Create a Customized School Library Orientation for Teachers

Create a Customized School Library Orientation for Teachers - Teacher attitude toward the school library determines student use of our facility. School Librarians can show teachers the benefits of collaboration & library visits by creating a customized library orientation that features materials and Library Lessons for their first content area units of study. #NoSweatLibraryAt the start of each school year, we have School Library Orientations for students, our goal being to encourage them to use the library and its resources. But this rarely puts us at the top of most students’ list of where to go for information or guidance on school assignments. How might we overcome that disconnect?

What predisposes students to use the school library as a primary resource for learning? The answer is obvious: teachers have the most influence over whether students use the school library! If they regularly bring students to the library for class assignments, then students learn that the school library is the first, best place to go for answering questions and solving problems.

Thus, we need to boost our credibility with teachers, show them how we can increase student achievement. We must familiarize them with our products and services…not an overview, but their particular content area and specific classroom assignments.  We do that by creating a customized library orientation for our teachers.

THE SCHOOL LIBRARY HAS WHAT TEACHERS NEED

The twofold purpose of a teacher library orientation is to convince teachers we have exactly what they and their students need for any curricular unit, and to encourage them to collaborate with us on their lesson activities. Just as we do with student library visits, we can’t inundate teachers with everything we have; we just offer what they need for their immediate upcoming task. Accordingly, our custom library orientation need only show teachers the library’s resources for their 1st grading period topics of study.

First we determine what the school library has for each subject. Using subject-area curriculum guides or lesson plans, make a list of library resources that can enhance upcoming topic activities:

  • professional teaching materials
  • a cart of books for student use
  • online subscription database features
  • topical periodicals or realia
  • a particular library lesson.

We may find we don’t have materials for every subject teacher need, especially if curriculum or lessons have changed. We can still help: School librarians get numerous materials catalogs through the mail, and we can organize vendor catalogs by subject so teachers can easily browse catalogs to give us purchase requests.

HOW TO SET UP A TEACHER LIBRARY ORIENTATION

  • Teachers Need a School Library Orientation, Too! - A School Library Orientation for teachers shows them we have the resources they need for curricular units and that collaborating with us on Library Lessons will benefit them & their students. Here's how I do it... #NoSweatLibraryThe days before school begins are packed with professional development and preparing for students, so teachers need to see we respect their time. Don’t schedule a single teacher orientation, but rather, set up a self-paced visitation available throughout the day.
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  • Just as we capture student interest, “hook” teachers with food, like desserts and sweets! If you can’t do all that preparation, ask the PTA to help provide goodies. Intrigue teachers with a personalized invitation and a clever name, like “Desserts and Dewey”. Many online tools allow us to easily customize a document with colorful graphics for each subject.
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  • With students we focus on a single objective, and we need to do the same for teachers. To fulfill our objective to show teachers what we have for them, create a thematic display of selected physical materials using a table for each subject area. Include professional items in different formats as well as student-use materials.
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  • Just as we give students a meaningful activity to practice what they’ve learned, give teachers an activity that directs them to other bookshelf materials after they’ve examined their table materials. We can create a “Dewey map,” or better yet, create a short scavenger hunt for teachers customized to their content units—I call mine What “Dewey” Have For You?
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  • Show teachers we’re responsive to their curricular needs by giving them highlighters & sticky notes to mark bid vendor catalogs with needed materials they haven’t found by browsing their subject bookshelves.
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  • Spotlight digital library subscription resources that support first grading period topics. Designate certain library computers for each subject’s relevant services for the first grading period, and facilitate exploration into articles or features with a brief “how to” or WebQuest. (This can serve as a basis for student WebQuests.) Group like-subject stations so those teachers can sit together to collaborate.
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  • Let teachers experience how you customize a Library Lesson. Set up a lesson station with a slide presentation or video about copyright. Offer a copyright chart with guidelines for fair use of print or digital materials, printed on both sides and laminated, to take back to their classroom as a quick yet effective reminder during the rest of the school year. If we already have a Library Lesson for a 1GP topic, offer a copy of the Lesson Plan document to invite collaboration and a library visit. (Be sure your LP shows their Subject Standards!)

MY TEACHER LIBRARY ORIENTATION TIME SAVERS

  • My personalized invitations include an “orientation lesson guide” to give teachers a preview of what they’ll do, and it allows them to work independently through the lesson whenever they choose to visit the library during the day.
  • For subject signs on tables I use the plastic magazine holders I’ve set up for vendor catalogs. I have colorful graphic sheets taped to the sides to identify the subject, so I just grab them and place in the center of the appropriate table.
  • To one side of the catalog container I put teaching materials like DVDs, kits, or idea books. To the other side, I offer a sample of a dozen or so books that are helpful for students. I include a topical list of other books for a classroom bookcart, and to promote teacher collaboration I suggest they begin a project with the bookcart in the library because there’s more room for students to spread out. (I keep these lists updated with new purchases because I use them to compile topical bookcart materials.)
  • Within pertinent subscription services, I bookmark articles or create folders so teachers or students (or I) can rapidly find needed resources at a later time.

