By Judy Deichman, member of the standards implementation task force
Middle school is just like being the proverbial middle child, but I look at it as an opportunity! I take that time in our students’ lives as a way to have an impact during a rough period and to change their mindset. Being a middle school librarian gives you a very distinct and unmistakable opening to connect with students, guardians, and the community while sharing, using, communicating, and promoting our National School Library Standards.
- Display the AASL Standards Framework for Learners in prominent places in your library. This communicates your expectations of your students and gives them a framework for completing their assignments. Middle school learners realize and know what standards mean. By displaying the learner standards, students can monitor the personal growth in their education and take true ownership of that learning experience. Create learner standards bookmarks to hand out to students.
- Indicate learner standards on collaborative lesson plans with your educator partners. We automatically include state standards or Common Core standards on lesson plans; we should always incorporate our learner standards in these plans as well. I use a collaborative lesson plan template that has drop-down tabs to insert National School Library Standards for learners where indicated. By sharing our learner standards with the educators and administrators in the building, we are promoting and championing the importance of our work.
- And my personal favorite: I use postcards to share learner successes and examples of the students exemplifying the learner standards with parents and guardians. I choose one student per day and draft a postcard in which I highlight their educational achievement. I personally handwrite and address each postcard. It only takes a few minutes of my day, but the long-term effect is outstanding! As we know, most middle school parents and guardians only receive negative correspondence or communications from the school, especially during middle school. These postcards become a shining beacon of light in their students’ educational path. It is amazing to watch a student come to school after receiving a postcard at home. They walk taller and have a different mindset about school and the library. Parents and guardians talk to other parents in the community. Lo and behold, we have created a community of people who know that the school library has standards and they have had a positive effect on the children of our school.
Download a standards-branded postcard template from the AASL Standards web portal to replicate this activity in your community.
Ultimately, all of these efforts, actions, and communications seep their way into the community and exemplify the impact a school library has on the school, learners, educators, administrators and other school librarians. Stakeholders become aware of our educational impact. Our National School Library Standards not only give us credibility, they support us in all of our actions. Use them daily in your middle school library!
Author: AASL Standards and Guidelines Implementation Task Force