Thursday, November 3, 2016

More than a book person




From Wikihow Stop saying I don't know 

Just recently I facilitated a short 2 hour  workshop on the role of the School Librarian in the MYP for a group of schools that will be moving to the curriculum framework. Most of the participants were school Librarians, however one of the participants was a teacher of Individuals and Societies who was already working in an MYP school and who wanted to know more about our role and how it could benefit him as a teacher.


One of the first activities was to sort the roles identified on page 32 and 33 from the MYP Principles into Practice into the four identified areas of :

  • Unit planning and resourcing
  • Help teachers to plan for the resources students will use in their learning experiences   
  • Have a knowledge of resources and of students’ skill development
  • Assist teachers with the planning for assessment tasks.
  • Provide space, support and a collaborative climate for interdisciplinary teaching.
  • collaborative curriculum development and implementation.
  • Role in teaching
    • The role is one that goes beyond the library or media centre
    • Team or shared teaching.
    • As a result of collaborative planning, librarians can be involved in co-teaching lessons where students are learning information literacy skills in the context of their units.
    • An emphasis on how students use information (for example, through critical thinking, synthesis and forming opinions) is vital and is central to inquiry.
    • Teaching need not be restricted to the library but can take place in any learning spaces within the school.
    • Promoting academic integrity.
    • Promote reading for pleasure.
  • Approaches To Learning skills development
    • Have expertise in ATL skills and plan for integration of these skills into the curriculum.
    • Work with teachers to ensure the vertical and horizontal planning for the use of ATL skills in all subjects.
    • Help teachers to develop inquiry skills across the curriculum. 
    • Understanding that Inquiry goes beyond research skills and delves deeper into critical thinking, creativity and collaborative skills. 
    • Have a strong understanding of inquiry; this can strengthen unit planning as well as horizontal and vertical planning. 
    • Librarians’ expertise in research makes them a vital asset in planning for the integration of ATL skills into the curriculum. 
  • Resourcing the curriculum
    • The librarian plays a vital role in working with teachers to ensure that the curriculum is supported with a variety of current, relevant resources that meet subject aims and objectives. 
    • Librarians should also ensure that the school is supplied with resources that reflect the variety of student learning styles and interests, as well as the language profiles of the student body. 
    • Be involved in the initial planning stages of units and lessons, and following discussions with teachers about students’ needs, help to select resources that support student learning and allow students to move quickly through the locating phase into working with information and gaining deeper understanding. 
    • Prepare resource lists that include print materials, websites, videos and other relevant resources to be placed on class wiki or blog pages. 
    • be knowledgeable on all key MYP curriculum documents.
    • Ensure the resources in the library reflect the inclusive nature of the school. 
    • Identify and plan for access to resources that support the variety of student learning styles and interests, as well as language profiles of the student body.  

At the end of this activity the teacher mentioned that he was not aware of the full range of skills and roles the Teacher Librarian could do, particularly in the areas of unit planning and resourcing, teaching and ATL skill development.  His perception was that the librarians role was to resource the curriculum, promote reading and make the space nice, and that is where it stopped - even though there was an active library programme at his school with TL's reaching out and wanting to work with the teachers in all aspects of the curriculum. He had previously come from a school system where the school librarian was not seen as an integral part of the learning in the school.



After the short workshop he was excited about the benefits of working with the Teacher Librarian in saving him time, helping to engage the students and help with the overall learning. The two of them left in deep discussion of the possibilities. (hoorah!)



With no judgement anywhere, this got me to wondering ... 


  • How well do the people we work with actually know what our capabilities are and how these capabilities can benefit them and the students? 
  • Do they read the documents about the librarians role? (I doubt it) 
  • How can we outreach to faculty to show how we can be used in productive ways that will help them as professionals? 
  • How can we change the perception of the librarian to a leader of learning rather than just the book person? 
  • Where and why are the holes of understanding and how can we plug them?
  • What do people need to connect to our services in a practical manner?

This teacher had been working in an MYP school for 3 years, with an active, vibrant and well supported library programme, and yet he still didn't know. 


I have had people in workshops who have been 'allocated' to be the school librarian without any training and gone away absolutely perplexed and overwhelmed at the role - one even resigned on his return as he felt he was not up to the task. They had no clue what the role entailed and how big it was.

We cannot be making assumptions that people know what we do - even when we think they do, they may not be clear about all the roles and skills you have.

I don't know what the answers are, maybe we need to be running short active workshops on the role of the librarian with our staff at the beginning of the year - rather than going over the rules and procedures of the library. Maybe incorporate the role of the library into all subject specific IB workshops?

Any other ideas??

1 comment:

Zakir Hossain said...

Indeed we're more than a book person!

Do teachers(not all) read their own role? I'm the witness of PP and EE supervisors that most of them really don't know what's their role as a supervisors.