Monday, June 27, 2011

Why I should be your School Library Media Specialist...

Why Jaime A. Sanborn should be Your School's
School Library Media Specialist

In this highly competitive time, why should a Principal invest in me, who has not yet had the honor of running a school library?  

·       I am already a Certified K-12 Media Specialist in the State of Florida.
·       I hold a Master's in Library and Information Science specializing in School Library Media.   
·       I graduated from Florida State University in December 2010 with a 4.0 GPA.

How I Teach:
          According to the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Educator Accomplished Practice for The Learning Environment is to “maintain a student-centered learning environment that is safe, organized, equitable, flexible, inclusive, and collaborative.”   While I understand that the Teacher-Librarian is the authority figure in the library, I make my students aware that their dignity, points of view, and voices are valid and important to me.  I talk to the students when I instruct.  I ask them questions that go beyond the retrieval of facts.  In my lessons, collaboration is the backbone of what we do.  I want to hear their thoughts and opinions.  I want to make them think, inquire, and become engaged.   To me, learning is more joyful when everyone’s thoughts and ideas become valued parts of the process.  
I accommodate my students by trying to incorporate as many learning styles as possible into one lesson.  I not only lecture, but provide visual representation of what I am discussing.  Then, I give the students something tangible for them to use to work through the new material so that they can form their own categories of information in their minds.  I also take into consideration how their mind works intellectually, how they feel emotionally, and what condition they are in physically.  Though I cannot always know these things about all of my students, I am sensitive to these factors and how they will affect student learning.  I am aware that multiple learning styles should be accommodated in every lesson so that all learners have a chance of being reached. 

 My Philosophy of Elementary School Library Media Service

 “At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better.”
 ~Barack Obama 

I believe that the School Library Media Center should be a welcoming, student-centered, learning environment in which a dedicated, inspired, and highly-qualified School Librarian serves as the essential link between the school community and information. 

“What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it thinks about education.”  Harold Howe, former US Commissioner of Education

It is my belief that schools deserve true, Master’s-holding, fully-certified School Librarians, in a full-time capacity, to act as the Information Literacy experts.  Information Literacy must be taught by a caring, intelligent, and motivated librarian who wishes to nurture the spark of curiosity within students.  School Librarians know that true learning begins with a genuine desire to know something.  
The most valuable gift a School Librarian can give to students is the comprehensive understanding that is Information Literacy.  School Libraries enable students to become successful contributors to this world of information. 
“The more that you read,
 the more things you will know.
 The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go.”
 ~Dr. Seuss

Through librarian-led information literacy instruction, equitable access to resources for the school community, and collaboration with educators in planning curriculum that supports the needs of the school, the School Library Media Center ensures that students and staff make the most effective use of 
ideas and information.

School Library programs are dedicated to providing accurate and objective library materials that represent many different cultures and ways of life in an equitably accessible manner.  Instructional materials of the highest quality are offered in many formats.  School Librarians promote active and analytical thinking, enabling students to become engaged, productive, and independent learners. Information Literacy curriculum that is created through collaboration with the educational staff, ensures a deeper learning experience by placing information in the context of the real world.  School Library Media Services increase student literacy, promote critical thinking, foster an appreciation of reading, and enable students to become life-long learners.

“Information is the currency of democracy.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

The role of the Elementary School Librarian is to be a collaborative educational partner, a leader and expert in the literary, and informational needs of students, and both the impetus and support of technological progress.  The School Library Media Center is the informational hub of the school providing a diverse, accurate, and objective collection, equal technological access, and an inviting learning environment. 

For faculty and students, the School Library Media Center is the place where research materials, pleasure reading materials, and electronic resources can be equitably accessed.  The School Librarian is the expert on Children’s Literature, research methods, and stays current with knowledge of technology.  The School Librarian manages the library and ensures that it is a place that promotes inquiring, thinking, learning, imagining and evolving. 

