Doug Johnson has challenged us to give our reasons why your school’s tech should be turned over to librarians. Many see it as an impossible challenge. Others see the acknowledgment as an affirmation. Why not consider it a road map? Here are my thoughts:
Doug’s #1. A healthy attitude toward technology. The LMS considers and teaches not just how to use technology, but why and under what circumstances it should be used.
Telling signs: I don’t suggest a PowerPoint for those thinking they want to use technology. Instead I look at many factors including the comfort level of the teacher, the amount of time a project will take, what kind of time commitment a teacher can make to see it through, their willingness and openness to collaboration/co-teaching and letting go of the reins to allow students exploration and sandbox time, will it generate engagement, will it foster things like interest, student choice, novelty in the curriculum, address standards, and impact learning? These are all facets of teaching and learning that drive my collaboration and suggestions for tech integration. It’s not about the technology, but instead the learning. What works for one teacher or class may not work for another.
Doug’s #2. Good teaching skills. Unlike technicians they are more likely to use good pedagogical techniques and have more developed human relations and communication skills. Librarians are understanding and empathetic when technologically related stress occurs in the classroom.
This is where collaboration comes into play. In my experience, I’ve found teachers who were unsure or inexperienced in a component of tech integration are more likely to want coteaching–which allows them to learn right along with their students. Also, discussion between educators breeds reflection (what works, what doesn’t, how ideas will go with a personality of a class, etc.) It just makes for a better lesson, and best, the more the merrier–and chances for success. Also don’t dismiss the power of a post reflective session.
Doug’s #3. An understanding of the use of technology in the information literacy process and its use in fostering higher level thinking skills. We view technology as just one more, extremely powerful tool that can be used by students completing well-designed information literacy projects. Many “technologists” are just now getting this.
As we mull over ideas, we filter them through our pedagogical thinking. It’s a natural process for us, while for the technologist with no teaching background, this is not the case. A librarian will not only factor logistics, hardware, software, safety, the filter, and what could go wrong, we also consider engagement and student learning, and best, these are weighted more in terms of importance.
Doug’s #4. Experience as skill integrators and collaborators. Integration of research and information literacy projects has been a long-term goal of school library programs, and as a result many LMSs have become excellent collaborators with classroom teaches, successfully strengthening the curriculum with information literacy projects. Librarians know kids, know technology and know what works.
Amen. We enhance learning for both teachers and students. Our potential outreach is even further, including school as a whole and our community.
Doug’s #5. Been models for the successful use of technology. The library’s automated library catalogs, circulation systems, electronic reference materials, and student accessible workstations all showed up well before classroom technologies. Teachers rightfully see the LMS as the educator with the most comfort with technology as well, which in turn bolsters their own self-confidence.
The knowledge that the librarian is experienced not only in hardware and software, but also teaching in uncharted territory in terms of tech integration gives teachers a sense of comfort, a feeling that if things go awry, the LMS is more successful in handling change, difficulty, and even failure. The tech savvy librarian is not afraid of any of these three game changers (change, difficulty, or failure) but instead embraces them headstrong. These are the pillars of learning for the librarian that are transferred to the collaborating teacher and often, the students themselves.
Doug’s #6. Provided in-building support. A flexibly scheduled LMS is a real asset to teachers learning to use or integrate technology. The LMS can work with the teacher in the library, lab or classroom. The LMS is available for questions that might otherwise derail a teacher’s application of technology. This as a primary advantage of the LMS as opposed to a classroom teacher having primary responsibility for staff development in technology.
The flexible librarian is the biggest challenge many face in schools today, as the librarian is often used for the planning period rotation in so many schools. For those librarians who want this role as tech leader in the school, your work is doubled. Embrace this challenge to make yourself absolutely indispensable. If your teachers need your flexibility, it is THEIR voice that can make it happen, not yours. Let your actions on this front speak for you. Let your teachers voice it. Then it is a real possibility.
Doug’s #7. A whole school view. Next to the principal, the LMS has the most inclusive view of the school and its resources. The LMS can make recommendations on where technology needs to be placed or upgraded as well as on what departments or teachers may need extra training and support in its use.
Work to be put on committees at school. Market yourself as a knowledgeable person with insights to offer. Remind your admin leaders that you have a birds-eye view of the classroom form the perspective of a teacher.
Doug’s #8. Concerns about the safe and ethical use of technology. Students will need to have the skills to self-evaluate information; understand online copyright laws and intellectual property issues; and follow the rules of safety and appropriate use of resources. Who but the librarian worries about this stuff?
While students and teachers alike get caught up in the innovativeness, the sparks of creativity, and the enthusiasm of tech integration, our background in information literacy forces us to include safety and ethical use while collaborating and/or coteaching, be it tech integration or simple writing a research paper and teaching students to write or generate citations. So it is only natural that we would ensure safety and ethical use.
In closing, my reflection:
After finishing this, I realize too that I have so far to go in my own teaching context as a librarian. Some may read this and get depressed or angry that they are no where near having a position that looks like this. Please don’t fret, as there are many in your boat. You are not alone. Instead of wallowing in self pity, make these goals for your own growth! Channel these frustrations into actionable goals. And treat them like a continuum–you will be further along in some of them more than others. Set goals and let that be the catalyst for growing and having a more positive way to vent your frustrations for the good.