Saturday, June 21, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
- write a pantoum poem (a challenge issued by D.H. one of the editors for a student creative writing anthology, the publishing of which I coordinate);
- read a number of professional books ( Critical Thinking by Richard Paul, Adolescent Literacy edited by Kylene Beers, Linda Rief and Robert Probst and The Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano);
- catch up reading my professional journals (English Journal; Educational Leadership; Teacher Librarian - this is available through our board's online databases);
- create a wiki for a research project using Wiki Templates for Super Teaching by David Loertscher et al; and
- Go through the K-12 Online Conference 2007 and 'attend' some of the conference presentations.
These will keep me busy over the summer break. I also have the usual list of cleaning my house (I don't spring clean - I summer clean. No time or energy for it earlier), golfing, biking, hiking, swimming, weekend trip to Stratford and a 2 week vacation. Not sure just where my husband and I are going - we'll do a last minute booking. As long as it is really warm and has beach with salty water we're good.
For those of you who are waiting for the summer to start playing with some of the read/write web tools, I direct you again to the California School Library's School Library Learning 2.0. They updated it for this year and you can complete the 23 things over the summer and be ready to use some of these tools with your students next year.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
I've been thinking a lot lately about what someone needs to be truly qualified to be a school librarian. The reason that I've been thinking about this is because I am really frustrated by the process of getting a secondary TL position in our district. While this process gets a credentialed TL into the position, it doesn't necessarily get a qualified person into the position.
In our province, teachers can become qualified to teach in other areas by taking an Additional Qualification courses offered by Faculty of Educations at various universities. Most AQs are 3 parts (Part 1, Part 2 and Specialist) and can be done on-line, partially online or face to face. The AQ for Librarianship Part 1 has no prerequisites other than a teaching degree. In our district, if you have Part 1, then you are credentialed and you can be placed in a secondary school library. And once you are in the library, you are there for the remainder of your career if you want.
Now the really frustrating thing is that we can have teachers who have never written a formal research paper, who don't know YA lit from adult lit, who don't know what the difference between MLA, APA, Chicago Style, who come from a tech background (and I don't mean computer tech I mean auto, construction, metal tech), an art background, a phys ed background - well any background, being responsible for a secondary school library and a secondary school library program. Now I'm not saying that people with diverse backgrounds can't become good and even exemplary TLs. I actually have a phys ed background - but my undergrad was rigorous - I can't count the number of research papers I had to write. In fact, one of my first year undergrad courses was research methods and I remember spending hours in the university library searching for various types of resources required by the assignment given to us by Dr. Leavitt. It was one of the toughest courses I took. I am also a voracious reader - a really important qualification for a school librarian!
Now one would assume that after taking Part 1, that a teacher placed in the school library would have a basic understanding of the role and scope of the position, a basic knowledge and skill level of the teaching responsibilities required to develop information literate students. One would also assume that these credentialed teachers understand and apply collaborative behaviors necessary to plan, teach and assess with classroom teachers. And finally, one would assume that there would be a minimum application of the technical requirements of the role (now I do mean computer technology). But what is happening is that our secondary school libraries in far too many cases have become an 'early retirement home'. And why? Because the only necessary requirement is that one is credentialed with Librarianship Part 1. Some of these credentialed teachers see the library as a place where they can spend the last few years of their teaching career in relative peace, with no report cards and no marking. Book babysitters.
So if we really want to provide a high-quality school library program for our students in this information age, shouldn't the requirement to become a school librarian be more than Part 1? Shouldn't our districts require more than just a credential? Shouldn't there be professional accountability?
When I started thinking about the emphasis these days on credentials and my frustration with the lack of professional accountability of some school librarians, I thought of the book that I read a couple of years ago written by Jane Jacobs, a self-educated activist, urban planner and visionary. She wrote a book called Dark Age Ahead. In it, she theorizes that North American civilization is headed towards a Dark Age similar to that of the Roman Empire:
Her thesis focused on five pillars of our culture that we depend on to stand firm but are in serious decline: the nuclear family (but also community), education, science, representational government and taxes, and corporate and professional accountability.
Jacobs theorizes that the collapse of these pillars will cause a descent into a Dark Age and she provides evidence that these pillars are already eroding. The demise of the 'education pillar' is caused by universities more interested in credentialing than providing high quality education. I guess I'm feeling that some of our secondary school libraries are descending into the 'Dark Age' as a result of needing only a credential to become a TL and the lack of professional accountability once in the position.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Teachers are inherently rational and reasonable folk and will question to what extent the change is needed, whether the principal is headed in the right direction, and whether they want to commit personally to making change happen. The articulation of a formal case for change and the creation of a modified, shared vision statement are invaluable opportunities to create or compel buy-in.
To truly be successful at implementat[ing]... change there must be ownership by those willing to accept responsibility for making change happen in all their areas of influence. Ownership is often best created by involving people in identifying potential problems and crafting solutions- which happens naturally in a community of practice.
Too often, those involved in the change make the mistake of believing that others understand the issues, feel the need to change, and see the new direction as clearly as they do. The best change programs reinforce core messages through regular, timely advice that is both inspirational and practical.
Educational leaders often make the mistake of assessing culture either too late or not at all. Ask yourself, do you know your school's readiness factor in terms of accepting change? Does your school already have strategies in place for how to bring major problems to the surface, identify conflicts, and negotiate outcomes? Do learning teams, and ultimately your learning community know how to identify the core values, beliefs, behaviors, and perceptions that must be taken into account for successful change to occur?
21st Century change is by design emergent and organic in nature. Implementation [...] never goes completely according to plan. People react in unexpected ways; areas of anticipated resistance fall away; and the external environment shifts etc. To manage the needed shifts in your school, the community will need to continually reassess. This is why ownership is so important.
Change is both an institutional journey and a very personal one. Educators spend many hours each week at school; many think of their colleagues as a second family- and as their community away from home. Individuals (or teams of individuals) yearn to know how their work will change, what is expected of them during and after the change, how they will be measured, and what success or failure will mean for them and those around them.