Friday, September 16, 2011

The winds of fall challenge my library role

For the 3rd time this week I heard that our budgets will probably be cut again by up to 25% next year. I also have heard principals are questioning the value of keeping librarians in the face of all these cuts. They ask the why keep a librarian if they can get a full FTE classroom teacher that make more of an impact on kids?

My neighboring district to the south who has district employed/building specific librarians have already cut 1/2 their HS & Middle School librarians and just this year cut 1/2 their elementary librarians. Other districts are headed the same way. What does a half time librarian look like? Well, due to equity discussions- one librarian often serves two schools (sometimes a few days in one school then another, sometimes full weeks).

I'm really curious how effective I would be if I was only 1/2 time in a school? If a teacher is collaborating with me and gets behind in curriculum, maybe I can't float back and forth. How can I build relationships and trust so that I can collaborate if I'm only part time?

Perhaps a bigger issue is what is the role that librarians or teaching/collaborates will be playing in their buildings in the future?

Will we be Learning Specialists who focus more on professional development and 21st century learning standards as Allison Zmuda, Violet H. Harada suggest. Will we be developing a Learning Commons or instructional Facilitators as Koechlin Luhtala and Loertscher suggest? (February 2011 page 20)

I think if we are really going to be an active part of the future learning for our schools, we need to play an active role in the change that is coming. There may be some parts of our jobs that it is time for us to let go- perhaps some carry over from the "old librarian model". I'm not sure what those are, but I wonder what things we aren't willing to let go that might hold us back from serving our staff and students? Are you willing to give up reading picture books? Book talks? Being the sole coordinator of your collection development? What things keep us from being able to collaborate with teachers, training staff, work to support student achievement and 21st century learning skills?

Hmmm. Lots of thinking for a Friday am. I would be very curious to hear your thoughts! What will the new role look like? What can we do to best help kids? Thanks for your help!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Budget cut? Huge Classes? Make Lemonade!

We use the team teaching model in our school. There is a bright young social studies teacher teaming with an English teacher for the 10th grade Integrated Social Studies and English class. We are on an alternating block schedule but students attend this class every day and will end the year with 2 credits!

It is a great interactive class because students learn about the history, read and write about it- often debating or do hands on research or projects. The kids learn tons, and gain meaning through the video and audio presented in class.

But the class is big - almost 70+ kids in it. We take down the partition between to classrooms for that hour and use one huge room. Mr Carpenter effectively uses short video clips to emphasis points and up until today we have had a projector/screen on one end of the room.  We have been writing grants so that each teacher now has a projector and laptop (and raging sound system!). Just yesterday we were able to connect the two projectors together (with a 100' coax video cable through the ceiling), converter box/splitter for the VGA input from Mr Carpenter's Macintosh laptop. Learning is achieved!

I tell you this because I really think the librarians role is truly varied. I look forward to collaborating with both teachers very soon, but right now my work has been behind the scenes- troubleshooting to get this system working. Now, instruction can proceed seamlessly using technology in a way that highlights learning not impeding or  being and end to itself. I know student's learning is stengthened!

Lucky day to be a librarian!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What is the value of a good teacher?

What a time we live in! Colorado just announced their educational cuts for next year. (see Denver Post)

But if you want to hear an interesting discussion on how teachers can measure their success - listen to a recent podcast from NPR's Planet Money's What is a teacher worth.  In it, he talks about how good teachers help kids be successful and then these students positively influence the gross national product.

The study highlighted in the podcast come from Eric Hanushek where he found that some teachers consistently produce higher performing students than their counterparts. These students then go on to be more productive and they earn systematically more money over their lifetime. These higher achieving student earnings result in an increased gross national product. The podcast takes the formula a bit further saying that a teacher with a class of 25 students that moves their students forward (in achievement)  is worth over 1/2 million dollars every year (in terms of added value to the economy).

If we know this why are we even considering increasing course loads or increasing class sizes as Bud the Teacher notes in his blog? In the long term aren't we just making the problem worse? There has to be a better way!