Teacher Librarians empower students and staff by promoting learning, collaboration and development of critical thinking skills.
While all teachers are responsible for teaching, the role of a teacher librarian is not only to teach, but also to promote learning and the services of the library to students, teachers and administration. The most effective way to motivate students to develop life long learning skills is through collaboration. Through collaboration new ideas for the development of engaging resources will empower students to become independent thinkers. Collaboration also allows us to help students develop critical thinking skills. These skills are an important part of being a successful individual in the 21st century. Students must be able to read and critically evaluate resources for accuracy and biases, then take the information they have gained and apply it in real world situations.
To promote learning, teacher librarians help students develop the skills and abilities that will guide students into becoming lifelong learners. To fully promote learning, students must be motivated to care about their own learning. The best way to motivate students is through choice. Choice is important as each student’s preferences, interests, background and motivation may be very diverse (Nicholson, 2009). Giving students choice in decisions and self direction will increase their intrinsic motivation (Ryan & Devi, 2000). Every facet of education is tied into standards and helping students realize they can reach those standards. A teacher librarian’s wide range of knowledge and skills makes them a unique and valuable resource when aligning lessons with standards. Teacher librarians are able to view the curriculum through the eyes of not only a teacher, but also as a librarian and technology specialist. These multiple perspectives can help foster insight and connections between the standards and student learning.
The library will always be a source for learning about information and digital literacy. These are the skills that will take the students of today and help them become successful in the future. The best way for teachers to utilize the expertise and knowledge of a teacher librarian is to collaborate with the teacher librarian. Collaboration on lessons allows for the sharing of ideas and resources. These collaborative projects can allow students to focus on their own interests, which creates a deeper understanding and stronger motivation to learn the information being taught. Collaboration does not always have to involve students being in the library. As flexible and mobile as many teacher librarian positions are, learning can take place in many locations including in other classrooms or other places around the school. The teacher librarian is able to “recognize and connect the new learning standards and guidelines to content area curriculum standards, resulting in improved teaching and learning” (American Association of School Librarians, 2009, p. 9).
The teacher librarian can leverage the wide range of skills and interests of students to help them develop critical thinking skills not only in the library, but in their daily lives. Critical thinking requires student to apply higher order thinking skills to the information they are gathering. Students who think critically about their learning can find new and innovative ways to demonstrate their skills and knowledge by then reflecting on what they have learned. Critical thinking encourages students to explore connections between ideas that they read and examine the relationships to real world events. While students may or may not be learning these skills in their classrooms, teacher librarians can assist students in the development of their critical thinking skills.
Finally, the teacher librarian must promote the enjoyment of reading. The American Library Association (2009, p.33) states that “the school library program promotes reading as a foundational skill for learning, personal growth, and enjoyment.” While classroom teachers help students learn to read, in the library, the teacher librarian helps students learn to love reading.The library often is used as a resource for students to use for learning, but it also must be seen as a place to encourage reading for enjoyment.
Gamification, explained as a motivational tool in school libraries.
Historical fiction presentation. This presentation was created to help teachers and students understand what makes historical fiction what it is.
Historical fiction resources. A list of resources and additional information to assist teachers / librarians with understanding historical fiction and finding quality historical fiction resources.
Technology word wall cards. This set of technology word wall cards I created helps students understand technology terminology that they may encounter at home, at school or while working in their jobs.
American Library Association. (2009). Empowering learners guidelines for school library programs. Chicago, IL.: American Association of School Librarians.
Nicholson, S. (2012). A user-centered theoretical framework for meaningful gamification. Paper Presented at Games+Learning+Society 8.0, Madison, WI. Retrieved from http://scottnicholson.com/pubs/meaningfulframework.pdf
Ryan, R., Deci, E. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology. 25, p 54-67. doi:10.1006/ceps.1999.1020.