Friday, January 29, 2010

The Visible Teacher Librarian

As I'm preparing for this morning's assembly - the first one this year with all students present, since we only had Years 7, 11 and 12 yesterday - I'm also thinking about Visibility.

I am the Assembly Co-ordinator at my high school, running the weekly whole-school assemblies.  While SRC students do the individual speaker introductions, I top and tail and have responsibility.  I've done this job for most of my years at this school.  The opportunity arose early in my time there, and I happily took it on, for a number of reasons.

One of the chief ones was visibility.  On the one hand, as a teacher librarian, you're easily findable in the library; on the other, the kids that don't come to the library may have only the foggiest idea of who you are.  With the library having several staff - one TL, job-sharing school clerical assistants - it also puts me in a public role where my status as a teacher is confirmed in the minds of the kids.  And while assemblies are a formal occasion, at times there are opportunities to add a dash of humour/personality too.  I also rewrote the assembly policy, revamped the assembly record book and did other organisational improvements.  Always good to have something better for your input...

As a side issue I hadn't considered was the reaction of new staff members in particular.  Assemblies are run by the TEACHER LIBRARIAN?  A tone of surprise.  In analysing this, there seem to be a couple of components.  One is that this role is being done by a classroom teacher, rather than a member of the executive.  Well, my school's assemblies have always been run by a classroom teacher.  Another is that it's the TL (am I supposed to be invisible/lesser/timid?).  I give that comment, when it arises, a wide-eyed look as though it's surprising they are surprised...  When, after a couple of weeks, they see that I do it well, their surprise evaporates.  Yup, it's PR to the staff as much as the kids.

When I did my TARS (annual teacher assessment) last year, my other school involvements ran to a page on their own - while keeping busy in the library I deliberately choose to be involved in other school curricular and extra-curricular activities outside the library, for all sorts of useful reasons.  I know lots of other TLs do the same, and it's a most valuable way to enhance your role/status in the school, to alter perceptions of TL from (sadly persistent) stereotypes (eg. 'hiding' in the library, being somehow 'lesser' etc) to a fresh, accurate view that can then be deployed in useful ways to promote the library and the ways in which the library and teacher librarian can support the school's teaching programs.

So it's worth thinking about the ways in which you are a Visible Teacher Librarian in your school.  Hurrah for all the great things we do!  If you want to post a comment about what you do, so others can be inspired, go right ahead.



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