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AASL resources to address the challenges (and expressing your professional voice in reopening)

Update: I am currently curating a variety of resources on school library return to learning and reopening plans. The resource includes Shannon Miller a Padlet of reopening plans.

AASL just released the very helpful School Librarian Role in Pandemic Learning Conditions.

AASL School Librarian Role in Pandemic Learning Conditions

Part of a larger group of Pandemic Resources for School Librarians, this much-needed tool supports us in framing some of our thorniest upcoming challenges as professional opportunities.

AASL’s Chart & Resources focus on the five roles of the school librarian established in past standards: instructional partner, teacher, leader, information specialist, and program administrator. And they offer a jumping-off point for pro-active conversations with administrators in the various teaching and learning scenarios to which we may return–face-to-face, blended, and distance.

The document emphasizes our value during times of crisis and our

profession’s skill at building relationships and creating an inclusive school culture. During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools need this librarian skill set more than ever as they adapt to meet the current needs of learners in a constantly changing learning environment

For more ideas to help you define your leadership role as we face an uncertain new school year:

The Washington Teachers’ Union believes that all students should have access to a rigorous, well-rounded education rich in the arts and sciences, and inclusive of physical education, world language and library
sciences. Students should not lose out on the opportunity to engage in these subjects, and acquire the background knowledge they need to thrive later in school and in life, whether they are engaged in in-person or in distance learning. This will require a reimagining of how teachers in the Inner Core and Library Sciences engage with their peers and with students. Teachers must be involved in these decisions. (p. 11)

DCPS needs to provide clear expectations for inner core, library media specialists, and departmentalized educators as they teach across grade bands. Including these educators in in-person learning may dramatically increase their risk for exposure during early stages of a school’s reopening; however, their engagement with students is critical to maintaining a well-rounded educational environment for students. (p. 14)

DCPS should not eliminate or reduce the availability of elected classes during the middle years. These courses, which include visual art, music, PE (including dance), theatre arts, library, robotics and world languages, are critical to a students’ development and preparation for high school. (p. 15)

Recommendations –
● All students must continue to receive instruction in traditional courses as these classes are needed to support digital citizenship, fair use laws, research methods and graduation requirements. These staff also support students’ research for college options, creation of academic resumes/biographies,scholarship research and submission.
● Library Media Specialists and Inner Core Teachers must be included in all training of DCPS digital applications, tools and programs and clear protocols need to be established for how Librarians and Inner Core teachers are expected to deliver instruction with limited space restrictions.
● Protocols shall be established for library media specialists and inner core teachers to ensure limited exposure to coronavirus if they are required to push into classrooms. They shall be provided with an opportunity and supplies to clean and sanitize any supplies that are needed for multiple groups of students.
● Libraries and gymnasiums, and other common facilities, shall not be repurposed as general education spaces in a manner that will undermine the access of students to these courses.
● If the library media specialist must ‘push in’ to classrooms for instruction, protocols need to be established for the delivery of books will continue to support the school’s literacy program, retrieving /reshelving books and safety of the employees and students. (p. 17)

Find out more about the WTU’s collaboration with school librarians in this interview: School Reopening: Teacher and Librarian Views, featuring Elizabeth Davis, President of the Washington Teachers Union and AASL President, Kathy Carroll, hosted by Virginia Avniel Spatz. 7/8/20

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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