TODAY’S SCHOOL LIBRARYMEDIA SPECIALIST LEADERBy Dianne C. Dees, Kristi Alexander, Rachel Besara, Robb Cambisios, Teresa Kent and Jodie Player DelgadoIt is 7:00 a.m. as Elaine Thomas* pulls into the faculty parking lot at Whether it is high school, middle school, or elementary school, theCentral Middle/High School. She glances around and sees no one in library media specialist hits thesight. “Ah . . . time for one more cup of coffee and a few moments to ground running each day. For many,pull things together for my budget meeting with Mr. Lee,” she thinks, their background is the classroom,smiling to herself. Tap. Tap. Tap. Ms. Thomas looks up to see the and, as media specialists, they havepanic-stricken face of a sophomore boy holding a thumb drive. “ Ms. taken on the largest classroom in the school. No wonder Information PowerThomas, can you help me?” the terrified student asks. “ I worked all links leadership to the school librarynight on this paper and it’s due today.” The principal can wait, but the media specialist and the Nationalstudent and caffeine cannot. She tells the student to meet her in the Board for Professional Teachingmedia center in five minutes and races to start the coffee maker. Standards underscores that leadership.
Leadership is the ability to influence or New forms of technology such as students or teachers who need “sharedinspire others to achieve shared goals. blogs, wikis, and podcasts can provide workspace” to work collaboratively on aThe media specialist’s leadership is leadership opportunities for media project to create a final product. Schooldemonstrated daily via interaction specialists. As the resident technology library media specialists can take thewith administrators, teachers, students, guru on campus, a media specialist lead in setting up wikis for teachers toparent volunteers, and community can provide staff development on new collaborate with each other by subjectpartners. An active participant in technologies and model how they can area or grade level. Other teacher usescurriculum reform, she or he may serve be integrated into the curriculum. of wikis might be to serve as a soundingas the delivery person for new state Advantages of blogs (short for weblog), board for school- or system-widestandards. Media specialists often are a type of Web site that resembles a committees like accreditation or policyleaders in promoting new technology journal, are: they can be created and development/writing teams. Studentsfor teacher and student use. Knowing updated easily (no knowledge of HTML who cannot make connections with eachthat reading is essential to learning, they required); a variety of media including other due to scheduling conflicts canseek to balance new ways to promote photos, sounds, video, and links can use wikis to work collaboratively onreading as a pleasurable, life-long habit. be incorporated into them; and others school or club projects. Both teachersMedia specialists collaborate and share can participate by posting comments and students can utilize wikis to furtherinstructional responsibilities with fellow to the content. Free services such as reflect after meetings or classes are over.teachers. Leadership opportunities (www.blogger.com) provide templates Podcasting is a method of distributingabound in our profession today if one is and hosting for blogs. School library multimedia files, such as audio programswilling to “hit the ground running.” media specialists might use a blog as or music videos, over the Internet for a repository for patrons’ requests and playback on mobile devices and personalLeadership in Technology feedback. They can lead teachers on how computers. In short, a podcast is a self-Elaine looked at her watch. It was 9:05 to use a blog as a classroom Web site. produced radio show. Audacity (www.a.m. She had ten minutes before Mrs. According to Wikipedia (2006), the audacity.com) is a free software programParker brought in her sixth grade class online, interactive encyclopedia, “a wiki that allows one to produce podcaststo finish their local history TV show is a type of Web site that allows users to as does Apple’s GarageBand. Deb Svecprojects. Since the digital video cameras easily add, remove, or otherwise edit and (2006), an innovative media specialist atwere charged and ready to go, she thought, change most available content, sometimes Palm Beach Gardens Community High“That’s plenty of time to update my blog.” without the need for registration. This School in Florida, uses podcasts with aHaving finished reading a book last night ease of interaction and operation makes lunchtime reading group she started withthat she wanted to share with her online a wiki an effective tool for collaborative four senior football players. Two of thebook discussion group, she sat at her desk writing.” Wikis are useful for groups of young men had not passed the Floridaand logged in to her blog page. How the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Defines Library Media Leadership: LEADERSHIP Accomplished library media specialists They keep the learning community informed increase student achievement might are instructional leaders who forge of educational trends and developments. research and present a proposal to the greater opportunities for learners. Through They reinforce the importance of principal seeking support for this change. consistent