It is generally understood that the focus of the school library is to “empower students to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers and ethical users of information“(Riedling 9) yet it is not always understood that in order to achieve this mission, teacher-librarians must collaborate with and provide support and educational leadership for their teacher colleagues. Within the learning commons model the school library learning commons “plays a key role in cultivating and facilitating collaboration to provide rich experiential learning opportunities [both local and global]” (CLA, 11) yet many school libraries are still at the exploration stage in terms of becoming school library learning commons. Shifting attitudes and building collaborative partnerships is a gradual process that requires TLs to meet colleagues where they are at (Loucks-Horsley). The old adage “Rome was not built in one day” certainly applies; TLs need to continually ‘lay the bricks’/provide the scaffolding to support their colleagues. As discussed in The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM): A Model for Change in Individuals, this is a process that does not happen in a day but will occur over several years as “it takes at least three years for early concerns to be resolved and later ones to emerge” (Loucks-Horsley).
This technical essay provides a ‘real-world’ example of the issues related to changing behaviour and will identify appropriate strategies to facilitate change through the examination of two fictional teachers who are at a range of different levels of concern/use with respect to the effective use of reference resources in their pedagogical practices. This essay will assess these two fictional teachers identified as Mrs. X and Mrs. Y as to where they are currently located on the CBMA model (shown in Figure 2) with respect to the use of the school library reference services and resources, and the SAMR model (shown in Figure 1) with respect use of technology and will provide a process in which to move these teachers into a higher level of integration of reference services and technological resources.
Sample Teacher 1 – Mrs. X
Mrs. X is a grade 3 teacher with 20+ years of teaching experience. She actively seeks out support from the school library and regularly shares her class’ current areas of focus with the teacher-librarian to acquire resources to enhance student learning. Mrs. X uses some forms of technology to enhance her lessons (visuals and videos shared on her smart board) but is reluctant to extend the use of technology to her students. Mrs. X has expressed concern that her students are not ready for technology and that too much class time would be wasted on the students just learning the technology. In her classroom students primarily use print resources from the library (assembled by the TL) and printed resource packages (prepared by the teacher) for learning resources. Occasionally students will use ipads to access a list of URLs listed on their class page of the school library website that link to resources on Worldbook kids online and a collection of vetted websites prepared in advance by the TL. Students in Mrs. X’s class are encouraged to demonstrate their learning in a variety of written and oral formats (written report, poster, speech, skit…). Support for the use of digital response formats has not yet been initiated.
Step 1. Next time Mrs. X is looking for resource support, the TL will share some research project ideas and ask if she would be interested in collaborating on their next class research project.
Step 2. The TL could offer to do some front loading of tech learning (during her class’s library prep blocks) prior to the beginning of research portion of the project so that Mrs. X’s fears of losing valuable classroom learning time to tech learning would be resolved.
Step 3. The TL could offer to co-teach the research process of the project in the library which would give students practice accessing print and digital resources independently. This would not only give students an authentic reason to access resources independently but would also provide students with more support using technology.
*Future cast – During research process the TL could offer suggestions for ways in which students could use technology to demonstrate their learning in future projects and more collaboration and co-teaching with the TL could be offered.
Mrs. X’s students would be able to fully move into the substitution level with respect to using technology and students would be poised to further develop their digital literacy skills perhaps moving into the modification level with demonstrating their learning in a new way with the use of technology. In addition, co-teaching the research process would allow both Mrs. X and her students to gain more confidence in locating print and digital resources independently. Thus allowing Mrs. X to move from the routine to the refinement level with respect to using resources from the library and from the consequence to the collaboration level for expression of concern.
Sample Teacher 2 – Mrs. Y
Mrs. Y is a grade 5 teacher and has 15+ years teaching experience. She has established unit plans for teaching and rarely seeks learning resources from the school library for classroom assignments and projects. Mrs. Y has expressed interest in viewing some of the new print and digital learning resources shared by the library during staff meetings but has not progressed any further to examine or incorporate them. Mrs. Y uses some forms of technology to enhance her lessons (visuals and videos shared on her smart board) and is beginning to show interest in incorporating more technology into her classroom. She has started to use MS word to have students’ complete assignments but still has students print out their assignments for submission rather than making use of any online platforms for submission. Students in Mrs. Y’s class use textbooks and printed resource packages (prepared by Mrs. Y) as their primary learning resource; recently Mrs. Y has included google research as another method for information gathering in her classroom.
Mrs. Y is at the substitution level (SAMR) with respect to using technology to support teaching and learning. In terms using the resources and services from the library to support and extend learning opportunities for her students she is between the informational and the personal level for expression of concern (CBMA) and at the non-use level with regards for the use of innovation (CBMA).
Step 1: Being that Mrs. Y has already expressed interest in incorporating more technology into her classroom this is an avenue where more support and possible collaboration would be well received. Providing how-to’s on using some new district supported applications that could streamline the delivery/retrieval of assignments could be well received. The TL could begin first with direct demonstration with Mrs. Y and when she becomes comfortable with the process, Mrs.Y and the TL could co-teach the process to her students.
Step 2: As a follow up, a how-to could be given on how to embedded links into shared documents which would provide a good opportunity to review some of the digital resources we have available in the library. At this time the TL might be able to gain a bit of understanding of the current areas of focus in the class.
Step 3: The TL could casually share some new resources and ideas for how they could connect and extend upon the class’ current area of focus
Providing Mrs. Y with the support to begin to integrate applications to streamline assignment delivery/retrieval would place her into the augmentation level where she will not yet be making significant task re-designs but will experience some of the gains that technology integration can allow. The process of transitioning Mrs. Y to viewing the TL as a worthy collaborator and school library reference services and resources as valuable to her own practice will be a slow process. Providing resources in a variety of formats and in a variety of ways will be the best course of action. Regular demonstration of excellent listening and communication skills, good judgement and exceptional knowledge of resources (Rieldling 105) will be imperative to move Mrs. Y fully into the personal level for expression of concern and the orientation level for use.
Building collaborative partnerships and supporting teachers in the implementation of instructional change is hugely important. Often for classroom teachers there never seems to be enough time in day and often teacher-librarians need to be the ones to approach teachers for collaboration as opportunities arise. To provide support and to be a worthy collaborator you must first understand the needs of your co-collaborator and only provide the support that they need at their current stage in their practice. The CBAM and the SAMR models are excellent reminders to meet your colleagues where they are at because students will only be able to benefit from technological and instructional innovations if their teacher is comfortable with embracing them. Like students, teachers will need their learning scaffolded, and it is important to remember that it may take some more time than others to move onto the next stage of development. Everyone must be allowed to learn at their own pace. A new twist to the old adage is that Rome wasn’t built in a day but they were laying bricks every hour; starting small and investing the time it takes will yield the desired outcome.
Canadian Library Association (CLA). (2014). Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons. Retrieved from http://llsop.canadianschoollibraries.ca/
Loucks-Horsley, S. (2005). The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM): A Model for Change in Individuals. Retrieved from The National Academies: http://www.nationalacademies.org/rise/backg4a.htm
Riedling, A. M., Shake, L., & Houston, C. (2013). Refernce Skills for the School Librarian: Tools and Tips. Santa Barbara, California: Linworth.
Technology Is Learning. (n.d.). SAMR Model. Retrieved from Technology Is Learning: https://sites.google.com/a/msad60.org/technology-is-learning/samr-model