How can a TL make his or her priorities both clear and palatable to the school community?
A TL will need to be clear with themselves first, about what their priorities are. It would be most likely the main priority is the students’ educational achievement. This achievement is fostered by promoting reading, literacy, information literacy and combining technology with learning experiences to meet curriculum objectives.
Gaining Principle support is vital for any effective school library program. A Principle that supports the TL and understands the school library program, is a great place to start. A supportive Principle can be an advocate for the TL and model positive attitudes towards what the TL and school library program can offer the learning community. A supportive Principal can help the TL with the job of making his or her priorities clear and palatable to the school community. The TL needs to make it clear that the school library has a shared vision for the school community.
Collaborating with teachers is a practical way to collect evidence that curriculum objectives are being achieved with the help of the TL. Working with teachers to develop effective teaching and learning strategies, then documenting the positives results is an important tool demonstrating the benefits of collaboration. This collaboration with teachers can enhance the students’ achievement and creativity. Teachers can also become advocates for the TL and how their input is vital (Todd, 2003, para. 10).
Evidence-based practice can provide the school community with evidence of how the TL and school library program improves students’ achievement. This evidence is hard to dismiss and demonstrates the main priority of the TL. According to Todd (2007, p. 76), evidence-based practice “builds active support for school librarians and school libraries”.
How can the information gathered be used effectively to illustrate the TLs priorities and make them palatable to the school community? Lamb and Johnson suggest, “You’ll want to share this information with students, teachers, parents, and administrators. A public relations project can promote strong areas of your collection. A written report to the principal can keep him or her informed about your needs, priorities, and activities.” (2004 – 2010, para. 8)
Promoting the school library program in a variety of ways is an effective tool to gain support from the school community. Ideas such as creating a school library blog, spending time developing an attractive and user friendly school library website, encouraging feedback from teachers, students and parents about their library experiences, all create interest and communication channels.
As Harvey II suggests the TL “does not work alone. For a school to have a successful library media program it takes everyone (the librarian media specialist, teacher, administrators, and library media staff ) working together for the benefit of the students” (2009, Point No. 10). Surely the students’ educational considerations must be of top priority for the whole school community. The TL vital in achieving this goal.
Harvey II, C. (2009 October Issue). What should an Administrator expect a school library media specialist to be? [Handout]. Library Media Connection. Retrieved from http://hoorayforbooks.pbworks.com/f/lms+evaluation+ideas.pdf
Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2004 – 2010). Library media program: Evaluation. In The school library media specialist. Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evaluation.html
Todd, R. J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. In School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA287119.html
Todd, R. J. (2007). Evidence-based practice and school libraries. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada (Eds.). School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from http://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/todd-r.pdf