When I inherited my library, I inherited a teacher library that was part of the Instructional Facilitator’s office space and the small school’s initiative of yore. My first year, I bought a couple books to add to it that had been floating around in conversations with staff. But, then I let the professional library slip in my priorities as I tried to expand our ELL reading options, sports books for reluctant readers and non-fiction eBook offerings. Of course, there are always trade offs when budgeting.
When I convinced my district to let me lead a book group around Falling in Love with Close Reading, I came to see the power in facilitating these conversations and investing in resources that help our staff grow as individuals, intellectuals and practitioners of the teaching profession. Last year, we became an AVID school and received an AVID library as our initial sign-up. Sadly, I didn’t advertise or show this library very well and it went largely unused.
In an effort to prioritize this new collection, I added a stack of teacher books to my summer order that uses the fine money collected from the previous school year. Now, it’s a larger collection and appeals to more departments at once.
If a teacher wanted to read a pedagogy book individually or in a book group, would your building support that? How have you built that possibility into your culture?
The first step in building a space is asking for the priority to be made. If you aren’t in charge of a budget, find out who, how, and when your building budget is made. Are there pieces of that budget that could be used to buy resources that your teachers could access? Perhaps, it’s department’s money, or the library fine money in my case. Maybe there is a portion of the general building budget that could fund a small book group? The key is to ask and ask early. Believe me, the inner workings of the budget were not known to me when I entered my position as department chair and then Library Media Specialist. I still don’t fully understand it all. But, I know who to ask when I have a budget question or who ultimately can fulfill my request.
Similar to building processes, I had attended our district’s Teacher Academy classes that usually were run by someone in Teaching & Learning, and sometimes, even a colleague from my building. When my co-chair and I thought it would be good to read Falling in Love with Close Reading with a small group, we wondered if someone else could purchase the books and offer pay and clock hours. Those are nice incentives as well as acknowledgements to the professional work that would be had in the book group. So, I asked, and negotiated with district around the budgetary concerns with the number of classes, hours, and paid facilitator prep time. Does your district have a similar program or department that would help you make a difference in district’s colleague’s pedagogy?
Now, my Teacher Library space has gone through many iterations and multiple people using the space as office space. So, this year, I have a large undertaking. I want to make the space a welcoming environment, which means getting rid of the extra stuff including physical equipment, weeding of old professional books, and arranging seating. After the dust settles on opening my library, orientating the 9th graders to the library, I will tackle this room. In the meantime, I must find a space in my larger library to showcase and advertise my AVID library and new professional books.
How can we use this library or see use of the library?
- Work with admin to have a book club around a text of interest: buy more copies or have 1 copy available for those who don’t want to purchase the text yet.
- Showcase a text each month at staff meetings: what is it about, who has already read it, why might you read it.
- Offer a Coffee and Browse during planning period to interact with our teacher library. Get suggestions for what folks are interested in doing with the texts.
- Pull short readings from the books that will entice folks to read more or implement in their practice right away.
Simply put, if we want our teachers to grow, our building culture must foster learning and we should be able to point to physical spaces or objects that show we are learners that constantly are growing in our practice. A teacher library is one way to show that.