The School Librarian Roles I am Most Passionate About
I began as a student in the online school library media program at the University of West Georgia in 2015. I was working part-time as a school library paraprofessional at the time, and happily, I am now the full-time librarian at the same school. Going on my fifth year as a school librarian, I have discovered the roles I am most passionate about thanks to the ten standards in my district’s school librarian evaluation instrument (SLEI). I love being the expert in the role of reading, creating a positive learning environment, working with students to build the library collection, and facilitating library program planning and administration. This isn’t to say I don’t feel the other six standards aren’t equally important. It just means, I have my favorites.
School Librarian Evaluation Instrument (SLEI)
Discovering my passions as a school librarian came about through familiarization and use of the Georgia Library Media Association’s School Librarian Evaluation Instrument (SLEI). In my district, school librarians’ roles and evaluations are aligned with the SLEI. Often pronounced as “slay,” it is quite fitting because school librarians are true warriors, or “slayers” in the field of education. The SLEI was written by an amazing team of Georgia school library professionals and includes ten standards. It is magnificent in guiding school administrators and other stakeholders in understanding how school librarians serve and lead at the local and district levels. In addition, the SLEI is the tool used for evaluation and measurement of a school librarian’s performance. Each standard in the SLEI speaks to help direct collaboration efforts and to facilitate school library programs. The ten standards of the SLEI are listed below, and a detailed description for each standard, along with the SLEI components, can be found on the GLMA website at www.glma-inc.org.
SLEI Performance Standards
1. Instructional Partnership
2. Role of Reading
3. Information and Technology Literacy
4. Instructional Leadership
5. Effective Practices for Research
6. Program Planning and Administration
7. Positive Learning Environment
8. Collection Development
SLEI as Advocacy
I created a visual presentation of the SLEI by placing each of the ten standards on the wall of my school library, calling it, “The Art of a School Library.” The visual’s main purpose was to create a talking piece to invite stakeholder conversations with me on all school librarians do to produce a successful library program. Equal to this, I wanted to display that school librarians have an educational purpose and value to students. To this day, this visual serves as my inspiration for the goals I work hard to accomplish each day for each standard. I have grown and become more organized in my library programming using the SLEI as a guide. I sincerely encourage others to proudly display their library standards as well. Use them to advocate and share your library stories!
SLEI Planning with the Principal
We have all heard the expression, “Jack of all Trades; Master of None,“ and some may think ten standards is a lot to fulfill (on top of “other duties as assigned”). School librarians, both new and veteran to the SLEI, might feel overwhelmed from time to time because we are perfectionists. There’s a very significant reason for this behavior. No other profession in education must advocate for their relevance every single day across the nation. The best advice I can give is to build an authentic and meaningful relationship with your principal to gain support. Start this relationship by scheduling a time to have a conversation about your school librarian standards. Or, how you can create them in partnership together. Share how you can align one or two of these standards each year to the school strategic improvement plan.
I work hard collaborating with my school stakeholders to meet all of the SLEI standards for my yearly evaluations. However, with the advice from a former principal, I choose one standard each school year as my focus for mastery of skills. Then, simultaneously, I continue working my “shoulds” and of course, I fulfill my passion and purpose by fully engaging in the standards dearest to my heart. Quoting author and speaker, Gordana Biernat, from her book, #KnowtheTruth, “Doing what you ‘should’ will make you average. Doing what you love, no matter what, makes you outstanding.”
SLEI as a Discovery Tool
Little did I know the SLEI would become a significant tool for me in discovering and doing what makes me “outstanding.” It’s kind of like the Myers Briggs Personality Test and discovering I am an INTJ personality type. Turns out, INTJs are quite intellectual. I see this as a direct correlation to being a reader and a school librarian. Nonetheless, where the SLEI is concerned, I have used it to take deeper dives with each standard, and my school librarian expertise has continued to grow every year. During these growth periods, the SLEI unearthed the roles I am most passionate about as a school librarian, and I am positive that if there was a SLEI personality survey for school librarians, my Myers Briggs equivalent would be called the SLEI 2678 for standards 2,6,7,8. (listed above, respectively).
As an active GLMA member, I invite school librarians across the nation to visit the GLMA website and learn about the SLEI. Its a great tool to advocate for school librarians and libraries, to plan and facilitate your library programs, and to discover your passions as a school librarian. A big thank you to all of my Georgia school librarian colleagues, my former school library media college professors, and our phenomenal library supervisor and GLMA president for doing the work to support school librarianship with the SLEI.
Author: Lori Quintana
Lori Quintana, Ed.S. earned her Master’s and education specialist degrees from the University of West Georgia and is a library media specialist at Griffin Middle School in Smyrna, GA, for the Cobb County School District. She began her library career as a library media paraprofessional and is now in her fifth year as a school librarian. She is an active member of her local, state, and national school librarian organizations, CCALMS, GLMA, and AASL, servicing on the Board, Leadership Team, and as the Affiliate Liaison. She is also a member of her district’s library media leadership team (MLT) and graduated from Cobb’s first school librarian teacher leadership cohort. Lori is a strong supporter of GLMA’s mission to serve, advocate, and connect. As part of her advocacy, she is a member of the podcast trio for Overdue: Conversations from the Library. Follow her on Twitter @linthelibrary.