Equal opportunity, continued self-improvement, collaboration between teachers and librarians, acquiring and communicating information and ideas, and promoting lifelong learning are the core beliefs behind my professional philosophy. Staying true to these beliefs will truly make a difference in the students’ educations.
The following are areas of focus for me as a librarian:
- Having available technology because today’s world is focusing on 21st century standards and technology is important for students, fair and equitable use of technology for every student (A study conducted by Educause 2008 and Brian K. Baker, found that 85% of students agree with that use of tech will help them to better understand complex or abstract concepts).
- Having a well rounded collection that contains both the print and non-print resources that will support learners from all background and ability levels.
- Having a library program that emphasizes collaboration with teachers in order to meet the school and district goals.
I think a teacher librarian first priority is to support learning. It is my belief that a well rounded education comes with the help of an experienced and knowledgeable librarian. Teaching students to effectively acquire new knowledge and ideas, to clearly communicate learning and thoughts, to love to read and choose to do it even outside of class, and to actively participate in a lifetime of learning is the driving force behind my professional philosophy. As a librarian, it is my belief that all students, regardless of their personal or academic histories, deserve equal access to the most updated and relevant resources and technology.
It is very important to promote the library media center as a place where instruction meets inquiry, where students are learning from not just the teacher, but from themselves and each other as well. There has been a lot of research done about how important collaboration is. In a paper written by Leaders for Tomorrow’s Schools, it states, “By working together, schools, families, and communities can prepare for a more promising future,” (“The Importance of School and Community Collaboration”).
Improving our knowledge of educational technology and 21st century learner standards, our understanding of core content standards, and information seeking skills are driving forces behind the desire to improve and in turn, better our ability to support learning. When observing experienced teacher librarians work with teachers and students, their mastery of such skills becomes immediately apparent. Furthermore, their desire to truly get to know each student and his or her interests and learning styles only adds to their importance in a collaborative learning environment. According to Debra Lau Whelan, “…an overwhelming number of kids think media specialists are essential to learning,” (Whelan 2004). I also value those skills and hope to emulate them as I progress in my push to promote lifelong learning.
School and Community Collaboration. Retrieved from http://www.michigan.gov/documents/The_Importance_of_School_and_Comm....
Whelan, D.(2004). A new Ohio study shows how school
libraries help students learn. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA377858.html.
Baker, B. (2008). Answering the value question: Does
technology impact student success? Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/Resources/AnsweringtheValueQuestionDoesT/16....
Leaders for Tomorrow’s Schools. (1995). The Importance of
“It was a dark and stormy night,” (L’Engle, 1962, p. 3). When I was a child, it was these words, from A Wrinkle in Time, that pulled me into the various worlds books open to us. I believe that every child has the right to experience the different worlds that reading can take them to and far too often this belief seems to be an oversight in the current education system. Many children in our schools do not even have books that they can call their own and have never been exposed to the truly fantastic literature that is written for them. I come from a generation where everyone has read a book that they will never forget; that changed the way they viewed the world. But, after being in the classroom I have realized that students are no longer gaining exposure to quality literature. They come from families where reading is not valued or their parents cannot afford to give them books. It is now my job as their librarian, to share my passion for children’s literature and encourage them to read. The belief that children deserve to love reading and have a book that hooks them for life consumes me.
The value of being able to effectively use technology will greatly enhance the educational experience of students. As a teacher-librarian it is my responsibility to teach students how to use the technology that is at their fingertips. I want my students to be not only good readers, but to be outstanding information-gathers and information-users.
Students are meant to leave school as not merely learned, but inquisitive; not merely knowledgeable, but capable of using their education for good ends; not merely with technical skills, but with the appropriate habits of mind that determine whether the skill is used wisely, unwisely, or not used at all when needed. Again, content mastery is not the primary point of teaching even when mission refers to academic goals (Zmuda & Harada, 2008, p. 1).
The closing remarks, regarding content mastery, of that quote really struck me. Too often, as teachers, administrators, librarians, or whatever role we play within the four walls of the school, is focused on guaranteeing that our students have mastered the material without question. While this is extremely important and students need to be able to read, write, and multiply, we must also consider how what they are learning is going to impact the world on a much broader level. When students leave my classroom or library I want to know for a fact that they are prepared to make a change in the world!
The final component to developing an effective library and being an effective teacher library is collaboration. Being able to collaborate with classroom teachers to bring what students are learning to greater heights, through projects that connect to higher levels of thinking is essential. Students also need to be taught to develop their own collaboration skills and utilize various resources while collaborating with one another. Joyce Valenza states the importance of student collaboration on her wiki posting, “Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians”:
You recognize that the work your students create has audience and that they may share newly constructed knowledge globally on powerful networks,. You help them see that they have the potential to make social, cultural, and political impact… You use new tools for collaboration. Your students create together, They synthesize information, enhance their writing through peer review and negotiate content in blogs and wikis and using tools like GoogleDocs, Flickr, Voicethread, Animoto and a variety of other writing or mind mapping and storytelling tools.
