AASL launches Knowledge Quest January 27, 2015Posted by Jen Habley in AASL News, Check this out!, Knowledge Quest.
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Please visit the AASLBlog in its new home as part of Knowledge Quest.
The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announces the launch of a companion website for its professional journal, Knowledge Quest. A new vehicle to empower school librarians as they transform learning for their students, the new site offers breaking news, inspired blogs, and encourages conversations to inspire insightful professionals and stronger communities. Knowledge Quest can be viewed at knowledgequest.aasl.org.
“The new Knowledge Quest makes it easy to bring helpful professional development resources into your weekly reading routine,” said Rebecca Morris, Knowledge Quest editorial board chair. “Explore a featured topic each day of the week — Monday Means Leadership, Technology Tuesday, What to Read Wednesday, Let’s Get Together Thursday, and Friday Finds – or just browse the most popular posts to engage with diverse themes and current news in school libraries.”
Focused on enhancing professional practice, the new site builds on the strong foundation provided by AASL’s bimonthly journal. Knowledge Quest articles focus on the integration of theory and practice in school librarianship and new developments in education, learning theory and relevant disciplines. The new site will continue this tradition and also offer informal opportunities for professional conversation.
“If you want a go-to site for news, blogs, technology tips and more, check out the new KQ site,” said Terri Grief, AASL president. “It has literally everything you need to start conversations about library issues. It is a great place to find your place in this community. Check it out! I think you will love it.”
“AASL is very excited to launch the new Knowledge Quest website,” said Meg Featheringham, editor. “It’s a great way for AASL members to blog and be involved in the only national professional membership organization focused on school librarians and the school library community.”
AASL members interested in blogging for the new Knowledge Quest can submit their application online at www.ala.org/aasl/kq/bloggers.
The American Association of School Librarians www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.
Tags: collaborative culture, Eisenhower Matrix, Let's Get Together Thursday, strategic abandonment
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Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower has some advice for school librarians: “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Actually, this advice is good for all professions interested in reflective, continuous improvement. So much so that Stephen Covey developed the idea into quadrants called “the Eisenhower Matrix” to help people evaluate their daily tasks and prioritize them for efficiency and effectiveness.
But how does this apply to school librarians? Well, we are constantly faced with dealing with the urgent thing in front of us–putting us in a reactive mode (see last week’s post)–rather than making time to be proactive and getting to the things that are important. We need to take time to visit this matrix as we’re evaluating our programs and seeking balance between them. By achieving that balance, we are building a collaborative culture and a program that is at once responsive to the community and leading the community in forward thinking practice.
If you find your days are spent more like a reference or circulation staff member and less like a library administrator, you need to take some time to look at your tasks and reevaluate them on the Eisenhower Matrix. Here are a few tips to get you on track:
Start by recording your daily activities on a calendar for an average week. At the end of the week, do a break down of how your day is spent. You might be surprised by how little you are doing the important things because the urgent things don’t go away.
Next, identify unneeded, outdated, or inefficient tasks for strategic abandonment. When I was a new librarian, our district director made a huge impact on me by asking me to figure out my hourly rate by dividing my annual salary by number of contract days and hours in a required work day. I was actually somewhat surprised.
Finally, figure out how to let those tasks go away, be delegated, or simply wait until you can come back to them. When I realized that circulation was taking up almost all of my time I wasn’t directly teaching a class, I knew I had to make a change. I needed to stop guarding the circulation desk and personally checking in and re-shelving all library books myself to be sure it was done correctly. So, I turned it over to student aides and parents. Sure it took time to train them, and I’m not ashamed to say that the quality control freak in me had a really difficult time letting second graders check in books. However, the gain to me in moving me from circulation tasks to teaching and working with students and teachers was the most important thing I could have done for my very heavy circulating library.
I sometimes laugh at how seriously I take my work, answering emails in the evenings and on weekends. It’s not like I’m a surgeon on call for an organ transplant. But the customer service component of our profession makes it hard for us to not respond, to let even little things go, to go above and beyond wherever beyond actually is to help our community with their library needs. The urgent things, our patron’s immediate needs, are not unimportant. However, if we spend all of our time on them, they detract from the balance of getting to those important things–creating a library program that is the center of a successful school, where teachers come to collaborate, and students come to engage in authentic learning.
Check out Covey’s book if you need a refresher or would like to learn more. Originally published in 1989, it’s a classic of time management that has stood the test of time.
from Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Friday Finds January 9, 2015Posted by Judy Deichman in Check this out!.
