Bec in the library

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

Just how flexible am I? March 6, 2016

Filed under: Teaching — becinthelibrary @ 8:32 pm

Now that the basics are becoming solid in my little library, I’m feeling a strong need to move towards flexible scheduling.

Of course, I know the benefits of flexible scheduling over fixed but how it would look in a library like mine is still something I am struggling with.

To help me understand where to start, I went searching on AASL – the experts! Their position statement was extremely helpful in summarising the educational need for flexible scheduling but they still make the assumption that, a) students implicitly understand the purpose of a library and, b) there is more than one member of staff…

I have questions about what this position statement looks like in my context! Thankfully, I’ve managed to cognitively coach myself through the majority of the statement so I can answer most of my questions. Still a few lingering ones.

I will delve into my local PLN for those as I have a fellow TL who used flexible scheduling in her last PYP school (but not in her current one, much to her chagrin.)

“The integrated library program philosophy requires an open schedule that includes flexible and equitable access to physical and virtual collections for staff and students.”

Great, but as a completely solo teacher librarian, when do I do anything other than teach? Displays, cataloguing, reshelving, planning, ANYTHING? Do I make an assumption that things just come out in the wash and that over the course of a couple of weeks, I will have time to do all things?

“Classes must be flexibly scheduled into the library on an as needed basis to facilitate just-in-time research, training, and utilization of technology with the guidance of the teacher who is the subject specialist, and the librarian who is the information process specialist. The resulting lesson plans recognize that the length of the learning experience is dependent on learning needs rather than a fixed library time.”

I totally agree but what do you do with the teachers who just won’t come? Don’t you just always end up with the same open minded collegial teachers who are keen to collaborate on everything all the time? Do I just force myself on everyone?! You know I’d do it, and willingly!

“Students and teachers must be able to come to the library throughout the day to use information sources, read for pleasure, and collaborate with other students and teachers.”

Thankfully, this is something they all do anyway as everyone loves the space and it is literally in the middle of the building – every single person in the building MUST walk THROUGH the library in order to get anywhere else.

“Collaboration with classroom teachers to design, implement and evaluate inquiry lessons cultivates high level learning experiences for students and is the catalyst that makes the integrated library program work. The teacher brings to the planning process knowledge of subject content and the student needs. The school librarian contributes a broad knowledge of resources and technology, an understanding of modern teaching methods, and a wide range of strategies that may be employed to help students learn inquiry skills. Together they are able to provide differentiated and adaptable experiences for students of all abilities and interests to meet the requirements of the curriculum.”

Fabulous! Isn’t that teacher librarian utopia? But what does it actually look like in reality? Who suggests what lessons and how far in advance? Am I just another warm body in the classroom to help adhoc or is it true co-teaching?

“The responsibility for flexibly scheduled library programs must be shared by the entire school community…”

Let me just get on that, work them all around to my POV 🙂

“The PRINCIPAL [or in my case, PYP coordinator, I think] creates the appropriate climate within the school by understanding and advocating the benefits of flexible scheduling to the faculty, by monitoring scheduling, by maintaining appropriate staffing levels, funding, and joint planning time for classroom teachers and school librarians.”

Made progress here with inclusion into UOI planning meetings this cycle.

“The TEACHER and the SCHOOL LIBRARIAN work collaboratively to provide differentiated and adaptable experiences for students of all abilities. The collaborative lessons meet curricular requirements through relevant and engaging learning experiences that promote positive instructional use of time. “

To me, this feels like I go in and support what they are doing by bringing physical and digital resources/ideas into the lessons with me.

How do they get time for being read to? So far, the biggest change I have made in my school is the reliability of every child being read aloud to at least once a week. This was just never done before I arrived and rarely happens outside their allocated library time with me, especially for the older students. Given that 99% of the kids speak little to no English, having access to English through read alouds is absolutely crucial. Beyond crucial!!

How do I effectively “push in” my skills and expertise and passion without giving up that vital element of my program? I have a seed of an idea starting in my head – a mobile library with book talks and read alouds. That’s another blog post for another time.

“The LIBRARY SUPPORT STAFF works to maintain the daily operation of the library to allow the professional school librarian and teaching staff the time and flexibility to collaborate together to provide students with excellent educational experiences for learning.”

To do this, I need library support staff. Wish me luck in securing even a part time one.

“The PARENTS advocate for a library program that provides their child with access 24/7. They promote the use of flexible scheduling so their students are able to come to the library throughout the day to use information sources, read for pleasure, and collaborate with the school librarian, other students, and teachers.”

I have the BEST group of parents I have ever had the pleasure of working with. They are so on board. If only they actually spoke English (or me Mandarin, more to the point!)

“The STUDENTS stress the need for anytime access to their school library to assist them in completing their academic pursuits and exploring their personal interests.”

This very last, yet imperative point, depends so deeply on an excellent collection that they know how to access without me. With no technology (not even an OPAC) or staff in the library during the times I am not there (50% of each school day), how is this possible?

I know how much work I have to do, but I’m committed.

Greatness WILL happen.

Even if I am, in the immortal words of my principal, “a complete and total pain in the ass”.

(Thankfully followed by “but you have your heart in the right place so I always forgive you.”)

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