initiatives with teachers, information literacy in daily life. Library The library media specialist who recognizes administrators, and parents, they develop media specialists actively participate on the need for both book and other resources programs and advocate for educational school and district committees. They are to alleviate current weaknesses of the opportunities for the learning community. members of their professional associations library media program might work to They work in partnership with others to and willingly accept the challenge of change budget allocations, seeking provide access to appropriate research leadership at the district, state, regional, or avenues for increased funding to facilitate and professional articles, use data national levels. the acquisition of materials and resources identifying strengths and weaknesses needed for equitable access to information. of library media programs, and review Accomplished library media specialists best practices. Library media specialists hone their administrative skills. For National Board for Professional Teaching lead in reflective practice, assessment of example, the library media specialist who Standards, “ Standard X: Leadership, learning, and program evaluation to enact realizes that a flexible schedule would Advocacy and Community Partnerships.” effective change. improve the library media program and NPBTS Library Media Standards, p. 43.Of special interest to grades... K- 5 6-8 9-12 LIBRARY MEDIA CONNECTION January 2007 11
Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) many facets of Colonial America.” Jilland this was a strategy to improve their smiles with anticipation as she and Elainereading and thinking skills. Players pour over what may just ignite the spark 10 Easy Leadershipcould listen to podcasts related to the these students need.book, Friday Night Lights by H.G. Ideas to Help This situation highlights another ofBissinger, a popular book about football. the media specialist’s myriad of roles— School LibrariansIntegrating the use of podcasts on the reading consultant. It has been said that Become Leaderslibrary Web page not only showcases reading is key to success on standardizedstudent work, but also demonstrates the testing. A paraphrase of a common on Their Campusescollaboration between the school library reading theory mantra goes, “Until thirdmedia specialist and the classroom grade you learn to read. After that point,teacher. Such publicity is a great you read to learn” (Baumel). Medialeadership tool and illustrates the role of specialists can lead by understandingthe media specialist as an instructionalpartner. Media specialists can suggestareas for integration into the curriculum the reading process, how children learn to read, and by being aware of potential pitfalls in learning to read. To meet this 1 Meet regularly with your principal.of these and other technologies, advocatefor uses of technology for variouslearning styles and accessibility, serve as goal, it is highly recommended to take professional development coursework in reading and to keep up with current 2 Attend all faculty meetings.a leader in ethical use of technology, and thinking on reading instruction. Forhelp develop rubrics to evaluate studentprojects that incorporate them. These example, media specialists would be wise to read the American Association of 3 Serve on curriculum and standards committees.media specialists can also allow parents School Librarians (2004) pamphlet, Yourand administrators to be involved in thelearning community. School Library Media Program and No Child Left Behind. 4 Present professional development for teachers and librarians.Elaine quickly writes down her thoughts Media specialists can display leadershipabout the book on her blog. She notices that in reading through several functions.a student made a comment about her lastbook. He agreed with her, except he disliked Collection development is one area where the media specialist has a major impact. 5 Engage in collaboration with teachers and technology staff.the ending. He also asked if they might Media specialists need to plan forcontinue the book discussion blog over the readers at all levels. In middle andsummer. Elaine smiles as she thinks aboutthis student’s taste in books, and then looksup as Mrs. Parker’s class entered the media high school, a thoughtful and astute media specialist budgets money 6 Meet with school library colleagues. for popular high-interest/low-levelcenter. The day continues…Leadership in Reading nonfiction books to help those students with lower reading levels keep reading 7 Visit other school libraries. the “cool” books while preservingLater, Elaine meets with Jill Schaffer, thesocial studies teacher, to plan a unit onLife in Colonial America for an 11th grade their dignity. By the same token, media specialists should consistently point out to higher readers that today’s picture 8 Link to initiatives that are implemented on your campus or in your district.class. “Ah, Elaine,” says Jill, “Those two books do not automatically equatenew students in my class aren’t readinganywhere near grade level but won’t admitit. I’m tearing my hair out about how theywill be able to research this unit.” Elaine to lower reading levels. Much of the text in current picture books is quite sophisticated and often at the same 9 Give recognition