in the room right now.

Although it is called the “Distinguished Service Award,” it is truly one that recognizes leadership in the profession and leadership has been a soap box I have been on for decades. Most of you here right now are leaders.  Some farther along than others, but all of you have begun that journey.Leadership wordle

Unfortunately there are too many librarians who have yet to step out of the comfort zone of their libraries and accept the fact that leadership is no longer an option.  It is a job requirement. Our students and teachers need us to be leaders.  And our profession needs librarians who know how to make their presence known and their program be viewed as vital and indispensable.

AASL can provide resources.  All of you can be mentors.  But we must recognize that it is not enough for us to lead and be successful. If we all aren’t successful, too many people will not realize the unique roles we play and how these affect our students, teachers, and often the administration as well.

I honestly think we have turned a corner on the depletion of librarians and libraries, but it will be a slow climb back and the direction will not always go forward.  We must be there to support our colleagues who find leadership a scary thought and have told themselves many stories as to why they can’t be leaders.

I will address only one here, but I have heard it often. “Leaders are born, and I wasn’t born a leader.”  Guess what?  Neither was I.  If you met me in high school and college you would know I was not and would never be a leader.  If you saw me on my first two jobs, you would be convinced I had no idea how to lead.

IMG_3565I don’t think anyone would say that of me today.  What happened?  I joined my state association and was on a committee.  (Note, I didn’t chair it.) I joined ALA/AASL and went to conferences and programs.  There I learned the “language” of our profession, meaning I could speak with authority and conviction about topics relating to school libraries and education.

I moved out of my comfort zone.  I started saying “yes” when my brain was screaming, “are you crazy?  You can’t do that.”  But I was smart.  I got help.  I didn’t do it alone.  We think we are alone because we usually are the only librarian in our building.  But we belong to the most generously supportive profession in the world.

When I had a question, I could get an answer from around my state – and then the country.  And at first I needed a telephone for that. Fortunately, we now have many more ways to connect.

