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We know that students benefit from collaboration between classroom or content area teachers and the school librarian. You can read my previous posts for more information: Students benefit from Collaboration in the School Library and More Ideas for Collaboration in the School Library. I’d like to invite you to consider school specialist collaborations to energize and unite your school community around a common theme. I guarantee you will look at collaboration in the school library in a whole new way!
Whether your library operates on a flexible or fixed schedule, you likely are considered a “specialist,” like your music, physical education, and art colleagues. I often went to my fellow specialist educators for insight and advice in working with students, and this is what led me to collaborate with them in the first place. I was looking for advice for making my library lessons more active and engaging for our youngest students, and that’s when I was invited to work with them on the first of many successful school-wide collaborations. The camaraderie and teamwork we developed through these experiences opened up possibilities for student learning that we could never predict.
Why school-wide collaboration projects?
- Build excitement around a topic or theme
- It’s engaging!
- Build unity and a strong sense of community
- “Whole Child” approach to learning
- Opportunity for teachers to reinforce the theme in the classroom
- Learning in each area becomes more meaningful because of the connections
- All support staff can be part of the experience
- Families can join in on the fun and extend the learning to home
- Students see you going the extra mile for them
The best advice I have for you as you consider collaborating with your fellow specialists is to make sure you have cultivated relationships with them. I found this wisdom in the section on Collaborate in AASL’s National School Library Standards, “People with whom you already have a friendly rapport will be more likely to work with you on an instructional project.” (p.91) You can start up a friendly conversation over lunch, at a staff meeting, or in the hallway. I could go on about the benefits of having a positive relationship with your colleagues. I love to say “Teamwork makes the Dream Work!”
Specialist Collaboration Themes
I’ve collaborated with my fellow specialist teachers on several exciting themes. Some have been seasonal, and some can occur at any time of the year. You may find a springboard for your own ideas here:
- Irish Culture
- Native American Culture
- Cinco de Mayo
- Star Wars
- Harry Potter
- Black History Month
- Earth Day
For scheduling ideas and more details on some of the themes I’ve used with my coworkers, take a look at this blog post: Specialists Collaborate for School Wide Engagement.
Launch Your Own School Wide Collaboration
The positive outcomes in my school as a result of specialist collaborations have convinced me that they are worth the time and effort it takes to coordinate and plan. Why not choose a theme and start talking with your fellow educators about working together?
I hope you’ll consider trying a specialist collaboration! If you do, please let me know how it goes!
Let’s Learn Together!
Join me for my free online training for school librarians, Tuesdays with the Trapped Librarian. I’ll be live on The Trapped Librarian Facebook page every Tuesday this summer. Sign up for my email newsletter and I’ll send you the schedule. I hope to see you there!
Be the light!