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Focus on Include: AASL’s new Developing Inclusive Learners and Citizens Activity Guide

AASL’s Developing Inclusive Learns and Citizens Activity Guide

At ALA Annual, AASL released its new, downloadable Developing Inclusive Learners and Citizens Activity Guide.

Designed to support school librarians in nurturing inclusive learning communities, the Guide offers reflection activities, scenarios, and resources based on the six Shared Foundations and the four Domains of our National School Library Standards.

The goal of the Activity Guide is to

help learners and school librarians alike seek balanced perspectives, global learning, empathy, tolerance, and equity to support inclusive environments within and beyond the four walls of the school library.

An Infographic and an Applied Include Framework support the use of the Activity Guide in instruction and professional development. And, like the 2018 applied framework, Defending Intellectual Freedom: LGBTQ+ Materials in School Libraries, which inspired the Activity Guide’s development, this project models how AASL Standards might be used as a lens to respond to a variety of issues facing school libraries and learners.

The project is the result of the work of members of a 2019 ALA Emerging Leaders team consisting of Corey Hall, Matthew King, Beth Raff, Jhenelle Robinson, and Bianca Spurlock, with the support of AASL member guide Robert Hilliker.

Beth Raff, librarian at Mt. Tabor Elementary School (NJ), and one of my former students, shared her experience in helping to build the Guide:

I’m very proud to be a member of the ALA Emerging Leader team that created the Include toolkit and I learned a tremendous amount about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in the process. Five of us encompassed private and public schools and all grade levels.

Covering the three aspects of our National School Library Standards–the learner, the school librarian, and the school library–we considered how might we get learners to understand inclusion and how can we might work to be more inclusive in the broadest of ways. We started by building scenarios around the personas.

The library is often one of the only safe spaces for marginalized students, and the activities in the toolkit suggest ways to make the library even more inclusive. I hope that this resource will help librarians understand what an essential role we play in supporting diversity in schools. The scenarios are based on the collective experiences of our Emerging Leaders team and influenced by the AASL Standards scenarios. We focused on providing discussion questions for consideration that would lead to thoughtful dialogue followed by action.  I strongly encourage librarians to jump in at any point and start by choosing one small step that you can take in your library and learning community to promote inclusion.

The beauty of it is to build awareness. We modeled the document around the AASL National Standards and considered activities that might be outgrowths of the scenarios. We focused on the situation. One that was personal to me was the December dilemma. So the scenario I wrote came out of personal experience.

Some of my personal favorite activities in the toolkit include: I strongly encourage librarians to jump in at any point and start by choosing one small step that you can take in your library and learning community to promote inclusion.

* conducting a diversity audit of your collection
* forming a student advisory group to create programming to improve school culture
* understanding equity via a privilege walk.

I strongly encourage librarians to jump in at any point and start by choosing one small step to promote inclusion in their libraries and learning communities.

Kathryn Roots Lewis, immediate AASL past president, shared:

School librarians are the conduit for equity, access, knowledge, and, yes, kindness for all learners. The school library is a place of inclusion, where all learners can explore their own story, gaining awareness and celebrating who they are. This guide is a must-have resource as school librarians implement the Include Shared Foundation.

The Emerging Leaders team will present a session introducing the Activity Guide at the AASL National Conference in Louisville.

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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