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I believe in teacher librarians. I am at the end of my career, having completed my degree in school librarianship post-retirement, so I have known plenty of tls. I am lucky to have had great role models in my time, but as a grandmother with two young boys soon to enter the school system, I find myself looking forward. What will Lucca and Cole find in their school libraries? Will there be someone there to feed their obsession for reading? Will someone help them navigate the new literacies so they learn, grow, and create online? Most important, will someone in their school libraries welcome, accept, and support them as they grow? Thinking about the tls I’ve met in this program, if their schools have professional teacher librarians, the answer to all these questions is yes. How do I know this? Because I know what teacher librarians do.
Teacher librarians provide high quality print and online curricular resources. I believe in Rhonda, who provides her high school students not only with the latest and greatest digital resources, but also with a vibrant print collection including hard-to-find novels by Canadian First Nations writers.
Teacher librarians build a collection and a space that encourages students to read and to learn. I believe in Lissa, who in one-half day of library time per week has transformed the dismal, discouraging library she inherited. Now she leads literacy in a warm and vibrant hub where her students and teachers love to read and work.
Teacher librarians develop events and programs that promote reading. I believe in Joanie, who decided her students needed graphic novels as part of their reading experiences. She planned with her principal, sought expert advice, bought judiciously, solicited input from students, promoted creatively, and invited a knowledgeable guest speaker to her school. She also thoughtfully introduced her teachers to graphic novels. The results? More excitement about reading, and a wider variety of choices for student learning.
Teacher librarians collaborate with teachers to integrate information literacy, inquiry, literature and technology into the curriculum. I believe in Amanda, who eagerly shares her knowledge of teaching reading and writing with her colleagues, and is continually improving her teaching.
I believe in Renae, who as the information literacy leader in her school collaborates with her teachers to implement inquiry-based, information processing projects with all students. Her grade 7 class researched the impact of a proposed mine on a local salmon spawning stream, and used Web 2.0 tools to create an interactive presentation so they could share their concerns at a public forum.
Teacher librarians serve on leadership teams to implement initiatives that improve student learning. I believe in Kelly, part of the literacy committee at her school, who gave copies of The Book Whisperer to all her language arts teachers, Now they are planning to implement free voluntary reading and book challenges in her school. I believe in Terri, who serves other teacher librarians as webmaster for the Alberta School Library Council.
Teacher librarians use instructional technology to teach, to support reading, to facilitate learning and content creation, and to build a virtual library. I believe in Shelly, who reads fan fiction with her students and encourages them in writing their own. She helps them see themselves as both writers and readers. She envisions doing action research on using new technologies with students, both as a way to build their learning, and as a way to advocate for technology funding.
I believe in Brenda, who welcomes a group of grade five boys to the library every day after school so they can chat with her about the books they are reading for her 40-book challenge or tell her a joke or debate which fast food fries are the best. With her colleague, Leslie, Brenda has 400 students recording what they read on their free voluntary reading web sites and discussing online what they read and recommend to others. One result is more student book requests in one year than in the previous eight combined.
Teacher librarians promote reading for pleasure and free voluntary reading in school. I believe in Heather, who fought to eliminate scheduled book exchanges in favor of flexibility. Circulation dramatically increased, formerly reluctant teachers see the value of student choice, and students can get books when they need them.
I believe in Jess, who builds relationships with her students by helping each of them find just the right book. She sees her reader’s advisory as time to get to know her students as they share their questions, their concerns, and their thoughts about the world in which they live.
I believe in Anne, who loves the power of story and the insight her students’ stories give her into their lives. Her goal is to ensure that her students trust themselves as readers capable of making their own reading choices.
Teacher librarians model lifelong learning and reading for pleasure. I believe in Deborah, the enabling adult and model expert reader. She shares with her students her love of literature and the idea that reading is fun. One of her great ideas is the book swap project that reinforces her effort to develop a school culture that celebrates reading and honours choice.
I believe in Melissa, who takes such joy in getting to know every student in her school and passing on her passion for reading. For her reading is a social activity, nurtured by a community of readers.
Teacher librarians involve parents in their children’s learning. I believe in Natasha, who sees parent education, involvement and collaboration in information literacy as a way to teach a whole community, not just its children.
I believe that professional teacher librarians are indispensable to our 21st century learners. I fervently hope that as my two grandsons grow, they are lucky enough to have a teacher librarian in their school. To all the wonderful teacher librarians I have met in the TL-DL program, I want you to know that I believe in you.