Recently, my district teacher librarian group was tasked with creating an action plan based on implementation of the Common Core State Standards. As we delved into the work, we realized that all of us had varying levels of Common Core competencies and no guiding document to start our work. There were many different roads we could take from this development; most of them full of “we should have done Y” and “they should have done X.” But, as my friend says, “you can’t should all over people and expect positive results.”
We could have said, “Well, we should have been given more time to learn the Common Core.” We could have said, “We should be given an example piece to model.” We could have said “We should have started looking at Common Core standards earlier.” While these were all true statements, they weren’t sentiments that would move our work forward. So, instead of “shoulding” our current predicament, we considered what control we had and what steps we could take to move forward.
I know it’s hard and I often find myself falling into the “shoulding” syndrome. I imagine idyllic workshops in the present day after I have somehow jumped back in time to do what future-me realizes should have been completed in the past. To be honest, this constant wringing of my hands over what I should have done just makes me more stressed and incapable of work. So, when our library group met an impasse around building a mission statement and creating a goal oriented action plan that outlined how the library programs support Common Core implementation, I’m grateful that my colleagues helped us not getting stuck in the “shoulding” syndrome. We realized that we needed to: pull together the Common Core experts to draft the action statements, allow all librarians to share their assignment/lesson plans that aligned, and begin implementing learning of Common Core at all levels. Everyone had a role that honored where they stood in relation to Common Core expertise.
By silencing the “What If” voice in my head, I made a call on a first step. I sat down and considered what it was that I didn’t know about Common Core so that I could move forward. For the first time ever, I started reading the younger grades’ Common Core, starting with Reading K-5. And, I read them through a lens of “how would this standard look in a library program?” To be honest, it’s probably one of the best things that I could have done. Whereas before when I read the Common Core standards, I merely was grasping for comprehension at this new document; now I had basic comprehension about my grade levels and could consider others’ view, disciplines, and grade levels. By choosing a lens and reading the statements, I was better able to organize my thinking. As, I continued to read, I began to categorize the characteristics that I saw the library program playing in a student’s education. By the end of reading, I had collected 4 categories that would be my librarian role: the decoder/translator, connector, reinforcer, and creator. From these ideas, our group was able to build a mission statement for our library program that would inform our goals and objectives of our action plan by using the Common Core as well as the InfoLit standards.
The teacher-librarians act as reinforcers, connectors, navigators, and creators for staff and students. We reinforce the classroom content and skills, connect outside resources to the classroom experience, teach students how to navigate and ethically use texts, and empower students and staff to be creators and innovators.
We’re currently drafting this mission into goals, objectives and possible assignments in the library that apply to these goals and objectives. What’s so great about this mission plan and goals and objectives? Well, all those qualities that stopped us in our track, like not enough knowledge of Common Core or being unclear of next steps, actually can be folded into our goals. And, the role and type of Professional Development necessary will hopefully be informed by this work. I look forward to continuing this work on my next profesional development half-day and building attainable goals, which are informed by work needed and our needs.
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