You are a connected educator; you would not be reading this if you weren’t. I do not need to tell you all the benefits of being connected to your students, colleagues, and the outside world. You know! Yet, I wonder how many of us have actually thought about how interwoven these connections have become. Recently, I was asked to make a presentation to my colleagues about the benefits of making connections. I ended up talking about the evolution of the library and how making connections has been the main reason for the change. In my reflection, I discovered how big of an impact these connections have had.
When I started at my school in 2011, I inherited a fabulous library. My predecessor had worked hard to develop a place where children loved to read. Her collection development was nothing short of amazing! However, this wonderful place was a wonderful island. It was a stand-alone program and could have been so much more.
So what could I do? Well, you guessed it, make connections with the students and teachers as well other librarians who were transforming their libraries. I needed a class in Connections 101!
The Outside World:
You would think that I would start with making connections with kids. Truly, they drive every decision I make, but the outside world is really where I get all my best ideas. I will be the first person to tell you that most of my ideas are not my own. In the words of the famous Harry Wong, “Here’s the biggest secret to teaching success…Beg, Borrow, and Steal!” (2009). So Twitter has become my new best friend. I love Pinterest, following blogs and watching webinars. There is always something more to learn and share!
Those Cute Kiddos:
My students are the reason behind everything I do. Questioning the what, the why, and the how keeps pushing the lesson or project forward. For me, student driven projects really are the difference maker. By listening and allowing them to own their learning it has engaged students who I might have lost in the past.
I Teach, What you Teach:
Connecting with curriculum is something that librarians have been doing since, well, forever. We have to know our own curriculum objectives as well as everyone else’s. I have found that asking the right questions and being a bit nosy (or pushy in a nice way) is the key making connections when it comes to curriculum.
We are all in this Together:
I am lucky enough to have convinced some teachers to co-teach with me on a few lessons and projects. (I am not sure they knew what they were getting into, but now there is no going back!) Participating in co-taught lessons is far from the stand-alone library program of old. The children have started to see me as a part of their class and not just a wonderful island. And that, my friends, is awesome.
Do you have a great strategy or example where connections pushed your lesson to the great beyond? I would love to hear about it!
Wong, H. & Wong, R. (2009). How to be an effective teacher: The first days of school. Mountain View: Harry K. Wong Publications.
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 nine 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. I was most recently a member of ALA’s Ready to Code (RtC) Task Force.