Dear Reader,
It is my hope that the artifacts I have included in this wiki will be useful in helping you administer a dynamic school library program that addresses the needs of your students in powerful ways. I compiled this resource as a student at Simmons GSLIS to fulfill the requirements of LIS 406: Management of School Library Programs. Here are some of the most important things I learned in the course:
  1. I developed a deeper understanding of the role we play as educators. I knew before taking this class, on an intellectual level, that librarians in the school are considered teachers. What I didn't understand was the complexity of that role. Being a teacher is not just about providing instruction, it is about advocating for the student's best interests. Furthermore, a teacher should be concerned with the student's well-being as a person and not just a learner. I didn't include any artifacts that speak specifically to this aspect of the teacher's job, but I was deeply affected by what we learned about our responsibilities as mandated reporters, and our obligation to stand in loco parentis in situations when the child's fundamental well-being is most clearly at stake.

  2. Our inquiry in to learning disabilities and the role played by the school librarian in providing services to students with special needs helped me gain a sense of purpose as to the immense positive role a school librarian can play in helping students with disabilities attain their learning goals. Again, I knew the theory of how librarians should champion equal access, but the readings and presentations made me understand that our role is not just periphery. Indeed, as school librarians, we can play a leadership role in making sure that students with disabilities get access to the resources that would most enable them to succeed. Here, I believe that our expertise in technology is of the most potential use in providing students with disabilities with the tools they need to overcome limitations and be able to express their own strengths. One artifact I included in my wiki has wide application for improving the accessibility of any school library, both the program and the physical facility.

  3. Another area of personal growth for me has been my understanding of the needs of English Language Learners. My personal background is that I went to school as a child with a two-language home. My father spoke Spanish to me and my mother spoke English to me. My parents elected to drop the use of Spanish in the home entirely when I began school. In ways, I think that made my school experience easier. But it also left me struggling to connect with a part of who I am. I think that my parents' approach was quite common in that era because I have met many Hispanic peers who do not speak Spanish fluently. The new model that I learned about in this course seems to address the needs of English Language Learners more holistically. The idea that any fluency gained in one language can be applied to attaining greater fluency in the other language has been proven by research and should guide our decisions as educators. For that reason, I think it is so important to provide collections that reflect the linguistic diversity of the student body. I initially wanted to include an artifact that offers guidance about building a multi-lingual collection, but instead I focused on how ELL students can achieve. The artifact I chose to include a paper that investigates opportunities for English Language Learners within the constructs of the Common Core, and across the academic disciplines. I thought this resource was so valuable because it reminds us that fluency isn't the final goal. We should be focused on learning that is facilitated by fluency. For that to occur, we need to develop a solid understanding of the challenges associated with developing academic fluency. This article addresses that concern very well.

  4. Technology can be an amazing tool for delivering instruction and enabling student creation. However, there are complexities to this issue. For one thing, not everyone has access to the same technology tools. In theory, technology can be a great force for equity, but not if there is a substantial group who does not have access. Our discussions in class introduced me to the challenge education leaders face in making technology available to all students. I believe that the benefits of enhanced technology in education are worth the difficulties of overcoming the cost and implementation hurdles. I also believe that part of our job is to be an advocate for students to seek ways that they can have the same level of access to virtual resources at home as they do in school. It's a sad irony that some students are surrounded by technology at home and go to a school building that is not equipped for connectivity. That is a serious limitation and there's really no excuse for it. Other students, however, go home to a technology desert and must seek out places that offer free wi-fi to complete their schoolwork. That is a problem that I believe educators can be instrumental in fixing. We can raise awareness and share resources with families.

  5. Space reflects function. One of our projects was to design a new library space. That exercise really made me aware of the need for flexible spaces that facilitate innovative teaching. For instance, tables and instruction areas should be configurable when possible. There should be different spaces for different types of instruction and different types of learning to take place. One of the more recent developments in school library practice is to incorporate maker spaces or innovation labs. This is an important aspect of a growing acknowledgement that more learners are served by providing more outlets that cater to different intelligences.

  6. Early in the course, we watched a video that challenged us to consider what “sacred cows” we could abandon in order to put more of our attention on the things that matter most. That lesson stayed with me through the course and I feel like I can enter the field with a confident mind set that enables me to look at time honored traditions in library service through an objective lens that puts the needs of students before protocol.

  7. Virtual resources are highly customizable. This is possibly the librarian's secret weapon in staying relevant. We can be curators of information in a whole new way using web 2.0 tools and smart technology that enables us to custom tailor resources to fit the needs of our users. Yes, technology can be expensive, but so can traditional information resources. Yet, because of how we can manipulate technology, it trumps traditional resources because we can make it available to more people and useful to more people as well.

  8. Encouraging students to read for pleasure is still one of our most important missions. When youth reads, great things happen. They learn more, they empathize more, and they feel more ownership for their learning experiences.

Three focal areas for personal and professional growth:

  1. Understand more about the digital divide and what we can do to minimize it: maximizing access is the highest priority.

  2. Explore the balance between developing collections in the classical manner and providing open access through non-traditional resources. Consider the application of copyright, commercial aspects of instructional material, showcasing less-heard voices, and determining authoritativeness/trustworthiness in an world where more voices are sharing.

  3. Empowering students through optimizing organization of resources and improving ways of communicating what they have learned by using e-portfolios and considering the merits of digital badge systems.

Three things to focus on when reading this wiki:
  1. The role of technology in instruction, learning, and providing proof of student achievement
  2. Fostering equitable access to learning
  3. Adding value to the student learning experience by putting the focus on what they can do rather than what they know.