September 11, 2011

Learning Log 5- Final Entry for Module 1

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 1 at 8:37 pm by lmt84

This module was a whirlwind. I lost time due to being part of a wedding in New York, and really didn’t think that I was going to complete all of the assignments to the degree of quality that I usually do. However, this proved to be just a test in time management. By really diving into the readings and viewing the discussion threads, I was able to get a firm grasp on what collaboration is all about. The readings from this module resonated with me, and I found myself tying quotes into my Blog entries and Peer comments. To me, a sign of a successful module is if I grasp the main concepts and see how they build on one another. I can say that I did see this happen during Module 1.

A theme that emerged early on was the importance of being a leader in your school. When this happens, colleagues will be more open to using you as a resource. Upon viewing blogs and reading the posts of my classmates, I see Fontichiaro’s statement of “Know what is happening in your building!” (209) to be yet another crucial aspect of collaboration. In my own posts, I recognize the unique position that the librarian is in—they are one of the few people who can work with almost every person in the building. Therefore, it is important that they also possess a general knowledge of the content area curricula. This knowledge will help the librarian to immediately match new technologies to certain departments or even teachers in the building. By knowing who plans together, units that incorporate research, and teachers who are looking for something new, you are only putting yourself in the position to form collaborative partnerships.

The blogging assignment for this module forced me to step out of my own comfort zone and venture into the blog-o-sphere. As mentioned in my Blog Reflection, I found this assignment to be eye-opening and worthwhile, as I now have a list of blogs that I hope to use not only as a classroom teacher, but also when I become a librarian. There are many resources available online that I never would have thought to use in the classroom, but somehow, they just fit perfectly with the AASL standards and my content objectives. I look forward to sharing some of my finds with the other English teachers as well as my librarians. This module has certainly helped to strengthen my skills for the AASL Standard 3.3, Information Technology. I now feel confident to integrate blog resources into my classroom, and furthermore I am comfortable to explain their benefits to others in the school.

I look forward to the information to come in this class. The readings and posts have shown me that at times I witnessed what I thought was collaboration, but in fact it was just one of the beginning forms, such as Cooperation or Connection. Now that I know the varying degrees of collaboration, I realize that to different teachers, collaboration may mean different things. Either way, I feel that teachers taking the step to work with the librarian in any degree is a step in the right direction. Perhaps after relationships grow over time, the potential increases to reach Ultimate Collaboration. I want to leave off with one of the more important quotes that I found regarding Collaboration. Fontichiaro writes that “Collaboration does “maximize the effectiveness of the instruction and can have the most significant impact on student achievement” (85). In the end, the school is a team working their hardest to best serve the students and their understanding of the content. Collaboration is an excellent strategy to embrace in order to ensure that we are in fact meeting this goal.

September 9, 2011

Learning Log 4

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 1 at 6:44 am by lmt84

We have read many articles and viewed many videos in this first Module, but one of my favorites was “The Teacher’s Take, Part 2: The Instructional Role of the School Librarian”, by Carl A. Harvey II. I found this article insightful and I personally feel that this was the one that benefitted me the most. The reason for this is because it was an actual interview with teachers and I got to hear essentially how to be a fantastic collaborative partner, straight from the mouths of the teachers themselves. I see this information to be invaluable, but there were a few parts that struck me in particular.

I have commented a lot in our Discussion Threads about being proactive in “advertising” your program. It was wonderful for me to see my train of thought being backed up by Harvey himself. He stated, “School librarians can’t wait for an invitation; you have to make your own” (2). Although a bit blunt, this is extremely true. We have to use every minute of our valued planning time to strategize how to get more people into the school library as well as how to go about laying groundwork for establishing collaborative relationships. We cannot sit back and expect people to come to us. We are the technology experts—we know the resources that are out there to best supplement the curricula of our school’s content areas. If we want our program to make a difference in our students’ education, then we have to actively make it happen.

The readings and discussions for this Module have suggested that perhaps a fear of stepping out of one’s comfort zone is a factor in a lack of collaborative partnerships. In particular, we have discussed that more experienced teachers may be a group that falls victim to this mentality. Keeping this in mind it was interesting to me when Sally, a teacher for over 25 years said, “If you are willing to listen,and are open to new ideas, collaborating actually saves time because the school librarian knows what is available and not as much time is spent searching for materials, good Web sites, etc.” (3). She stresses two important things here. One—collaboration absolutely needs participants who are truly open to explore new ideas and technologies. You must be willing to give a bit of control over to the partner in order to jointly create a product that will be an academic success. Two—teachers don’t have to stress about searching for resources to supplement their curriculum, an expert is already at hand at the school. It was refreshing to hear comments like this from a teacher because I honestly do not know what percentage of a school staff is open to try new things or allow a librarian to have a more involved role in their units. This part of the article gave me hope that as long as I am optimistic about collaborating, then the teachers will reciprocate these feelings.

Lastly and I feel very importantly, this article reminded me that the school librarian needs to have a handle on the curricula offered throughout the school. Although the teachers are the content experts, we need to know the general units/concepts taught in the classes. This way if I come across a new resource online via a blog or other social networking tool, I can automatically know what teachers would benefit from it at my school. One of the best quotes (in my opinion) from the article is as follows:

                “He is interwoven into each grade level because he chooses to get involved with every subgroup in the school.   He provides support for every group within our school. In turn, he impacts the learning of every child directly and indirectly at times” (5).

