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While it might be ideal for our principals to come to their administrative positions knowing all about the job that we do, this is typically not the case. Although most administrators have been classroom teachers, very few have past experience working as school librarians. Much of my research throughout my career then has focused on principals’ perceptions of our instructional role and how they come to those understandings.
What I’ve Learned
As a rule, principals do not learn what librarians do from their educational leadership coursework. Few articles about school libraries appear in the journals in their field, and sessions about school librarians are rare at their conferences. Based on the findings from my studies on Virginia principals, both elementary and secondary, 92% learn what librarians do from the librarians with whom they work…which puts the responsibility right back in our laps!
2016-2017 Presidential Initiative
There was little question then, as I reflected on the focus for my presidential initiative, that it would be on school administrators and how we might help them to better understand the critical role that we play in student learning. Deb Levitov, Editor, Teacher-Librarian (NE), kindly agreed to chair my Presidential Initiative Task Force; Priscille Dando, Coordinator, Library Information Services in Fairfax County Public Schools (VA), and Michelle Folk, Teacher Librarian at Fort Atkinson Middle School (WI), agreed to serve on the task force. I asked them to curate a limited number of select quality resources in a variety of formats, create suggestions for sharing these resources, and develop a mechanism to measure the effectiveness of the initiative. And what an amazing job they have done!
“School Librarians as Learning Leaders: An Administrator’s Guide” is available in two formats: an infographic and an annotated resource guide. The two documents feature the same resources but are organized differently. The infographic presents the resources categorized by topic under the headings of Teaching, Leadership, and Evidence. The annotated resource guide presents the resources organized by format (Infographics; Journal articles, position statements, reports; and Videos).
In addition, the following resources will be added to the webpage later this week:
Task force members joined me on the May 18 broadcast of Larry Jacobs’ Education Talk Radio, “Administrators and School Librarians: A Powerful Partnership for Schools and Learning,” to talk about the initiative. They will be sharing and discussing the resources with members of the Affiliate Assembly at Affiliate Assembly II on Sunday, June 25, at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago and presenting a session, “Advocacy Begins with Each of Us: Resources and Strategies to Foster Administrator and School Librarian Partnerships,” at the AASL National Conference & Exhibition in Phoenix in November.
Additionally, AASL will have a presence in the exhibit hall at the first-ever joint conference for pre-K through grade 12 school leaders National Principals’ Conference in Philadelphia in July where Executive Director Sylvia Knight Norton and I will share the infographic and emphasize to principals the key role that school librarians play in student learning. As materials go out from the AASL Office to state affiliates for distribution at conferences, the “School Librarians as Learning Leaders” infographic will be included. And, of course, please feel free to download, print, and share!
As school librarians we are learning leaders in our schools. My hope is that these resources will be useful to you as you share the message with your administrators that #SchoolLibrariansTransformStudentLearning.
KASL sends the President and President-Elect to the ALA Annual Conference each summer because AASL Affiliate meets then, and the real business of the association occurs.
In recent years, AASL has been hosting a valuable leadership gathering during the day on Friday. Attendees learn a lot about what AASL offers.
Saturday evening, AASL Affiliate met to go over the concerns and commendations that the body would be voting on Sunday morning. If you are interested, the business is all online http://www.ala.org/aasl/about/affils. We also learned some tips for successful legislator visits from Cathy Evans, Director of Libraries, at St. Mary’s Episcopal School and a tutorial on the new and improved ALA Connect.
On Sunday morning, AASL Affiliate met for the final voting after some information about AASL initiatives and a lovely breakfast provided by ABC-CLIO.
The School Library Snapshot is a handy tool for showcasing the services you offer in your library. AASL recommends that you gather data for a week, enter the results in the fillable .pdf, and distribute widely. It might be a nice place to start or a good supplement for the reports you already do.