to others for their successes. or higher reading level than popularprobes deeper into how Jill has discoveredthis, and then adds her own insights fromthe two times she’s worked with these fiction titles. Media specialists should make students and parents aware of and 10 Attend and participate in district, state, and national association meetings encourage use of other reading resourcesstudents in the media center for another in the community, including nearby and conferences.class. “Quite honestly,” Elaine muses, “I public libraries.have noticed what seems like pretty high- By: Nance Nassar, School Library Seniorlevel comprehension when they’ve explored The elementary media specialist with Consultant, Colorado State Library,some W eb sites they like. Possibly they are high achieving readers has perhaps one Colorado Department of Education.not interested in the history texts they’ve of the most difficult challenges when Available: (http://www.lrs.org/documents/been reading. Let’s see what happens if we it comes to collection development. lmcstudies/10_easy_ideas.pdf)give them a graphic novel that incorporates Many high-level books are geared for12 LIBRARY MEDIA CONNECTION January 2007 Of special interest to grades... K- 5 6-8 9-12
“ Leadership does not always mean being in the front of the line; sometimes leadership is walking beside as an encourager or behind as a supporter.”the middle and high school audience, to promote good books. The media the instructional program of the school.involving subject matter that may not specialist might supplement this by One colleague advocates, “Always eatbe appropriate for a gifted eight-year- using multiple promotions, such lunch with the teachers.” Serving as anold. Media specialists should make it a as Pizza Hut Book-It, Six Flags Weekly instructional leader might mean gettingpoint to carefully read the reviews on Reader, book battles, state Children’s out of your comfort zone as well as usingbooks for grades five through eight. If Book Awards, and DEAR time—not your political skills in order to have athere is still doubt about how closely the just the Accelerated Reader or Reading presence at the important meetings andbook aligns with interests or curriculum Counts programs used in many schools. on the influential committees in theneeds, the media specialist might borrow Media specialists need to be aware school and district.a copy from the public library or visit of the strengths and weaknesses of Another media specialist describes thatthe local bookstore to review the book computerized reading programs. By one of her most rewarding leadershipin person. training teachers on the management opportunities occurred when she wasAudiovisual materials are another means software and setting guidelines for working with English teachers toto help balance out reading levels. consistent use school-wide, the media integrate technology in an AppliedBooks on tape/CD and kits can be used specialist can take the lead to maximize Communications class. Togetherto help students fully participate in the effectiveness of any computerized they helped students research theirclass and reinforce reading skills at reading program. These examples topics, create visual representationshome. Multimedia materials are a boon only scratch the surface, of course, in of their information, and make classto lower readers and English Language how media specialists provide leadership presentations. The project was so wellLearners (ELL). In schools with high ELL in reading. received and enjoyed by the students,populations, having a core collection the teachers and the media specialist Leadership in Curriculumof classic children’s books in the decided to present together, not at a “Hi, Elaine. Are you meeting with uspredominant native languages of the media conference, but at the Applied during our planning period today to discussschool allows parents to read with their Communications Conference. It allowed the new curriculum changes?” asks thechildren at home and participate in the the media specialist to break out of classroom teacher. “Yes, I am, Enrique. Ischool community. Bilingual books at the “mold” and to share what school have information from the last conferencedifferent reading levels also greatly assist librarians and teachers working together and training session that needs to bewith English language acquisition. can accomplish. implemented in the new semester.”Reading promotion is an area in which How does the media specialist act Mentoring as Leadershipmedia specialists often display their as a leader in instruction? This is Teachers and students need to feel thatleadership skills. Displays, books talks, accomplished by never isolating one’s the library is a place for learning andguest authors, and student reviews self and by knowing what is going on in help. As media specialists, we have aon the morning news are all ways definite leadership role in mentoring teachers and students in the learning process. Over 1,300 media specialists Project LEAD across the nation now have national board certification. Many mentoring Authors of this article are students in Project LEAD, an Institute for opportunities are available to media Museum and Library Services— a funded initiative at the Florida specialists as teachers in the schools State College of Information whose goal is to develop