Stronger Together: School Librarians and Teachers

It’s National School Library Week—do you know what school librarians can and should be doing on every campus? Do you know how they can help you be a more successful teacher and help your students achieve stronger learning?
School libraries are the largest classroom on most school campuses, and certified school librarians are highly qualified, experienced educators. They must have a master’s degree as well as coursework in library science, be certified teachers with at least two years of teaching experience, and pass a state examination on school library and information content areas to obtain a School Librarian certificate.
 
These valuable educators not only provide individual and classroom instruction to students at all grade levels, they partner with classroom teachers and administrators on curriculum development, professional development, and literacy initiatives. Librarians are critical partners in the integration of technology as a tool to enhance instruction and engage students.
 
Classroom teachers should take full advantage of this expertise. Librarians love to collaborate with teachers to design projects that further the classroom curriculum while improving student literacy and research skills and a general love of learning. Librarians also work on curriculum committees—sharing the design load and providing insights gained from working with all grade levels in varied academic contexts.
 
Great librarians offer a variety of programming through the library: makerspaces, author- and genre-focused displays, book and game clubs—all ways to build student confidence in literacy, technology, and social skills. Libraries are also safe spaces. No grades are given while students work in the library, but many skills are learned that contribute to classroom achievement.
 
Research shows that students with access to a fully staffed and funded school library do better academically and on mandated state tests. Research shows that libraries can be the strongest defense against poor literacy skills. Helping students find books that appeal to them, that challenge them, and that keep them reading for pleasure makes those students stronger readers for class topics as well.
 
Texas has many amazing school librarians—I’m sure some are in your district. And it appears demand is UP for campus librarians this year as administrators realize what librarians contribute; multiple districts are looking for qualified candidates in the face of a shortage. So maybe some of you teachers are interested in switching tracks? You’ll be working just as hard, but with more variety in your day. Librarians move between teaching classes; managing digital access to databases, ebooks, audiobooks, and more; supporting students to choose just the right book for them right now; selecting books and digital resources for the collection; managing circulation [into every job some (digital) paperwork must fall!]; collaborating with teachers; and finding many other opportunities to be creative.
 
As educators, Texas school librarians are here to work with our fellow teachers to support our shared students’ academic achievement, help them prepare for future success, bridge digital and socioeconomic divides, and encourage in them a lifelong love of learning. Stop by and say “Hello!” We’re here to help you.  
 
Dorcas Hand is a school library advocate, editor of the Texas Association of School Librarians TASLTalks blog, and co-chair of Students Need Libraries in HISD.  
 
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