Sunday, December 13, 2009

What is in a name?

This week I had an unexpected surprise - my Principal announced that a position for a PYP Teacher Librarian would be created for the new academic year. It was a surprise as I had been told that it wouldn't happen for at least another year. However, through discussions with the PYP and MYP co-ordinators, they took up the case for me and put some pressure on. This has really helped my morale, and now I feel that I can begin to plan ahead for some exciting and meaningful activities and possibilities, rather than just skimming the surface, which seems to be what I am doing now. Jack of all trades, master of none.

Another teacher mentioned she knew a teacher who wanted to apply for the position, I asked if they had library experience or training, the answer was "No, we don't need library experience or knowledge - we need a PYP teacher in that role because you (me) will be doing all the library stuff, the focus has to be on the teaching aspect" I begged to differ, but at the moment I could not come up with any tangible reasons that were satisfactory or meaningful (It was at midnight standing outside a drinking establishment!)

I have been ruminating recently over what the Teacher aspect of the name adds to the Librarian role, and have sort of figured that out (which will be another days ramblings), but now, I am ruminating over what the Librarian aspect adds to the Teacher role. What added value does the "Librarian" have in the role of an effective Teacher Librarian? What are specific aptitudes, attitudes and skills a trained TL has that a classroom teacher does not? What extras do I bring to the collaborating table as a Teacher Librarian?

Anyone? Please offer your two cents worth to help me!


Cathy Nelson said...

I like to think of the TL as one who has a birds eye view of every grade level and their academic standards, and can knowledgeably select tangible and virtual resources to supplement a unit or thematic study. The TL can bring to the collaborative table that all too necessary but easily forgotten though process about vertical planning (what does fourth grade as you are collaborating with third grade teachers--a TL will know this!) The collection will benefit as well as the TL knows the standards and the projects planned well enough to select resources to build up the collection in areas that need enhancing. A regular teacher will not come in understanding that concept, but instead will have to learn it. A TL will come in with experience in using a wide variety of strategies for instruction, and be able to cast a wider net for brainstorming--a person who can "think out of the box." A TL knows how to address collection development, resource and behavior management, reading advocacy, provide professional development, and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge in all areas of a schools curriculum. And I have not even really brushed the topic of having a techy background that will bring learners into the 21st century. Hope this helps you--GOOD LUCK in getting a TL.

Dianne said...

Thanks Cathy, I think for me is that a teacher without the Librarian will eventually learn these things - but I want someone who I do not have to train to know or do these things. They should come into the job already knowing and be prepared to do it right from the start.

The overall picture is important as is knowing where and how to access information, and what the students can do with it beyond taking facts. I think the TL is the Guided inquiry and deep thinking specialist in the school.

Thanks for helping me with my thoughts - threre will be no problem hiring a t L, the conversation just got me thinking about what the librarian bit adds to the table!

Mrs. Pam Harland said...

In addition to what Cathy said, I would add that a Librarian understands the aspects of Intellectual Freedom, copyright law, and serving as a guide (instead of an instructor) for all of the information resources for all of the library users.
Good luck!

Simon said...

I believe that this is an important topic for me personally as I am an Acting Teacher Librarian in a high school that does not seem interested in getting a fully qualified teacher librarian. That said, I find it a pleasure and a challenge to be place in this unique role within a school and endevour to discover and develop the librarian part of my role.

I think Cathy's description is spot on as I have found that one of my greatest challenges is knowing unit overviews and possible resources and strategies to point to and order in, especially on a tight budget.

I also think that a teacher can handle this position but will need to work hard and learn a lot to increase the effectiveness of their position. I have been in the position now for a year now and am only starting to get a handle on a small part of what a teacher librarian does.

My hat off to all teacher librarians and hopefully one day I will join your ranks.

Greig said...

I think of all librarians as teachers, really. I do think your PYP librarian ought to have a degree in information science, though.