Sunday, September 22, 2013

Penny For Your Thoughts: What's Really On The Mind of Today's Teacher Librarian

I don't know a single teacher-librarian who doesn't have a story like this...

So... a _______ [teacher/parent/principal/student/someoneelse] walks into the library and says, "why do you need a Master's Degree to _________ [read/checkout/shelve] books all day?"

Excellent question!

And, of course, the answer is that we don't need a Master's Degree to do those things.  But we DO need to be certified, highly skilled professionals if we're going to live up to the demands of being a true Teacher Librarian.

I've been thinking about this all too common story for some time now. To me it raises a lot of questions about what people think we value.  And what about our practice makes them think that.

Then, a month or so ago, this image started making the rounds online.  It's a fun infographic mapping out a teacher's brain - the idea being that a teacher has a lot to worry about.  So... I decided to create my own image:  one that throws into focus the things that  today's Teacher Librarians REALLY think about.

Click here to view full size image.

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but our work provides another kind of window into what we value and what's most important to us.  And while this effort is, obviously, imperfect (our jobs encompass lots more than what I could include here), it's important to note that no image, infographic or poster will change what people think of us or stop them from wondering if what we do has meaning. The only way to make certain the people we work with and serve know what we're about, is to show them.



This image, along with all the work I post here, is licensed as Creative Commons and is free for you to use and share.  Similarly, this image, like so many other images I pose here, was created using both the app Art Studio for iPad and the program Comic Life.

16 comments:

  1. Love this graphic! I'm definitely going to share it with my administrators. The classroom teachers in my school know what I do because I do it with them and for them. Sadly, it's my administrators who think I do nothing but check books in and out because they don't spend any time in my library.

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  2. Jennifer, You continue to astound! Thanks so much for you insight, creativity and advocacy!

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  3. Great graphic! In my system they have changed our title from "media specialist" with a focus on student learning to "Media & Educational Technology Instructor" with a focus on professional development and ed tech. The "facilitate love of reading" is no longer a part of our official job description but is most certainly a facet of our jobs that none of us are willing to give up. Thank you for creating this excellent visualization of what we do and why it requires a specialized skill set.

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  4. You are awesome! I love the graphic! I would love to see "teacher learning", along with student learning, as part of what we are constantly thinking about. As the TL, I am always looking for ways to help teachers improve their teaching strategies, assessment practices etc. In my district the TL is considered "a helping teacher" for teacher porfessioanl development. This part of our job is described in the recent article "Coach in the Library"
    http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct11/vol69/num02/The-Coach-in-the-Library.aspx

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    1. Hi Angela. Thanks for your comment. I actually thought long and hard about including collaboration as a part of "what's on our mind." But in the end, I felt that there wasn't a single part of our job that could be accomplished alone. I felt that collaboration and working with the rest of the learning community was a common thread throughout, so I left it out, not wanting to make it seem less or more important than any other part, and hoping it would be implicit. In truth, I meant to address it in the post and then must have had a brain freeze, apparently. Anyway, your point is well taken. There was, however, *some* method to my madness. :)

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  5. You and others like you are ruining this job by taking away the most fundamental part of our works: books! I am NOT a teacher. Nor do I want to be. I predict that in the not too distant future there won't even be school librarians and it will be because of people like you. Thanks for convincing so many people that I am no different than a teacher. Thanks for NOTHING!

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    1. Dear anonymous how brave of you not to use your name btw. confused by your comment. I am a teacher-librarian and I am proudly the teacher part ! I feel strongly that all schools should have teacher-librarians in their school library. It's a shame that you don't realize how honourable it is to be mistaken for a teacher!!!!

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  6. Dear Anonymous-Librarians are not just about books nowadays, because kids, learning, and schools are not the same as they were in the past. You ARE a teacher if you are dealing with students at all during the day. You need to understand that the only thing that will make librarians disappear are librarians like you who do not want to change, grow, and take risks. We must work cooperatively and collaboratively to inspire students and staff, create true learning experiences, and provide the help that classroom teachers may need.
    I was a classroom teacher for 25 years prior to getting my first position as a full time school librarian and being a teacher made me proud. I worked hard for 6 years earning my Masters, teaching full time, and raising 2 boys. I am so proud now to be a TEACHER-LIBRARIAN! And folks like Jennifer help all of us to think about new ideas, challenge ourselves and our students, and become better teachers!

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  7. Wow, Anonymous. You sound like you need to retire.

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  8. Pay no attention to comments from people who are not willing to put their name to what they say.

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  9. Oh wow, Jennifer. I thank you for a lot of things. You continue to inspire. Books are part of the information we provide. Books and literature are important. But we need to continue to help students manage research, respect copyright, and THINK! Access, evaluate and use information!

    Anonymous, Jennifer LaGarde is an outstanding TEACHER Librarian. Regular librarians can be easily replaced by classified staff. Teacher Librarians are invaluable.

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  10. Jennifer, I am saddened by the comment from Anonymous. Our days are full with all components on the image and I was delighted to see that student learning was front and center. The other components enable all of us in our teaching and learning communities give better services to all types of learners-including librarians.If you don't learn something new daily, you are getting left behind. Yes, books are important (I say this after setting up a book fair yesterday)! Learning in today's school climate takes the whole village and a willingness to grow.

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  11. So timely! I have two libraries. This is my first year. One library is in a small school. It is neat, clean and pristine. There is no space for storytime. All the kids have to sit in chairs all the time.
    I have not been checking out books. I don't know the program yet. I haven't had a minute to update the records. The library assistant quit on August 13th and the new one doesn't start until October 7th.

    I have been teaching the kids library skills! Research, self-assessment on their work.
    Last week, the 6th grade teacher snapped at me on his way out, "When are the kids going to check out books?" I tried to explain in a minute or less without complaining, and his response was, "well, they need books." Not why they needed them. Not how can I help you. Yes, I understand. Nothing. Maybe he doesn't like that his class gets C for behavior grades b/c they can't shut up. I dunno know. Later, in the week, when I am at my other school, I get email from the principal asking me why the kids didn't get to check out books. She put a series of things in motion that she thinks is helping me, but really isn't because you cant be trained in thirty minutes or less but the mandate is the children will get books on Monday.

    The reason I share this story is because they don't care what I am doing in library class. All they care about is that the kids NEED books. No collaboration. No requests for specific books. Just that they NEED books.

    OK! So needless to say how can I feel good about this experience.

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  12. Obviously someone has not seen the new media standards. Media specialists are much more powerful than checking out books. They are leaders and should be the heart and soul of every school. Books you say??? Yes they are important but we can't stay stagnant in the past. Education can't afford to stay in the past not do should we. It's 2013. Let's move on!!

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  13. I have been certified as a school library media specialist in three states: Ohio, Kentucky, and North Carolina starting in 1975. (ancient history, which is my point :) In all of those, I was required to first be certified as a teacher. We are in a school. Why would we not want to be a teacher there? (rhetorical question)

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    1. The "most fundamental part of our job" is "books"?! Really?!
      The mos fundamental part of our job is students. Those who think differently are in the wrong profession.

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