So please, be the help that your librarian colleagues need.  Make it known you are there for advice and help.  We belong to a very old profession that has been important to the progress of civilization for thousands of years.  We can all take it to the next level and insure that we continue to make our invaluable contributions, for we truly transform our communities and our society.

~~~~~~~~~

challenge acceptedFINAL NOTE: The challenge remains.  We  need to commit ourselves to ensuring all our librarians are leaders. What are you doing personally to become a leader or to expand your leadership?  How are you helping the librarians in your state and your district to become leaders?

ON LIBRARIES: There’s a Toolkit For That

Everyone nhelp2eeds help sometime.  Whether you are a recognized leader in your building and district, just taking the first steps into leadership, or feeling not quite ready to do so, situations occur that cause stress, anxiety, or fear.  In addition, none of us are experts at everything.

ALA and AASL are very often your backup but first you need to know what they have for you. And while I strongly believe all school librarians should be members of ALA/AASL this help available to you even if you aren’t a member. Did you know about the many toolkits available on the website?

Promote Your Program

Want help in promoting your school library program?  There is a toolkit for that. The 77-page downloadable PDF discusses Leadership, Advocacy, Communication, and L4L (Learning for Life). Leadership gives practical advice on how to reach stakeholders at building, district, community, and state levels. It explains what works and what gets in the way.  Success Stories encourage you and offer some ideas on what else you can do – including one from me on Elevator Speeches with Strangers. You can even see videos on Dispositions, Communications, and Visions of the Future.

Advocacy also has suggestions for reaching out to your stakeholders from students to the community. More Success Stories follow and answers are provided for the Tough Questions people are likely to throw at you. Want to know how to get the word out?  The Communications chapter will guide you. Learn how to market your program inside and outside the school. Again find Success Stories.L4L_revisions2

In case you didn’t know, L4L is the AASL brand for implementing our national standards. Find out more about it, what resources it offers, and how to use what they have developed in your school and district. Finally, there is a long list of clickable resources for you to use such as samples of an annual report and key points to include, a template for a newsletter, four downloadable infographics and posters, and talking points on various subjects.  In other words, everything you need to figure out how you can best promote your program.  And you are on vacation now (or almost), so this is the perfect time for you to go over this and plan for next school year.

Advocacy

In order to be successful advocacy needs to be ongoing as you build support from all your stakeholders.  The Health and Wellness Toolkit takes you through five steps, identifying each group of stakeholders’ agendas. Next you learn to design and market your program targeting he specific goals of stakeholders. Assess how well your advocacy plan is working and use the many resources- most with links – to keep you going.

How about what to do when library positions are up for elimination.  Although you have an easier task if you have been putting the Health and Wellness Toolkit in place, if you haven’t all is not lost.  The School Library Crisis Toolkit walks you through Crisis Planning and helps you to create a communication link so your supporters stay informed, you reach those stakeholders who might help, and design a powerful message.  AASL needs to be informed of the threat and there are directions for contacting them and your state association. Again, you have a long list of resources you can access.

Parents can be your biggest supporters. They need to know why school libraries and librarians are important in their children’s education. The Parent Advocate Toolkit is for parents to use in order to learn more about today’s school libraries. Become familiar with it and promote it on your website and on any Open House or Back to School Night.  Let parents know you are more than willing to discuss any questions they may have when they read it and check out the links.

toolkitYou can find all the AASL toolkits on their website and you might look at others available from ALA. Keep checking for new ones.  Once more information is known there will probably be one on ESSA.  Right now you can find the latest information here.

Are there other topics you think need to have a toolkit?  Let your state’s AAS Affiliate Assembly delegate know.  If it is submitted 6 weeks before ALA Annual Conference it can be a Concern which is brought to the AASL Board.  What would you like to see?

 

 

 

ON LIBRARIES: You and Your Professional Development

 

professional dev1If you want to be the best possible librarian you can be, you must take responsibility for your own professional development. You might feel it isn’t fair, since teachers don’t have to do this, but fair is not the issue. The only way you will get what you need is to seek it out yourself.

To stay current with constant changing world and learning how to integrate the latest trends and technology into your program, help teachers, and continue to prepare students for their future, you need to pursue relevant professional development. “Relevant” is the key term since most districts provide professional development several times a year. While these are helpful in understanding what is being required of teachers, they rarely are directly helpful to you and your program.

Free PD

Your first concern is likely to be cost.  Teacher PD is usually paid for by the district, but this isn’t true for librarians. However, you don’t have to let this stop you. We just have to be more creative.  And the long term and professional cost of not finding ways to include this is potentially very high.costs

Your colleagues can often be a source of highly relevant, useful information.  There are numerous Twitter Chats you can join with different themes and days and times when they are held.  This Piktochart infographic has several excellent ones.   For an explanation of how the chats work and brief descriptions of some (including a few from the Piktochart infographic) go to Top Twitter Hashtags for Librarians.

Library magazines such as School Library Journal frequently host webinars. They are normally held in the afternoon so may be impossible for you to attend live, but most make the archive available to listen to at a more convenient time. You can pick and choose which ones are of greatest interest to you.  Since these are free, you can’t always find exactly what you want, but you may discover something you hadn’t considered.

