When in Doubt, School Librarians Take the Reins

When No One Provides a Plan…

As the summer ticks down and many educators prepare to face a new school year, there are lots of questions swirling. Most of us are confronting a political and public push to re-open school buildings and proceed with “business as usual.” And many school districts have started sharing their plans to do just that. 

Most of the plans leave many questions unanswered. But some school librarians are finding they are even more in the dark than their colleagues. Many of the proposed school building reopening plans provide little or no guidance for school librarians or their spaces. 

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

This didn’t slow down Amanda Jones. This widely recognized and highly lauded school librarian operates out of Louisiana. When she realized that her state’s plans didn’t mention school librarians, she considered how she might roll with the punches.

Amanda Jones laments the lack of state plans for school libraries in the lead-up to the 2020-2021 school year

 

Her post generated some interesting discussions online, with lots of respondents saying they were in the same boat. So Amanda decided it was time to take the reins!

Amanda Jones decides to hold a school librarian chat about school reopening in the time of COVID-19

She put together an online discussion for Louisiana school librarians. She was also kind enough to invite any other school librarians who wanted to stop in! 

Convening the School Librarian “Hive Mind”

The resulting livestream on YouTube featured Amanda, Tiffany Whitehead, and Kim “Lovie” Howell. They shared their ideas for how they might tackle various school scenarios come fall. They also provided links to resources that could prove useful to school librarians and their students. 

As the three school librarians discussed their thoughts for the upcoming school year, their chat was observed by sixty school librarians. Many of those viewers also became participants in a live chat window. The brainstorming session was incredible! 

#BetterTogether

Although no one claimed to have all the answers, the semi-improvised discussion was enlightening and exhilarating. Questions were asked, suggestions were shared, and everyone came away with some new ideas for dealing with whatever September 2020 throws at school librarians. 

Afterwards, Jones shared the links to the video and the resources via social media. They have proved popular, with the hour-long video of the chat earning over 330 views in two days. 

Amanda Jones shares the links to resources

I was lucky enough to sit in on the livestream, and it was truly a wonderful experience. In the past few weeks, the online conflicts being waged over school building reopening plans via social media have been rather depressing. The plans that exist seem to have little educator input. 

School Librarian-ing in Real Life!

What Amanda Jones did was rejuvenating. First, seeing her recognize an information need and take steps to fill it was school librarianship writ large and a joy. And watching school librarians come together to brainstorm their own preparedness plans recharged me as few other experiences in a summer filled with online discussions has. 

It was an excellent reminder that when we work together, we can help each other in wonderful ways. We don’t need to have all the answers. But when we admit that and come together, our various thought processes, knowledge, and perspectives can produce some astonishing results. 

The Moral of the Story

It is incredibly easy (and extremely understandable) for educators to feel uncertain about the coming school year. There are many obstacles to overcome, and, as usual, resources to deal with them seem limited or non-existent.

But sometimes we forget that there are lots of great colleagues out there. And in this digital age, it’s easier than ever to “get together” to share resources, strategies, information, and ideas. AASL offers school librarians the opportunity to connect with their colleagues and talk about their plans for the upcoming school year during AASL’s Town Hall: Leading Learning – the next one is scheduled for Aug. 5.

We don’t have to wait for others to bring us a plan. We can make our own.

How are you and your fellow school librarians working together to create a reopening plan for your school libraries? Share your plans in the comments!

Links from Amanda Jones and company: 

Works Cited:

Jones, Amanda. 2020. “Not a Thing so I Took It upon Myself to How My Own Webinar Discussion for Our State Librarians. I’ve Gone Rogue. =). You’re Welcome to Join Us Tomorrow!” Twitter. twitter.com/abmack33/status/1284550055765172227?s=20. (accessed July 21, 2020).

———. 2020.“Thanks for Joining Us Today. If You Missed Our Webinar.” Twitter. twitter.com/abmack33/status/1284946507351896066 (accessed July 21, 2020).

———. 2020. “Very Few District Re-Opening Plans in My State Mention the School Library. I’m Torn between Being Sad That We’re Overlooked and Thankful That We Aren’t Being Mandated to Having Our Spaces Overtaken and Only Being Book Cart Pushers. At Least I Can Continue Being Innovative. Sigh.” Twitter. twitter.com/abmack33/status/1284505777592512517?s=20 (accessed July 21, 2020).

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Author: Steve Tetreault

Steve has been teaching middle school English for 20 years, has several degrees in education, and recently finished his last semester as a school library media specialist student. He is certified as a teacher, school library media specialist, supervisor, and administrator. He is an old dog constantly learning new tricks!



Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics, Professional Development

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