A Tale of Philosophy
The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn. ~John Lubbock
One of the main reasons I became a teacher was to share my love of learning and reading with my students. All children should have the opportunity to be successful life-long learners. My passion for learning began with a passion for books and in particular fiction. I love reading stories and find that the structure of stories applies to almost anything. My story starts in the library at my school. It is a welcoming place with books everywhere, of course. In addition to books, there are computers to access virtual resources and to utilize for projects and sharing our learning. The most important thing in my story though is the characters. Students, teachers, support staff, parents, and me, the teacher librarian… all are present throughout the day. We guide the story and change the action at every turn, making it more interesting.
Ask any student and they will tell you that every good story needs a problem. Some stories have catastrophic problems and others are more understated. My story’s problem is less like a problem and more like desired outcomes. My ultimate goal as teacher librarian is to foster a desire to learn and grow in students and teachers. Zmuda quotes Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in saying:
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).
It is equally as important to teach students how to use resources. In Information Power, it is stated that ‘The mission of the library media program is to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information” (American Association of School Librarians [AASL], 1998, p. 6). It is vital to students in becoming independent, critical thinkers that they are able to use technology and other resources in their daily work. My role in this objective is to support both students and staff in learning and appropriately using the available tools. Part of my job is to model and teach students the important values of responsibility and honesty in academic and virtual arenas. By striving to meet these objectives, I will increase student achievement.
The rising action in my story involves all the ways that I plan to overcome my “problems” or to meet my objectives. One of the key things I will do is collaborate with classroom teachers. Throughout my learning and participation in class discussions, collaboration continually surfaces as a key component in increasing student achievement. In an article in School Library Journal, Toni Buzzeo supports this idea with the following statement:
Collaboration is a perfect means to address local, state, and national education standards in order to boost student learning. It's also, as my superintendent of schools, Mary Jo O'Connor, likes to say, a chance to work smarter, not harder (Buzzeo, 2002, para. 1).
When collaborating with teachers, I will weave the 21st Century skills of critical thinking, information literacy, innovation, and student collaboration into the content areas serving multiple purposes and getting more bang for the buck. By working with classroom teachers to create interesting, authentic work for students, I will also increase student engagement which is a critical factor in getting students to think and succeed. In order to maintain a high level of teacher and student involvement in my story, I will stay current on the latest technology and best practices in education. My community will know the standards and expectations I have for myself, and they will know they can depend on me to support them in their learning, no matter where they are on the learning continuum.
Stories always have a resolution and my story ends with student and school success. I will evaluate my library program and myself through the eyes of each of my characters: students, teachers, support staff, administration and parents. By keeping in mind that each learner starts in his own place, I will take the necessary steps to ensure his growth and achievement. I will plan for assessment in each lesson that I teach, so that I will see what students have learned and in doing so will know where I need to go in the next lesson. In this way, my story not only ends, but begins again with a new story of learning.
American Association of School Librarians. (1998). Information Power. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
Buzzeo, T. (2002, September 2). Disciples of collaboration. School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA240062.html?display=s...
Zmuda, A., & Harada, V. H. (2008). Librarians as learning specialists. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
. TL will develop authentic lesson plans with classroom teacher that integrate technology and 21st century learning skills into class project. TL must collaboratively interweave their Library Smart Goal into the class project. Through teaching a mini-lesson within the research project the TL teaches students the importance of using library resources and subscription databases found on the school library webpage. Students will find that they will be able to located credible information more efficiently, and be able to cite sources easily. TL integrates search techniques, use of databases, citation, credible websites, citation, and primary source documents all into one lesson. The goal is to collaboratively develop a project that meets the needs of students and teachers. The classroom teacher meets their content standards, TL meets their library SMART Goal, students will successful complete project, and school CSAP scores will improve.
My Evolving Philosophy Statement
As I come to the end of my second semester in the UCD school library program I have come to view the role of the school library much differently than I did one year ago. The library was, for me, a safe haven for students, a place where they could go for quiet reading, study hall, and yes, an opportunity to visit with friends. My philosophy with regard to the role the library and the teacher-librarian has changed markedly since the beginning. “Library Media Specialists can be a part of a school’s major plans for students achievement or apart from them.” (Zmuda 2008) In the previous four years as the Media Specialist I felt I was doing my best and I knew the administration was pleased with my work, and parents and students always gave me positive review in surveys. However, reflection upon the statement by Zmuda led me to realize that I was operating apart from the school’s goals and mission. Not running counter to the school’s curriculum, I was however, not inserting myself into the classroom units and making the kind of contribution that could potentially affect student success in a positive way.
My philosophy now, as an aspiring Teacher-Librarian, looks at the whole child and where the school library fits into his/her education. Of the many concepts we have covered I believe that collaboration and advocacy are the two that will most shape my role as TL going forward. Playing an active role in classroom curriculum will increase my involvement in nurturing critical thinkers and improving literacy skills. Each student brings his or her own skills to the classroom, it is the job of an intuitive instructor to recognize when they are struggling, when they need to be challenged more, and when they need to be left to their own devices.
As part of my philosophy I have posted one of the goals of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), “to prepare students for life-long learning, informed decision-making, a joy of reading, and the use of information technologies”(AASL 2009). Learning is an active process and the changing landscape of
education, due to technology, requires that educators evolve as well as students. As an educator I have to be as inquisitive and curious as I expect my students to be, this involves educating myself on the tools available and showing a willingness to explore those tools such as: wikis, blogs, and social networking sites.