By using cross-curriculum integration students are able to synthesize concepts on a much deeper level. Collaboration between the teacher-librarian and classroom teacher is essential to help students progress. Students are able to work closely with two teachers to gain different perspectives and ideas. Teachers also benefit from collaborating because teaming with the teacher-librarian allows them to plan instruction with another professional and provide more opportunities to engage students in synthesizing information and problem solving.
When I reflect on this course and why I want to be a teacher-librarian, I truly believe that Dr. Seuss said it best in Oh, the Places You’ll Go: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
Seuss, Dr. (1990). Oh, the places you’ll go. New York: Random House.
Valenza, Joyce. (2010, December 3). A revised manifesto [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Zmuda, A., & Harada, V. H. (2008). Librarians as learning specialists. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
I completely agree about the importance of reading. I have noticed what a disadvantage many children have because they were not exposed to books early. It our job to help students learn how important reading can be.
I really appreciate that your wrote about the difference between knowledge and action. It may be great that students know what is in the Bill of Rights, but if they can use that knowledge in a proactive and ethical manner, then we have done our jobs.
This is my second semester in the UCD School Library program. When I initially applied, I was confused as to exactly what it entailed. However, I have learned a tremendous amount that I was unaware of before. The role of the Teacher Librarian is always changing – but to this extent, I was shocked. This has truly been an eye-opening experience for me. When I wrote my admissions essay, for the graduate program, I focused on my own personal beliefs, initially. I claimed, “I am passionate in my belief that libraries are absolutely crucial to a student's educational advancement. I am dedicated to my pursuit of obtaining a Master's degree that can be used within the library field, so that I can make an impact in the academic careers of young people. If I were to be accepted into the School Library program, I would take pride in knowing that I am helping to educate and inspire future generations.” However, I also assumed that I knew what the learning experience would be. I stated, “I believe that the School Library program is suited for me for a variety of reasons. I am a natural-born educator and enjoy providing information to those in need. Organization and meticulousness are characteristics of my work in which I take pride. While I have never worked within the library field dealing directly with children and adolescents, I look forward to gaining K-12 library field work experience.” I have learned that the role is much more complex than I ever imagined – and that is a great thing. Knowledge and progress are shaping the very foundations of school libraries and this will always benefit the students.
My greatest source of understanding the changes was due to my Power Librarian interview. I interviewed a librarian at my old high school, Patricia Donovan, who used to be my English teacher at Wasson High School in Colorado Springs. She told me exactly how much the library has changed – even in the past five years that she has assumed the role of “power librarian.” Patricia Donovan stated, “In district 11, the LTE (library technology Educator) is responsible for everything with a cord- from phones to computer labs, electronic resources, websites, instructional applications to printer cartridges, Including textbooks and budgets. I HAVE to be the IT lead in my building. The impact of technology has gone up exponentially and, takes up most of my time. In fact, I don’t know how I will be able to maintain my Power Library status next year because of the tech demands put on my department” (personal communication, March 14, 2011). However, the impacts of technology are important. Donovan stated, “I like to think students (and staff) are better users of information.; Awareness of resources, processes for research and better educational uses of technology are all part of “best practices” as a result of our being a Power Library” (personal communication, March 14, 2011).
Since I am not a school librarian or teacher, I can only disclose what I would do if I was to obtain a position. Collaboration is a key in advancing student achievement. Second would be to have a supportive staff that would allow a librarian to perform the necessary job duties. Third would be to provide resources and assistance to all students despite socio-economic backgrounds, diversity, etc. My philosophy statement would be based around providing education and knowledge for all. In all honesty, this is what I will take with me on my next educational journey to DU’s MLIS program which I was accepted into for the fall semester. I have learned valuable information which helped educate me on K-12 libraries and how your field is constantly changing. My archival field is also split in itself. For all of us – regardless of our degrees – knowledge of how each other operates is crucial to the overall goal of providing knowledge for everyone.
P. Donovan, personal communication, March 14, 2011.
My Teaching Philosophy
I chose the profession of teaching because I thought I could make a difference in student’s lives. Students come to us in all different shapes and sizes and we need to recognize their differences and learn how to set each of them up for success. Successes can come by using differentiation, modeling for students, encouraging student involvement, guiding students with tools that will answer their questions, providing authentic learning opportunities and presenting information in a variety of formats. These are all effective methods allow for challenging our students.