Tags: Technology, videos
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Looking for a way to get creative with your 6th – 12th grade students? Here is a contest that is just what you have been looking for. Sponsored by The National Road Safety Foundation and Scholastic, this video contest lets students create a public service announcement to prevent distracted walking in America. There are prizes for the students and the sponsoring educator receives a one-year subscription to any Scholastic Magazine.
The website also has lessons and handouts that we can use in our libraries to educate our students about distracted walking. The website has past winners, so you can see the quality of those videos and use those examples in your lessons and as primers for students creating their own videos. Just a great opportunity to stretch our students’ skills and be creative at the same time.
The deadline is February 10th to submit entries, so get busy!
Let’s Get Together Thursday – Building a Balanced Program January 8, 2015Posted by Jennifer Laboon in Check this out!.
Tags: collaborative culture, Let's Get Together Thursday
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It’s a new year–time to reflect on the past year and plan for improvement! Taking this opportunity to see how your program fits in the culture of your campus is a very valuable exercise. Where do you fall in meeting the needs of your students, staff, and community? In December, I wrote about finding the sweet spot in being responsive and proactive to build a collaborative culture around our library programs. The more I think about this notion, the more I think it’s possibly the thing that sets a successful, relevant program apart from others.
Imagine the librarian who shows up each fall for a new year, unlocks the door, turns on the lights, and waits for patrons to show up needing library services. Students and teachers come to the library for books and materials, to use computers and other media equipment, all of which the librarian has purchased and assists them in using. The librarian prides him/herself on being service oriented and providing good customer service to the campus community.
Now imagine a library program that is structured to include heavily scheduled classes, where the librarian teaches a prescribed curriculum and plans a variety of specific literacy activities such as book fairs and reading incentives. The librarian prides him/herself on being a planner, and creating programs that students and teachers need in order to be successful.
Finally, imagine a vibrant library program that is the center of the campus’ academic and social life.
Where does this fit between the first two images? I’d like to suggest that there is a spectrum of approaches to librarianship. Somewhere between being a proactive person and being a reactive person is a balanced approach. Which way do you lean? What qualities define 2014 in your library? Consider some of the pro’s and con’s for each:
Pro’s for reactive style:
- Meets the needs of the patrons at point of need.
- Schedule flexible and adaptable.
- Less planning, control over work.
Con’s for reactive style:
- Easily replaced by non-certified staff.
- Potential to be seen as irrelevant or lazy.
- Perception of lack of vision.
Pro’s for proactive style:
- Appearance of being busy.
- Visibility of programming.
- Structured schedule of activities/classes.
Con’s for proactive style:
- Too rigid, inflexible.
- Vision not aligned with the campus’ needs.
- Difficulty collaborating with others.
Somewhere between the two styles lives that balance we should all strive to achieve. I know good librarians who lean toward the edge of each of these extremes, but those that are truly great offer both observant, responsive service, and also are out there developing and implementing the innovative programs that our communities need but would never have thought to ask for.
Let’s build those collaborative cultures, lead proactively, respond to the needs of our campuses, and be the librarians that our schools cannot live without in 2015.
What to Read Wednesday – The Nerdy Book Club Awards January 7, 2015Posted by Karin Perry in Check this out!.
Tags: book lists, Nerdy Book Club, What to Read Wednesday
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Each year the Nerdy Book Club reads thousands of books. Some of those books are okay. Some of those boos are good. And, some of those books are GREAT. The Nerdy Book Awards was established to highlight some of the great books the club read during the year. How many of these have you read?
I promise you, out of all of these lists, you will definitely be able to find something to read on this What to Read Wednesday.
Monday Means Leadership: SMART Goals for the New Year January 5, 2015Posted by Deanna Harris in Check this out!.
Tags: Monday Means Leadership, SMART goals
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Many of us make resolutions and set goals for the new year for our personal lives, and the beginning of a new calendar year is a great time to assess our professional goals. In an educational setting, we tend to set goals from July through June. But a progress check or a reassessment in January is a good idea to make sure we are still on track for the school year or to make adjustments in the goals that we set six months ago.
We know that those often vague and general personal resolutions, such as lose weight or read more or watch less television, all sound like great goals but they lack specifics and accountability. Our professional goals may include redesigning our library space or working on additional certification and licenses. These are great goals, but they, too, lack specifics about how we are going to accomplish the goals.
