I just read an article from SLJ called How Does Your Boss See You? Proof that Principals Value Librarians. It’s a great article, and the survey results they used were really inspiring. I know my principal sees me this way — she tells me so. And I know with the big push in my school for literacy this year, she’s really needing me to step up as a leader in our school and kick things up a notch. I just thought I’d share my thinking after reading this.
As a school media coordinator, it is truly essential that we be seen as indispensable by our principals, as well as outside administrators. I usually feel like I’m fighting a stereotype most of the time. I think most people still think of story time and assume I don’t do anything. I know a lot of teachers are under the impression I just read stories and piddle around with the shelves all day. Although they’re quick to complain that I don’t have a single free slot for the next 3 weeks in my planbook either. I’m solidly booked all day, every day, all year. That’s just the way it is.
When people ask what I do, I usually reply, “I’m a teacher,” assuming that if I say “Media Coordinator” they won’t be familiar with the terminology. This response, however, tends to be followed by “Oh, really? What grade do you teach?” So then I end up explaining that I’ve left the classroom and moved on to bigger and better things — I get to work with ALL grades, and the staff, helping to extend their classroom learning in fun, meaningful, engaging ways.
I do admit, most of the teachers use me as a drop-off. They want a story and a checkout, completed in a half-hour. It doesn’t leave much time for other things. Fourth grade recently allowed me to begin teaching plagiarism and citing sources as they’re about to begin writing research papers. Do I get to help with the research projects? No. They want the kids to do it in the classroom. :(
But… there’s hope. We have successfully bridged the gap from “Library” to “Media Center.” My principal knows I am tech-savvy. She knows that I try to incorporate technology in my lessons whenever possible. I use my SmartBoard religiously every chance I get. I know how to make Prezis and Book Trailers, I know how to edit videos and photos. I live for the great stuff I find in the blogs I follow, and share everything with my staff. I am the school webmaster, and work with teachers individually to help them implement technology whenever they ask. I will run to their rooms between classes to troubleshoot or make quick-fixes.
But what other aspects of my job are essential? Reading, of course. I encourage my students to read WHAT THEY LIKE. I don’t worry about reading levels, or if their chapter book has enough pages or a high enough AR point value. If you like graphic novels, please, by all means, check one out. You’ve read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and loved them? Well, let’s try Vordak the Incomprehensible. Your teacher won’t let you read Junie B. Jones books anymore? That mean ol’ teacher! Well, how about if I introduce you to some new friends — Judy Moody, Ramona Quimby, and Clementine? Kids need to be encouraged to become readers. Not just reading what their teachers say they have to for a test or project, but reading for the pure enjoyment of it. This is how they learn about the world, beyond our little town of Goldsboro. To encourage MY children to look beyond their own little worlds — there is adventure outside of Goldsboro, away from the gangs, away from the streetcorners… There are people to meet, sights to be seen, interesting things to explore and learn about. They need this.
The biggest thing, however, is just being a leader. The school Media Center is the central hub of knowledge in a school. We have all the answers to whatever questions the children come up with. I need to make sure my teachers know this. I attend their PLCs whenever possible. Due to programming requirements, I can no longer regularly attend K and 1st grade meetings. I need to get with these teachers at another time, sharing what I have that can help them in their classroom. But bringing books, sharing websites, new web resources they can use in their classroom, offering ideas for ways we can work together… Ways to help them be more effective, and to team up to lighten their load… This is how I can show myself as a leader in my school and make a significant impact on the students’ learning.