I believe the purpose of education is to educate students so that they leave school not only knowledgeable and learned, but capable of using their education for applying technical skills, appropriate work habits, and knowledge to be productive citizens in society. If students are just expected to produce for the sake of producing results, then that is what they will do. Meaning must make sense for the learner in order for students to transfer previous knowledge to future learning. Meaning is essential to learning, hence it is essential to teaching and assessing: learning goals must make sense to the teacher and to the learner. There must be regular opportunities to see the value of what we are asked to learn, how it relates to past learning and how it will relate to future learning. (Zumba, A. & Harada, p. 3).
To get the most out of their education, the elements of enthusiasm, curiosity, aspiration, imagination, self discipline, civility, cooperation, honesty and initiative need to be visible in some form. As a librarian and a teacher it is important to provide an environment that guides learning and encourages students to consider learning as part of their lives and to be active participants in their own education. Learners need multiple opportunities to practice in a risk-free environment and to receive timely opportunities to use feedback to re-do and improve their work.
I believe that it is my role as an educator to guide student’s so that they are able use their past learning experiences and also their individual learning styles so that constructive learning can take place. It is important for students to find answers to their questions instead of using information as a primary source without any reflection. For students to construct knowledge, they need the opportunity to discover for themselves and practice skills in authentic situations. I believe it is important for students to research information using a variety of techniques and be able to present their findings in a variety of different ways that represents learning that is meaningful and relevant to one’s own life and interests. When student have ownership to the learning process, they will be more engaged and more active in the learning process.
I believe it is important that I have knowledge of myself as an effective teacher, be familiar with school curriculum as it relates to learning, and also understand the students I teach. In order to improve the teaching of individual students, I must be able to observe and gather information, analyze this information and implement an action plan for future teaching by providing a variety of authentic learning experiences as it relates to all students.
American Association of School Librarians. (1998). Information Power. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
(Zumba, A. & Harada. V.H. (2008). Librarians as learning specialists. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
Roxanna Well, EHow Family, Effective Teaching Skills, Retrieved from
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ~Alvin Toffler
As a Teacher Librarian, I am a teacher first. I believe in students achieving. Through my role as a collaborator and leader I bring with me the knowledge of best practices of teaching information literacy skills and the integration of technology for students and teachers to be successful in the 21st century.
We live in an ever changing world that brings with each new day, new information, new technology, and new ways to interact across our globe. Our students are “digital natives” in this world (Prensky, 2001). They are a generation born into a global society who “think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors” (Prensky, 2001). Our students are swimming in knowledge pools and Teacher Librarians are entrusted with helping them make meaning of it all (Zmuda, 2008).
I believe that all students should be equipped with the tools to be critical and ethical consumers and producers of information and ideas. Information literacy skills are needed to select, evaluate, and use information as 21st Century Learners (AASL, 2009). As a Teacher Librarian I help students access print and non-print resources that extend beyond the library walls. Students learn to safely navigate and evaluate information, give credit to authors of ideas, and transfer their knowledge while being able to share their products with creativity to a global audience.
Technology places students at the center of global information. The use of technology is a right to which students should have equal access. Through thoughtful decision making, they learn to select the right technology tools for the job. Whether it is using online resources to gather information or Web 2.0 tools to transfer and share information, technology has its place in the hands of all learners. With these tools come responsibility, and students learn to leave a respectful digital footprint. The library and classrooms should never be a place where students “power down”, but power up as life-long users (Prensky, 2001).
The library is no longer a grocery store in which to shop, but a kitchen in which to create. (Valenza, 2010). Students come to the library, a safe space, to use all the resources at hand to mix and mash and construct. I provide support in an environment where risk-taking and active participation is encouraged. Students can not afford to leave schools as passive absorbers of information, but instead must be active transformers. All students will leave the library with new recipes for success.
I can not do all this alone. I lean on the support of my colleagues as we collaborate to integrate information literacy and technology into the curriculum. Through building relationships with all teachers, I invite myself into classrooms to be a part of student achievement. We team to seamlessly provide instruction that meets the needs of all learners. Differentiation of process and product is expected when two teachers, instead of one, bring their ideas to the table. This shared vision helps make the library program to be at the center of an “active, engaged network of relationships that support dynamic, student-centered learning” (AASL, 1998).
“Instruction is a stream, not an event” (Zmuda, 2008). As I collaborate throughout the building, I am poised to see the scope of instruction. With this knowledge, I am able to lead from the middle to be an agent of change. I support my colleagues in extending their own learning and discovery through professional development and modeling best practices in teaching. I support school and district initiatives within our own unique community. As a life-long learner, I seek opportunities to grow and set an example to students that education never ceases.
Our world is changing. Teacher Librarians are centered to be key players in the transition. I am honored to be in a professional community that has evolved over the years to meet these changing needs and I expect many more transformations to come. Our students face an unknown future, and I proudly educate them to be adaptable and transformational to meet the unknown.
American Association of School Librarians (1998). Information power: building partnerships for learning. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
American Association of School Librarians. (2009). Standards for the 21st century learner in
action. Chicago, IL: AASL.
Prensky, Marc. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. In On the horizon. Retrieved from http://www.albertomattiacci.it/docs/did/Digital_Natives_Digital_Imm...
Valenza, Joyce. (2010). Manifesto for 21st century school librarians. Retrieved from http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/You+know+you're+a+21st+cen...
Zmuda, A., & Harada, V. H. (2008). Librarians as learning specialists: meeting the learning
imperative for the 21st century. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.
I believe the primary focus of an educator is helping student to become thoughtful, responsible citizens. The teacher-librarian certainly has a large role in this effort. My goals as a teacher-librarian fall into four categories — fostering information literacy, helping students connect their learning to the real world, teaching responsible technology use, and advocating for what is best for students. These goals are very personal, yet align with International Society for Technology in Education and American Association of School Librarians standards.
I once participated in a discussion about whether students were more savvy communicators with the advent of technology. While I think students are adept at surfing the Web and using social media to communicate with one another, I believe they need help become more sophisticated in their technology usage. My passionate belief that students modeling and instruction about how to sort through all of that information coming their way directly aligns with the International Society for Technology in Education teaching standards. Standard 3 states, “Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society,” (ITSE, 2008). In order to be responsible, active citizens, students need to be able to be discerning consumers of information so that they are selecting and using the best, most reliable information available to them. Therefore, I believe strongly that the teacher-librarian must work with classroom teachers to embed information literacy into curriculum. Students must receive instruction about evaluating Web sites and sources, search techniques, and how to present information in an ethical and responsible manner.
I believe the librarian has the special role of linking literature and nonfiction texts to life. According to the American Association of School Librarians (2007), a core belief of librarians is that “reading is a window to the world.” Helping students open this window takes reading out of a vacuum and makes it meaningful, memorable, and engaging. Reading about the challenges society can present can spur feelings of empathy, concern, excitement, and enlightenment that could turn into action. The teacher-librarian’s classroom (virtual and real) should help students extend their learning from what they are reading to real world experiences. Using social media, Web tools, and databases, they can research problems and questions and create products that synthesize that information.
Another goal as a teacher-librarian is to teach responsible technology use. Students must be well versed on academic honesty, fair use, and ethical use of the tools available to them. The library-classroom is a chance for them to learn that democracies have rules that are meant to protect its citizens, provide order, and support opportunities for success and happiness. And within democracies, citizens have responsibilities. This includes taking full advantage of what the 21st century has to offer and being knowledgeable about proper uses of these resources.
Like all educators, it the job of a teacher-librarian to advocate for students. Martin (2004) says the focus of school libraries should not be the things inside the librarian, but the needs of the people who visit. Librarians can keep their focus on the people in many ways. By collaborating with other specialists and classroom teachers, the library is the perfect place to honor students’ IEPs and differentiate instruction. It is also a place to help students face the challenges they face outside of school. The library is a safe place for students to ask questions and prepare for what they face outside of the school’s walls. The librarian must advocate for his or her own program. Keeping such programs robust is a must because of the link between effective library programs and students’ academic success. The library is also essential because there are so many students without access to 21st century tools in their homes. Therefore, in order to prepare students for the future, they will depend on their school library to expose them to such resources.
These goals cannot be accomplished independently. The American Library Association (1998) identifies collaboration as one of the three main components library programs. “Collaboration is essential as library media specialists work with teachers to plan, conduct, and evaluation learning activities that incorporate information literacy” (p. 50). Therefore, I believe teacher-librarians have a duty to seek opportunities to collaborate with classroom teachers and other specialists. The teacher-librarian also must step up as a teacher-leader within his or her building. ITSE standard 5 states, “Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.” School leadership includes participating in curriculum committees and department planning meetings; leading training sessions; and offering resources to others in the building. No one can tackle the challenges educators face alone, and librarians are an essential part of the team.
American Association of School Librarians. (2007). Standards for the 21st Century Learner. Chicago: Author.
American Library Association (1998). Information Power. Chicago: Author.
International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). NETS for Teachers 2008. Retrieved from
Martin, R. S. (January 1, 2004). CREATIVITY AND LEADERSHIP: Libraries and librarians in the 21st century - Fostering a learning society. College & Research Libraries News, 65, 11, 668.