Is it show time? Librarians as mentors during a crisis

Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

This is our moment!  It’s time to showcase! Let’s show who we are! 

All these weeks, I’m reading articles about how librarians can support their community during this pandemic. It makes me wonder about our role, our level of collaboration with our community, and their expectations. As I mentioned before in my previous post, usually people connect librarians with lending books. It’s not wrong, one of our duties is giving books to our patrons. But, like everything in life, we have evolved. The development of technology in the last 50 years has tremendously impacted libraries. We moved from card catalogs to sophisticated online library catalogs integrated with online databases, internet, etc. giving patrons a voice. Libraries open their sacred doors to the internet, librarians stopped being the center of knowledge to become mentors/advisors, leaving their beautiful spaces to meet their patrons, becoming active learners, and collaborators.

One of the biggest takeaways of my COETAIL journey, it’s the power of reflection. Writing this blog is a way to reflect on practices, myths and become a learner. Also, I’m finding my place between librarianship – technology – education and a balance between our expectations and what others are expecting from us as school librarians.

 Last week, I was reading the results of a survey that AASL about the librarian roles during the pandemic. Even though data has been collected in the USA, it shows glimpses that can be applied to international school librarianship. I would like to highlight the following results:

  • More than 80% were expanding online resources for students, virtual assistance.
  • Less than 55% have virtual classes
  • 85.62% are doing virtual assistance (email, phone, chat, etc)
  • 21% continuous teaching research skills
  • 84.89% were offering resource curation and technology tools for class instruction

These numbers say a lot about the school librarians’ profile. It’s obvious the technological support that school librarians are giving to their communities, requires knowledge of resources and tools.  I will go beyond to suggest that school librarians should not only be curators of tech resources and tools, but they should also be mentors to support deep learning. 

How to become a mentor?

It is through deep learning tasks that students in the new pedagogies gain experience in developing their aspirations, in taking the initiative to learn, in learning to persevere through tough challenges, and in doing real knowledge work. In short, these tasks form the practical bridge between learning and doing.

Michael Fullan

When a school librarian meets technology, they should have a very clear understanding of the new roles of teachers described by Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy on their paper ‘ ‘Towards a new pedagogies: for deep learning” :

  1. Teachers as designers of learning experiences.
  2. Teachers as a source of human, social, and decisional capital in the learning experience.
  3. Teachers as partners in learning with students, accelerated by technology

I can find many similarities with the aims of the IBO on their mission statement as they promote the development of compassionate, active, lifelong learning students.

If we unpacked it, a learner will be active if he/she has the opportunity to create knowledge during their learning experience but not alone, with the educator so it will be a co-creation of knowledge. A lifelong learner is going beyond concepts developing ATL skills learning how to solve, where to find, etc. reflecting on their practices, and collaborating around the world.

Fullan also mentions the importance of understanding the deepening and accelerating role of technology in education. In fact, highlighting the crucial partnership between teacher-student as activators of deep learning.

As school librarians, we need to know about new pedagogies and collaborate with teachers as a partner in the creation of knowledge/learning experiences. Administrators should support librarians to be part of professional learning experiences to be well equipped for their changing roles.

Today, I found on Twitter this short article about SAMR: a powerful model for understanding good integration by Youki Terada. It’s a good introduction to Dr. Ruben Puetedura SAMR model for teachers going for remote teaching for the first time. SAMR model aligns with new pedagogies as it promotes student agency breaking down myths of ‘false use of technology’ very well explained at the levels of Substitution and Augmentation.

Less is more

The days before the official closure of the school, we were all tense thinking about the future changes (In fact, I was thinking about it since it expanded in South East Asia!). It was the first time that we are facing an emergency like that. But I have very clear that we should overcome our fears and find way to go ahead. At the same time, I started to received overwhelming information about free access to online services, tools, and databases. Understanding the scenario and the unknown future, I kept in mind that we should give opportunities to students to keep on learning and supporting teachers to use tools that will add to their teaching with a specific purpose. 

This is my goal as a school librarian, not just a curator but a mentor for my community with meaningful tools and resources. I created an infographic to summarize them and shared them with our community. 

Finally, is it showtime? Yes. If we will guide our community with responsibility going beyond an unlimited list of tools and resources that nobody knows how to use them. Less is more!

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