My students and I spend one period each month in the library. The librarian and I introduce a new genre to them every month in creative formats and then they have the rest of the time to browse the shelves. It’s important for teachers to work closely with our school librarians (for a LOT more reasons than listed here today). This is just a sampling of some benefits. Please consider collaborating with your librarian as we close out the year… or make plans to co-teach next year to enhance a particular lesson! I spoke to my school librarian about her thoughts on collaborating with teachers, and these are the top five reasons she’s found for teachers to collaborate with school librarians.
5. Your students will earn higher test scores!
Scholastic compiled a Research Foundation Paper that advocates for strong school libraries. It states that “more than 60 studies have shown clear evidence of this connection between student achievement and the presence of school libraries with qualified school library media specialists.” It further states that “When library media specialists work with teachers to support learning opportunities with books, computer resources, and more, students learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized test scores than their peers in schools without good libraries.” Read the full Research Foundation Paper (28 pages) here: School Libraries Work!
4. You will learn from each other
As teachers, we sometimes get so wrapped up in teaching curriculum to our students that we forget to sit back and enjoy the experience of learning for ourselves. When collaborating with my librarian at school, I learn about all the new books coming out this season and the new hot authors all the kids are reading. She, in turn, gets to put an ear to the classroom and learn about what the students are being taught in their classes throughout the building. And let’s not forget to mention all the times she’s walked me through confusing tech issues!
3. Students benefit from a change of scenery
We differentiate academic instruction for students, so why not try to incorporate some of that same methodology into the learning environment? Not every student will reach their full potential while sitting in a classroom with four concrete walls and teeny-tiny desks. Going to the library allows for a whole other range of sensory input – soft comfortable chairs, walls lined with computers, shelves of printed books, colors, quiet and calm! My students get very excited when another library day is coming up on the calendar. The change of scenery makes learning feel fresh and invigorating for them (and for me!).
2. Collaborating gives you a larger pool of ideas
Since working with my librarian over the past couple of years, we’ve adapted the presentation methods we’ve used with students. We’re constantly saying “Oh… what about doing it this way?” or “Do you think this might work?” The librarian and I have already improved our methods of instruction for just this one day that we collaborate each month, but I’ve found that our discussions have started effecting my own instruction as well. Sometimes working in the same position year after year can result in a well-oiled machine, yet somewhat stale teaching. By collaborating with your school librarian, you can breathe life into that unit that you’ve been teaching the same way for the last 5 years straight – making it more engaging for both you and your students!
1. Collegial Support
This last reason might be a little selfish, but it is SO necessary. The librarian is one of the most connected and important figures in a school. If you’re new to the building, they can help you navigate all the convoluted tech, clique, and other issues you’ll face each day. They’re also usually willing to sit and talk about books for hours. While most people look at me like I’m some kind of alien when I try to discuss the latest teenage drama like Twilight or Better off Friends, the librarian shares in my strange passion! I can’t stress enough the value of befriending a colleague who is like-minded and values literacy in all content areas, shapes, forms, and sizes.
By Allison Irwin, PCTELA Executive Director