Opinion Blog


Rick Hess Straight Up

Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Let the Librarians Lead

By Guest Blogger — February 07, 2014 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Note: This week and next RHSU is featuring guest bloggers from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. For more on NNSTOY, check them out here. Today’s post is from Angie Miller. Angie is a library media specialist for the Inter-Lakes School District in Meredith, NH, and was New Hampshire teacher of the year in 2011.

When I was in the classroom, I yearned to have a colleague who knew my curriculum and could counsel me in literacy practices and effective and efficient technology integration. A peer who understood adolescent development and would problem solve by my side. One who could talk through the intricacies and complications of guiding students through analytical research. A collaborator and innovator to help push me deeper into my own practice. I was looking for somebody who had superpowers, and she was nowhere to be found.

So I decided to become her myself: I became a librarian.

Librarians are superheroes, after all, and if administrators were wise, they would harness their librarian’s powers and use them as the most effective source of teacher leadership in the building.

Curriculum Specialists

No other educator in the building has the overview of curriculum that the library media specialist has. On any given day, I find myself working alongside my PE, science, special education, English, and history teachers. Librarians have to know the range of dates covered in US History II and the difference between the material covered in Biology and the material covered in AP Biology. We must fully understand the goals of specific IEPs so that we can help put useful tools into every child’s hands. Teachers should rely on their librarians to curate resources and share the heavy load of writing new curriculum with them. Administrators should meet regularly with their librarians to get a school-wide perspective on what kinds of skills are being met regularly and which content and skills might possibly need more focus.

Technology Integrationists

Librarians know technology. We also know when to use it and what tools work best for specific projects. Teachers in the classroom, overwhelmed by the amount of expectations already placed upon them, often find everything that goes into tech integration overwhelming: the research, the distinction between available programs, the selection of the right tool for specific projects, the implementation in the classroom, and the learning curve for mastery. Librarians are always immersed in this kind of research, and can help educators choose which platforms and tools will work best for them. With the help of librarians, teachers can integrate everything from green screens to podcasts to blogs and to publish student work in their classrooms. They can receive instruction on using technology to assist with assignment collection efficiency. Teachers should rely on their librarians to help them navigate the vast world of technological advances. Administrators should rely on their librarians to run personalized and relevant professional development opportunities for their staff.

Literacy Experts

Literacy begins in the library. Every librarian knows how to put a good book in even the most reluctant reader’s hands, but they also know how to select high quality, high interest, appropriate-level nonfiction texts for classroom use. Librarians can help with differentiation in classrooms by choosing a variety of texts at a variety of levels to assist classroom teachers’ needs. As a previous English teacher, I am inclined to help students with writing--I spend at least a period each day reading and giving feedback on college essays or English assignments. Every teacher in the building should be teaching literacy, but not every teacher feels confident in doing so, and the librarian is an incredible asset for these teachers. Meaningful research should be happening in every classroom as well, and librarians are masters at maneuvering our way through databases, web sources, interlibrary loans, citations, and MLA guides. Teachers should rely on their librarians to help plan and integrate best literacy instruction within their own practices. Administrators should free up the librarian so he or she can step out of the library and be part of the classroom.

The National Network of State Teachers of the Year claims in its Theory of Change that excellent school models allow for “teacher leadership opportunities that allow teachers to stay in the classroom” and “opportunities for collaboration among teachers.” Strong library programs with strong library media specialists fulfill this recommendation. Modern librarians are the problem solvers, visionaries, and change agents needed to assist in professional development, best practices, and improved school morale.

Teachers: Walk down to your library and enlist help. You have a librarian at the ready.

Administrators: Walk down to your library and enlist help. You have a specialist ready to become one of your greatest resources.

Librarians: Listen to your staff, observe, take action. Go be the superhero you were meant to be.

--Angie Miller

The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!


Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Tiny Wrists in Cuffs: How Police Use Force Against Children
An investigation finds children as young as 6 and a disproportionate amount of Black children have been handled forcibly by police officers.
15 min read
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Education Gunman in 2018 Parkland School Massacre Pleads Guilty
A jury will decide whether Nikolas Cruz will be executed for one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
3 min read
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Gunman in Parkland School Massacre to Plead Guilty
The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said.
4 min read
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP