Saturday, 5 December 2015

Admin and the TL

Every month I meet with my principal and present him with my monthly report. This past week we sat down for a lengthy conversation about my November report. I realized after our meeting that my principal still does not know what I do during the course of the day and I don't know how I can change that. We meet every month to discuss what I have been up to. We talk about collaboration. We discuss PBL projects. We chat about technology and what direction to take. We skirt around Maker and how I don't have either the time or the space in the library for it. We talk a lot. But still, this month's conversation started with a version of, "I'm still trying to wrap my mind around what the role of the teacher librarian is." At least he is honest.

Aren't I doing the right things? I have an incredibly strong library program that is well supported by my colleagues and PAC. I meet with administration to talk about what is happening and what my vision for the library program's future is, and I present admin with detailed monthly reports. But clearly this isn't working. I am at a loss as to what to do next. My library assistant suggested that I ask my principal to job shadow me for the day. As lovely as that would be, we all know what would happen - he'd get pulled away for more pressing issues. But she's right. The problem is that the library is not a place that administrators venture into. Sure they will wander in, but usually with a different purpose: to find a student or find a teacher and thus they are not seeing what learning is going on in the library space or what I am doing to facilitate that learning.

And as much as I want to quickly remedy the situation, I have to stop and reflect. It can't just be my administrative team that doesn't really understand what teacher librarians do. Indeed, I would imagine that most principals and vice principals are a tad unclear as to what happens in a library. I think many would imagine it's about checking books in and out and re-shelving them which, interestingly, I don't do at all. And so we have a bigger problem. Teacher librarians need to do a better job of educating people about what it is that we do. No, I need to rephrase that. Teacher librarians need to educate people who don't use the library but make decisions about teacher librarians and library programs what teacher librarians do. If administrators truly understood what teacher librarians do, they would be our greatest advocates.

Clearly we have a lot of work still do.

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