Like a splinter or like a journalistI want to share with you my own definition of and adventures in embedded librarianship
Who am IFormer English teacher, first librarian job—why I became a librarianWho I work withBeautiful space. I came in with the renovationBut note the lamps. Bolted to the tables, tables bolted to floor. Aesthetically pleasing, impossible as a teaching space
Which is what started my thinking about getting out of the library, while still being a librarianWhat am I talking about when I talk about embedded librarianship? For me it’s about finding yourself in unexpected places, and growing from it.When I first started talking about embedded librarianship with a colleague her first question was, “Embedded like a splinter, or like a like a journalist?And I think the answer is both. By embedding ourselves we take on the role of both splinter and journalist
So what does it mean to embed like a splinter?
To be a splinter is, in a way, to be a thorn in one’s side. To be that voice in someone’s ear saying “what about. . . ?”It is also to be ingrained in the curriculum and the classes, in a way that makes it hard to remove what you do.Got a splinter the other day, and it was noticeable—it did not harm the structural integrity of my finger when it was removed, but it was noticeable
Silos don’t make sense for what we do. Embedding is the natural evolution of collaboration.True collaboration is intense, and it is not possible to have those intensive collaborative relationships with every teacherEmbedding makes it possible to —reach more students and teachers, in different waysBeing a splinter makes us part of the class in ways that are less intensive for us (and for teachers), but more authentic for studentsThe library isn’t “other”—it’s a seamless part of their learning
I know both splinters and thorns are painful, but embedding is also a way to offer support. By being fully immersed you can be more responsive and helpful at the time and point of need. And help that comes at the time and point of need is more meaningful
Being embedded also means being a journalist
You are right there. You are in the storyYou don’t need to ask teachers what’s happening in their classes, or wait to learn what’s happeningYou’re there. You know what the day-to-day curriculum is so the ideas and resources you offer can have a greater sense of relevancy to themBe in the story
Journalists listen. Being in the classrooms allows you to really see what’s going on
And to make connectionsThink of it as Advocacy journalismEveryone has different expertiseIf you know what teachers are struggling with/striving at, you can make connectionsLet go of the need to be the only one who knows things
In fact, let go of the world “only” altogether I ask you, I entreat you, I beg of you—remove the word “only” from your vocabularyYou are not the smartest person in the room. No one is.Remember, the smartest person in the room is the roomSaying we’re the “only” ones who can do something, or know something, or can teach something is both off-putting for our colleagues and extremely limiting to our own growth
Being embedded means embracing a co-teaching model. It’s about cooperating, and what everyone can bring to the table to get you to your ultimate goal.http://www.flickr.com/photos/kasimetcalfe/118471837/
And Be inquisitive, like a journalist. Ask questions.
But we do have a lot to offerSo, what’s in my embedded librarian toolbox?
My toolbox is made out of the Common Beliefs embedded in the AASL Standards for the 21st Century LearnerCore beliefs:Inquiry-drivenTechnology skillsEquitable access Definition of information literacy is more complexLearning has a social contextCreating independent learnerSchool libraries are essential—and that I quibble with a little bit. I think school librarians are essential.A foundations
These are some of the tools I use to embed myself electronicallyLibGuide is my favorite thing ever. I know it costs money, but it is worth itI use these tools to create and share resourcesScreenr is an amazing screencasting tool and so simple
These are tools I use to organize myself personally and to gather information
AsychronisityUsing these tools allows me to be in classrooms even when I’m not physically thereWhen I use these tools, teachers become interested in them and use them themselvesAs more of my teachers use online tools, the easier it is more me to see what they’re doing—even when time doesn’t allow me to get into their classroomsAnd to share resources
But time with people matters too. These “tools” are just as important as any technology I useProbably more important
Relationships matter. People want to feel supported, that you’re on their side
So what does this look like? It means I do more of my teaching in the actual classroomRemember those lamps? I got tired of fighting with themAlso made more sense to work with students in an environment where they already felt established and comfortable as learners
My embedded adventure20-year projectTaking it out of the silo, and sharing with the worldElbowed my way inAnd it’s hard. People don’t always like having another expert in the room, even if they have a different area of expertiseWas hoping to go with them this year, but such things are not always possibleIf you would like to connect your students with mine, please let me know
Embed through PDEmbed your teachers in their own PDEdcamps and blogging
Embed teachers in your libraryEmbedding can go two ways.If they’re a part of your library, they’re invested in it
Give teachers the power to create and own something of their ownYou embed through your teachers
This is all a lot to think about—how do you bring it to your school. Without losing focus
There is no “one way” --find the direction that’s right for you
It doesn’t have to be a giant leapBaby steps are okay
Small changes have big effectsAnd you never know the ripple effects of your changesOr how one change reflects anotherUltimately, I can’t tell you exactly how to go about this. You know your school, and your perspective matters.
I know this map seems like it’s coming out of left field, but it does have some context—I was at a presentation at AASL in Minneapolis when someone showed this slide and asked people to raise their hands if seeing the rate of Lyme disease in Minnesota made them nervous (or something to that effect). A lot of hands went up, but not mine. I turned to the person sitting next to me and said, “I live down the road from Lyme, CT.Your perspective matters.As you decide on how to implement, remember that YOU are the one who knows your school and the teachers and students you work with best. What worked for me might not work for you. What makes sense at your school might not make sense at mine.
But also take ideas you likeOne of the things I love most about this profession is how eager we all are to shareTake ideas and adapt them to work for you in your setting
It will be messy. Embrace it. “Messy” is different from “bad.”I want you to look at this picture of a 1-year-old encountering frosting for the first time and ask yourself--When did we decide messy can’t be fun?
Messy does not mean broken. This tree was struck by lightning. And regrew in a way no one would have expected possible. Not everything that looks broken actually is. Again, it’s about perspective.Build relationships. Rebuild broken relationshipsRebuild broken understandings of what it is you doWhat’s broken can grow. Always. You need to believe that
When you decide to make a change, commit.Stand your ground with teachers. Many of us resist change. It is easier to do things the way we’ve always done them. But remind yourself and the teachers you work with—politely—that there will be no turning
And, just to contradict myself immediately, remember to be flexible. Just as embedded librarianship doesn’t look the same from school to school, it doesn’t look the same from classroom to classroom.Decide what your core beliefs are—what your toolbox is made out of. But you can be flexible in what tools you use.
The most important tool you have is your energy and your enthusiasm. You have to be passionate about the work that you do. You just have to.
I want to leave you, finally, with this lamp. I wasn’t sure what note to end on, but this lamp seemed the right one, because without these ridiculous lamps, the development of my philosophy of librarianship might be completely different. Your frustrations can be starting points. Nothing is ever really broken, as long as you are interested in fixing it.
And remember it’s less about what we do, than who we areThank you
Embedded school librarianship - NEMA
Like a splinter or like a journalist? Embedded School Librarianship Nebraska Educational Media Association October 17, 2012 Sara Kelley-Mudie Librarian/ Ed Tech Facilitator The Forman School Litchfield, CTImage source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/1627796840/