Based upon my own recent observations at various educational institutions and discussions with other educators, I'm amazed by the lack of collaboration between those who provide classroom instruction and the librarian/media specialist. My view/belief of the role of the librarian and library is that the library should be the hub and catalyst for all other learning within the educational institution. How often do those of you who provide classroom instruction collaborate with your librarian and/or how do you view the role of your librarian/media specialist within your educational institution?
Hi Lib Liz,
I am a very new Lib without an aide, and a former part-time tech person. Last year was rough in the library, but as a former 6th grade teacher, I think you hit the problem for most librarians. We share our resources, talents, time, and some of us teach on an activity wheel. My personal issue, I subbed for several teachers, and many with short notices. No one could say that I didn't try to collaborate, but then, some teachers don't even remember to bring their kids to the library to checkout books. The classroom teachers have many concerns and they think our part of the puzzle is to take care of their children while they attend to front office issues, take a break, etc.
I will continue to plan with those that have the time and are willing to share their needs with me. Otherwise, I use the computer to push out the latest and greatest things that I have to offer for their children, and sometimes, for the teachers themselves. I use the "sweetness" method, and keep kindness as my benchmark.
Hope this gives you another view!
Can you explain more about how you "use the computer to push out the latest and the greatest"? I am asking because I am working for a non-profit looking to reach teachers with free curriculum about skin cancer prevention and sun safety. I was wondering if library media specialists would or could post resources/lesson plans about something like that on a school website. The lessons are geared to middle school students and the aim is to try and involve parents as well.
Any advice would be welcome, thank you!
As a Library Media Specialist in two elementary schools, getting teachers to collaborate is an up hill struggle. I found I needed to be an expert in each grade level common core standards, I also am part integration specialist as I work closely with the technology director. With this back ground knowledge, I have my "bag of tricks," Thinkfinity included! I then used the "food hook" to get teachers in the library. I developed a "Breads and Books" morning in each library. The classroom teachers come in to look at the new books eat some of my creations and I had time to just "chat" about what was going on in their classrooms, always having a suggestion how I could partner with them to teach something from the common core. It didn't work with all teachers, but it worked with some and those teachers then spread the word of how excited their students were about the project they did and the learning that took place. I am fortunate that only half my time is scheduled for classes, so I can use my flex time for these projects. It is a slow process, and not all teachers will "buy in." This coming year, I am assigned to a different grade level PLC. This has been one of my more difficult groups to collaborate with, so I am hoping I can win them over.
I am wondering how educators at your school would find outside lesson plans or curriculum. Do you have a subscription to some sort of service or do they need to go through the school library website to access resources like online databases, etc.? Have you ever put any curriculum up on the school library site for the whole school, like for example the Heart Association's materials?
I have been a gifted specialist for several years and loved (and still love) my librarian! Gifted and talented classes do not have a textbook to go by and in our state we are required to create lessons that are "separate from and different than" what is taught in a regular class room - so we are mostly used for enrichment rather than acceleration (although we can do it if we are creative). So the librarian was the most wonderful resource for us. She also served on our collaborative team for the English department - as I did. The English teachers loved having us both on the team because she provided help with writing, research, and reinforcing grammar and reading skills and I was able to suggest acceleration activities for my students when they were in the "regular" classroom. It is unfortunate that so many of our librarians are taken for granted, used as cheap subs when the office can't find someone quickly, and generally ignored. I believe some of you are on the right track - making yourselves visible in a friendly and helpful way can go so far toward building the relationships with other teachers that are necessary for a good library program at the school. Oh - something else our librarian did - she used grant monies to purchase a collection of art reproductions that supported visual learning for all subject areas and hosted an open house for the entire community to come veiw the pieces. I believe it showed the whole community not only her willingness to support the school, but that the school was an interesting place to be.
