We’re #BetterTogether: Sharing What Works

Alan Levine’s “Life is Sharing” – Part of a Cleveland mural, the full saying was “Life is sharing a park bench” via https://flic.kr/p/dtBSgg

Sharing Online

So much of our world, both professionally and personally, has moved online. One benefit of being digital is the “virtuous cycle” of colleagues both near and far sharing ideas. These online shares often receive lots of replies from other educators sharing their own ideas and suggestions. 

I’m a relative newcomer to social media–I’ve only gotten into Twitter in the past few years, and other than LM_NET and the AASL Member Forum, I don’t use other platforms. But I’m glad one of my professors made me dip my toe into social media. The generosity of the folks in my online professional learning network seems nearly limitless. And I firmly believe educators are #BetterTogether. 

The idea for this post came when I saw a tweet from school librarian Jamie Gregory (@gregoryjm). 

Jamie shared a clever poster she’d made, which was based on the work of another school librarian. The virtuous cycle at its best! 

Jamie Gregory’s tweet that includes the candy-themed poster she shared.

Jamie’s is just one example of the dozens and dozens of ideas, resources, and materials I’ve seen shared on Twitter. And I am constantly amazed at the suggestions and sharing from the amazing Knowledge Quest writers

I also rarely miss a post from LM_NET and the AASL Member Forum (via ALA Connect). These two school librarian sharing centers can help you find answers to questions you’re having. And the kindness and depth of knowledge of those who respond is inspiring! 

Paying It Forward

When I first began my career in education, I had a ton of theory and lots of good intentions, but not many ready-to-use materials or specific lesson ideas that went with the school’s curriculum. Thankfully, several colleagues shared advice, ideas, and some resources. These aids allowed me to see what had worked for others. I used some of it, adapted other parts, and found what worked best for both my instruction and my students. 

It’s been over twenty years, and those offers of assistance stick with me to this day. I always try to pay that assistance forward. Any time a colleague asks, I try to provide something they might find useful. It’s not always what they’re seeking, but sometimes it gives them a skeleton on which to build a better lesson.

The “Secret” School Library Skills Class

A recent AASL Member Forum post requested ideas for middle and high school information literacy lessons. I shared a collection of lessons I’ve developed for a “secret” school library skills course called Argument & Debate. (The year I earned my Master’s of Information degree and became certified as a school librarian, my middle school converted the library into science labs. That same year, I was asked to write and teach the Argument & Debate course. I included as many research and information literacy skills as I could.) 

The member found some material that worked for her–as did at least a dozen others. Here’s a link to the folder full of lessons–they can be copied and modified to fit your needs! 

A few of the dozens of lessons from my Argument & Debate class

I once read that learning from your own mistakes is intelligence, and learning from others’ mistakes is wisdom. If that’s true, I have a lot of wisdom, thanks to the generosity of many, many educators!

Sharing In-Person

As part of my Master’s of Information program, I participated in a “School Library Bus Tour.” Nearly a dozen school librarians from around my state agreed to welcome school library students. They gave tours of their spaces, answered questions, and let their visitors observe lessons and interactions. 

I was lucky enough to visit four different school’s libraries, and I learned so much! The librarians–including Amy Gazaleh, Lisa Manganello, Rita Nannini, and Sarah Neiderman–shared not only their spaces, but lessons, suggestions, advice, and even materials. 

One particular item I still carry in my mind came from middle school librarian Kim Zito (@KimZito). She has a brilliant library orientation and reminder tool for staff at her school. 

One of Kim Zito’s School Library Reminders boxes (a bit battered from my frequent carrying around and sharing)

Knowledge, Cubed

She buys small cardboard boxes and covers each side of the cube with a different piece of important library information. One side has short links for digital school library services. Another has circulation reminders and statistics–great promotion for the library! A third side has research reminders. Side four includes reminders about specific ways the school librarian can support students and staff. A fifth shares some of the physical resources available, such as video cameras and a green screen. There is also a panel with the library’s contact info so teachers can find her and her library online. And Kim puts a few pieces of candy inside each box! These treats help reinforce what a “sweet” place their school library is! Recipients can keep the boxes on their desks or near their personal work stations, ensuring that they have their school library’s reference guide immediately to hand 24/7! 

Kim shared this idea (and a candy-filled sample) during my visit in 2017. I’ve carried it around ever since. It’s elegant, it’s a great physical reminder of the school library, and I would never have thought of it on my own! 

#SchoolLibrarians Are #BetterTogether

As we head into another unprecedented school year, please be sure to consider your colleagues. Have a great idea? Consider sharing it! Heard a great idea? Be sure to point out the creator!

How you share is up to you–in-person, with close friends, or openly online! If you have a particular idea or resource that you’d like to share, add it to the comments below! If you know someone who shares, give them a pat on the back in the comments below!


Author: Steve Tetreault

After 24 years as a classroom English Language Arts teacher, Steve became a school librarian in January 2022. He has earned an M.Ed. (2006) and an Ed.D. (2014) in Educational Administration and Supervision, and completed an M.I. degree in Library and Information Science (2019). He is certified as a teacher, school library media specialist, supervisor, and administrator. He is an old dog constantly learning new tricks!

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration

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2 replies

  1. I’m so grateful to Amy Hermon and the guests on her podcasts for always freely sharing their knowledge and resources! And my Twitter PLN is invaluable. I don’t know what I’d do without all of the librarians who share and uplift each other on Twitter. Excellent blog post, Steve!

  2. Amanda – I can’t believe I forgot to mention the School Librarians United podcast! It’s such a great source of sharing and inspiration – I am constantly learning something new from Amy’s wonderful guests! (Including yourself – you’re like a regular!)

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