Saturday, August 1, 2009

Essentially Agreeing

I am approaching my second year of working in an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, and although a decent teacher librarian should be able to work with any curriculum if they are worth their weight in salt, the IB curriculum has a vocabulary and culture all of its own that takes a little bit of time to learn and adjust to.

One of these little nuances is what is termed the 'Essential Agreement', most class teachers have an essential agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the class members, essential agreements can also extend to staff for outlining expectations, responsibilities, and requirements for assessments, playground duties etc. We also had one developed for the support of the Chinese Language teaching at our school.

Many IB schools have an Essential Agreement between the students and the library, and I am also looking at creating an essential agreement between the staff and the library. My first impression is that the Essential Agreement is a dressed up policy statement, but not quite. I want to make sure what is created meets the IBO standards and the requirements that we have, so I tried to find out what the IBO says about it and hopefully even define it. But alas, I could not find a definition, I could only find examples of Essential Agreements Principled Blogger. This to me looks like an old style rights and responsiblity contract, I can create one of these this and call it something else. Just interesting that the IBO does not have a statement defining what they are (that I could find any way - please enlighten me if this is not the case), but having Essential Agreements school wide is such an important part of becoming an authorised IB school. Is it just assumed that we all know what it is? Am I just being over analytical, or just dim?

So, I am going to presume that the Essential Agreement outlines behaviours and expectations of both parties who will be agreeing to what ever it is essentially they will be involved in.

So what I would like the students to agree with this year in terms of the library:
Look after the resources in your care - (ie minimise damage and losses)
Return resources on time so others can use them
To treat all library staff, and supervising staff with respect
Behave in a way that does not disturb or distract other users
Treat the furniture, computers and other library fittings with care.
Lost or damaged library resources will need to be replaced by the borrower.
Ensure only the smart card holder borrows on that card, (don't borrow for your friend)
Smart cards are required for borrowing.
Students can access the library any time between 8am-4pm.
Ask the library staff if you have a need for help.

What I need to know now is what do the students expect from me and the other library staff? Isn't an agreement meeting the needs of both parties?

Here is what I would like from staff -

* Classes are under your supervision in the library unless otherwise arranged
* If you want to send small groups of students unsupervised, please check with library staff first.
* Bookings need to be made before arrival at the library online or by phone
* If you do not wish to use the booked time - please cancel it before the scheduled time.
* Teachers need to be involved in the students borrowing time - helping them to find reading material suitable for their interests and reading levels,
* The teacher librarian will help during borrowing time at least every 3rd visit (depending on teaching commitments), and if you book the TL for extra borrowing times.
* Borrowing is not compulsory - but encouraged
* Library staff will help you find resources for a Unit of inquiry after discussion on what the angle or approach will be.
* The Teacher librarian is available for planning meetings and to support each year level for at least one unit of inquiry through the year. The UOI's were agreed on at the yearly planning meeting. Extra UOI's will need to be negotiated for time and commitment allowances.
* Return resources after you have finished with them so others can use them.
* Losses from private borrowing (as opposed to class borrowing) will need to be replaced by the individual.
* Classes can borrow unlimited resources for a term for use in the classroom. If a child wishes to borrow from this collection, please call use with the name of student and barcode of the resource.
* Staff are encouraged to participate in lessons where students are learning how to use the library resources such as the OPAC, Databases, searching strategies etc.

That is what I want from them (anything I missed?)... I now need to find out what they want from me, and then for all of us to agree on the conditions. Is this what it is all about? Anyone in an IB school that can shed some light?

Posted on 26/8/2011

This is an adendum to this post after 3 years of working in an IB program and attending the WSL leaders course - big tip - base all essential agreements on the Learner Profiles. This makes it so much easier and links everything together.


Librareanne said...

Hi Dianne,
Thank you so much for this post. You have inspired me to move forward with my own essential agreement for our library. As I think about this over the next week or so I will respond to your post further. You have raised some important questions. I too am surprised that the IB has not formulated a "definition" or engaged in any discussion of essential agreements.

Julia said...

I am a TL in a Queensland School, Australia and we are an IB World School.

Your Essential Agreements as you say are'behaviours and expectations of both parties who will be agreeing to what ever it is essentially they will be involved i', but they are formulated using the Learner Profile and Attitudes. I also use the Skills as a what to organis them.
They are also created collaboratively with the parties involved (classes, teachers etc..)
Please email me if you would like to see some of the ones we have done or if you would like any other support.
Julia Boulton

Christine said...

Very useful. Thank you for sharing.

Do you have a separate Essential Agreement or Acceptable Use Policy for ICT use?

Do you need to consider how computers are used to keep students safe online? Eg. expectations regarding the level of supervision needed for searching...

The other thought was whether you need anything on copyright and academic honesty.

Christine Haynes