Now is the time to nominate! School librarians and their administrators were in attendance at the Friday morning General Session at the 2021 AASL National Conference in Salt Lake City where several members of the AASL School Leader Collaborative spoke. For the past two years this group of remarkable school administrators has had a profound impact by highlighting and championing our role as school librarian leaders who transform teaching and learning. NOW is the time to nominate the next cohort of school administrators for the AASL School Leader Collaborative who will be at the 2023 AASL National Conference in Tampa. The school librarian of a selected nominee will receive complimentary registration to the 2023 AASL National Conference in Tampa and a $500 stipend for conference attendance. Do you have a school administrator who could speak to your valuable leadership role? Start thinking about the administrators you know. Can they speak and write about the leadership role of school librarians? Can they be instrumental in championing your role to a broad audience?
AASL is looking for school administrators to champion the exceptional leadership role of school librarians. School Librarians have always reshaped teaching and learning in a myriad of ways, but your role in these past few ever-changing years has been even broader and critical to learner success. By providing on-site and virtual personalized learning, instruction, resources, and social-emotional learning for students and your educator colleagues, school librarians have been leaders to transform teaching and learning and strengthen the vital connections among school, home, and community. The power of having you as a leader in the school community where you see and know all the learners is paramount as educators continue to provide deep learning, literacy, equity, inclusion, and social, emotional learning support for the entire learning landscape including students, parents, and educators.
Let’s revisit the impactful messages about your many leadership roles from the first cohort of AASL School Leader Collaborative administrators. Sean Doherty reflects, “School librarians have shown their unique ability to adapt and be flexible during the pandemic, which ultimately contributes to the success of our learners. Our school librarians are not admiring problems or challenges. It is also really important to acknowledge our school librarians haven’t been waiting for people to tell them what to do. They have taken the stance of “here’s a problem we need to solve and here’s how we’re going to make it happen.” They have adapted the way they are teaching lessons by making the school library more mobile, they have set new risk mitigation measures to keep students and staff safe and have been able to continue to promote a love of reading with our learners.”
You as school librarians also possess distinct skills and attributes that position you for leadership in professional learning designed to equip your fellow educators to cultivate the next generation of leaders. Principal Joel Hoag describes the school librarian’s expertise, “As our economies and world policies are driven more and more by the ability to conceptualize new techniques and practices that draw on information from a variety of disciplines, school librarians are in a perfect position to prepare learners for the demands of being highly successful beyond school. Implementing the integrated frameworks of the AASL Standards in the school library and sharing them with colleagues will ensure that learners have educational experiences that mimic the complex work needed to be leaders in our emerging future.” Likewise, school administrator Kelly Gustafson champions your leadership skills in providing professional learning, “School librarians follow a framework that reinforces the importance of modeling and supporting curriculum by engaging faculty, students, and families in their leadership web. They unpack the questions a learner might have before it is asked. The adults and students are invited to discover new information (i.e. professional development questions or research seeking questions for a student’s assignment). The school librarian is attentive to their needs and also supports consideration of opposing viewpoints for the learner to consider. Their systematic approach, to engage faculty in professional development opportunities or with learners taking risks with innovative projects, prioritizes the need for a school librarian leader.” Gustafson goes on to share, “My success as a school principal and an administrator in Pennsylvania is a product of being shaped by school librarians.”
So how do these AASL Collaborative members suggest to their fellow school administrators that they foster the type of adaptive leadership and support a school library that resonates day in and day out, in calm or challenging times? Superintendent April Grace contends that as an administrator, “The impact of the school library or the school librarian can only be in direct proportion to your (an administrator’s) own willingness to elevate, encourage, and empower that person (the school librarian) and that space (school library) as a central part of the learning experience for all of your students and your staff. So, if we are not willing to advocate to put resources there, to put money where our mouth is, we are not going to have that space be all that it can be nor are you going to have that person have the voice and the authority and the influence you’d like them to be.” Superintendent Sean Doherty goes on to suggest, “Make sure you are listening to those unreasonable requests, sometimes school librarians might have some ideas that might be a little bit out of the box or things that are “no way we can possibly do that”, but those are the ideas that you should be listening to because they’re the things that are going to grow your school and ultimately impact students.”
You can submit a nomination form for a principal or superintendent who has shown support for the role of school librarians and school libraries for transforming teaching and learning. The administrator will need to complete a form indicating their willingness to participate and submit a curriculum vitae. More details about the expectations for Collaborative members may be found in the online forms. All forms are due by March 21, 2022.
More insights from the administrators in the AASL School Leader Collaborative are available in these videos:
- Administrators Partner with School Librarians: https://youtu.be/9fkTsLHFkS8
- Administrators on School Librarians Leading Collaboration: https://youtu.be/Ysl6sc2rP-s
- Administrators on #AASLstandards: https://youtu.be/aMhTH0M6kNo
- Administrators on EDI and School Libraries: https://youtu.be/1n-peqbB50g
Think about the school administrators you know! Nominations must be completed by March 21, 2022.
Author: Kathryn Roots Lewis & Kathy Carroll
Kathryn Roots Lewis is the retired director of libraries and instructional technology for Norman Public Schools (OK). Kathryn served as the 2018-2019 AASL President. Kathy Carroll was the 2020-2021 AASL President. She is the Lead Teacher Librarian at Westwood High School in Blythewood, SC.