Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The teacher part of teacher librarianship

I'm an old school teacher librarian.  I see myself as a teacher first and librarian second and I try not to ever forget how hard it is being a classroom teacher.  So, in this post I want to talk about the teacher part of being a teacher librarian.

For me, the teacher role of the teacher librarian can really be divided into 6 different categories.

1. Project design.  I love this part of my job.  I love collaborating with my colleagues and creating new and engaging projects.  For me, when we sit down and create a project, I try to use any time we have to hash out the details and I draft out the project during my library time.  I believe it is important to use any release time for conversations around curriculum, not word processing and formatting.

2. Teaching. I think it is important to keep teaching and I'm not talking about teaching library skills (although that is important too).  My colleagues recognize that we are team teaching when their classes are in the library.  I'll go around and help with individual student questions and I'll stop the class to teach some clarifying point if necessary.

3. Resource support.  Of course I am constantly pulling resources for teachers and finding appropriate websites to tie in with their units.  I also believe I am responsible for digital leadership.  I have the time to look at web tools, determine their usefulness, and match them up with the most suitable teacher user.

4. Behavioural support.  Seriously, I see behaviour support as falling under my umbrella.  When a teacher comes into the library, I try to take on the problem student.  I have to keep in mind that the teacher is dealing with this student all year and probably would like a break too. 

5. Assessment. I go over unit plans, plan projects, read over formative benchmarks, and design rubrics.  I think we have created common language around assessment throughout the school and have made sure that our assessment practices and the learning outcomes align.  I also do a lot of marking during the school year because it helps teachers, teachers are more likely to use the library if they know I'm helping with the marking, and it keeps me in the loop.

6. Counsellor.  If you know me, you know that I would make a lousy counsellor.  I think all non enrolling teachers are counsellors to a certain degree.  We are easily accessible for our colleagues and we understand the frustrations of the classroom.  I think this role of a sounding board is important because classroom teachers are so isolated and really need a person they can talk to at any time.

Don't get me wrong, I do say no to teachers.  And I am finding I am saying no more often and more emphatically because I want my colleagues to know that I am there to help but I am not there to take advantage of.  It certainly can be a fine line at times.  That said, I love my job and I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

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