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Alexandra Moses

Field Study

Initial Vision

Bells ringing, books shuffling, voices calling, lockers slamming. The buzz and hum of students and teachers clamoring through the hallways. I look forward to being an integral part of these sights and sounds, and the rhythm of the school day. I want to help nurture the intellectual growth of a school by filling the five roles of the school librarian. In my coursework Ive created lessons, pathfinders, and other library documents, all to build up my experience and prepare me to do this. I see an effective librarian as one who establishes excellent classroom management and instructional delivery; collaborates with teachers to plan and carry out instruction; acts as a leader both within the library walls and outside; demonstrates the power of technology as an essential enhancement to learning; and creates and maintains appropriate resources and clear policies. I dont believe that my field study will offer me the opportunity to witness every one of these five roles in full action. Rather, the field study is my opportunity to take all this training and practice juggling planning a library lesson while troubleshooting a printer problem and offering readers advisory to a child who only has a few minutes to pick books before the bell. All while smiling. Its a chance to learn the whole production as it is actually happening, and to find out how well all these smaller elements weve practiced really work together. What does a collaborative conversation sound like when youre doing it between periods? What is the best way to get to know a social studies unit when the teacher gives you less than a days notice to put together resources for a research project? How do you convince a teacher that the technology youre presenting really will help meet the lesson objectives? I envision that Ill be doing a lot of self-reflection (and possibly some deep breathing exercises) during these six weeks. Chances are, Ill be completely surprised by what Im good at,

Alexandra Moses

Field Study

and what I am not good at, and whether that teaching philosophy I crafted needs to be radically altered. Until the experience is over, though, I am keeping my eyes wide open and looking at the goals I have for myself as an educator: to model openness and respect and to create a culture that pushes for authentic experiences and collaboration. Classroom Management I am flexible and adaptable to change, and pretty good at reading unexpressed needs. But when 50 eighth-graders jam into the library at lunchtime, all needing to use the laptop cart, or a half-dozen first graders want to use the bathroom at the same time, will I panic? I love working with kids of all ages, so I am not actually nervous about being with them. I do, however, want to learn age-appropriate and effective strategies for getting kids under control. An effective library program requires a good manager. I know that the key to good classroom management is to show the students that I am interested in them and respect their intellectual abilities and their needs. As Kay Bishop and Jenny Cahill noted in their 2012 classroom management book, when students feel they are respected, they are more likely to behave appropriately and show respect to those persons around them (p. 1). Three weeks is a short window for establishing relationships with students. This is where I will need the guidance of strong mentors who can model ways to create quick rapport with students and troubleshoot behavior problems with a firm but friendly style. I believe a good program starts with simply being able to understand your students. Teacher, Instructional Partner, & Information Specialist Fulfilling the roles of teacher and instructional partner starts with having patience in the process, and being able to adapt quickly to expressed and unexpressed needs. I already know that on the first day of my middle school placement I will be helping eighth-graders navigate a short resource list that I created on Andrew Jackson, so I will diving right into that instructional piece.

Alexandra Moses

Field Study

And thats great. I dont want to be in a library where instruction doesnt happen. The school library should be the instructional heart of the school; if it is not, then it wont be as effective in helping students go above and beyond their learning potentials. Todays school librarian is a master teacher, collaborating with classroom teachers across content areas to ensure that students become effective users of ideas and information (Church, A., 2011, p. 10). Ive heard over and over how the expectations for collaboration that were taught in the program are not realistic in practice. I think that while that may be partially true, I want to have the experience of pushing for deeper collaboration with teachers, even on the smallest of lessons. Creating the Andrew Jackson resource list isnt an example of collaboration, but rather an example of the type of help librarians have to be willing to enthusiastically provide in order to go deeper filling that very basic role of information specialist. I think that my middle school mentor will be a model for being aggressively helpful and show me how to take joy in the smallest of successes when it comes to collaboration, using that success to push harder the next time. It will be necessary to listen carefully to teacher conversations and student requests for materials and hone in on unexpressed needs for help. The art of getting to the full-on, co-assessed collaborative relationship starts with being able to offer resources and a helping hand with delivery of instruction. I expect to learn a lot about how to do this artfully. I know that one of my strengths is that I am helpful but I think one of my weaknesses is that I am not aggressive enough. In the summer elementary program, I expect collaboration will stay at the coordination level, but I do hope to have a mentor who is enthusiastic about working with the students and finding ways to support the teachers. While the situation may not be typical, I think I will find ample opportunities to chat with teachers about their needs and support them with materials and targeted teaching in the library. I think coordination is a necessary and important job for

Alexandra Moses

Field Study

librarians, and is not as simple as it might sound. I think that the elementary placement will be a great opportunity for me to learn how to establish a daily rapport with teachers and to respond to their needs quickly and meaningfully. Creating pathfinders, suggesting final products, and assessing student engagement in a topic are important services to provide to teachers. I love matching materials to student needs, and so I hope that my mentors will take advantage of this and allow me to help them create meaningful pathfinders. With their guidance, I look forward to learning more about creating age-appropriate resource lists that include elements of universal design to meet all students needs. Assessment Part of being an instructional partner and teacher is being able to conduct student assessment. I couldnt run an effective program if I didnt know whether my students benefited from the instruction and resources. As Information Power notes, in conducting student assessments, school librarians provide teachers and students with an extra perspective on student performance and how it might be improved (AASL & AECT, 1998, p.181). This assessment should include informal and formal methods, with checks for understanding and exit slips making up the informal, and rubrics and graded work making up the formal. Judi Moreillon and Kristin Fontichiaro sum up the goal of assessment as helping students and educators examine student work and compare it to the standards. If gaps in understanding or mastery are discovered, educators use that feedback to guide future instruction and assistance for the student (2008, p. 66). I hope that my field study placements offer the opportunity for both types of assessment, particularly because Id like to see how teachers and librarians adjust instruction and lessons to better meet the learning goals. Id also like the chance to contribute an information literacy component to a project rubric.

Alexandra Moses

Field Study

Final Thoughts The list of tasks to accomplish during this field study is daunting on paper. But I think it will be instructive to see how these different things fit into the school day, and what is realistic about the expectations for an effective school librarian. Ive talked mainly about my expectations related to instruction: the teacher, instructional partner, and information specialist roles. I believe an effective program strongly involves the leader and program administrator roles, as well. I think there will be ample opportunity to perform some of the administrative tasks, such as selection and evaluation of materials, particularly in my first placement. The leadership role will be a bit tougher to witness, I think. If only there was more time! Id love to see how the mission of the school library program really plays out in the schools that I will be in, for example. Or how my mentor librarians push for the needs of the library program and convey its importance in helping students meet learning goals. I hope that my mentors care enough to give me the most meaningful experience: demonstrating best practices, and then giving me the chance to practice, practice, practice and then learn from my mistakes.

Works Cited American Association of School Librarians and American Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1998). Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning. Chicago, IL: American Library Association, p. 181. Bishop, K., and Cahill, J. (2012). Positive Classroom Management Skills for School Librarians. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, p. 1. Church, A. (2011). School librarians as teacher leaders. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 77(1), p. 10. Moreillon, J. & Fontichiaro, K. (2008). Teaching and assessing the dispositions: A Garden of opportunity. Knowledge Quest, 37(2), p. 66.