School librarians are a very important part of a thriving school community. In my first few years of teaching I was lucky enough to be the school librarian for three years. During that time I enjoyed working with my colleagues and the students to enrich and support classroom learning. I am so happy that Barbara Paciotti, retired School Librarian and Science teacher, has written this excellent guest blog post about how school librarians can be an asset to classroom teachers.
The April 2018 Phi Delta Kappan article “Why School Librarians Matter” summarize yet more evidence from state and national impact studies that school libraries with certified School Librarians significantly contribute to student academic achievement.
Having a school library is #2 as a predictor of student achievement—higher than per-pupil spending or teacher/pupil ratio! If you want to increase student achievement in your classroom, you will surely want to take advantage of your certified School Librarian’s five areas of expertise to help you teach better.
Here are 12 ways a School Librarian can help teachers with their lessons and instructional practices.
As an Experienced Teacher
Did you know that a certified School Librarian is an experienced subject-area teacher? Most states require a certain number of years experience teaching in the classroom in order to pursue School Library Certification, and our graduate courses toward that are designed to help us enhance our teaching expertise.
- We design our library lessons to teach and support the 5 essential literacies for student success: reading, content-area literacy, information literacy, digital/technology literacy, and media literacy. We can differentiate for classes and grade levels, and we chunk and scaffold lessons over time so students build mastery over the entire school year.
- We specialize in teaching student inquiry & research skills. We know the best design & problem-solving model for a project; we’re adept at helping students develop research questions; we point students to the best resources and show how to evaluate them; and we teach note-taking skills in conjunction with resource citation to help students avoid plagiarism. All of these skills are used extensively in Project-Based Learning.
- We know how to foster & promote independent reading of both fiction and nonfiction, and with thousands more titles than found on classroom bookshelves, we can match “the perfect book” with each student.
As an Instructional Partner
Did you know that collaborating with your certified School Librarian on lesson and unit planning can generate up to 20% increase in test scores?
- We are familiar with the national & state curriculum standards for every subject in the school so we can fully integrate library literacies to energize your subject’s classroom activities.
- As curriculum masters we can help you create exciting cross-disciplinary projects with other subject area teachers.
- School libraries have been first adopters for technology, so we’ve developed the skills to use audio, video, and digital equipment & applications. Moreover, we can show you how to integrate and teach the best applications to achieve your content learning goals for students.
As an Informational Specialist
School Librarians spend an entire semester of graduate school learning to find answers in more print publications and Internet databases than you can imagine. If you need a book about some obscure topic, we can find it.
- Our forte is curating print & digital resources for your every need. Whether it’s classroom instructional kits, a/v materials, or a cart of books for students, we can provide it. We can help students find information in books, in online subscription database services, or through WebQuests, and we can show them how and where to accumulate their findings so it’s readily available when they need it.
- We have a comprehensive understanding of intellectual property, copyright, and fair use guidelines for using a variety of materials, and we can teach students, and advise teachers and administrators, on their proper use.
As a Program Administrator
A teaching certificate and years of experience aren’t enough to manage a whole school library program, hence the need for a certified School Librarian who has acquired a wide range of management skills.
- Did you know the quality of the school library’s print and digital collection can generate up to 14% increase in test scores? Our graduate library courses taught us how to build and keep current a collection of print and digital library materials in a variety of formats to meet the needs of every teacher’s curriculum, and for individual students’ reading needs and preferences. Tell us how the library can supplement your curriculum and we’ve probably got just what you need!
- We’ve developed the financial skills to administer a sizable school library budget and know how to take advantage of numerous outside funding opportunities. We can also help you find the best (and cheapest) bid vendors for your classroom needs!
As a School Leader
Educational instruction & support and asset purchase & management aren’t our only tasks. We reach out beyond the library to support what you are doing in your classroom.
- We communicate with parents and the community about school activities and events. From newsletters to our library webpage to social media we “show and tell” the world what is happening in our schools by documenting school, classroom, and library activities through photos and videos.
- We make the School Library the “go-to” place for students, teachers, and administrators. We create a learning commons, a project production center, a relaxed reading environment, and a place for staff training to meet the varying needs of the entire school. We may even have a video production studio for school announcements, or a makerspace for student tinkering, or a coffee bar for teachers to enjoy.
As the new school year begins, visit your school librarian to enrich your lessons!
About The Author
After 15 years as a homemaker, Barbara Paciotti resurrected her B.S. in Social Science/Physical Science/Secondary Education by teaching Biology, Chemistry, and Physical Science for 9 years in an at-risk alternative high school, during that time embracing computers and the Internet—email, listservs, creating the school’s first Website, teaching webpage creation to others.
By the new millennium, she became certified as a School Librarian (MSLIS) and moved to a new middle school. For 13.5 years, she integrated multimedia and cloud computing tools with Subject Standards through Library Lessons with students. “Ms. P” loves helping people find answers and, since retiring, blogging and TPT allow her to continue supporting teachers and students. She can be found online through her blog Looking Backward – Reflections of a Retired Middle School Librarian and her Teachers Pay Teachers store No Sweat Library Lessons on Teachers Pay Teachers.