Every year I enjoy looking at the year-end reports that people share. I always find it interesting what and how people represent their library. However, I often think, “Man, I wish I would have thought to keep track of that or taken pictures of this.” Yet, when a new school year rolls around, I do not always make the needed change. This year, I am planning what data I want to collect long before I need to share it.
To me, the data I collect represents what I feel is the most important parts of my practice. I have always used the data to reflect on my teaching. Data keeps me honest! Yet, in recent years I have discovered how data is one of the best ways to advocate for the library services. When talking to stakeholders, having specific examples, visuals, and statistics make sharing the importance of the library a much easier task. Data is more than just the numbers you collect, such as number of classes taught, circulation stats, or co-teaching minutes. To me, it also includes the pictures, projects, and student/teacher feedback. How do you keep track of it all?
Planning how I am going to keep track of this information will be the only way I will have what I need at the end of the year. I have decided that I am going to focus on the kinds of activities that relate to teaching and learning. Of course, I will still share traditional statistics, but want to focus on things that not just anyone can do. I want to make sure to highlight why having a certified librarian is a necessity.
Step 1: Keep It Simple
- Data Binder: This year I plan to keep a binder on my desk. In the binder, I will have a form for each teacher. This will tell me the date, the amount of time that was spent, if the lesson was co-taught, the kind of activity, and additional notes. Last year, I discovered that I worked with one classroom forty-two times and another only fourteen. I am hoping by separating the data by teacher, I can work to find balance so all students are receiving the complete library curriculum. Click here to see the data form I plan to use this year.
- Google Calendar: Since I have a flexible schedule my day changes a lot. I needed a calendar that could do the same. I color code each grade level. Then, when I schedule classes I add a title of the lesson so I can easily know where I am supposed to be, but also can look back. Additionally, I can send the teacher an invitation so it makes it easy for them to keep track too.
- Pictures: This year they will be kept in a folder in my Google drive to make it easy to find them.
- Videos: I have library YouTube channel that keeps video projects that we create organized and easy to access.
Step 2: Keep It Often
This is a problem I have had in the past. It became too time-consuming to keep track of. I stopped and then had a difficult time providing accurate information. Last year, I started making sure it was part of my daily routine. After the last class of the day I would take a few minutes and update my data form. When I made it part of my day it became easier to complete.
Step 3: Share It
This is the most important part! If you are going to spend time keeping data then you need to review and share it. At the end of the year, I create a library report that I share with my building and district administrators. I also take a few minutes to share the highlights with my colleagues. What I collect often allows me to write my professional goals for the following year as well. Here is my end of the year report from the 2016 – 2017 school year.
What kind of data do you plan to keep? How do you keep track?
Just for fun: If you are looking for the kinds of reports people have shared, you can check out this list that can been collected by the fabulous Jennifer LaGarde.
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a librarian for the past five years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair.