“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”
—attributed to John Dewey. Dewey, John. 1933. How We Think. Boston, MA: D.C. Heath and Co.
So, here we are about halfway through the school year, give or take a couple of weeks. The midway point of the year is a perfect time to reflect on where you are and think about what’s next. For me, I like to take the time to look back at what I have experienced and accomplished, celebrate my successes, and look forward to what can be in the coming semester.
I look at every new semester as an opportunity to tweak and reimagine my vision and the actions that lead to the realization of that vision. I am always excited to reflect on my work, redefine it, and take new actions that will propel me forward. So how do I do this? And how can you?
In my district-level position, I ask myself several guiding questions on a regular basis that you can most certainly adjust for your own practice:
- Am I doing what is right for learners?
- How am I empowering and supporting school librarians to transform teaching and learning?
- How am I providing district leadership and vision in libraries, learning, and technology?
I use the National School Library Standards to guide my reflection on these questions. Whether you have already taken a deep dive into the National School Library Standards or are still in the skimming phase (there’s no time like the present to take the plunge), the standards can help us figure out where we are and what’s next for our practice. As a district school library director, I started by using the district-level portion of the “School Library Evaluation Checklist” to assess my progress toward the Key Commitments of the six Shared Foundations, which align with my guiding questions.
Let me illustrate my process. One of the elements under Explore on the district-level portion of the checklist is:
The district-level supervisor or director provides for district in-service training for school librarians to foster leadership, competence, and creativity in developing instruction, services, and programs for the library.
For this Shared Foundation, I listed all the actions I have taken this semester that related to this element such as regular meetings with activities related to implementing the standards into daily practice that supports all learners. My next step was reviewing all the elements and selecting one in each of the Shared Foundations that I wanted to focus on. For these six, I developed a goal for next semester for each one.
For example, for the above element in Explore, I created this very doable, action-oriented goal:
Provide opportunities for school librarians to observe one another using the lens of the Shared Foundations to guide their observation and provide a collaborative, participatory process for the school librarians to debrief these observations.
As a building-level school librarian, you can use the building-level portion of the checklist to inform your practice much the way I am doing. The key is selecting which elements you want to focus on. The next step after you identify the elements is setting goals and then determining strategies to accomplish them. Always remember that everyone’s practice is continually evolving. Thus, it is important to make your goals doable in the timeframe you have and revisiting them as your practice grows.
The are many resources to help you with goal setting and supporting strategies within the online standards materials and the standards book.
In the National School Library Standards book, check out:
- Best Practices organized by Shared Foundation in Part II, “Standards Integrated Frameworks”
- Learner Competencies in Depth organized by Shared Foundation in Part II, “Standards Integrated Frameworks”
- School Librarian Competencies in Depth organized by Shared Foundations in Part II, “Standards Integrated Frameworks”
- School Library Alignments in Depth organized by Shared Foundations in Part II, “Standards Integrated Frameworks”
- Chapter 11, “Meeting the AASL Standards: Measuring Success”
- Chapter 13, “Measuring School Librarian Growth”
- Chapter 14, “Evaluating School Libraries”
Learner-ready school librarians use reflective practice to inform the work they do day in and day out for ALL learners in their school communities! You’ve got this!
Happy New Year!