As instructional partners, TLs are valuable collaborators in their school communities.
Collaboration can be something simple like helping a teacher find a resource for a lesson. Or, it might be something more involved like co-teaching a unit on digital citizenship or introducing a new technology to a classroom. Either way you decide to collaborate, remember that connecting with teachers is the key to finding ways to meet their classroom needs. See the guide below to learn what being an instructional partner means to TLs and their school communities.
Becoming an Exemplary Instructional Partner: A guide for Teacher-Librarians
A teacher-librarian shows exemplary instructional partnership skills within the school community when they possess the following key qualities.
Co-operation and collaboration An exemplary TL shows that they are both willing and able to collaborate on lessons with other teachers in the school. This requires that the TL make an effort to connect and facilitate opportunities for co-teaching. As part of their ongoing commitment to learning, an exemplary TL will come to the table with knowledge and information about the latest technology and media available for collaborative teaching. During collaboration, a TL may offer training to other teachers on new library resources. An exemplary TL needs to be a visible and vocal part of the school community. As Haycock (1995) says, “teacher librarians who are less cautious and more extroverted than their colleagues tend to be more successful; the best pair of predictors of high circulation of materials in the resource centre is high extroversion and a high degree of curriculum involvement by the TL” (p.96). An exemplary TL therefore has an open door and a proactive approach to co-operative teaching.
Flexibility and Leadership
TLs will sometimes have to step out of their comfort zone or go above and beyond for the good of the school community. Being flexible is an important quality for any teacher to have, let alone a TL. As technology changes and libraries transition to the learning commons model, exemplary TLs need to accept the evolving nature of their job and commit to their ongoing education in new forms of media and technology. An exemplary TL will even go beyond only educating themselves and share their learning with others in the school. As Kirkland and Koechlin suggest, a TL should “establish a learning commons leadership team committed to long term transition and implementation” (p.46). A flexible TL will not only accept change, but will lead the way when it arrives.
Advocacy and Branding
An exemplary TL is good at marketing both their library and themselves. When a TL is able to advocate for the library space, students and teachers know exactly which media is available and where to find it both during and outside of school hours, how to use the technology in the library space, and which programs are being run by the library. An exemplary TL will also know when to ask for help from administrators when it comes to finding extra funding, continuing education opportunities, or extra staff/volunteers. Klinger et al state that, exemplary librarians “[make] the library the heart of the school and [seize] on every opportunity to teach in an engaging fashion, bringing an enthusiasm that [draws] students and staff into the library” (p.6). This is all part of the personal brand that a librarian must cultivate in the workplace and beyond.
Allyship and Media Literacy Promotion
An exemplary TL is an agent for social change and an ally to those who seek justice, recognition, and kindness. Librarian Amanda Olliver once said: “libraries fill in the gaps created by what I would argue is our society’s pandemic of ignoring the impoverished, underserved, and most vulnerable populations” (2018). The TL is expected to create a welcome and safe space for all students by ensuring that the resources available reflect the new B.C. curriculum, which takes into account the diverse needs of the student population. The TL should therefore be active in cultivating resources and collaboration opportunities on potentially challenging subjects, such as LGBTQ+ issues, SOJI, Indigenous reconciliation (with collaboration from the Aboriginal Ed teacher when possible), socio-economic issues, and topics of race and culture. The TL should also be a champion for media literacy, teaching students to think critically about the information they consume.
References Haycock, Ken. “Research in Teacher-Librarianship and the Institutionalization of Change.” Annual Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship, 1995, pp 17- 22.
Kirkland, Anita B., and Carol Koechlin. “Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada.” Teacher Librarian, vol 42, no 5, 2015, pp 45-47.
Klinger, Don A., et al, “Exemplary School Libraries in Ontario.” The Ontario Library Association, pp 3-21, 36-37.
Olliver, Amanda. (@aelaineo). “Libraries fill the gaps…” Instagram, Aug 7 2018. Want some ideas? Click here for 5 collaboration ideas you can use in your school.