Being a classroom teacher and not (yet) a Teacher-Librarian, the responses below are based on my experiences as a teacher working with our school TLs and from research:
How can we, as educators and Teacher-Librarians share what we’ve learned with our wider communities of practices?
In our school, we are fortunate to have our TLs “share-out” at our monthly staff meetings. They share new literature they have purchased for the library (which is also sent out by email with cover pictures), new technologies they have purchased (Spheros for one) and new learnings from recent Pro-D they have attended. I also appreciated, on Kristi’s blog (2018), the idea of ensuring that the community is aware of what is going on in the library through various methods, such as, newsletters or media posts (I can see twitter working here as a way of posting pictures of learning going on in the library in collaboration with classroom teachers or even pictures of teachers and TLs working together).
How can we best respond to the needs of our staff, in their wide spectrum of abilities and experiences, with the most appropriate and useful professional development?
We are lucky in our school that our English TL is also our Pro-D rep. so, she (along with a committee, in which I participate) will often connect the two and ensure that the Pro-D is not just useful but is supported by the TLs through in-class assistance and professional literacy. With the TL being strong in understandings of the curriculum, I like the idea that Kristi (2018) presented in her blog of teachers and TLs connecting to build cross-disciplinary projects or inquiry. The TL would also be aware of what resources would be available in the library to support the inquiry. Gregory (2018) brings to light the myriad of publications available in the library that, perhaps, teachers had not considered, such as online publications, audiobooks, journals and magazines. However, when all is said and done, the key to providing the most useful and appropriate pro-d is in speaking with the teachers and determining their present needs or areas of concern; from there, a TL can build pro-d to support this learning.
What tools and strategies are best implemented to meet the pro-d of staff?
Again, from a teacher’s perspective, the tools and strategies that were best implemented by my TLs to support our Pro-D were ones borne through collaboration between the teachers and TLs. In terms of tools, it is wonderful that our TLs offer instructional support with our latest technology (we don’t have a lot but recently lost our computer lab to make a classroom and instead we have 24 chromebooks on a cart and 8 ipads). A few teachers were reticent when approaching chromebook use and have gladly accepted help from the TLs to have introductory chromebook use in the classroom. One tool/aide that I had not considered, but was brought to my attention by Dring (2014), was the Pro-D librarians can offer, not just to staff, but students as well, around how to assess and evaluate their research findings. Teaching skills of note-taking and paraphrasing to avoid plagiarism (which often happens with the younger students) is one of many strategies with which a TL could assist.
Typically, most school libraries had a “Professional Collection” of resources, journals, articles, publications and even technology that could be signed out by staff members at the school. How can we evolve and adapt this practice to be more responsive to the personalized needs of the educators, staff, admin, parents, and other members of our educational community?
Yes, like most schools, we have a collection of professional literature from which we can pull when, frankly, we remember! These resources were formally stored in the same location as our photocopier which, I think was very smart on the part of our TLs as, while I was waiting, I would peruse this collection and often swallow nuggets of teacher practice while my 30 copies were taking their time. Now, sadly, our collection is tucked away in the teachers’ Union building we are “borrowing” while our new library is being constructed, and the hours are not conducive for many of us since the building has to be locked by 4pm (before, I would wander around the library and professional collection at 8or 9pm, when all was quiet). What to do? I have to admit to wanting to steal an idea I read from a colleague’s recent blog post; Hannah (2018) presents the idea of having an online resource portfolio which would, especially now with the lack of access to our resources, allow teachers the opportunity to peruse these resources in advance of going down to our makeshift area. This is definitely an idea that I will be sharing with our TLs as I believe that our resources are underused. Other methods of making teachers and the community at large aware of what learning/professional development resources are available are: twitter; email; open houses; and, staff meetings. I would love to have some sessions at lunch hours or after school but, I recognize how busy we all so, the staff meeting “share-outs” do whet our appetites enough to seek out more should we be interested.
What can you do differently, or new, this year that better support their in-service?
Our TLs are good at supporting in-service initiative but, if I were a TL and had the opportunity to provide an in-service, I would see if I could arrange a “Teacher Pro-D Fair” of services that can support learning within our community. For example, I would have representatives from the local libraries (GVPL and VIRL), the museums (BC Museum, Emily Carr Museum), and nature reserves (Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary). Knowing curricular needs, I would try to have present representatives from Wild Arc, Science in Schools and Polar Bears International to name but a few organizations from where teachers could access information for free. I would also reach out to the community to see what parents, grandparents or other community members have skills they would share in supporting the children’s curricular needs which assisting the teacher in new learning. For example, I will be having the Stelley’s biology teacher come with his grade 12 students to show my 4/5 class how to do dissect pig organs from a pig pluck, since we are studying the systems in the human body. I also had a marine biologist in last year who taught us how seals communicate using different barks and calls then, to further that learning, I asked a parent of a former student, who is an environmental marine biologist, to extrapolate on how the environment humans are creating in our oceans is impacting marine animal communications. Through the support of my TL, I was able to get Earl Claxton Jr, an elder with our local Tsawout First Nations, to come in an discuss the importance of oral story telling in First Nations culture and why this tradition exists.
I could go on and on about the available resources in our community but, if our teachers are not aware or feel too overwhelmed to take time from their already busy days to research the opportunities, it would truly benefit the teachers if TLs were able to provide ways of accessing professional development. It could be a little fair, or just an email, or a database to which many people can add.
Dring, S. (September 18, 2014). Don’t overlook your school librarian, they’re the unsung heroes of literacy. The Guardian Teacher’s Blog, Teacher’s Network. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/sep/18/school-librarian-literacy-support-teacher-students
Gregory, J. (July 30, 2018). Collaborating With Your School Librarian: Ten ways to work with your highly trained colleagues in the library to enhance literacy instruction. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/collaborating-your-school-librarian
Hannah. (October 19, 2018). Start Spreading the News…Hannah’s Learning Library Blog Post. Retrieved from http://hannahslearninglibrary.blogspot.com/2018/10/start-spreading-news_19.html
Kristi. (July 4, 2018). 12 ways a school librarian can help teachers. 2 Peas & a Dog Blog. Retrieved from https://2peasandadog.com/2018/07/12-ways-a-school-librarian-can-help-teachers.html
Pihl, J., Skinstad van der Kooij, K. & Cecilie Carlsten, T. C. (2017). Teacher and Librarian Partnerships in Literacy Education in the 21st Century. Sense Publishers. Retrieved from https://www.sensepublishers.com/media/3078-teacher-and-librarian-partnerships-in-literacy-education-in-the-21st-century.pdf
Sacks, A. (May 29, 2018). Why School Librarians Are the Literacy Leaders We Need. Education Week – Teacher. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/whole_story/2018/05/why_school_librarians_are_lite.html
Feature image retrieved from https://alacn.org/connections/professional-development/
Wordle image retrieved from https://blog.kenbauer.me/2014/06/12/flipped-professional-development/