When I was a secondary classroom teacher, I worked with my school media specialist all of the time, but that was certainly not the trend in my school. I was completing my MLS while I was teaching so it was natural for me to recognize how valuable her assistance could be. Since I had no geography teacher's curriculum guide to go along with my students' geography textbook or any maps/globes in my classroom, I had to develop most of my own lesson units in geography and world history. I used the media specialist as a resource person to make up for the lack of classroom materials. She was always very cooperative and helpful so why not utilize her expertise? I still brought in my own materials because I had them on hand at home but working with my media specialist also saved me money because if she didn't provide a resource for me, I had to provide it out of my own pocket. The only significant issue that I had to working with her was trying to pin down a mutual time to work with her because she had students coming in and out of the media center at any moment.
Honestly, I don't collaborate enough with our school librarian. We all schedule time at the beginning of the year to take our classes into the library for the library orientation. After the orientation, we schedule use of the computer lab or library for research projects. Our librarian is very resourceful because she sends us a wealth of information weekly. I guess I need to do better at collaborating with her so that my students benefit all around.
I think librarians are the most under utilized resource in the school. They have a wealth of resources to share and like you are looking for ways to keep costs under control for the district and you. If your librarian isn't familiar with Thinkfnity and Thinkfinity Community, I hope you will share its many resources with her.
Another point that I'd like to make, after watching teachers send their students to the library for a research project, is simply to join their librarian in this class activity. It isn't a time to relax or grade papers. It is a time to support the librarian and help your students locate good information. Perhaps your librarian doesn't allow this abuse, but I have seen this happen too often.
Our librarian was a wonderful, smiling individual who welcomed students every morning. She was the person they went to when they were sad or happy, when they had something exciting to share, and when they had need of some adult guidance.
My view of the role of the librarian/meia specialist is very positive! I want her on my side and in my school.
At my school I am blessed with administrative support that requires teachers to collaborate with me, and also blessed with terrific teachers who are excited about our team-taught activities. I have 513 students and no aide/clerk, so my time is stretched, but my teachers (including subs) are committed to teaming and collaborating. And not just the classroom teachers - our fine arts teachers also develop activities that extend classroom instruction into the media center and the arts classrooms. One of our system administrators (herself a former media specialist) always described the media center as the most expensive classroom in a school, and believed it should be heavily used every day.
It's probably easier in an elementary school (where I am), because you're more likely to be able to schedule entire classes frequently for fun stuff, but in the upper grades you might only see the reading/language arts folks. Flexible scheduling makes it challenging to formally "meet" with teachers but we do a lot of collaborative planning in the cafeteria and around the copy machine. You have to grab time when you can, and make the most of it.
I am a high school librarian serving approximately 550 students on campus and approximately 50 students at our alternative high school. I have always had flexible scheduling. My students love using their library and if it happens to be unavailable for some reason, it is a big deal to the student body.
I find my best collaborative planning happens with teachers with whom I have formed a relationship. That relationship allows me to, when discussing classroom instruction, offer my resources and assistance with that instruction. One way I discover what is going on in the classrooms is in my interaction with students. They will talk about assignments they are or will be working on. I sometimes then can talk with their teachers and make suggestutions that enhance their learning process. And never discount the snippet of conversation overhead in the teacher's lounge. Often, you can tell teachers what teaching, information, skills, or technology you have that they could use.
One example is an informational brochure a science teacher was planning for students to design covering a disease. They were literally going to cut and paste--scissors and glue--their information in pamphlet form. I offered to teach the students to use a template in a word processing program to produce those pamphlets and then helped them print them in color, double sided, as their final product for their grade. I developed a video tutorial, shared it with the class, posted it online for them to use to refer back to, whether at school or at home, and answered questions. I showed them how to use library databases for their research, how to cite their sources, and how to access library resources from any internet connection. It was one of the best experiences the students had ever had with this project and the teacher will not now want to do the lesson without me.
I collaborate with teachers by sending them e-mails to promote school library media center resources, meet with them during their plan time, discuss their projects when they reserve time in the library media center, talk with them about their needs while waiting at the copy machine or waiting for a cup of coffee. I love collaborating with teachers because I feel it increases student learning thoughout my building. I love my job!