Posts Tagged curriculum

Tailored services – that’s how we roll

This fabulous cartoon came to me via Teacher Librarian Network on Facebook tonight.

Libraries of the future

What do you think?  Is this the future?  Swallow a pill and you’ve read a classic?  Have the characters in a book step out and become a projected holograph on the wall in front of you?  Robot library staff?  Will we reach a time when paper books are just a fond memory?

I personally think not – at least not for a while.  A quick pop quiz this week with a bunch of Year 10 classes as they passed through my booktalking clutches and quizzed them on their library usage – ours I know about, but I was interested in whether they used the public library.  Most did not, and it certainly depended on the kind of class they were.  Higher streams using it more than lower.  Students seem to have had a range of experiences when they’ve been mixing it up in the public libraries.  It seems staff there aren’t familiar with the kind of things they need, perhaps remembering from their school days what they required, or even more enthusiastically encouraging them to look at new things about which the particular librarian they approach is an expert.  I think there is some room for public librarians to get familiar with the kind of things our students study, to find out what topics are taught and to make contact with school librarians to talk curriculum matters.  What books work for subjects, what won’t work.  That at least is the feedback I got from my guys.  The quest for information to complete assignments often yields better results at school because we are working as a conduit between teaching staff and students, providing specific titles which match specific topics.  We know the level of the resources the students need, and we can tailor our advice to the right level.  (There is an exception to this though, one public library in our area is hugely popular with the students and has an ex school librarian manager, students report that they have loads of things that are useful and that they want to take home, that is awesome!)  However I know that often the experiences of students at public libraries when on a quest for information are often less successful than if they took their query to their school library.  The school library has purchased specifically for that curriculum area, we know the kind of information which will work for the student.

At school we are tailoring our stock specifically to our target audience, it is youth specific and responding to feedback from teachers and students.  No robots can do what we do!  In a school we are tailoring our services to our students, to the people we see in front of us every day.  Micro tailoring if you will.  This just isn’t possible when you are catering to a while town or city with a Public Library.  They have more buying power than we do, are able to stock more copies of popular items but are more general in their approach because they have to be but in terms of having a specific focus on youth and the curriculum then the school library is where it is at.  We should celebrate our specialness, and think about the students we have who are using the public library for homework and research and think about who is taking them there.  That would in most cases be a parent.  Do the parents think about the resources in the school library in the same way that they think about the public library?  I think that perhaps parents are assuming that information is information and that the public library has a youth section and therefore will be able to cater to the needs of their kids.  But that ain’t necessarily so bro!

Parents, your kids should use the school library as well as the public library, most times instead of the public library when it comes to resources for homework.  This is our specialty area.  Our whole library is a youth section!  This again makes me wonder.  How many parents ever set foot in a school library?  Not many I’m thinking.  There is scope for a parents information blitz here I think.  Something to mull further on.

 

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Who sees what you do?

Reading this article in the School Library Journal reminded me of a recent conversation with some English teachers at a conference where I presented on the topic of How To Get a Kick Ass Librarian. Those teachers told me that they really didn’t understand what it was that their librarian did all day. They told me that mostly their librarians were in their workroom and mostly sitting at their computers, even when there were classes in the librarie, and that they wouldn’t think of asking them for help finding them or the students resources, they didn’t seem to think that their librarians would want that.  Frankly, I was shocked!

I asked the teachers what they thought the librarians were doing on their computers and they told me that they had no idea.  One even told me she had worked in the librarians office for a period of weeks in order to find out what the librarian did all day and at the end of that time was no wiser. They told me that the librarians very rarely came out of their workrooms and then only to tidy shelves and maintain the library.  They said they thought there was a complete lack of understanding of what librarians did.  I think there is a complete misunderstanding of what librarians can do!

