Librarians, do you know your teachers? Teachers, do you know your librarian? Have you had a chance to work together yet? I’m not referring to students’ regular visits to the library to check out books. I mean, really work together?
As teachers and administrators, we’re missing something in our teaching and learning community, but we can’t quite put our finger on it. So we cast the searchlight into the night sky, not quite knowing who exactly we’re looking for. But working quietly alongside our superhero faculty and staff is a super-secret weapon: the school librarian. They have the uncanny ability to swoop in and affect change, boost morale, and impact student success. They are a crucial part of the learning landscape on campus. Perhaps they are the missing link.
But how do you draw the school librarian into the conversation? Honestly, it won’t take much. They have been waiting for an opportunity to help. Remember, your campus librarian was first a teacher. Let’s take a look at four ways teachers and librarians can partner to impact student learning in big ways.
1. Build Teacher-Librarian Relationships.
Break out of your shell. Not comfortable mingling? Me neither. But just as we step into a frame when preparing to teach, we must break out of our shell to develop collegial relationships.
Librarians, seek a place and time to meet teachers on their turf or invite them to a teacher preview next time you unbox new books or have a book fair. Teachers, your school librarian is eagerly awaiting your invitation to collaborate, I promise. Invite them to your classroom, visit the library, tell them about an upcoming unit, schedule a meeting, or ask them to come to your next team meeting.
In my first library, I connected with a seasoned 6th grade social studies teacher who was a champion for the library and innovative instruction. We collaborated on an upcoming unit on Pompeii, agreeing that I would launch the unit for all of his classes. We worked together to craft the activities and resources for not only the launch but the entire unit. This led to opportunities to collaborate with 7th grade Texas History, 6th grade ELAR and Science, Music Theory, AVID, and much more.
2. Work Together to Meet Goals.
Sometimes the best advocates for teacher-librarian partnerships are the instructional leaders on campus. Librarians, discuss how you can support the campus goals with campus administrators. Review the campus needs assessment, standardized test scores, or other data points, and come to the table with ideas already in hand. Not sure where to access the information or how to disaggregate the data? Identify a campus department chair, content specialist, or instructional coach and ask for their support. Seek professional development events that focus on interpreting student performance data, structuring and implementing campus goals, and trends in instructional strategies for diverse learners. Teachers, don’t shy away from inviting your librarian into discussions about data to see how they can support you and your students in meeting learning goals.
3. Expand Your PLC.
Librarians, ask to attend PLCs (professional learning communities) in whatever form they appear on campus: by subject area, grade level, academic teams, special programs, etc. Teachers, invite the librarian to your PLC. What better way for librarians and teachers to discuss upcoming lessons or instructional concerns than within the structure of the PLC. Even if the librarian begins as an observer only, once they learn the structure, vision, and dynamics of each PLC, they will likely transition through PLC roles toward being an active participant. Librarians can bring ideas for integrating media and information literacy skills into the curriculum at the course, unit, or lesson level to meet students’ intellectual needs and boost student engagement.
4. Learn with Librarians.
Librarians, you are poised to be the campus ed tech gurus. Though you can demonstrate your aptitude in the lessons you lead in the library, and across campus, your greatest impact may be through conducting professional development sessions. This checks multiple boxes. It hones your presentation skills in front of your peers, provides you with the opportunity to develop lessons integrating technology into active teaching and learning, and presents teachers with the learner’s perspective on integrating tech tools into lessons. Though these sessions could occur on a dedicated PD day, they could also be short demos embedded in the next faculty meeting or PLC. Teachers, are you looking for a digital tool to support learning goals? Ask your librarian! They may already know of a perfect tool, or they can find you one.
Need a superhero to boost student engagement and achievement? Draw your campus librarian into the teaching and learning conversation.
For more ideas, check out:
- Collaborating With Your School Librarian
- Strategies for Successful School Librarian and Teacher Collaboration
- Powerful Partnerships: Librarian-teacher collaborations yield robust, original ideas
- Toward a Theory of Collaboration for Teachers and Librarians,
- Teachers + Teacher Librarians = Better Learning
- Future Ready Librarians