Setting SMART goals often increases our chances of succeeding at meeting our goals. SMART goals are defined as follows:
- Specific – the goal clearly states what is to be accomplished or completed
- Measurable – the goal is quantifiable
- Attainable – the goal is doable, within reach
- Results-focused or realistic – the goal has definite outcomes that are achievable
- Time-bound – the goal has a specific time frame
Many schools set SMART goals for their instructional programs and with their school improvement committees. We as individuals can use this SMART goal tool to set both personal and professional goals that are achievable.
For more information about SMART goals, here are a few resources to check out:
- Wikipedia, SMART goal criteria
- Top Achievement, Creating SMART Goals
- University of Virginia, Writing SMART Goals
What to Read Wednesday – My Top 14 YA Books of 2014 December 31, 2014Posted by Karin Perry in Check this out!.
Tags: What to Read Wednesday
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GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by Andrew Smith
Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.
To make matters worse, Austin’s hormones are totally oblivious; they don’t care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He’s stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it’s up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.
I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.
GLORY O’BRIEN’S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE by A.S. King
Would you try to change the world if you thought it had no future?
Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities — but not for Glory, who has no plan for what’s next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way… until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions—and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying.
A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do everything in her power to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.
THE INFINITE SEA by Rick Yancey
How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.
Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.
Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.
CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein
Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
CHAOS by Sarah Fine
With Juri in control and everything in absolute chaos, Lela plunges into the depths of hell to free Malachi from creatures that have waited decades to exact their revenge. But the Judge has her own way of doing things, and Lela must work with Ana, the new Captain, who has a very personal mission of her own. Together, they infiltrate the most horrifying realm either has yet encountered in the Shadowlands—the bitter landscape ruled by the Mazikin.
The stakes could not be higher, and Lela must accept the help—and love—of people she barely knows or trusts. As alliances and loyalties shift and she realizes the soul she came to save isn’t the only one in need of rescue, can Lela summon the strength to see the fight through to the very end?
THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST by Holly Black
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…
As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
CURED by Bethany Wiggins
Now that Fiona Tarsis and her twin brother, Jonah, are no longer beasts, they set out to find their mother, with the help of Bowen and a former neighbor, Jacqui. Heading for a safe settlement rumored to be in Wyoming, they plan to spread the cure along the way–until they are attacked by raiders. Luckily, they find a new ally in Kevin, who saves them and leads them to safety in his underground shelter. But the more they get to know Kevin, the more they suspect he has ties to the raiders. He also seems to know too many details about Jacqui and her family—details that could endanger them all. For the raiders will do anything they can to destroy the cure that would bring an end to their way of life.
SPLINTERED and UNHINGED by A.G. Howard
Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
POISON PRINCESS and ENDLESS KNIGHT by Kresley Cole
She could save the world—or destroy it.
Sixteen-year-old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.
But she can’t do either alone.
With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?
Who can Evie trust?
As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side.
PURE, FUSE, and BURN by Julianna Baggott
We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.
Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.
ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE and CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES by Gail Carriger
It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.
WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
LAILAH by Nikki Kelly
The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.
On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.
In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?
Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.
What are some of your favorites from 2014?
Tags: What to Read Wednesday
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How do you like reading free ebook? Well, you have until the end of the month to read some if you go to the Pulseit webpage at http://www.pulseit.com/books. Every day during the month of December, Pulseit makes a title available to read for free. So, on your smartphone or tablet, visit the website, click READ NOW under the book of the day, and bookmark the page. You’ll then be able to go back and read the book just in case you can’t read it on the day it is available for free.
Today THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young is the free book. I really liked it.
Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.
Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.
Here are the other books coming up:
December 25th – HUSH, HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick
December 26th – SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson
December 27th – CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare
December 28th – POISON PRINCESS by Kresley Cole
December 29th – COMPULSION by Martina Boone
December 30th – There is a poll up allowing readers to choose which book will be available.
December 31st – AFTERWORLDS by Scott Westerfeld
Take a look at everything they offered this month. Be looking for this next year.
Friday Finds December 19, 2014Posted by Judy Deichman in Check this out!.
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Here is a great Friday Find! It is a contest that our school librarians can collaborate with their teachers on and possibly win prizes for the teacher and books for the library. One of your teachers could be the next Magic Tree House Educator of the Year. You can enter online or mail your entry. An essay is all that is required and it is only 500 words! You have to detail how Magic Tree House books can help teachers meet their standards and objectives across the curriculum. This is perfect for the elementary school librarian. It may give you that open door to reach that teacher that hasn’t collaborated with you before and you can highlight your skills at meeting objectives and standards with books.
