Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Evolving Advocacy

If you read my blog post, Admin and the TL, then you know my struggle with advocacy. My current administrators have commented on several occasions that they don't really understand what I do in the library. While I really do appreciate their honesty, I am quite frustrated that after three years at my school, they are still at a loss as to how to describe the role of the teacher librarian. What frustrates me most though, is that I know my administrators are not alone.

I had thought that advocacy was one area of my teacher librarianship that was strong. I do monthly reports that have evolved over the years to fit the administrators' focus. I meet with my principal to go over the monthly report and meet once a month to talk about everything from the future of the library to concerns. I invite administration into the library to see projects in action. I include them on emails to staff. I organize collaborative time for teachers and invite admin to join. I thought I was keeping them well informed of what I do but I was mistaken.

After our meeting about the November data, I came home and reflected on what had transpired. The meeting itself went very well as my principal took time out of his very busy schedule to go through, item by item, the entire report. Yet, he once again stated that he still didn't fully understand what I do as a teacher librarian. Clearly a monthly report of data and ancedotal evidence was not painting a vivid image of the daily life of this teacher librarian. We have joked in the past that the best way for him to understand what I do would be to job shadow me for a day but we both know he simply doesn't have time to do that. I mulled the problem over all evening and texted my library assistant late in the day with a proposed plan.

For the next two days, my library assistant followed me around and photographed everything I did. There were photos of me co-teaching, collaborating, talking about assessment, helping students find good fit books, helping students with school work, dealing with plagiarism, pulling resources, organizing resources, marking, and delivering resources to teachers.  I threw all the photos into a powerpoint with brief descriptions of what was happening in each photo and sent it off to my administrators and waited.

My administrators talk a lot about Making Learning Visible and Sketchnotes so I was hoping my more visual presentation would resound positively with them and it did. My principal emailed me about it, talked to me about it and came up to the library to talk to my library assistant about it. It's a start. Do I think my advocacy work is done? Hell no. Advocacy is never done. What I know is that I need to keep coming up with different ways to articulate what it is that I do so that my administrative team understands the importance of a fully funded teacher librarian and library program. Can't wait to see what I dream up for next month's meeting.

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