graduate seek national board certification. New education opportunities focused on leadership for school library teachers also appreciate a supportive media specialists. Project LEAD is available as an option within the media specialist who helps with articles master’s degree in Library and Information Studies, as a 12-credit for a college paper, or provides assistance post-master’s certificate, and as a 30-credit post-master’s specialist with writing style manuals. Leadership is degree. This completely online curriculum is accessible nationwide an active state, one in which the leader is and internationally, and integrates the tenets of the National Board wherever he or she is needed. Leadership for Professional Teaching Standards in Library Media. For more does not always mean being in the information see: (http://ci.fsu.edu/go/sites/projectlead). front of the line; sometimes leadership LIBRARY MEDIA CONNECTION January 2007 13
“ Leadership opportunities abound in our profession today if one is willing to ‘hit the ground running.’”is walking beside as an encourager or Award committee asking how her review day, but that is how it is supposed to be.behind as a supporter. Let new teachers of the books is coming along. Elaine laughs She glances at her book bag and smiles.know you will be there for them with and mentions her podcasts asking students She can’t wait to read that new mysterya welcoming lunch or breakfast in the and teachers for their opinions on the over the weekend. She heard it is good. Onmedia center the week before school books under review. She is almost finished her way to her car, the same student whostarts and give each one of them a reading the current box, and will have her stopped her that morning waves and says,survival kit. This might include the reviews in next week. “See you tomorrow, Ms. Thomas.” Shemedia center handbook, instructions on There are many opportunities for waves back and unlocks her car, ready todatabases, a collaboration planning sheet, library media specialists to become go home, relax, read, and get prepared forbookmarker, coffee mug, or other items. leaders outside of the school campus another crazy day tomorrow. She wouldn’tStudents also need to feel that the media in state and national organizations. have it any other way. Ispecialist is on their side and that the Participation in these organizations *Elaine Thomas is a pseudonym for a composite of several media specialists as are the teachers inmedia center is a great place to be. provides opportunities to get involved the article.Media specialists, who often witness in the larger media community, developstudents in a different light from the awareness of resources for all areas of the Works Cited:traditional classroom, can serve as media program, and lobby for greater American Association of School Librarians (2004).student advocates. acknowledgement of the influence media Your School Library Media Program and No Child programs have on educational standards. Left Behind. 26 July 2006 (http://www.ala.org/ala/ aaslbucket/AASLNCLBbrochureweb.pdf).Leadership in There are many leadership opportunitiesProfessional Organizations Baumel, Jan. (17 July 2002). Dr. Kevin Feldman and roles for library media specialists, on Learning New Skills for Expository Reading.Just as she is picking up her purse to go (Part three of a series of seven interviews.) 22 July and many innovative methods of helpinghome, Elaine glances at her to-do list 2006 (http://www.schwablearning.org/articles. our students learn. As long as students asp?r= 721).and realizes she forgot to send an email attend school and teachers teach, mediato her state representative about why the Svec, Deb. Gators Read: Friday Night Lights. 26 specialists will have a leadership role July 2006 (http://web.mac.com/debsvec/iWeb/Site/65 percent solution should include school Podcast/Podcast.html). in making sure curriculum needs arelibrary media centers. “I’ll do that after addressed and media centers are places “Wiki.” Wikipedia, 26 July 2006dinner before I curl up with the new (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki). of learning.Library Media Connection that came inthe mail today.” Just then, her cell phone Elaine turns out the media center lightsrings. It’s the chair of the State Reader’s and locks the door. It was a long and busy About the AuthorsDianne C. Dees is Kristi Alexander is the Rachel Besara is Robb Cambisios is a Teresa Kent is the Jodie Player Delgadoan assistant professor library media specialist completing a degree middle school teacher library media specialist is the library mediaat Valdosta State at North Port High in school library at Collegiate School in at Hayes Elementary specialist at CoralUniversity, Department School in North Port, media at Florida State Richmond, Virginia. School in Kennesaw, Shores High School inof Curriculum, Florida. University and earning (rcambisi@collegiate- Georgia, and is earning Tavernier, Florida.Leadership, and (firstname.lastname@example.org) a leadership certificate va.org) a leadership certificate (Jodie.delgado@Technology in Valdosta, through the Project through the Project keysschools.com)Georgia. LEAD master’s program. LEAD specialist’s(email@example.com) (firstname.lastname@example.org. program. fsu.edu)14 LIBRARY MEDIA CONNECTION January 2007 Of special interest to grades... K- 5 6-8 9-12