Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Partnership and Collaboration

Reality check time: strange as it may seem, not everyone is on the teacher/librarian bandwagon.

In his recent posting, All Hail the Mighty Media Specialist, blogger Bill Ferriter begins with a disclaimer
"During the course of my sixteen year teaching career, I’ve worked with a ton of GREAT media specialists...I also believe that media specialists can play an important role in any school community. When they’re skilled, they teach students to manage information fluently and how to judge the reliability of sources...Finally, they often find ways to help teachers integrate media literacy skills into their required curriculum and do the heavy lifting on shared projects that are at once motivating and essential for students."

But then he goes on to say
"I'm also tired of the lofty rhetoric that media specialist and their professional organizations tend to sling...I get the sense that many media specialists believe that they are the 'lead readers' in any school and that the success or failure of any reading program depends primarily on the work done in the media center...I’m bothered any time that my own role as a reading advocate and expert is pushed aside. After all, I’m the one that is being held accountable for reading performance in our schools."

It's unfortunate that Bill seems to regard this as a sort of competition, that he feels teacher/librarians are trying to usurp his role or cast aspersions on his expertise.

It all goes back to branding. Until our profession has a clearly identifiable, universally recognized set of descriptors, this type of push back from subject area experts can be expected.

Teacher/librarians need to be recognized as generalists rather than specialists. Our scope should be cross-curricular, inclusive, with a dual focus on literature and information technology.

We don't want to be set above you, Bill, we want to work along side you and be your partners in education.

"It is not only one person's work, it's really a partnership and collaboration during all these years." -Christo

"Big Picture" by Auntie P


Judi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Judi said...

Dear Diane, Bill and All,
Since Bill has pulled his post and is not allowing posts to his current post regarding school librarians, I am sharing the response that I would have posted to his blog.

The school library position is different from the classroom teacher position. The classroom teacher impacts the learning of his/her students; the school librarian has the opportunity to impact the learning of EVERY student in the building. She/he also has the advantage of improving her/his own instructional practices through collaboration with colleagues. Classroom teachers rarely have that opportunity to co-teach unless it is with someone who is not responsible for a specific number of students every day: the school librarian, literacy coach, counselor, and some other so-called “specialists.” (Of course, specialists’ student-contact time is often different at elementary and secondary schools.)

When I served as a school librarian, I did not see myself as in competition with classroom teachers. To me, we were partners. Yes, classroom teachers’ position with regard to test scores is more accountable, but you (Bill) misspoke about the accountability for school librarians vis-à-vis our national association. The “objectives” you (Bill) mention are the “Common Beliefs,” they are, as you rightly point out, NOT measurable. They are philosophy statements. What are measurable are the indicators that follow the four strands of the Standards for the 21st Century Learner document:

I served in school libraries for almost twenty years. I based my program on classroom-library collaboration for instruction. Last year, I returned to full-time work in a 7th - 12th grade school library after a six-year hiatus. Yes, teachers had planning time during the school day. Some came to the library or I went to the classroom to plan during that time. We also had one or two collaborative planning staff development days for our weekly early release Wednesday afternoons. Our district valued collaboration among educators, and as a result, educators made good use of that time. We also planned at lunch, before and after school and online. You (Bill) can view some of the collaborative work we accomplished last year at:

If you (Bill) have a TeacherTube account, you can also view teacher testimonials about classroom-library collaboration linked from one of my course wiki Web sites: Clearly, these classroom teachers did not see the school librarian undervaluing their work.

If any member of our profession has devalued what you (Bill) do as a classroom teacher, we (many of us who contributed posts to your blog) apologize for that fact or perception. However, our roles ARE different, and it does take a village to teach 21st-century students.

The bottom line is that we are partners in instruction and what’s best for students. (And if we are doing our jobs as prescribed by our national association, we ARE contributing to student achievement.) Period.

diane said...

Beautifully stated - I have nothing further to add.