This quote reminds me of just how important this job is. Librarians are truly a central part of the school. The heart of our program in turn affects our role as the core of intellectual thought in the school. We serve teachers to strengthen their lessons which in turn advances student success. I like to think of the school as a living organism—with people and parts relying on each other. Librarians cannot have a genuine impact if we do not work with others.  However, when this is accomplished, our programs, as well as the school itself will thrive.

Learning Log 3

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 1 at 2:09 am by lmt84

The further I get into this class, I see just how important collaboration between the teachers and librarians is for the success of the school. My past posts have shown my recognition that in order to be a successful partner, one first has to be seen as a leader. Empowering Learners states, “By becoming an active member of the local and global learning community, the school librarian can build relationships with organizations and stakeholders to develop an effective school library program and advocate for student learning (17). I now see that leadership goes beyond your relationships with the teachers—you should be actively involved in the entire school community, which extends to administrators and parents (AASL  4.3). As librarians we should take any opportunity that comes our way to establish ourselves as a resource for all parties involved with our students’ education.

My classmates have presented a variety of tools which can help me emerge as a leader to these populations. I think it is crucial these days to have an online presence for the community, as unfortunately, I do not think that many parents ever even meet the librarian. I feel parents need to know about the great things that their children are doing in school as well as the fact that the teachers are willing to take risks with technology to ensure that their children are engaged. Furthermore, I see that the administration can have potentially big pull when it comes to the success of the program. By constantly involving/updating them on your collaborations with teachers, new ideas, technology support, you are gaining an ally to your program. I am trying to view collaborative relationships as another means of data that proves your program’s worth. If teachers are creating unique activities and students are genuinely enjoying and understanding the material, then your program is truly an integral part of the school’s success.

September 8, 2011

Learning Log 2

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 1 at 1:55 am by lmt84

As we progress through the readings and class discussions, I find one message in particular to be surfacing time and time again—the fact that librarian has to be viewed as a leader as well as educational partner. This thought was only confirmed as I was reading Empowering Learners.

It was interesting for me to see that over time there has been a shift in how librarians rank their four roles. Whereas ‘teacher’ used to rank first with ‘instructional partner” third, currently the two roles have flipped positions. This tells me that now more than ever, collaboration is being recognized as something of true importance. While of course it is important to have the skills that come with being a teacher, it seems even more crucial to have the skills to be a successful collaborator.

I think that before teachers attempt to collaborate with the librarian, the librarian first has to be viewed as a leader in the school. The librarian must showcase themselves as an individual who offers unique knowledge/skill sets and is also eager to work with the those around them (AASL 4.3). Empowering learners states that a leader is a person “who listens to and acts upon good ideas from peers, teachers, and students” (17). If the librarian presents him/herself in such a light, teachers will view them as a positive asset to the school—an asset that they can count on at a more individual level. This reputation will lay the groundwork for future one on one  collaborations.

Once the librarian is seen as a respected figure in the school, the instructional partner role will (hopefully) fall naturally into place. The text states that instructional partners help to formulate “inquiry-driven curricular units that effectively teach content and research skills to students of all learning styles” (21). If I were a librarian, I would want my colleagues to view me as an equal in the workplace, one who is willing to take on new challenges and work with them to be better educators. To be a successful collaborator, I would think that it takes openness to work with different people  as well as creativity in order to tap into original ways to present material to the students (AASL 1.3). Hopefully, by establishing a presence in the school as well as relationships with the teachers, the librarian can be used to his/her utmost potential as a resource.

Learning Log 1

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 1 at 12:43 am by lmt84

The first week of this course has flown by! As a teacher, I am used to collaborating with others to create lessons that will best serve my students. As I myself have worked with the librarian in my building, I assumed that collaboration between the librarian and staff occurred naturally, and with almost everyone in the building. However, after talking to my librarian, as well as completing some of the readings, I see that this is not always the case.

It is unfortunate that collaboration with the librarian is not constantly occurring throughout the school. Empowering Learners states, “For such rich learning environments to flourish, the school librarian must collaborate with administrators, classroom teachers, students, and other members of the learning community to develop the policies that guide the school” (10). This quote reflects the idea that the librarian is a central figure to the overall success of the entire school. Taking this fact into consideration, it is puzzling to me how collaboration isn’t flowing throughout the school on a daily basis. Perhaps information like this, that shows the positive impact of the school library on school success, isn’t well known at many schools. I want to believe that this is the reason, and that it is not simply people not taking advantage of collaborative opportunities. If this lack of knowledge is in fact the case, then it is the librarian’s job to promote the library program and establish collaborative opportunities.

I am interested to learn strategies to encourage and increase collaborative relationships in the school. It is obvious to me that working with the teachers to supplement their curriculum is crucial to student success (AASL Standard 1.3). Collaboration seems to be a fantastic way to combine content knowledge with technology knowledge in order to create a fun, original learning experience for the students.  Hopefully, the readings will guide me to understand the possible roadblocks of collaboration, but more importantly, give me solutions to overcome them.