Teacher librarians work both inside and outside the school as an instructional partner, helping students develop 21st century literacy skills.
A teacher librarian has an important role of the instructional partner when working with teachers in the library, classroom and school. In their role as an instructional partner, the teacher librarian should “work with members of the school community to develop policies, practices and curricula to guide student learning” (AASL, 2009, p. 27). As an instructional partner in the schools, teacher librarians focus on three primary areas: those of collaboration within the school, collaboration outside the school, and 21st century literacy skills.
Collaboration is more than selecting books at a classroom teacher’s request. The best collaboration starts from the beginning of the school year. It involves planning, understanding student motivation, taking responsibilities and aligning to standards. As a leader in instructional planning it is the job of the teacher librarian to help classroom teachers understand how much a teacher librarian can help them and how easy it can be. Attending curriculum or team meetings can both help the teacher librarian understand what content the teachers are teaching as well as providing an avenue for the teacher librarian to offer suggestions for implementing instruction. While some teachers might be reluctant to collaborate, the teacher librarian should “offer them support at whatever level they will accept.” (Weisburg & Toor, 2007, p. 122). Teacher librarians can help teachers feel comfortable with the wide range of technology and tools that are available to assist with lessons. Collaboration should be seen as an easy and beneficial process that assists the teacher. It should make lessons more engaging for students and encourage student learning.
Collaboration doesn’t have to be limited to the school. The AASL states that “collaboration beyond the school walls” (AASL, 2009, p. 21) is important. There are a great many community resources that can help students discover their interests and aid teacher librarians. Collaboration with museums, community groups, public libraries, local colleges and universities can all provide enrichment to the school’s curriculum. Students can be shown additional connections to their learning through these connections to outside resources.
Teacher librarians work with students to develop their 21st century literacy skills. “Technological and information literacies, along with reading development and promotion, are basic to the mission of the 21st century school library.” (State Library of Iowa & Iowa Department of Education, 2007). These literacies, as defined by the American Library Association include digital literacy, visual literacy, textual literacy and technology literacy. 21st century skills will provide students with the foundation and structure to make connections to what they are learning in the library and classroom into their daily lives. 21st century literacies also include the understanding of copyright and fair use. It is important that students, teachers and administrators all fully understand the extent that copyright affects them both during and after their education.
The artifacts shared were developed through and for collaboration with other teachers. As an instructional partner it is important to assist and collaborate with other teachers to help them become familiar with how you can help them with their students both inside the classroom and in the digital world.
Book list: Books that were turned into Video Games. In working with an English teacher to encourage students to read, I created a list of books focusing on video games that were based off of books. http://videogames.teachlibrary.com/
Instructional plan supporting the Common Core. In this example, a set of lesson plans was developed with another teacher. The lesson plans provide information on how the library resources could be used in a 3rd grade unit studying sound.
Digital Learning Space. The digital learning space is an extension and online resources for a set of lessons for teaching 3rd grade students researching sound. The space was created to allow online collaboration between students, teachers, and the librarians asynchronously.
AASL (2009). Empowering learners: Guidelines for school library media programs. Chicago: American Library Association.
State Library of Iowa & Iowa Department of Education (2007). Iowa school library program guidelines: Libraries, literacy and learning for the 21st century. Des Moines: State Library of Iowa & Iowa Department of Education.
Weisburg, H.K., & Toor, R. (2007). New on the job a school librarian’s guide to success. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.