Preparation is the Key
When I was in librarianship school, one of the most important pieces of advice that I received was to be prepared. I learned that I should have a policy manual ready to consult for matters such as collection development, book challenges, donations, and guidelines for daily operations. Heeding this advice, I was always prepared with a manual that I could refer to. But sometimes you cannot find the answers in a policy manual.
When those situations occurred, I found that preparing myself may require me to reflect on the guidelines that serve as a foundation for our professional practice. This week, as I watched the news, I considered some statements from the “Core Values of Librarianship” (American Library Association [ALA], 2004).
- “We value our nation’s diversity and strive to reflect that diversity by providing a full spectrum of resources and services to the communities we serve” (ALA, 2004, para. 8).
- “ALA recognizes its broad social responsibilities. The broad social responsibilities of the American Library Association are defined in terms of the contribution that librarianship can make in ameliorating or solving the critical problems of society; support for efforts to help inform and educate the people of the United States on these problems and to encourage them to examine the many views on and the facts regarding each problem…” (ALA, 2004, para. 15).
Librarians as Change Agents
Because school librarians work with youth, we try to provide them with the most stable environments and we often avoid polarizing topics. Then there are those times that we find an elephant in the room standing right in front of us. Lately heated debates about race, violence, and diversity have been prevalent in the news. Although there is unrest, I appreciate the potential impact that a school librarian can have on their community. Librarians often serve as the unassuming presence of reason.
Think about this. Librarians are change agents. In 2014, it was librarians, teachers, and community volunteers that served as unifying forces when the schools were closed in Ferguson, Missouri, after race riots (Berry, 2015). Last year, the ALA Council passed a resolution against racism and gun violence when nine people (including the librarian Cynthia G. Hurd) were shot while worshiping in church (ALA, 2015). This year, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) cancelled its national institute in North Carolina in response to the state’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (House Bill 2). This action was taken because the law “repealed all LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances across the state” (American Libraries, 2016, para. 2).
Facing the Elephant in the Room
So here we are. The topic that I feel warrants our attention is the interpretation of Title IX in relation to transgender students. It is an issue of diversity that will touch every public school in the United States. A statement was issued to notify public school districts that to receive federal funds,
when a student or the student’s parent or guardian, as appropriate, notifies the school administration that the student will assert a gender identity that differs from previous representations or records, the school will begin treating the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. (U.S. Department of Justice & U.S. Department of Education, 2016, p. 2)
This interpretation of Title IX has many implications for schools. These implications include providing safe environments, the correction of education records, the availability of facilities, participation in activities, and the use of identification documents, names, and pronouns consistent with each student’s gender identity.
There will not be much discussion of the topic in many school districts. However, there may be school districts that will have protests. Perhaps the greatest impact will happen in middle schools and high schools. Regardless of how the change will occur, as a school librarian, there may be a time when you will need to address the legal requirements. In addition, you may find yourself navigating issues related to social responsibility and supporting diversity. Because of the nature of our profession, we already strive to collectively ensure the best treatment of all of our students. We have the ability to address difficult issues by unifying our school communities by providing educational resources and sustaining healthy, student-friendly environments.
While you may not have to make any changes this year, you could find the elephant knocking at your door one day. Are you prepared? I am by no means an expert in this type of situation. However, here are my suggestions.
- Become familiar with your school district’s policies.
- Read the letter from the Department of Education and Department of Justice.
- Be knowledgeable about your students’ gender identities. Consult with your administration to determine if there are students in your school that have changed their gender identity.
- Have a candid conversation with your administrators about their interpretation of district policies to ensure consistency.
- Don’t forget to update your library records and library cards.
- Address your students according to their gender preference.
In closing, I want to re-emphasize that I am not an expert on this topic. Nor do I mean to impose my opinions on you. Instead, I recognize that we are in uncharted waters. This post is for informational purposes. I believe that it is better to be proactive rather than reactive. It doesn’t hurt to reflect on the topic as we move forward. As usual, I have shared some professional development opportunities for you to consider below this week’s references.
American Library Association. (2015). ALA Council resolutions respond to racism and gun violence. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2015/07/ala-council-resolutions-respond-racism-and-gun-violence
American Library Association. (2004). Core values of librarianship. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/statementspols/corevalues
American Libraries. (2016). ALSC board votes to cancel national institute in Charlotte: Meeting canceled in response to HB2 law. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/alsc-board-votes-cancel-national-institute-charlotte/
Berry, J.N. (2015). 2015 Gale/LJ library of the year: Ferguson municipal public library, MO, courage in crisis. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/06/awards/2015-galelj-library-of-the-year-ferguson-municipal-public-library-mo-courage-in-crisis/#_
Johnny_automatic. (Photographer). (2006, December 20). Girl elephant [digital image]. Retrieved from https://openclipart.org/detail/2169/girl-elephant
U.S. Department of Justice and Us. Department of Education. (2016). Dear colleague letter on transgender students. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201605-title-ix-transgender.pdf
June 2016 Professional Development
Title: Why Should You Flip Your Classroom? An Introduction
- Organization: Simple K12
- Date: Thursday, June 2, 2016 @ 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm EDT
- Description: You’ve likely heard the buzz about the Flipped Classroom, but do you know what flipping your classroom really means? Here’s your chance to learn all about this exciting movement in education, and how you can use it to gain more hands-on time in class. Join Monica Burns as she discusses the Flipped Classroom concept, how it works, why teachers are trying it, and where you can get started. Come decide if it’s right for you!