aasl ecollabAASL offers some free webinars through their eC0LLAB page.   For example you can choose “A 21st-Century Approach to School Librarian Evaluation” or A School Librarian’s Role in Preventing Sexting & Cyberbullying.”  Two excellent possibilities are the ones on the 2015 “Best Apps for Teaching & Learning”, and “Best Websites for Teaching & Learning.” The webinars discuss some of the winners for the year and give you great ideas to use with your teachers and students.

Occasionally a publisher hosts a webinar. These are always free, but obviously they have a product to sell.  It doesn’t mean the webinar isn’t worthwhile.  If you are curious about the product, it’s no different from seeing a presentation at a conference.

Quality PD at a Range of Prices

The best source for relevant professional development comes from your state and national library associations.  In addition to the free webinars AASL offers, they also have online asynchronous e-courses. The AASL e-Academy offers a number of options.  A four-week course is $119 for members, $245 for non-members, and $95 for student AASL members. Courses are offered on a rotating basis, so if one you are interested in is not being offered in the near future, you can contact Jennifer Habley at AASL and she will let you know when it will be scheduled again.

Have an idea
Get creative about your PD!

ALA editions offers e-learning in the following areas: Computing, Technology, & Web Design; Copyright; Management; Programming, Outreach, Marketing and Customer Service; Personal Development; Reference; Cataloging and Metadata; Collection Development; and Information Literacy and Library Instruction.  These are all connected to books published by ALA and part of the cost is for an e-book that goes along with the course.  For example under Personal Development you can see a course I am teaching “Being Indispensable: A School Librarian’s Guide to Proving Your Value and Keeping Your Job” which is a 6-week asynchronous course and will start on July 18.  Prices vary from one to the other, but this course is $195.  I am currently teaching one on New on the Job and it is $245.

 

 

 

ON LIBRARIES: Stand Up for Privacy

digital privacyBenjamin Franklin said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

Time and again in these years since 9/11 our right to privacy has been challenged in the name of security.  I am proud of ALA, our national organization, for its ongoing efforts to protect the privacy of patrons despite being accused of being unpatriotic. This is an important part of making certain our libraries are safe places for everyone who uses them.

ALA, through the Office for Intellectual Freedom, works to safeguard the reading history of library users. Individual librarians have had resisted warrants demanding those records.  As with dealing with challenged materials, it is a lonely fight and many don’t understand the importance of holding onto these principles when they feel the nation is being threatened by terrorists.

Re-read the Benjamin Franklin quote.  In giving up a freedom we give those who seek to destroy our way of life what they want. We become more like them.  It’s easy to think you have principles you believe in when no one challenges them.  Standing up for them in the face of so many opposing you is when you discover what you are made of.ala privacy week

We have just concluded Choose Privacy Week, an annual initiative of ALA.  Its purpose is to involve library users in a discussion of “privacy in a digital age.”  It is increasingly difficult to have any degree of privacy in today’s world.  Security cameras are everywhere and while I, too, recognize it is a protection against criminal behavior, sometimes in my head I hear the words of George Orwell, “Big Brother is watching you.” Our phones can be used to track us. We choose to use (and I do) E-Z pass, or whatever it’s called where you are to go through tolls without stopping, which records our actions. Ads on the side of my Facebook page remind me of where I just shopped and thanks to countless searches on my computer, Google “knows” a great deal about me and my preferences.

In this world of surveillance, at least what we choose to read should be our own business.  As school librarians, we also have the responsibility of keeping what students are reading private. If asked, we must tell a parent or guardian. They are still minors.  Be sure your automation system has been disabled so it does not maintain a record.  Most ILS systems don’t keep the record as a default, but you should check.  Once an item has been returned it should disappear from the student’s reading history.

Sending out overdue notices can be an easy way to violate student privacy. Teachers should not get a list of what their students’ overdue books.  Although it takes more time, either put them in envelopes or only give the name of the student and the number of overdues.

privacyEnd-of-the-year notices present a more difficult problem.  Where students can’t get their report cards until they complete their library obligations, it is customary to hand a list of student names with outstanding items to the school secretary who deals with returns, late fees, and lost book charges during the summer. There isn’t much you can do about that, but make a point of informing the secretary that what students have borrowed is private, and as with other information she learns throughout the year, it is to be kept confidential.

All school libraries should have a Privacy Policy spelling out how student and teacher information is to be kept private. ALA has information on Privacy and Confidentiality with resources including a toolkit.  Check it out if you don’t have a Privacy Policy or want to know more about your responsibilities in this area as a librarian.

The website for Choose Privacy Week had a highly informative blog with ideas for what to do to inform users about their privacy rights and how to safeguard it.  The post on Resources for Teaching Privacy offered information on How to Teach Internet Safety in Primary School and a Teen Privacy Guide.

ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee issued new Library Privacy Guidelines for Students in K-12 Schools.  Download it and share it with your administrators. Incorporate it into your current Privacy Policy. And if you have any volunteers in your library, make sure they are aware of it, and recognize they are not free to discuss outside the library what students borrow.

School librarians strive to make the library a safe, welcoming environment.  Protecting the privacy of our users is one way we ensure they feel safe – and welcomed.