September 23, 2016
My thoughts are starting to take shape in response to the Learning Curation prompt for Module 3:
September 30, 2016
In our last module Terri Hayes, in her article “Library to Learning Commons” (January 2014), speaks to how teacher-librarians “can become instructional leaders” through a variety of means, one of which is by “fostering a thriving reading culture”. The IFLA document quotes Stephen Krashen by stating “research shows that there is a direct link between reading level and learning results, and that access to reading materials is a key factor in developing enthusiastic and skilled readers”. The document continues by saying that teacher-librarians have a responsibility to readers by “supporting the individual preferences of readers, and acknowledging their individual rights to choose what they want to read. Students who are given the opportunity to select their own reading show improved test scores over time” (p. 39). There is no doubt that teacher-librarians have a primary responsibility to foster life-long reading and learning habits. The focus is on how to cultivate this understanding within the school community.
In the elementary scenario in Module 3, I suspect that the parent in question is well-meaning and has the best of intentions to support her son in becoming an accomplished reader. As a classroom teacher, I have had many conversations with parents over the years in relation to the reading level that is indicated on the front of some book. Largely these numbers are misnomers and do not adequately reflect the reading level of the text. A vast number of parents have pre-conceived notions about what their child should read or what they should be doing at any one moment in their learning journey. Having just completed parent-teacher conferences on September 28th and 29th, this is reinforced in different ways, largely in regards to homework. Interestingly enough, my own daughter’s teacher (it is a Gr. 1/2 class) shared that she “couldn’t believe” how many parents want homework every night. As educators in this course, it is abundantly clear from reading the discussion posts that we know how important reading, and reading for pleasure is. It is the single most influential factor and a powerful one at that, yet this is not necessarily the understanding of a broader audience. From our discussions, I also gleaned that teacher-librarians have the opportunity to take the lead in not only fostering lifelong reading and learning, but also in educating a greater number of individuals about the impact of freedom of choice when reading.
Largely this scenario speaks to me of the importance and need for communication as a means of cultivating the understanding. In the moment with the student, it would be important for me to avoid putting the child in the middle, yet I would want to find a balance for his love of non-fiction and his mother’s expectation for a chapter book. I think I would see him off with one of each and then seek out an opportunity to follow-up with the classroom teacher, and hopefully with the mother. As previously mentioned, I am sure his mother has the best of intentions, yet I struggle with parents dictating what happens at school without a conversation taking place. Therefore, I would share the scenario with the child’s classroom teacher with the goal that we could communicate with the mother to address the issue.
This scenario also illustrates for me the importance of communicating with staff and parents early in the year as a pre-emptive strike, and then to do so on a continual basis. This, in turn, fosters advocacy. This could be accomplished at staff meetings and during informal reporting periods such as parent/teacher conferences. By doing so, hopefully situations like the elementary scenario can be minimized, if not avoided (in an ideal world!). I feel Neil Gaiman’s article provides a very strong argument for the importance of allowing children to read what they like across a variety of formats and genres. I like to think that his pleads for free choice could help educate others. He asserts that to show children that reading is enjoyable “…means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them” (October, 2013). No one is going to create life-long readers who want to read if we force material on them that doesn’t engage and speak to them; that doesn’t encourage them to imagine and daydream, which Gaiman believes is part of one recognizing that s/he has the power to change the future simply by imagining it differently (October, 2013).
This module’s focus connects to my essential question of how I can foster the perception that the T-L is a leader in the learning community. I am able to provide leadership when I arm stakeholders with knowledge of the school library’s program. As a result, parents and colleagues come to understand the teacher-librarian’s intentions and the key role they have in “fostering literacies to empower life-long learners” (Leading Learning, p.17).
And it wouldn’t hurt to post this to support the cause… (Thank you to Carmen!)
Canadian Library Association. (2014). Leading learning: Standards of practice for school library learning commons in Canada. Ottawa: ON
Gaiman, N. (2013, October 15). Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming?CMP=twt_gu
Hayes, T. (2014, 54:3) Library to learning commons. Retrieved from http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/library-learning-commons.