By Kathleen Roberts, AASL Standards editorial board member
As a member of the AASL Standards editorial board, I have been having conversations about the new standards—the revision process, the wording of the integrated frameworks, the implementation tools—for the last three years. I appreciated the opportunity to ask questions, have discussions, and bring the building-level school librarian voice to those conversations.
In November 2017, at the AASL National Conference, the National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries were unveiled and the conversations became much larger. People were excited to see how the AASL Standards had evolved and how the six Shared Foundations and their Domains could be incorporated into instruction to benefit educators and learners. Deborah Rinio wrote a blog post, “What We Learned About Ourselves”, highlighting what participants had taken away from the wrap-up session created for AASL17 attendees to process what they had learned during the conference. You can also hear how school librarians reacted to the new standards in an AASL Standards Launch Video as they started their own conversations on site in Phoenix.
AASL has continued encouraging professionals to process the new standards together by developing a series of complimentary eCOLLAB webinars. Some of these webinars deal with navigating the resource-rich AASL Standards web portal, understanding the new language of Competencies, and explaining the new structure of the AASL Standards. Webinars are being archived and updated consistently to meet the needs of members and professionals nationally.
At the local level, the state affiliates have done an incredible job of rolling out the AASL Standards. Mary Keeling and Sara Kelly Johns moderated the March 20 webinar “Your State Association Supporting AASL Standards for your Local Context” that featured examples of how states around the country are making the standards accessible to their local members. Grants are also being offered to AASL Affiliate state organizations through the AASL Past-Presidents Planning Grant for National School Library Standards for the implementation of the standards.
As we approach School Library Month (SLM)—a celebration deeply rooted in making connections—how do we keep these AASL Standards conversations going? More importantly, have we started conversations with different stakeholders locally to show how these new standards make a difference in our communities?
Making authentic connections with other educators is key to the success of the school library. These connections can be made through professional development sessions or collaboration meetings that incorporate the Shared Foundations and Domains into upcoming lessons. Share your lessons, questions, and innovations with your peers on AASL’s Discussion Forums. AASL has developed an Educator one-pager that helps other educators understand how each Shared Foundation can be put into action through collaboration with the school librarian. Materials in various media types are available through the AASL Standards web portal to help school librarians continue conversations that make connections. Coming up, I will be presenting a webinar “Making & Amplifying Educator Connections” on April 10 to help identify starting points in the AASL Standards to create connections with other educators.
There are multiple ways to start the conversation with administrators. There is the freely downloadable AASL Standards Framework for Learners, or packs of 10 in the ALA Store to hand out, that display how the Shared Foundations, Domains, and Competencies/Alignments support instruction. The informative “Connecting with Policymakers” blog post and associated webinar “Connecting the Dots: A Look at the National School Library Standards for Policymakers” was given by Mary Keeling, Kathryn Lewis, and Kathy Mansfield in January. This week, about 90,000 superintendents and elementary principals will be receiving the “Because Everyone Is a Learner” infographic sponsored by Bound to Stay Bound Books. This poster is a great conversation starter that emphasizes the services provided by the school library and school librarian. There are more resources for the ALA Libraries Transform campaign available online, each one of them substantiated with research and statistics. This mailing is an opportunity to make a connection with your school or district administrator. Ask them about the mailing they received and use it as a platform to discuss the goals your share!
Incorporating the language of the Shared Foundations, Domains, and Competencies/Alignments into conversations with learners will get them interested in the new standards. These conversations can be started through formal lessons or informal questions about research, choosing books, or selecting resources. Kicking off AASL’s run of SLM webinars, Elizabeth Burns will be presenting the webinar “Making & Assessing Learner Connections through the AASL Standards” on April 4 to help develop strategies for implementation. Applying the learner standards to lesson objectives is easier than ever with the format and structure of the new AASL Standards!
It has been exciting to watch as school librarians process the new standards by asking questions and offering ideas for implementation, and as they realize the impact these new standards make on our profession. Thank you for keeping those conversations going and strengthening those connections to our standards, to our stakeholders, and to each other!