A few days ago, in a non-library setting, I was asked how I help reluctant teachers move forward. As our new AASL Standards sing of dispositions, inquiry, and social learning, how do we connect them to those teachers who, for various reasons, limit student interactions to fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, or other prescribed learning tools? These are tricky questions, to be certain.
Now maybe you’re sitting there hoping that I’m about to answer that question. And that’s tough. When it works, it’s a weird alchemy of friendly coercion, administrative vision, “go ahead, take this camera to your son’s wedding and see what you think,” trust, modeling, “you know, your friend just tried …,” copious amounts of chocolate, working through lunch, laughing off the idea of duty-free planning as a pipe dream, etc. You know this.
But that’s not really what is preoccupying me. It’s that I wonder how many of our classroom colleagues and administrators actually know how much time school librarians spend strategizing? The school librarians I know labor over this topic. It’s hard to get a bunch of school librarians in the same room without our conversations eventually coming around to those staff members who, to quote a colleague, “have students puke out PowerPoints”?
Today, the colleague who complained of this “puking,” who already manages both a middle and a high school library, announced that both of these positions will be eliminated.
Many of you know that Michigan’s schools — whose funding depends on property taxes, and property taxes are tied in with our major economy of manufacturing, and manufacturing is dominated by the Big Three auto industries and their subsidiaries, and the Big Three are having one heck of a time trying to get back on their feet — are reeling from years of reduced funding. So belt-tightening is nothing new to Michigan school librarians, many of whom now mutter, “I hate spring. Spring means the listserv fills up with budget cuts.” And I know that part of the national stimulus package is supposedly already saving teachers’ jobs. And maybe it will eventually swoop in like Zorro and save the day.
But not yet.
And I wonder … does anybody in that district realize that just a few weeks ago, that media specialist sat in professional development on her day off, likely on her own dime, and wrestled with how to raise the bar in student learning?
PS – Here in Michigan, we take terms like “spring” and “March — out like a lamb” with a grain of salt. Here was my Up North view on Sunday morning:
Yup, nothing says, “Here comes Peter Cottontail, Hopping down the bunny trail” like the sound of pine boughs breaking under the weight of ice.