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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

What if the administrator isn’t supportive

Maria Peet wrote: I was reading your blog entry on how glorious it is to be a school librarian (Oct. 24th), and it brought such mixed feelings that I thought I would write you – what do you do when the circumstances are not how you describe: “We have individual relationships with our students, staff, administrators, and parents. We have professional leadership roles.” 

I have positive relationships with kids, staff, and parents, but how do you change (or can you?) a situation where administration has a different, much more limited, view of your role than you do? I’m sure that I am not alone in being in a situation where there is minimal support for an expansion of the teacher-librarian from “the buying books, cataloging books, supervising study halls, checking out books” role to a role where teaching time is dedicated to information literacy, media literacy, 21st century skills, etc. It doesn’t make sense to me, but there it is.

Diane’s response: I’ve had a variety of support in the past. Some principals were wonderful. Some never stepped in the door of the library and simply told me what my budget was (or wasn’t) that year.

One administrator made me cry weekly and dread Monday morning because I might make a false step. If I caused her to feel threatened, she would make my life miserable. I attempted to meet with her, provided her with new insights & research, shared state standards and district guidelines, but no matter what I did her response was "I’m the principal and I’m in charge of everything here." That principal limited my role and wouldn’t even allow me to email teachers directly. 

Maria: I know that you recently went from one school to another – did you go into that position knowing that you would have full support for your programs?

Diane:  Last year

Maria: Any thoughts or ideas would be welcome.

Also – how does one get on a committee (something that would fit with a 7-12 school library)? Thank you so much!!!!!!

Diane: Now that’s a question I like to respond to! Every state association has committees to begin involvement. Many of those state associations are listed as affiliates for AASL. The American Association of School Librarians has a form that must be complete each year by anyone interesting