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” ~ Albert Einstein

More about my philosophy:

      You see, we don’t send society’s children to school for “free” just so they can learn some dates, quotes, and numbers…We send the children to school to become intelligent and productive members of society; preparing them to lead the next generation of Americans.  If we fail to give them the tools they need to succeed in life, then we have failed America.  It’s that important.  A regular classroom education isn’t enough.  They need to learn how to learn.  They need to learn how to question.  For the sake of freedom and democracy, we cannot allow complacent, passive, and uninterested people to become our majority.   

  Every day that I teach, I will be living these promises and demonstrating them in my lessons, and interactions.    My students will always know that I am there for them, as an educator, an advocate, and an advisor.  I will not forget that my philosophy demands that I am welcoming, caring and motivated for my students as well as the faculty.  I will bring positivity to my library, creating a happier learning environment.   No matter what expectations are placed upon me in the future, my Philosophy, Mission and Vision will help me to keep Information Literacy, life-long learning, and a love for reading in my curriculum.  This statement serves as a tool for keeping me on track, serving my school in the way I set out to do.

My Ideas on the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner 

 Nine Foundational Common Beliefs

1. Reading is a Window to the World

Reading brings empowerment.  The competent Teacher-Librarian not only supports literacy instruction, but also builds a collection that encompasses many genres, subjects, cultures, and perspectives.  Without ever leaving their hometown, students should have access to resources that bring to them the knowledge and experiences of the international community.  Through reading about diverse topics the mind is opened and expanded.  It is the responsibility of the Teacher-Librarian to ensure that censorship, bias, and interest-group agendas play no role in the formation of a library collection.  The teacher-librarian must provide a collection that allows students to read about their world, unfettered.  School Libraries promote reading as an act of freedom.  With that freedom comes the knowledge and understanding of all the world has to offer.  Only when equipped with knowledge can people make educated and informed choices.   This is what a society of adept readers brings to America.

2. Inquiry provides a framework for learning 

It is curiosity that truly drives discovery.  The curious student is self-motivated to seek out information.  However, in this age of technology, not all accessible information is reliable or even credible.  Students must be taught the art of inquiry so that they may successfully obtain information that comes from trustworthy, research-based sources.  The Teacher-Librarian not only enables the curious student to develop these skills of inquiry but also encourages the hesitant student to become a competent seeker of information.  With fully developed inquiry skills, students can be more confident researchers and, ultimately, citizens of our society. 

3. Ethical Behavior in the use of information must be taught
The technological age came upon us without a handbook.  There is a veritable universe that exists parallel to ours where people can interact without experiencing one another in a truly human capacity.  This can be both liberating and dangerous.  The internet can often feel like a game, but our behavior there can directly impact our real, human lives.  Students must be prepared intellectually, emotionally, and practically for their experiences in this technological world.  Retail interactions, social interactions, and educational interactions online must be analyzed for their legitimacy, safety, and worth.  Likewise, students must understand how to present themselves when using the internet and be cautioned against the na├»ve perception of the internet as separate from the real world.  Students must be made aware that bullying online is just as real as in the physical world.  They must be taught to properly cite any information they use from the internet.  They must also know the dangers of the internet and how to handle them.  The Teacher-Librarian is responsible for educating students about the ethical behaviors expected of them.

 4.  Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs.

There are very few jobs, if any, in this modern society that do not require some interaction with technology.  Not to have the technological skills required to contend in today’s workforce can mean a life-sentence of poverty and low-paid employment.  To be a competitive nation in the global economy, it is crucial that our students obtain the skills they need to become technologically savvy.  Experience with both Apple and Microsoft products, word-processing skills, social networking skills, spreadsheet and database experience, knowledge of graphic design and publishing, and all aspects of Information Literacy can be obtained through the lessons taught by the Teacher-Librarian.  The Teacher-Librarian’s role is to equip students with the skills necessary to compete in today’s world. 

5. Equitable access is a key component for education. 

In all aspects, equitable access is needed for the betterment of our society.  Enlightenment and progress cannot happen if the basic needs of a people aren't met.  This is also true in education.  School systems recognize that students cannot succeed without access to vital resources.  On the most basic level this means food, clothing, shelter, and parental involvement.  However, without access to the internet and a diverse collection of reading materials, students will fall behind their more privileged classmates.  The School Library helps to even out this societal disparity by providing students with access to internet resources and a vast collection of books and other materials, as well as the education necessary to use these resources. 

