Often when people think of collaborations with the school library, English and Social Studies are the first subjects to come to mind. So much of the English and Social Studies curriculum is based around literacy and research making the school library a haven of resources and knowledge on these subjects. Science and math will also utilize the school library throughout for research, just not as frequently as English and Social Studies. I love to think outside the box for collaborations to bring teachers to not only reach more learners but also more teachers. A few of my favorite subjects for collaboration are the CTE department, Art department, and Athletics. Not only do these subjects push my skills but also build great relationships.
CTE (Career and Technical Education) Department
On my high school campus, we have a large CTE department with a large variety of courses offered to the learners. The CTE departments on my campus range from floral, agricultural, and welding to business technology classes, future educator classes, and cooking. These courses are a few of my favorites for collaboration because these at times make me think (and they are a blast!). I collaborated recently with the agriculture class where the teacher and I worked together to have learners research the animal that they wanted to raise. We included what the animal needs, how they are different from other animals, healthy weights for the animal, and what steps they need to take to be successful in caring for an animal. Not only did this help build knowledge of the animal that they wanted to raise but it also grew their research skills.
I also collaborated with the future educator classes by teaching them how to use picture books in lessons. For this lesson, learners found a state standard and found a picture book to go with that standard. Learners wrote out a lesson plan and read the book to the class. Picture books have a special place in my heart, so it was a wonderful experience being able to share that with these future educators.
The Art department is one of my favorite departments to work with. I was truly fortunate to have an amazing art department at the first high school I worked at. The entire department was always willing to collaborate in diverse ways from hosting Inktober every month to collaborating with research lessons on different artists or using the 3D printer to print different sculptures to bring art to life in the classroom. Art is a subject that most learners love and have fun with so when you can bring that love and fun to the school library; it is always a bonus.
Being in Texas, not a lot of people would think that the athletic department and the school library work together but that is exactly what I did with a program I started called Librarian in the Huddle. With Librarian in the Huddle, I collaborated with the athletic department to have a leadership book study that focused on service and giving back to the community. With the book study, we were able to put books in learners’ hands and meet them where they were all while building up leadership skills and community service skills. With this book study, we were able to collaborate with the varsity football, varsity boys’ basketball, and girls’ basketball teams. The idea of a leadership book study that gives back to the community through service, can be done with any athletic team from hockey to cheerleaders but also any learner group. The idea of a Librarian in the Huddle can be used with Student Council or Theater!
Collaborating might seem like something very daunting, especially when you are on a large high school campus, and you might not have relationships with all the teachers. Yet, so many great lessons and relationships can come out of collaborations.
Author: Jessica Fitzpatrick
Jessica Fitzpatrick is a high school librarian in Houston and is in her tenth year of education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Houston and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas. She is a 2022 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, 2022 TLA MVP, an AASL Inspire Special Event Grant recipient, 2022 YALSA’s MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens, the 2022 TLA Branding Award Winner for Reading Program, the 2020 TLA Branding Award Winner for Community Engagement, YALS article contributor, and on the TAYSHAS Reading Committee. She enjoys running, reading, and spending time with her two daughters and husband. You can follow her on Instagram at @librarian_fitz and on Twitter at @librarianfitz .
Categories: Community/Teacher Collaboration