Enhance your professional knowledge and skills by collaborating with your school librarian.
One of a librarian’s goals is to collaborate with classroom teachers in designing and implementing lessons and units of instruction. When you are looking for information, research projects, curricular content, and information resources, go directly to the librarian. Learning to collaborate with your librarian will benefit you and your students.
1. Share your topics of study with the librarian.
At the elementary level, classes are scheduled into the library on a weekly basis. Typically, librarians plan a mini-lesson followed by time for students to select books. By previewing your topics of study with the school librarian, he or she can select complementary reading books to share with your students. With many states adopting the common core, teachers face an expanded curriculum in English language arts that places additional demands on their instructional time. Common core calls for an increased use of content-rich, nonfiction text. Librarians can support your efforts by selecting non-fiction titles, aligned with your curriculum, to read and discuss the books with your students (Alberti, 2013).
2. Enlist the librarian to teach research skills.
The American Association of School Librarians (AASL, 2011) standards for English language arts specify that librarians are to teach students to follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects (1. 1.1). That parallels Common Core State Standards (2010; CC3.w.7), which mandate that teachers teach students to conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic. A classroom teacher can partner with the librarian to assure that students develop effective research skills and can access critical sources for assigned papers and projects.
3. Utilize instructional materials in the library.
Finding just the right video, book, or software to teach a concept can spell success for a lesson. Typically, librarians have annual budgets to purchase materials to support the instructional program. Ask when you should give the librarian your wish list to ensure that you have the right materials to deliver your lessons. Furthermore, the library media center typically has technology such as iPods® and iPads® for check-out so that your class can use them to enhance your lesson.
Teaching can be a lonely career, but it doesn’t have to be. Teachers who establish collaborative, professional, working relationships expand their own expertise and gain support for enhanced learning for their students (Nath & Cohen, 2011). When the librarian and the teacher collaborate, students receive in-depth knowledge on a variety of curricular topics, see the library as an extension of the classroom, and develop the research and inquiry skills to become lifelong learners.
Dr. Qvarnstrom is Assistant Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and an Associate Professor of Education at Sul Ross State University, where she teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in the Education Department. During her 20 years as a Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Red Clay School District, she supervised all the teachers and the 23 K-12 school librarians, whom she found to be rich resources for the classroom teachers. In 2012, the Delaware Association of School Librarians named her the Delaware State Administrator of the Year.
This article was originally featured in the Spring 2015 issue of the New Teacher Advocate.
Alberti, S. (2013). Making the shifts. Educational Leadership, 70(4), 24–27.
American Association of School Librarians. (2011). AASL learning standards and Common Core State Standards crosswalk. Chicago, IL: AASL. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards-guidelines/ crosswalk
Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English language arts. Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers.
Nath, J., & Cohen, M. (2011). Becoming an EC-6 teacher in Texas (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.