If there is one consistency in our ever-changing school library profession, it is the need to tell the world who we are, what we do, and why we’re essential workers.
Collaboration is always difficult for educators. But this pandemic year made it more so with the stress of remote/hybrid/in-person instruction, endless Zoom/Google Meets/Teams Meetings, and complicated schedules. Amidst the glut of resources, e-mails, and chat, librarians have to find ways to make their suggestions stand out like bold headlines. And what captures a busy educator’s attention as they scroll along?
Give suggestions that are specific and explicit.
For example, instead of sending your fellow teachers an e-mail with a general subject line like “Information Literacy Skill Website,” be deliberate. Will they know what that is? Will they care? Or will they delete or not bother to open the e-mail or post? Context matters. Instead, personalize the e-mail to a specific teacher. Try a subject line like “Incredible Lesson on Evaluating Misinformation in Media to Go with Your WW I Propaganda Lessons.” Make the curricular connection for the teacher with a link to the specific source. And then, follow up to ask if they received your e-mail. Did they have any questions? Suggest another source! Teach the lesson on misinformation in today’s conspiracy-ridden landscape to draw parallels for students’ direct experiences.
Gone are the days of teaching just equations. Today’s educators connect with students’ emotional lives, experiences, and identities.
So don’t limit collaboration to academics:
- Consider after-school clubs, programs, and events.
- Reach out to community organizations that work with students.
- Suggest specific titles from your library collection.
- Offer your expertise in culturally responsive sources, socio-emotional support opportunities, digital literacy, and authors!
Connecting with Families
Don’t forget to reach out to parents and family members. Many educators post resources to websites and newsletters, but to make genuine connections, arrange virtual and in-person family events: family literacy meetings, book talks and activities, college nights, gaming contests, job training, social and emotional supports. Work with your public library and community organizations to plan workshops and programming to maximize impact. Collaborate with your parent coordinator or an equivalent person at your school to add your announcements to texts, tweets, posts, newsletters, and the school website.
Remember, you can start small. Suppose you share a website such as Wide Open School from Common Sense and give a webinar on a specific source. Make it a series! Partner with a family to test out which activities work and why.
Take every moment to tell your school community who you are, what you do, and why you are essential to their children’s learning and achievement.
Author: Leanne Ellis
I am a School Library Coordinator for the New York City Department of Education’s Department of Library Services. I plan and deliver workshops, provide on-site instructional and program support to school librarians, coordinate programs, administer grants, and am program coordinator for MyLibraryNYC, a program administered with our three public library systems.