As a traveling librarian, half of my day is spent in one building and the other half in another. My schedule doesn’t allow for much collaboration with other teachers, especially other librarians. Over the last ten years, I have tried many different ways to collaborate with classroom teachers. In the beginning, it was very challenging to get the classroom teachers to see me as a resource, because the previous librarian wasn’t one. From what I gathered from the teachers, she was a warm body in the room to check out books. Library skills were not taught and materials were purchased based on state guidelines. The classroom teachers didn’t know I could be of any assistance to their teaching. After meeting with administration, my schedule was created to align with the grade level representatives plan periods. I didn’t have any classes scheduled, so I was available to the grade level representatives to meet with me. They didn’t come and I was at a loss. I knew I was going to have to force them to collaborate with me. I began showing up in their classroom during their plan to ask what the classroom teachers were doing in the month ahead. I did this, so I could supply them with supplemental resources and reinforce any skills for them in my lessons. The teachers were surprised that I was willing to help them reinforce their lessons. I created a chart to map out their main topics for the year. They loved the idea. Now, I know when they will covering certain topics and I can get the materials to them before they start planning.
Over the years, my schedule has gotten fuller. I don’t have as much plan time and I have more classes and duties. Collaboration is more difficult than ever. I’m still available during some teachers’ planning periods, but not all. Luckily, technology has made it easier to collaborate. I created a Google Drive document for the teachers to add topics for me to pull materials for their classroom. I began stalking my classroom teachers’ Pinterest lesson plans boards. I would see a book they wanted to use in a lesson and I would put it on my purchase list. At the end of the month, I would make an Amazon purchase for all their “wish list” books. When the books arrived and were processed, the books would show up in their mailboxes like special surprises. I have a few teachers that get VERY excited when an Amazon box sits on the secretary’s counter. I even hear one kindergarten teacher in squeal with excitement once in a while. My new method got the attention of one building principal and she gave me a high score on teacher collaboration on my end of the year evaluation.
This summer, I was having a difficult time keeping up with the teacher’s Pinterest boards. I created a “Books to Buy” board on my account. I added all the teachers in my buildings, so they had permission to pin books on my board. This has gone over very well. It is much easier for the teachers to pin a new book on the board while browsing, instead of sending me an email request.
I’m considered to be a teacher on the Special Teachers Team. The counselor, art teacher, music teacher, and PE teacher are also on my team. Our team is required to meet once a week to collaborate. We use this time to discuss any behavior management techniques for those tricky students. The counselor updates us on new behavior management plans for students. This is important, because we used to be the last teachers to know what was going on with a student. Now, we are privy to all behavior plans and sometimes our input is used in creating the plans.
Need some more ideas on how to collaborate with teachers? Here are a few more of my ideas:
- Host a book preview when you purchase new books. Invite teachers to come to the library after school one day. Purchase some cookies and put a platter out for them to snack on while browsing. If you have lesson ideas for the books, include those with the books.
- Ask what behavior management plan classroom teachers are using and mirror the plan. One year, all the teachers were using the Clip Up/Clip Down Chart. The Special Teachers Team created the same chart for our rooms. Each teacher had a clip and the class would clip up or down in their special class. We rewarded the classes that clipped off the chart with a recess, bookmarks or special announcement by the principal. This year, a lot of the teachers are using ClassDojo for their behavior management. I asked those teachers to share their class on ClassDojo, so my team could give or take away Dojo points. This has worked out wonderfully, especially since the parents can see the points and messages live.
What are your ideas for collaborating with classroom teachers? Share them in the comments!
Today's post is written by librarian Amy Blythe. Amy is the librarian at Plattin Primary and Telegraph Intermediate in the Jefferson R-7 School district in Festus, Missouri. She spends each morning at Plattin with students in preschool through second grade and afternoons at Telegraph with students in third through fifth grade. She has been a librarian for nine years.
Jess M. says
I love your ideas. As a LMS student, I will definitely be incorporating these collaboration methods at whatever school I land. I feel like I will definitely have to be pushy to be included in the collab plans, but like you said, we have so much valuable information and resources to share to make the learning experience that much better for the students.
I work for an online high school, where a high level of collaboration and communication across a whole state is achieved through technology. As you mentioned Google Documents are a wonderful tool for collaborating in education, whether you are conducting surveys or creating sign ups for events, the possibilities of many educators having access to view or edit the same document are endless! Email, much like in marketing, is very useful for having many people to reach out to. With a list of emails you can share your Google documents with even more teachers.
Educators can use many forms of communication to keep in contact with each other. Ongoing group texts or group emails can be a useful and fun way for planning events quickly.
As a traveling librarian of five libraries, I too struggle with collaborating with teachers. I too, have replaced three librarians who were notoriously known 'to do nothing'. I too have had to win over teacher trust that I am there for them and their students. But, where and when do I find time for collaborating with my teachers? I don't know my teachers' planning periods. I don't even have a planning period to write my own weekly lessons. I do, however, send out emails to communicate ideas and open up the opportunity for teachers to share their curriculum needs. A couple now come and say, 'I need this, what do you have?' It is awesome when teachers finally get it. But most do not respond. I do not have a budget to whimsically purchase books on Amazon. I have a very small library budget that is quickly depleted with just ordering books for my lessons. I do love your idea of hosting a book preview. I could also do this with what books I will be reading in the library and try to make connections with curriculum that way. Thank you for sharing!
As an educator and a best friend of a librarian I know the importance of collaboration and connections between teachers and their librarians. Librarians within a school and outside networks are such a valuable and underutilized tool for educators! This is a great outline of why collaboration is important between the two, thank you!