Help the Teachers Teach

How to help the willing co-teachers

There are many ways to help classroom teachers, but the ultimate has to be a co-teaching situation. In my experience, teaching research and library skills in a vacuum is not effective. Students may learn important skills in the library; however, when the skills are not used on a project or assignment that means something to the student, the knowledge quickly fades.

In order to find willing co-teachers at your school:

  • Study the curriculum at your school.
  • Look for opportunities to help with the standards that students need to master in a particular discipline.
  • When possible, offer to “take the show on the road.”
  • Make time to plan with a classroom teacher.
  • Try to snag an invite to departmental meetings.

How to help the willing collaborators

With the challenges of standardized testing and other pressures teachers face, many are unwilling to share even a moment of valuable classroom time. Many teachers want to use the library, but we must make it easy to collaborate. The busiest teachers may not be willing to co-teach, but they may welcome collaboration especially if it saves them time.

American Writers author study collection

American Writers author study collection

Some ways to help the willing collaborators:

  • Find resources that add value to a course, for example, lists of supplemental books and resources for an AP class.
  • Build a Pathfinder or LibGuide for a research or reading project.
  • Set aside a special collection for a project or course.
  • Look for lesson planning materials for a difficult concept and pass these along to teachers.

How to help the unwilling

Let’s face it, even though librarians are awesome, some teachers (and administrators) may not think they need us. Though it is tempting to leave the unwilling teachers alone, it is wrong of us to rob them of the blessing of a great librarian. This may be the most difficult group to reach, but once you win them over they will be your biggest cheerleaders.

The keys to reaching the unwilling

  • Focus on improving your professional collection.
  • Advertise your professional collection in faculty meetings.
  • Collect online best-practice articles and share them with your faculty.
  • Offer to conduct in-service for faculty.
  • Be a little subversive and obtain information from students. “What projects are you working on in Ms. Smith’s class?”
  • Become an expert user of your state’s virtual library and share discipline-related articles from the library with faculty.
  • Print or copy the table of contents of an education journal and pop it in a teacher’s mailroom slot with a sticky note asking if you can provide access to any of these articles.
  • If all else fails, have a library party with food!

If you have a tip or trick to help teachers teach, please share your ideas in the comments. Something that you might think is just common knowledge might not have occurred to others.

Sites Referenced in this post.

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Author: Hannah Byrd Little

Hello, I am the Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle. I use my past experience in college and university libraries to help my current students in school libraries transition into college, career, and life. I am currently the lead Senior Class Adviser for the Capstone Project. I also served at the state level with the Tennessee Association of School Librarians executive board from 2009-2013 and was the TASL president in 2012. I am certified as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, have a BS in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Information Systems and a Masters in Library and Information Science.



Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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1 reply

  1. Being willing to help teachers really does work. Our school had been without a librarian for a couple of years when I took over. I won’t say it was easy to help teachers change their mindset, but now most of ur teachers ask for help in a variety of ways.
    I do a PK story time in the classroom that coordinates with the teachers’ curriculum and includes suitable activity sheets

    Teachers can and do request particular materials be set aside for class projects. These are loaded onto a cart for the students to use in the library or the cart can be taken to the classroom.

    Teachers are also beginning to request help for particular students who are participating in special activities.

    Another group using the library resources is the special services teachers, particularly those working with remedial activities. Through the library management program I can provide teachers with a list of books checked out by the students for the past four years, giving them an idea of their reading activities.

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