- Link: http://community.simplek12.com/scripts/student/webinars/view.asp?id=2265
Title: Using Virtual Field Trips in Your Flipped or Blended Classroom
- Organization: Simple K12
- Date: Thursday, June 2, 2016 @ 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm EDT
- Description: We all know that field trips can be incredible educational experiences for students, particularly those students with limited backgrounds. However, because of cost and logistics, field trips aren’t always feasible. Virtual field trips can provide these valuable learning experiences without the expense, and have the added bonus of working well in flipped and blended classrooms. Join Jayme Linton as she explains how to create a virtual field trip experience for your students. She will explore a variety of resources for designing virtual field trips that will engage students and encourage exploration. Jayme will also share a number of ideas for virtual field trips for a variety of disciplines and discuss how you can use them in either a flipped or blended classroom. No permission forms or bag lunches required!
- Link: http://community.simplek12.com/scripts/student/webinars/view.asp?id=2266
Title: Content Area Vocabulary Strategies
- Organization: Teachers First
- Date: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm CDT
- Description: Explore the latest research and strategies for developing academic vocabulary and discover web based tools that enhance vocabulary instruction in all content areas and at all grade levels. Increase the vocabulary in all subject areas using direct instruction based on Marzano strategies to increase success in school and on achievement tests. Discover how the tech tools chosen, can be used to increase student collaboration and provide data for formative assessments.
- Link: https://events-na8.adobeconnect.com/content/connect/c1/1116418017/en/events/event/shared/1127345348/event_landing.html?sco-id=1859733381
Title: The Power of Optimism: Helping Early Child Educators see the best in themselves, their students and their world, by Steve Gross
- Organization: Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
- Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm EDT
- Description: Optimism is powerful. When children grow to see the good in themselves, the good in others and the good in their world – their social, emotional, and cognitive superpowers emerge. Steve’s inspiring and high energy presentation teaches us how to access our own superpowers so that we can build joyful, loving, empowering and engaging environments for children to heal, grow and thrive.
- Link: http://www.earlychildhoodwebinars.com/presentations/the-power-of-optimism-optimistic-early-educators-inspire-young-children-to-be-lifelong-learners-by-steve-gross/
Title: Ready for Robotics? Addressing the Missing “T” and “E” of STEM in Early Childhood Education
- Organization: Simple K12
- Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 @ 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm EDT
- Description: Would you like an exciting way to engage your early elementary students, while kindling and encouraging an interest in STEM? Consider giving robotics a try. Join Dr. Amanda Sullivan of KinderLab Robotics, as she discusses the importance of technology and engineering curricula in pre-kindergarten through second grade. She will explore how you can use developmentally appropriate robotics and programming tools to address the missing “T” and “E” in early childhood settings. Amanda will also share examples of early childhood robotics curricula and provide resources that you can use to begin exploring these topics in your own classroom.
- Link: http://community.simplek12.com/scripts/student/webinars/view.asp?id=2256
Title: STEAM Programming in a Diverse Setting
- Organization: InfoPeople
- Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT
- Description: In a landscape where children of color tend to have fewer STEAM opportunities in school and extracurricular activities, the library can aim to fill these gaps for their communities. This webinar will explore why it is necessary to offer STEAM programs for diverse youth and teen populations, and will include a variety of ideas for programs and resources for finding and creating your own programs.
- Link: https://infopeople.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=556
Title: Emerging Tech Trends in Libraries – Part 4
- Organization: InfoPeople
- Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2016 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT
- Description: As part of the Emerging Tech Trends series, this webinar continues the exploration into emerging technology trends and tipping points, and how these trends are re-shaping library services. Join Laura Solomon as she explores what’s coming down the pike and what it might mean (or not) for libraries. We can’t track everything, but we can pick out some patterns in what’s happening around us.
- At the end of this one-hour webinar, participants will:
- Be aware of how some emerging technologies may affect libraries
- Learn some specific areas of emerging technology that libraries should likely focus their efforts on
- Link: https://infopeople.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=551
Title: Be an EduChange Agent and become an MIE Trainer
- Organization: Simple K12
- Date: Thursday, June 16, 2016 @ 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm EDT
- Description: Would you like to join a world-class community of educators, expand your personal learning network, and be an education change agent? Share how you use Microsoft tools in innovative ways by becoming a Microsoft Innovative Educator Trainer. The Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Trainer program is designed for educators who train teachers and school leaders on the effective use of technology in teaching and learning for better student outcomes. Join Robyn Hrivnatz as she explores the MIE Trainer program and shares how you can become a part of this growing global community. Your opportunity to make an impact on educational transformation is now!
- Link: http://community.simplek12.com/scripts/student/webinars/view.asp?id=2257
Title: Empower, Enable, Engage: Create the Learning Environment Your Students Have Always Dreamed Of
- Organization: edWeb.net
- Date: Thursday, June 16, 2016 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm EDT
- Description: Are you interested in transforming your learning environment into a vibrant, student-centered space? Providing students with a safe, creatively enriched place to pursue project-based learning (PBL) can help them discover and develop a passion for learning that reaches far beyond the classroom walls. By using new game-changing technology to support an innovative approach to experiential learning, you can better empower and engage students on their own learning journey.
- Link: http://home.edweb.net/webinar/create-learning-environment-students-dream-of
Title: A Year in the Life of a New Makerspace
- Organization: edWeb.net
- Date: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm EDT
- Description: Whether you’ve had a makerspace for years, don’t have one yet, or are just getting started, this webinar has something for you! The presenter will chronicle her experience jump-starting maker culture in her learning community. Funding, curricular connections, equipment, and celebrations, and challenges will be addressed. Join us for what is likely to be a dynamic conversation!
- Link: http://home.edweb.net/webinar/year-life-new-makerspace/
Author: Daniella Smith
Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently an associate professor at the University of North Texas.