6. The definition of information literacy has become more complex as resources and technologies have changed. 

With every upgrade, and introduction of a new device for obtaining information, students must be kept up to date.  However, the foundation of information literacy remains the same.  Students must understand their information need, be confident in the strategies they will use to seek the information, know where to look for the information, be adept in evaluating the information they find, and understand how to use the information to satisfy their need.  This approach stays valid regardless of the changes in technology.  However, because the ways in which we obtain information change so often, it is important that School Libraries stay current in their technology resources. 

 7. The continuing expansion of information demands that all individuals acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own. 

It would be impossible for Information Professionals to be the experts in every new wave of information technology that presents itself.  That is why it is imperative that Teacher-Librarians provide students with the skills they need to approach new technologies and new learning experiences intelligently and independently.   Every resource should be approached with the methods of information literacy learned in the School Library.  These skills are meant to be mastered and used throughout the school career and the students’ lifetime.  The ultimate goal of Information Literacy is Independent Learning.  

8. Learning has a social context.

The competent Library-Teacher encourages and requires that learning experiences occur in group settings.  The process of shared discovery promotes teamwork, knowledge sharing, and the social skills necessary to become good classmates, coworkers, and citizens.   These group experiences will better prepare students for a world where much of the learning is done in business meetings, corporate trainings, and organizational workshops.  These shared learning experiences can occur physically but are often conducted in a virtual medium such as conference call or webinar.  Students equipped with the knowledge of these social learning environments will be more prepared for such settings in their adult lives.  

9. School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills. 

As demonstrated by the first eight common beliefs, an education is incomplete if it doesn't include the essential Information Literacy skills learned in the School Library.  Only with a competent, Master's Holding, fully-accredited, Library Science professional employed in the school library can these vital educational needs be met.  Without a School Library and a true Teacher-Librarian in every school, our students are entering the world armed with their academics, but lacking their skills of inquiry, analysis of information, and informed decision making.   Information Literacy provides real world skills that students can apply to all aspects of their lives.   The school library provides the instruction of these skills, the access to technology and print resources that every student needs, and a place where students can develop a love of reading and discovering. 

Why I support the AASL Standards and Beliefs:

The American Association of School Librarians’ Common Beliefs and Standards make clear that School Libraries are the places in our schools where students are taught the thrill of discovery, the empowerment of analysis, and satisfaction of creative productivity.  It is in the School Library where learning becomes an adventure.  Whether it be through a storytime discussion, a webquest team assignment, or creating their own blog, the School Library is where students are given the skills to become independent learners and creators.  
The AASL Standards for the 21st - Century Learner should be used in the creation of all lesson plans alongside whatever standards the individual state sets forth.  If these standards are considered in every lesson, students will gain the most from their School Library education.  Creating masters of Information Literacy, enthusiastic inquirers, independent thinkers, and critical discoverers, should be the ultimate goal of School Library instruction.  Teacher- Librarians who incorporate these standards in their lessons will see their students evolve from passive listeners to active participants.  The School Library should be a place of hands-on discovery.   Students who are asked what they think about something are more invested in learning.  These standards focus on the student as a thinker and as an individual with opinions, interests, and questions of their own.  Nurturing this spark in students and encouraging them to think, explore, discover, analyze, and evaluate their world will make them active citizens who feel they have a voice in society.  People who feel connected and respected are more apt to produce positive outcomes in their lives.  Through learning how to think for themselves and decipher information in an intelligent and informed way, students learn self-respect.  When the goal ceases to be learning something just to please your teacher or parents and becomes, instead, learning something to please one’s self, that is when true engagement in the process has occurred.  Information Literacy is self-empowerment.  This is the best gift we can offer our students. 

THAT is why I should be your School Library Media Specialist!

Please email to receive my cell phone number and set up an interview.  

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