This is a problem though.  I investigated further.  I spoke to English teachers at our school.  I asked them if they had experienced ‘the librarian is in the workroom and is staying there syndrome’  and there was an overwhelming yes response to that.  They suggested that it is not normal practice in schools for librarians to be out in the library assisting them and their students.  So, all the current talk in SLANZA circles about EBP and proving how what you do makes a difference to teaching and learning in your school is for naught if school librarians are not out in the library and making that difference, but instead are sitting in front of their computers doing …. something that is probably very useful to them, but not to the students and teachers they are supporting.  And we are support staff, we are supposed to be supporting those people.  Yes through resourcing the library (perhaps that is what some of that computer time is about) but also through working with the staff at your school, alongside them and therefore alongside the students – you know the ones whose learning you are supposed to be making a difference to.  You aren’t going to make any difference to them at all if you sit in your office all day.  Yes you have to do the cataloguing, the processing and all those other library business things, but you have to make a difference and the only way you’ll do that is to get out there and be with the people using the library.

Image: ‘Lego Blogger Picture’
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25969181@N00/375779781
Found on flickrcc.net

Now I’m not suggesting that you are a teacher, or even a teacher aide.  I am suggesting that you are the best resource in the library.  That you know heaps of stuff about what you have in there, where you can get more, that you are a key person with a distinct role in the school, come on folks, talk yourselves up, get out of the office and live up to the talk.  You know your school needs you, needs your skills, needs the resources you provide.  Get out, sell yourself, sell your services and get out of that workroom.  You can do the workroom stuff when classes are not in the library.

So who does see what you do?  Is it only you?  Who would notice if you didn’t do what you do?  How many of those things you’ve always done are vital to the students and teachers experience of the library?  Have a think about it.

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The Coach in the Library

This article is doing the rounds on the Australian School Library Listsev at the moment.  It makes good reading and would certainly provide a nice meaty musing for someone who was wanting to prove their worth in the school library.  The article is mainly talking about primary (elementary) level school libraries but works equally well at secondary level.

“Although the classroom teacher is generally the expert on the content standards, the school librarian is the expert on the process of finding, evaluating, using, creating, and sharing information. Bringing the two together engenders powerful learning opportunities for students and provides professional development to teachers.

After all, part of ensuring that students and teachers have access to the resources of the library is making sure teachers know how to use these resources to enhance instruction. I have been a school librarian/media specialist for 14 years. Throughout my career, I’ve seen many librarians—including myself—guide teachers by modeling how to use cutting-edge resources, leading small-group presentations, and providing one-on-one instruction.”

The final paragraph of the article should give those who think they can do more to engage with their staff a little to mull over

In these hard economic times, schools must use each staff member to the fullest. School librarians have great knowledge about 21st century skills, technology, literacy, and much more. Schools should take advantage of the opportunities this knowledge store can create and run with them—for the benefit of our students.

This is the key.  Are you doing all you can?  Have you upskilled yourself?  Have you really engaged with the school ICT PD?  Are you out there selling your new and well developed skills?  Do you know what topics are being taught in every subject, and do you have the print resources, and the online resources to cater for your staff and student needs in these areas? Do you REALLY talk to your staff, not just in the staff room over a cuppa, but a meaningful discussion on how you can help support the curriculum?

If you have rested on your laurels and waited for technology to come and find you instead of making it your business to get out there and get into it yourself you are going to get left behind, and if you are not relevant to what your students and staff need, you should be seriously worried about your job.

What do you think?  How easy is it to engage with your teaching staff about what you can do for them?  Do you have some good examples of what has worked for you?  Teachers, can you offer suggestions?

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Buffy Hamilton on Librarians working with teaching staff

The post on the Unquiet Librarian Buffy Hamilton’s blog is called The Librarian as a Catalyst and Learning Specialist in K-12

English teacher Lisa Kennedy and librarian Buffy Hamilton discuss partnerships for learning between the librarian and classroom teacher; they also share how this partnership between librarian and teacher influences Lisa’s evolution as a teacher and her instructional design and in turn, Buffy’s practice as a librarian.