Having a philosophy that is organic and open to change is vital for my personal growth and the growth of my media center. I need to pay close attention to the needs of the faculty and students through surveys and by sitting in on level meetings. When adding to a collection one must take into account the racial make-up of a student body so as to have titles as diverse as the school’s population. Struggling readers and highly proficient readers should be accommodated equally. A collection that is challenging and engages students, set in an atmosphere that welcomes users and can competently assist them, creates a media center where users can thrive and want to come back to again and again. I look forward to working with the tools I’ve been introduced to this semester and, as I learn and grow, I expect my philosophy will transform as well.
http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aasleducation/schoollibrary/... (Retrieved May 04, 2011)
“School Librarianship Education Programs," American Library Association, July 24, 2006.
"Who School Librarians Are," American Library Association, July 06, 2009.
http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aboutaasl/aaslcommunity/quic... (Retrieved May 04, 2011)
Zmuda, Allison, & Harada, Violet. (2008). Librarians as learning specialists: meeting the learning imperative for the 21st century. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.
I am intrigued by this "whole child" view you speak about even as I think about how much time I spent investing in individual learners and their different styles in my own classroom. But what is successful in the classroom must surely be so in the school library classroom! Very good points, especially about being as equally "inquisitive and curious" as students, and I hope to see you again in other school librarian classes.
I like your adjectives, Jerry! Today's library programs, must be "vibrant," "dynamic" and "exciting" in order to engage our students and foster their learning. Your summary of the components of the library program- literature, information literacy,knowledge,ethics, and communication was excellent! You really tied it all together.
I have come away from my first school librarian course, Foundations of School Librarianship, with a renewed interest in technology and maintained my passion to help English Language Learners (ELLs) navigate and achieve through the difficult maze that is the U.S. public school system as well as my determination to celebrate and enlighten multiculturalism for all students. In my letter of intent, I spoke not only of my failures and successes with ELLs in the classroom but also of my dedication to have each child in my class feel celebrated about their unique cultures and traditions. It is a topic that is dear to me and one I hope to foster in the library I work at in the future!
Many articles today speak of children being left behind despite the No Child Left Behind learning standards and reforms passed several years ago. The fact is that ELLs and minority students are being left behind. In “Assessing English Language Learners’ Achievement”, Richard Duran cites several sources including National Assessment of Educational Progress tests where English Language learners score lower on reading and math tests than their English speaking peers across all grade levels (Duran, 2008). In “Reading Difficulties and Grade Retention” Bowman-Perrot and her colleagues state that in the past decade English Language Learner populations have increased 110% and that English Language Learners that have difficulty learning English are five times more likely to drop out of high school (Bowman-Perrot, 2010). While many states have programs to help elementary students learn English, ELLs “often require seven to ten years of instruction to develop cognitive academic language proficiency skills in the second language” which means that students with the misfortune to come to the U.S. during their middle school and high school years are at a distinct disadvantage (Bowman-Perrot). Since school librarians can only continue to exist by binding our goals towards student achievement and state standards, the effective learning strategies of ELLs in the library and technology classroom is a topic that I plan to pursue as a School Librarian. Helping ELLs and all other students be successful will always be a working goal for my school library.
Next and equally important, I have learned that being a school librarian in the 21st Century requires far more skill and knowledge in technology and instruction than I was aware of before I took this class. Luck for me, I am naturally interested in educational technologies and web tools. Through this course and my own research this semester I have found a wealth of tools, ideas and strategies to use when instructing students and teachers as well as presenting new materials or advocating my school library. Lenny Schad believes that “technology is the perfect tool for enhancing comprehension of difficult concepts” (Schad, 2011). I truly believe that technology skills are vitally important to achievement of 21st Century learners and as a school librarian I will be a fount of technology strategies and tools for my library users.
Last, this first semester of library school has cemented my resolve about the necessity and worth of school librarians. It is clear to me that I must constantly advocate for my school library and the job that I do in order to keep that job in an uncertain economy. From interviewing my power librarian, I learned that I should consistently report to my department head, principal, and parents the ways that I and the school library contribute to student achievement and learning (Tempel, 2011). I also must work to create advocates for school library programs within the educational community because these advocate will help me fight to keep effective and contributing school librarians in public schools doing the good work that we do. As a school librarian, I will be my biggest fan and toot my own horn so that I can continue to provide excellent services, instruction, and collaboration to help all students become the drivers of their 21st century learning and pilots of their future endeavors.
Bowman-Perrott, L., Herrera, S. and Murry, K. (2010) 'Reading Difficulties and Grade Retention: What's the Connection for English Language Learners?', Reading & Writing Quarterly, 26:1, 91 – 107
Duran, R. (2008) Assessing English-Language Learners’ Achievement. (n.d.). . Retrieved May 5, 2011, from http://0-rre.sagepub.com.skyline.ucdenver.edu/content/32/1/292.full
Lacina, J. (2004). Promoting language acquisitions: technology and English language learners. Childhood Education, 81, 2. p.113(3). Retrieved May 05, 2011, from Expanded Academic ASAP via Gale:
Schad, Lenny. (2011): "Harness technology to meet your students' diverse learning needs." Learning & Leading with Technology 38.6 42. Academic OneFile. Web. 5 May. 2011.
Tempel, A. personal communication, March 9, 2011.
I appreciate that you are focusing on ELLs and how the library fits into their development. You've really given me something to think about with regard to ELLs moving here during their Middle/high school years. We don't have English Language Learners at my school, one of the things this class has taught me is how little experience I have with low income, high risk children. I hope to one day have the opportunity to apply my skills to working with those who need my help the most!
It's been a great semester learning from each other and I hope we have more classes together in the future.