LONG TERM BENEFITS OF A TEACHER LIBRARY ORIENTATION

A successful faculty library orientation results in an increase in lesson collaborations and scheduled class visits. We won’t have every teacher participate every year, but many return periodically to check out new materials, especially after a standards, curriculum, or textbook update.

With more teacher-scheduled Library Lesson visits we overcome that disconnect between student orientation and student use. Students become more familiar with library offerings and more comfortable seeking out the librarian and library resources.

If you’ve not yet had a formal teacher library orientation, I encourage you to plan one now. Showing teachers that we consider them a primary partner in library services goes a long way to making the school library—and the School Librarian—a valuable resource for the school.

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School Librarians: Offer Your Teachers Technology Training & Integration

School Librarians: Offer Your Teachers Technology Training & Integration - Effective use of technology in the classroom is often the result of teachers who haven't learned to use it or integrate it into their lessons. School Librarians are already adept at technology and integration, so we can be the best person to provide ongoing technology training for our teachers. #NoSweatLibraryTechnology can bring creative enrichment to many educational activities, I’m often disappointed at how rarely audio, video, and digital technologies are used to their fullest. Our students need and deserve to learn a variety of ways to express themselves so they may be active participants in our global community. How might a School Librarian make that happen?

As a School Librarian for many years—and a classroom Science Teacher before that—I’ve experienced the barriers which inhibit or restrict the effective use of technology with students.  By understanding historic barriers, we can better identify the current obstacles and decide where we to apply our energies toward overcoming them.

BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY

Technology barriers derive from 3 sources: from teachers, from students, and from the technology itself.

The high cost of technology prevented schools from investing in enough hardware to make regular technology use viable for classrooms, but now even 1:1 computers are affordable for most districts. Along with that, the Federal e-rate has made online access widely available.

Technology breakdowns hindered its wide use, but many tech-related problems disappeared as electronic hardware became more robust, and software became standardized & more reliable. And now, a plethora of digital products are accessible online, making multimedia technology available within most classrooms. Today we can find a reliable tech solution for any educational need, many of them free.

School districts with older hardware or insufficient bandwidth for large-scale online use may still have issues; however, hardware, software, and online technology barriers are nowadays incidentally frustrating, rather than obstructive.

Why Educational Technology Isn't Integrated into Classroom Learning - School Librarians have been integrating educational technology into library activities for a long time, but 3 historic barriers continue to prevent its efficient use in the classroom with students. Learn how we can change that! #NoSweatLibraryWe can consider students a barrier to using digital technology. Historically, their excitement quickly turned to frustration with software glitches and boredom with rote keyboarding exercises. The demand for tech-savvy graduates pushed school districts to narrow inequity through grants, bonds, and corporate funding and provide technology hardware & training for students.

Even with more computers, laptops, and smartphones available, students still lack entry-level tech skills. Keyboarding classes, once prolific, are now scarce, so incidental training during assignments is now the norm for students.

The random, irregular use of technology with students in the classroom means they can’t learn nor master even the fundamentals of using multimedia for their assignments, and brings us to the biggest stumbling block to effective use of technology in the classroom.

Teachers have had technology training for two decades, yet there remains a huge disparity in tech proficiency among teachers. Even younger teachers, who we’d expect to have grown up using a wide variety of tech applications, lack the ability to effectively integrate technology into their classroom activities. Clearly we still need to provide all teachers with time to pursue training in technology applications, but more importantly, we need to provide teachers with more focused training, enabling them to develop tech integration lessons for their students.

STAFF DEVELOPMENT FOR TECHNOLOGY

The typical manner of tech training for teachers is showing a whole group how to use a tool, expecting them to effectively use it with students. This method is cheap and easy, but it isn’t the best way to do it. Teachers add shallow use of a tool to what they’re already doing—as having students type final papers with a word processing tool yet still requiring a handwritten rough draft. Teachers need to see a different way of doing things—even as simple as using that word processing app from the start, tracking changes for comments, proofing, and editing within the tool itself, and doing it all online.

Decades ago, Alan November said “the goal should be to train teachers not to master specific technologies, but instead to design learning environments in which technology helps children learn.” Yes, teachers don’t just need to learn how to use a tool, but to have an integrated model to take back to the classroom.

