I am actually quite pleased with the current state of reference services for students in the our school library, however the reference services for teachers is another story! The present condition of the teacher resource reference is not meeting the needs of the current staff, it is underused and rarely accessed. There is such a mix-mash of resources crammed into one small space in the back corner of the library, housing everything from fabulous to laughable resources. We have several duplicate resources because staff members and previous teacher-librarians have made purchases without consulting the existing inventory, further illustrating the lack of use. As it functions right now (or doesn’t!) these resources are rarely used, and most members of staff are unaware of the resources available to them.
While personally, and professionally I can see that this section of the library is failing, I found it incredibly interesting to assess them using the Achieving Information Literacy: Standards for School Library Programs in Canada resource. While the areas for evaluating this specific area in the library are limited, I did find that technically we are either considered “acceptable” or “exemplary” which makes me realize the success of this section isn’t determined solely on what exists but more in how it is presented and marketed.
If teachers are unaware of the quality resources that exist it means they are not using them, and therefore not putting the lesson plans, and teaching practices to use, which of course affects student learning in a trickle down effect. Classroom budgets are small and are often not used towards purchasing teacher resources like the ones that are found in our school library. Many teachers will not go beyond the four walls of their school, or recommendations from trusted colleagues when it comes to professional development references, therefore, if those references aren’t being accessed the effect on students learning must also be questioned. Teachers need exposure to quality reference resources and collegial dialogue as a means of bettering and reinvigorating one’s teaching practice. Ultimately, if teachers aren’t pursuing lifelong learning their students will suffer. The current system for housing these materials allows for them to go unnoticed, and become forgotten; we need to illuminate the teacher resources so that staff are more inclined to access them, breathe some life into that section of the library and develop professional development as whole school initiative.
The change will take place gradually over the course of the year by weeding through materials, determining what holes there are in the current stock, and inviting staff members to weigh in on what should stay, go and be purchased. This is a school wide issue, therefore an invitation will be extended to all staff, however, it will ultimately only involve those who are interested and participating on their own accord.
Communication will take place formally through verbal updates at staff meetings, and casually in encounters between myself and the staff. It will also take place nonverbally through presence and exposure of a rotating resource display in the staff room.
1 a.) Teacher-Librarian Weeding. As the first step I will pull all of the teacher resources to evaluate them. Using an abbreviated and adapted version of Riedling’s evaluation criteria I will tag resources based on three categories: Yes, No, Maybe.
1 b.) Collaborative Weeding. I will personally invite at least one trusted teacher from each team to join you in the weeding process so that there is representation from each grade, while also offering a general invitation to all members of staff who are interested in being a part of the process. This will provide a starting point for professional conversations around the learning materials. For this event I will provide drinks, snacks and make it a fun after-school activity that depending on the depth of conversations could be a weekly event for several weeks.
2 a.) Illuminating the Quality Resources in the Building through Direct Communication with Staff.
Highlight 2-3 resources at each staff meeting that are worthy of mention. Once resources start to actually be used ask the staff members to give a quick review thumbs up/down why? etc. at staff meetings, so that multiple voices are speaking on the resources in our building.
Check in with staff, what would they like to see in the resource section? What resources could support their teaching? Find out what is happening in the classrooms and make suggestions for resources that could positively influence the learning within those lessons.
2 b.) Illuminating the Quality Resources in the Building through Indirect Communication with Staff. Create a display showcasing teacher resources based on themes that will be on rotation in the staff room. Include a sign out sheet so staff can remove resources, but be accountable for them. Check in with teachers after use about their thoughts, and ask them to share a two-minute review with staff at the next staff meeting.
The follow-up for this plan will be to check in with teachers for feedback about the changes. The success will be determined by the use of the resources: Are people using the resources? Has circulation increased in this area? Are professional conversations happening around the school?
Give summary of findings in last staff meeting/ get together of the year and ask for feedback and request direction for following school year.