Collaboration with classroom teachers is a key role for school librarians. The Sanacore article, “Teacher-Librarians, Teachers, and Children as Cobuilders of School Library Collections” suggested several ideas for effective collaboration. Among these, I was particularly interested in the idea that children should be an integral part of building the libraries collection.
This idea was echoed by my mentor who frequently makes inquires regarding teacher and student requests for the library. She keeps a request board in the library where students and teachers can write down their requests. Additionally, my mentor is a strong advocate for student-selected materials. She has led professional development on the differences between what might be assigned reading as a part of guided reading instructional time and what students are permitted to check out from the library. When she observed teachers limiting what they wanted student’s to be able to check out due to level or “appropriateness,” she went to our administration as an advocate and then led a training educating the staff on the role of the librarian and the library – but framed the message as an opportunity to work together, rather than as pushing back against teachers.
In the article, I also appreciated the suggestions regarding “Home-School Connections.” As a classroom teacher, we often have the opportunity to meet with parents and check in with them about reading interests and progress, but I noticed a shift in the dynamic with some of my parents when I started library school. I heard comments like, “Now that you’re doing the ‘library thing’ maybe you can help my son discover what he likes to read,” and “She really loved this series. Could you help us find another funny series?” As a teacher, I’m happy to help in any way that I can, but if the librarian were in the meeting, he / she would be seen as an integral part of the process – as an advocate for the student and the parent and as a support to the teacher.
Sanacore, J. (2006). Teacher-librarians, teachers, and children as cobuilders of school library collections. Teacher-Librarian, 33(5), 24-29.