For information, rules, and to enter the contest see:
Entries are due by February 13, 2015.
Tags: collaborative culture, leadership team, Let's Get Together Thursday
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Often, when we talk about building collaborative cultures for school librarians, we talk about the importance of being seen as a teacher peer. But this week, let’s talk about being seen as a collaborative member of a campus leadership team. I argue that as valuable as our teaching roles are to our campuses, what sets us apart is that we are more than teachers, and those additional roles we play are critical to the evolution of our profession.
New librarians are often caught off guard by the level of responsibility and decision-making that is expected of us. We are used to our classroom responsibilities like daily lesson planning and assessing student learning. But we immediately have budgetary decisions, management of sizable campus assets in the resources our libraries’ house, programing and scheduling concerns, and a need to see the big picture in ways we aren’t used to needing to do.
Other librarians may have been at their campuses for a while and have fallen into a rut of low expectations or outdated practices, and find it difficult to break out of these, and implement new approaches more aligned with empowering students to learn in a digital setting.
What can you do to develop your administrator voice and be seen as a peer of administrators? How can you build your confidence when you’ve been beaten down and need to pull yourself up?
First, be informed and confident about what current practice looks like–develop a personal learning network and follow innovative librarians; read blogs, articles, and research about student behaviors; and participate in professional learning about how others are transforming their practice. You also must have a vision in mind and be able to draw from current research to support it. If you want to be seen as a valued member of the leadership team, you must be able to speak knowledgeably about how school libraries are more crucial than ever. If you can’t articulate this, then be prepared to have those who aren’t experts in libraries dictate your program. Knowledge is power, or at least, confidence-building.
Second, strike a balance between being responsive and being proactive. We are librarians, which means for the most part, we’re service-oriented people who enjoy being what people need us to be. That is a good thing, for many reasons, but if we’re only that, we can’t ever advance our cause toward bigger and better things. That said, if you’re only ever doing your own thing, and not looking for ways to support and participate in bigger campus initiatives, you’re not making the difference you could be, besides not being seen as a team player. I know many of us dread department meetings, faculty meetings, whole campus professional development–things that in many ways, aren’t about us. Take those opportunities to listen and look for opportunities–those are the places where you see how your puzzle piece fits into the campus’ design and isn’t a stand-alone (and easily eliminated) side puzzle.
Third, value yourself. It’s the time of year when registration is open for our annual state library conference. I cannot tell you how sad it makes me to hear librarians say, “I know the principal won’t let me go. I’m not even going to ask.” Let’s face it, there are those years when that does seem to be the landscape of the school. But if you don’t ask and make a case for why you need to attend professional development, you’re devaluing yourself as a professional. All professions must participate in continuing education. In Texas, in fact, our certification depends on it. If you don’t ask for time, financial support, and approval from your principal to attend these events, you are saying that you’re not worth it. Make your case, attend, and then show your principal why sending a librarian to a conference or professional learning event is a great return on his or her investment by implementing what you learned and teaching it to others.
Fourth, be a problem solver. Administrators are constantly bombarded with problems. When you interact with your administrator, don’t ever come to him or her with a problem to solve when it comes to your library. You are the administrator of your library program. You need to evaluate the problem, determine possible solutions, choose the one that best protects the interest of the students, and then present it to your administrator, if he or she even needs to weigh in. Your principal needs to know that you can make those decisions for yourself, or he or she will make them for you. The principal most likely doesn’t tell the football coach how to run plays, because the coach doesn’t ask. If you don’t make good, informed decisions about your library, you are declaring yourself open to micromanaging. A principal will not value you as a member of campus leadership if you can’t manage your own day-to-day library program.
Finally, as one of my bosses says, “fake it ’til you make it.” It takes some time to grow into your role as a member of a leadership team and to develop the trust of the administration. Don’t try to be the expert on everything, but when your campus begins a new initiative–even those that are not directly related to libraries–share some recent research pieces with your principal. Admit when you don’t know the answer to something, but offer to find out. Don’t make a hasty decision when you’re put on the spot either. You can always say, “I need to gather the data to make an informed recommendation. Can I get back to you by tomorrow afternoon?”
As you work to build relationships with members of the campus leadership team, realize that you bring a unique perspective to the table. You have more hats than most of the people on your campus–teacher, administrator, media specialist. Own those roles, and the knowledge that goes with them. Be confident and a good problem solver, and soon you’ll find yourself a valued member of a transformational campus leadership team.