Teacher Librarians: Putting forward clear and palatable priorities.

It is important for the Teacher Librarian as a leader within the school community to effectively communicate his/her priorities. As a part of our role, it is crucial for TLs to be constantly highlighting and reinforcing the connection between school libraries and student achievement, the work we do that is a vital contribution to student learning success, and the role we perform behind the scenes in creating a rich learning environment full of wonderful resources that support the curriculum and enhance the school environment. In performing these duties our role encompasses a certain amount of advocacy. We are educating our colleagues and the greater school community in the importance of our presence and the existence of the library.

This requires a certain amount of planning and diplomacy in putting forward our priorities and being able to successfully gain what we require.

So, how can Teacher Librarians make our priorities both clear and palatable to the school community?

–          To begin with, TLs should be clear of their role and their vision for the direction and expectations they have planned for the school library. These should be portrayed and demonstrated constantly by the TL, and as a result, the TL’s priorities will be well known to the school community.

–          Become an advocate for your school library at staff meetings. Put forward items on the agenda to be discussed, open the floor for teachers, support staff, coordinators, and principal(s) to put forward their needs and expectations of the services the library and TL provides. This inclusion and collaboration will allow priorities and changes to be accepted more positively than decisions made without consideration of colleague points of view.

–          Initiate an open line of communication; be it through email, online, suggestion slip, or verbal, where colleagues are able to put forward ideas/suggestions and gain knowledge of what is happening in the library. Decisions and priorities made with reflection upon the communications of others allows the school community to see the transparency of the TL and this will enable the acceptance of these decisions.

–          Consider the creation of a ‘Friends of the Library’ group which can be similar to the P&C group but focuses upon the needs of the library and works towards increasing the positive image of the library within the school community.

–          Create a School Library Charter of which includes the assessed needs and expectations of the school community and recognises and states how the school library will meet these.

–          Keep school library website up to date with accomplishments and goals that have been met, as well as explanation of the future direction the library is taking. Create Term/Yearly reports upon what has been accomplished by teaching and learning within the library, as well as any significant library developments.

Todd (2003) put forward that ‘when teachers and school librarians work together, principals and the school board see firsthand evidence of your value. And when teachers see that you make a difference in student learning, they become your biggest advocates.’ I believe that my strategies support this statement, that the collaboration in the initial stage of prioritising can create more positive outcomes in the way the TL’s priorities are accepted.

 

References

Todd, R. J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. In School Library Journal. Retrieved 28 March 2013 from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA287119.html

 

 

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