Sunday, February 28, 2016

From Veteran Teacher to Novice Librarian

Has it really been a YEAR (?!) since my last post?  So many exciting things have happened. I am now a teacher-librarian in our wonderful school. It is a perfect fit for me, and I love working with all of our kids, instead of just those in my classroom.

It's been a steep learning curve, but I have learned so much this year about what being a teacher-librarian means.  Fortunately, I have had a lot of help from many, many people. (Shout out to Lorrie, our amazing former, now retired, librarian; Susan, librarian extraordinaire a nearby school; an dedicated crew of volunteers who have taught me so much -- too many to name; and the supportive group of experienced librarians our district library services department).

What Does a Teacher-Librarian Do?
Being a teacher-librarian is not just about reading a story and then helping kids find and check out books. That's a tiny part of my job. I've described my new job as 50% teacher, 50% retail store manager -- except that I'm not "selling" anything (technically). The reality is that I'm selling kids on reading.

Teaching in the Library
I teach each class of students in our K-5 school once a week. That's 27 classes. I work with K-2nd for 30 minutes and 3rd-5th for 45 minutes.  I typically teach a lesson for about half the time, and help students with checking out books for the other half.  I'm fortunate, because I have library volunteers who manage the check-in/check-out process. That allows me to work directly with the students.

Figuring out what to teach has been easier than I had imagined it would be. That's thanks in large part to the American Library Association's published Learning Standards.

In a nutshell, my lessons focus on...

  • Developing a love of literature (I get to share great books with kids!)
  • How to access library resources (books, digital media, etc.)
  • How to evaluate library resources
  • How to use library resources
  • How to understand library resources

Managing the Library
The other part of my job is managing the library's resources. We have over 13,000 books in our library and another 1,000 digital resources. It's my job to make sure that those resources are well maintained and up-to-to date. Fortunately, I worked in retail management for a couple of years when I was just out of college, so I have had some experience with inventory, budgets, reports, staffing, etc.

This part of the job is quite different from classroom teaching, but I'm loving it!  I'm a pretty organized person, and I like having things "just so", so I'm pretty comfortable with the order in the library.

Thinking About Becoming a Librarian?
If you're thinking about it, leave me a message in the comments! I'd be happy to share my experiences as a novice librarian with you!