Building Instructional Partnerships
A Wedge of the Future Ready Librarian Framework
What is an instructional partner?
The role of a school librarian transcends the traditional boundaries of managing a collection and promoting literacy. As an instructional partner, a school librarian is a chameleon in the educational ecosystem, adapting their colors to the changing needs of their environment. Imagine being the thread that connects different swatches of fabric to create a quilt that tells a story. That is what an instructional partner does—connect, enhance, and co-create the educational narrative.
As think about your role as an instructional partner, consider these questions:
- How do I see my role as a school librarian influencing student success and lifelong learning?
- What are my goals for partnering with teachers and administrators, and how do they align with the broader educational objectives of my school?
- In what ways can I build effective communication channels with staff and teachers to foster a collaborative environment?
- How can I leverage the resources at my disposal to enhance curriculum delivery and support diverse learning needs?
- What professional development opportunities can I pursue or provide to stay at the forefront of educational innovation and instructional best practices?
- How can I collaborate with teachers to assess the impact of our instructional strategies on student learning outcomes?
- In what ways have I adapted my approach to meet the challenges of the digital age and remote learning environments?
After pondering these questions, share your insights and consider the perspectives of your peers. ⬇️
Add your thoughts to our Padlet.
Why should we build instructional partnerships?
Enhanced Educational Outcomes:
- Collaborating with teachers leads to co-planned and co-taught lessons that are more engaging and effective.
- Shared expertise results in a richer, more diverse educational experience for students.
- You can guide the utilization of library resources to their full potential, ensuring that investments in educational materials are maximally beneficial.
- Efficient use of library materials prevents redundancy and encourages innovative use of resources.
- Partnerships expose you to new teaching methods and curricular ideas, fostering professional development.
- Opportunities arise for you to lead professional development for teachers, showcasing your expertise.
- You often have unique insights into various tools and resources that can support differentiated learning.
- You can assist in adapting instruction to meet a variety of student learning styles and needs.
Advocacy for the Library Program:
- Strong partnerships can turn teachers and administrators into advocates for the library, securing its place as a central hub of learning.
- Collaborations help demonstrate the library’s value, aiding in maintaining or increasing funding.
Positive School Culture:
- Working closely with others contribute to a sense of community and collective responsibility for student success.
- You can play a significant role in creating a school-wide culture of reading and continuous learning.
- Active involvement in curriculum design ensures the library's resources and programs are aligned with school curricula and standards.
- You can infuse information literacy skills into the curriculum seamlessly.
Increased Reach and Impact:
- By partnering with teachers, you extend your instructional reach beyond the library to classrooms and other learning environments.
- The impact of the your knowledge and skills is multiplied across the student body and faculty.
Innovation and Creativity:
- Collaborative environments are fertile grounds for innovation in teaching and learning practices.
- Joint projects can lead to creative solutions for pedagogical challenges.
Successful Components of Instructional Partnerships
- Skills: Continuous learning and professional development is the backbone of effective partnerships
- Planning: Allocate dedicated time for collaboration and coordination
- Alliance: Build a foundation of mutual confidence and reliability with teachers
- Cooperation: Encourage collective effort and shared responsibility for educational outcomes
Top 5 Ways to Kickstart Instructional Partnerships!
1. Initiate Incrementally:
- Start with manageable goals, such as partnering with a single teacher or department.
- Demonstrate success on a small scale before expanding to more comprehensive collaborations.
2. Honor Educators' Time:
- Propose collaboration during existing interactions, like class visits to the library.
- Offer concrete, planned ideas through email to show you value their limited time and have thought about integration points.
3. Advocate for Your Role:
- Use beginning-of-year meetings or school newsletters to highlight your readiness to partner.
- Provide examples of how you can enhance learning experiences, showcasing previous successes or hypothetical scenarios.
- Consider connecting from pre-planning or reminding teachers about what you can accomplish together in January: Check out my beginning of the year Smore for an example
4. Express Appreciation:
- A heartfelt 'thank you' to those who collaborate with you can go a long way.
- Public acknowledgment of successful partnerships can spark interest among other staff members.
5. Leverage Visibility for Opportunity:
- Be vocal and visible in shared spaces like the teachers' lounge, school events, or department/grade level meetings.
- Your presence and enthusiasm for collaboration may lead to unexpected partnerships and projects.
So how do you put collaboration into action?!
Introducing EdTech and Innovations
Showcase Cutting-Edge Tools:
- Offer a sneak peek into the latest educational technology by inviting yourself into classrooms to present a "Tech Tool Spotlight" session. For example, "I'm excited about our new virtual reality geography app—may I schedule a time to take your students on a virtual tour around the world?" (Digital Learning Day is perfect for this!!)
Enhancing Resource Utilization
Maximize Library Resources:
- Conduct interactive workshops for students on navigating and utilizing digital library systems like Destiny Discover or online databases.
- Host "Discovery Days" where students and teachers can drop in to explore library resources with your guidance.
Sharing Knowledge and Skills
Distribute Digital Wisdom:
- Design a "Tech Tips" newsletter or a "Digital Dive" webinar series to share your knowledge on a rotating roster of topics, from breakout boxes to the latest in cloud collaboration.
- Offer to lead professional development sessions that could benefit teachers.
Pioneer Collaborative Curation:
- Invite teachers to co-create subject-specific inspiration boards on platforms like Pinterest, which can serve as a visual resource for lesson planning and idea generation.
- Develop multimedia collections aligned with curriculum standards, using tools like Wakelet or Padlet to compile resources that span videos, articles, and interactive activities.
Curate for Curriculum:
- Work with teachers to build custom Destiny Collections, a Padlet, or Wakelet that map directly to specific standards, units, or projects, offering a turnkey solution for integrated learning.
- Create "Subject Spotlights" or "Standard Stashes" with a mix of media, including books, articles, and educational games that cater to various learning styles and needs.
Talking Points with Your Principal
You may be thinking...my principal will never let me do this. Unfortunately, we are operating in an age where many of us teach connections classes or are being used in different areas of the building.
I see you. I hear you. I've been there.
Start by sharing the national guidelines from AASL and the Future Ready Librarian Framework.
- Instead of saying "I want to do this," say "my professional organization recognizes this as best practice."
- AASL's statement on flexible scheduling
Be passionate about your goals! Consider using a spreadsheet or OneNote to align your goals to standards and your school goals.
Document your data, projects you've helped with (along with the successes), and the outcomes of any programming you do (like circulation increases).
Always go back to what is best for the students and how it can help the school improvement plan or district plan. "Is this what's best for students?"
Quick Wins for Collaboration
- Dot Day Design: Art collaboration with dot-themed creative projects.
- Counseling: Collaborate on a book club around an SEL theme (like The Power of Introverts for secondary students)
- Musical Storytime: Pair readings with music classes for integrated arts education.
- Curriculum Sync: Plan research/inquiry projects aligned with annual curriculum maps.
- STEAM Projects: Integrate MakerSpace activities into content areas.
- Grade-Level Google Classrooms: Manage and share resources tailored to specific grade needs.
- Citation Workshops: Teach essential citation skills during project-based learning units.
- Mystery Geography: Engage students with Mystery Teams Calls for interactive learning.
- Flip Events: Bring classes into the library for Microsoft Flip Live Events and organize a small project around them.
- Seasonal Tech Crafts: Create AR projects for holiday celebrations in art classes.