The New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) is thrilled to have won an AASL Past-Presidents Planning Grant for National School Library Standards. NJASL is the only statewide organization for school librarians in New Jersey. We advocate for high standards for librarianship and school libraries in public, private, and parochial schools in New Jersey to inspire excellence in school librarianship and learning. Our 800+ members live and work all over the state of New Jersey, from Cape May to Sussex and all points in between. The members of the NJASL Standards Subcommittee are Gabrielle Casieri (Lawrence Intermediate School), Christina Cucci (Reynolds Elementary School), LaDawna Harrington (Millburn High School), Jill Mills (Milton Avenue School), and Hilda Weisburg (AASL Affiliate).
NJASL has been committed to providing our members with AASL Standards support and training. Prior to receiving this grant, we sponsored a one-day workshop so our county representatives could become trainers and build strategies for connecting our members to implementation of AASL’s National School Library Standards in local school districts. Those trainers/leaders facilitated two-part sessions at the 2018 NJASL Fall Conference connecting the theory and practice of the standards. The conference was held December 2-4, 2018, and was well-attended by our members.
The first part of the conference session included understanding the standards and symbology. The second part of the session provided support for practical application of the standards and competencies to lessons at every grade level.
NJASL plans to use our grant funding to build on the standards training our leaders received. Our desire is to broaden the conversation about AASL Standards to include the collaborative teachers and administrators with whom our members work each day. We will deliver a program utilizing Guided Inquiry Design to build strategies for connecting collaborative teachers and administrators to implementation of AASL’s National School Library Standards in local school districts across the state.
Our first Leader Planning Workshop was held Saturday, September 14. The goal of the workshop was to coordinate strategies and develop turnkey resources and marketing for presentations about the standards for all our district stakeholders: administrators, teachers, and parents. We have three teams working on these presentations and will reconvene November 2 to finalize the presentations before our 2019 fall conference December 9–10. At our fall conference, we will be seeking commitments from our county leaders to develop collaborative teams in their districts. Each collaborative team should seek to include a school librarian, collaborative teacher(s), and an administrator (curriculum supervisor, principal, etc.). PTO/PTA leaders will also be invited to be part of the team. Leadership should be a partnership that is shared by the leaders and the group members and the goal of these collaborative team workshops is to shift the balance of understanding and implementation of standards to the shared ownership of the collaborative team.
Grant funding will provide our presenters and team members with the standards app, pamphlets of the Framework for Learners, and standards bookmarks. Our ultimate goal is to make it clear to our stakeholders that the AASL National School Library Standards are relevant to every curriculum because the standards support student achievement.
Our county leaders have begun to broaden the conversation about the AASL Standards to include collaborative teachers and administrators. We are providing tools so that our county representatives can be confident about how the standards support the school library and the curriculum and will be able to communicate how to best integrate the standards into learning experiences. In future programs, collaborative teachers and administrators will understand how to implement the AASL Standards, especially the Shared Foundations, in their existing and future curricula. Ultimately, all stakeholders will have a knowledge base to better understand that school libraries are a priority in each building.
We believe it is essential to broaden the conversation about the AASL Standards to include collaborative teachers and administrators in addition to school librarians. By working with our county representatives to provide collaborative teachers and administrators with the tools to develop a deep understanding of the standards and training strategies that they can implement with their students and stakeholders, NJASL will ensure consistent proactive implementation of the AASL Standards throughout the state of New Jersey.