Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advocating for the teacher librarian role

I really enjoyed reading Mark Ray's column in Teacher Librarian, "New Year's Resolution: Teach More. Librarian Less." Ray was named the 2012 Washington State Teacher of the Year. He writes of the importance of this achievement, namely that he is valued as a teacher above all else. I was very moved by Ray's statement,
"Before we proceed with the bigger fish In the advocacy pond, we need to get one thing straight, both within our profession and with the other 99%; Teacher librarians are teachers, regardless of what we call ourselves. If our states certify us as educators, then in both word and deed we must first be about student learning. It is not enough to include instruction in abstract library position statements. We need to visibly and effectively teach. We need to be judged and evaluated not as librarians but as teachers."
This is essential work, in my view, especially in California where so many school districts do not have teacher librarians at the elementary level. I bring to my school both a librarian's training and a teacher's training. And yet I need to continually change the perception about what I can and should do with students. I work daily to change this perception with the staff, but I do not often advocate for myself with the principal. Ray's article spurs me to think of ways to show the value I add as a teacher, above all else, to my principal.

So what can we do? Ray suggests two things: First of all, make our teaching role explicit. Use the visibility of the school library to show the excellent teaching that occurs there. Secondly, Ray recommends employing one or more effective instructional strategies in our work, such as learning targets, formative assessments, questioning strategies.

Moreover, we need to be an active part of the professional community in our school, talking about teaching and learning, sharing lessons and units that have gone well, celebrating effective strategies and positive experiences. Ray writes, "As a profession, we need to rise up and define ourselves as the teachers we are."

Ray, M. (2012). New Year's Resolution: Teach More. Librarian Less. Teacher Librarian, 39(3), 52.

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