Looking for opportunities to sell your skills to teaching staff, to get them working with you collaboratively can be really challenging.  Sometimes they just don’t see what you can do to help them.  It is comforting to know that even Librarians such as Buffy Hamilton have grown to see their role working with teachers as being intrinsic to their school libraries from not really seeing that as part of their jobs.  Working with teachers is great on so many levels, not the least of these is that teachers see the librarian as a fellow professional with knowledge and skills which can be used in classroom as well as the library.  It is great when you get teaching staff to understand the full range of things the librarian can be useful for, all those honed skills which we use daily for search, management of information and research can be shared with teaching staff and then flow on to students which leads to better skills overall.

I know it’s really hard to get these collaborations started.  Anybody got some great ideas to share about starting points for collaboration.  Examples where it’s gone really well that others might be able to use?

You will see more videos on this theme in the related videos at the end.

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Learning from the Public Library sector

Wonderful, thoughtful blog post here from Tania Sheko on her Brave New World blog about time spent at a PD session recently where relevancy and trends in public libraries were discussed by such luminaries as David Lee King.

There is much we can take from this for school libraries which is being actively pursued by our colleagues in Public Libraries.  It is about taking brave steps I think.  Trying new things and seeing what is possible if you break down the barriers of your own perceptions and get outside your comfort zone.

Read the entire article but this is the slideshare from Hamish Curry from the State Library of Victoria.  Check out sideshare below and put it with the twitter stream from the blogpost and you will get the gist.  I love slides 18 to 23.  Especially slide 22!  It sings to me!

Here is the link to the presentations David Lee King did in Australia

If you were looking for an awesome school library advocate to follow on Twitter then I heartily recommend Tania Sheko.  She is all kinds of awesome she is @taniatorikova

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Education under construction

A short documentary on the tukutahi approach at Wellington High School in New Zealand.  The principal, Prue Kelly is the main speaker in the video.

Lots of interesting teacher comment in this video about teaching and learning  in New Zealand, how it hasn’t changed, how it has changed and how it can change in the future.  This might be something to share with your staff or SMT.  It was made by a Year 12 student at Wellington High School in October 1010.  Interesting comment on learning styles, inquiry learning and the changes that technology is bringing to education.

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Judy O’Connell showing, telling and teaching

One of the absolute best things about the SLANZA conference for me was the chance to meet Judy O’Connell.  I’ve been following her writing on her blog Hey Jude for a long long time and night after night I watch with amazement as she shares links galore on Twitter and now she is actively posting on the SLANZA Facebook page.  I like her take on the world, the way she shows practical ways of using the web 2.0  technology she is keen on.  I like the fact that she is an Australian Teacher Librarian who has worked in school libraries for a long time and who is fully aware of the environment we work in, the challenges we face and she likes practical solutions to everyday problems, and best of all she likes to share her knowledge.  She now works as a Lecturer at Charles Sturt University and is training today’s students to be tomorrows education leaders.

Judy loves technology and she loves sharing technology and I love people like that.  I was really lucky to get to ‘play’ with Judy during one of the workshop sessions (Who? Wagging? Me? Never!) and that was time really valuably spent and I learnt such a lot in that time it was just staggering.  From impromptu sessions around Judy’s iPad outside the auditorium with a bunch of fellow conference goers, to her fantastic lightening speed workshop Judy shared so much information and ‘stuff you can use’ in a very short three days that my brain is still spinning.

Below is a link to the google doc that Catherine Lee and I typed in tandem (Yay for Google docs) while we sat in the workshop (Miriam did the tweeting).  If you couldn’t get to conference we really hope that the doc gives you an in to the feel of the workshop and that you can use some of the things in there.  Click here to go to the document.  As it states in the document everything is available in the Livebinder.  There is so much in there that it will take me a long time to work through it all, I keep finding new treasures.

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