Bring together a small group of same-grade-level or same-discipline teachers and help them develop a carefully planned multimedia lesson or unit that incorporates tools with curriculum standards and objectives. Even a teacher with rudimentary tech skills can do this for more meaningful student learning, and creative teachers will supplement and enhance the unit for a truly memorable student experience. These tech-integration trained teachers then become facilitators for others in their schools, and more teachers become familiar with, and adept at, planning units to fully integrate multimedia into classroom experiences.

A PROCESS-BASED APPROACH TO TECH TRAINING

One of the most effective technology training paradigms I’ve found is the online Cult of Pedagogy JumpStart course.

JumpStart is a self-paced online technology course for the thoughtful educator. By guiding you through a series of hands-on projects, this course will give you the confidence and skills you need to make smart choices about the tech you use in your teaching.

What’s unique about this tech training is that it doesn’t look at “tools”, but rather at processes, specific ways of using technology that can be applied in classroom situations. You learn 10 key processes and complete a hands-on project to practice with each tool. You’ll easily transfer that process to your own classroom, using the same tool or a similar one of your choosing. Here are the 10 processes:JumpStart Your Technology Training for Teachers - School Librarians can help teachers integrate educational technology into their classroom lesson activities by directing them to Cult of Pedagogy's JumpStart or JumpStartPlus online course. Take the course as a group for discounts! #NoSweatLibrary #CultofPedagogy

  1. Blogging
  2. Online Collaboration
  3. Mind Mapping
  4. Curation
  5. Screencasting
  6. Flipped Learning
  7. Digital Assessment
  8. HyperDocs (playlists)
  9. QR codes
  10. Podcasting

The course offers 2 options: JumpStart Basic, where you take the course on your own, at whatever pace works for you; and JumpStart Plus, where you get the support and accountability of a community. The JumpStart Plus course is only open for enrollment for about a week, 5 times a year—Jan, Mar, Jun, Jul, Oct—so enroll ASAP!

I’ve taken the JumpStart Plus course, and while I consider myself technologically adept, I learned more than I could have imagined: not only processes and tools, but a completely new vision for how to help students learn technology within a flowing pattern of applied multimedia techniques. I heartily recommend the Cult of Pedagogy JumpStart course for teachers at any tech level, novice to expert.

(I am an affiliate for the JumpStart course. If you sign up using one of my links, I receive a percentage at no extra cost to you.
I am also Cult of Pedagogy’s Pinterest Marketing Specialist,
but I receive no compensation for this
 JumpStart endorsement.)

THE ROLE OF SCHOOL LIBRARIANS IN TECH TRAINING

As a School Librarian we can offer a variety of technology training opportunities to teachers, from new ways to use a common tool to full-length design-based integrated technology units. We need to treat professional development for teachers with the same consideration and planning we give to student lessons. I use my Library Lesson Planner for technology professional development so I stay focused on just what teachers need—nothing more, nothing less.

Here are 3 ways to offer technology PD to teachers:

  • Short faculty meeting presentations
    These are 5-10 minute show-and-tells which demonstrate a new facet of a tool teachers are already using. It’s important to make this use part of standard classroom activity so teachers can immediately put it to use, rather than figure out on their own how to incorporate it.
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  • Topical training before/after school or during common subject planning
    Many teachers are willing to come into the School Library before or after school for 20-30 minute tech sessions. These, too, need to be designed as time-savers or enhancements to already-in-use systems so teachers can take them back to the classroom and apply them right away. Some topics I offered my teachers were webpage training, using our email app for lesson scheduling and time management, student blogging and discussion forums, and creating videos from slide presentations.
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    Another option is to offer a series of training sessions during common subject planning periods. For example, I created weekly presentations about how to integrate Design Thinking and Technology into lesson units. I provided a pocket folder with brads to hold guided worksheets that teachers used during the various sessions and then kept for reference. I included suggested projects for various subjects, and created a narrated version of the presentations so teachers who were absent or future new teachers could view them. I received several teacher requests to further help integrate technology into a lesson!
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  • Extended rotating workshops during beginning-of-school-year staff development
    Teachers become “students” and spend 45-50 minutes each at 2-3 hands-on stations working through a classroom lesson using new technology tools. This model requires the most planning, strong support from administration, and a cadre of trained colleagues to assist the teacher-students. One year I designed a series of WebQuests using library online subscription databases for informational projects teachers assigned during the school year. My Library Lesson Matrix was invaluable to customize the WebQuests for each subject, which were so successful that teachers had me schedule those same WebQuests with their students!

EXPANDING OUR LEADERSHIP ROLE

It’s no longer enough for School Librarians to promote reading and give lessons on research skills. We need to learn, use, and then integrate multimedia technologies into student learning, and teach our teachers how to do it. We are the best person on our campus to do this: we are the only one familiar with all subject curricula and we are already skilled at integrating into classroom activities. Let’s make it a goal this school year to provide some tech training for our teachers!

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