A Toolkit for New School Librarians
Stepping into your library on the first day can be exciting and overwhelming. You probably have personal goals and expectations in addition to the expectations that your district and administration have. It can be a lot to take in - and quickly. Luckily, teachers and librarians are some of the most collaborative people around. There are so many resources available, but it can be tough to sort out which ones are the best. We've put together this new librarian toolkit to give you a head start!
Utilize Professional Organizations' Toolkits
There are a lot of professional organizations (that you may already belong to!) that offer amazing tools and resources for school librarians. As one example, be sure to check out The American Association of School Libraries' toolkit for school libraries. Keep a tab on their homepage for articles and online classes that will help you keep on top of industry trends. It's also a must-have for learning about the National School Library Standards. Explore your state's education website as well. Chances are there are many resources tailored to the standards of your state. For example, the New York Education Department has a great evaluation rubric designed specifically for school librarians.
Resources like these can have so many ideas it can be hard to filter what will work for you. Rather than trying to implement every idea you see, make sure that you have defined goals. Select and curate ideas that help support your goals.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Collaboration and communication with classroom teachers, students, parents, and the school community is critical for success. A great way to do that is through a blog and social media. Many districts will have pre-assigned teacher websites, but don't ignore the power of social media. If you struggle to get student or parents to visit your website, Instagram posts may catch their attention. Be sure to check your district's rules on creating social media accounts.
If you're not sure how to set up a blog, Edublogs is a great place to start. It's a blogging platform specifically for teachers, and it's easy to learn. There are also many different programs to help you create engaging content for your blog. For example, Smilebox lets you create scrapbooks and slideshows for your blog, and Audacity lets you create podcasts easily. Explore the tools to help your students get and stay engaged.
These days there is no shortage of apps for the classroom. If you need it, there is probably an app for it. Here are a few of our favorites which are free for teachers:
Remind is a messaging app for students and parents. You can push messages to users to help keep them informed about school library events.
Seesaw is an app that allows you to create a digital portfolio for your students. There are also many pre-made free activities for students.
Nearpod has pre-made lesson plans available and the ability to import lesson plans and add interactive features. Examples include virtual field trips, polls, open-ended questions and more. You can open a live session, students enter a code on their individual devices, and the interactive lesson syncs to all students.
Lesson plans are the engine that drives librarian and teacher instruction. Finding high-quality, standards-based lesson plans on a topic you are teaching is like finding a gold mine! Be sure to evaluate lesson plans that you find. They need to support your curriculum and relevant educational standards. Here are a few sites to bookmark that have lesson plans of particular interest to librarians:
Common Sense Education has high-quality Digital Citizenship lesson plans for grades K-12. There are a lot of helpful lessons on topics including cyberbullying, information literacy, and internet safety.
PebbleGo is an amazing resource for teaching students research skills, digital citizenship, and information literacy. There are dozens of pre-made lesson plans to help you build creative research units.
In addition to having some awesome professional development resources for librarians, this site has units collaboratively created by librarians and teachers.
Reading Program Resources
Step outside of the K-12 world to seek out resources on reading programs if you are starting one in your library. Public libraries often have fully developed programming for their summer and school-year reading programs. For example, the Alaska State Library has many resources available to the public that can help you set up your own reading program.