Saturday, November 5, 2016

School Library Advocacy: My Soapbox

So, today I'm attending a Professional Development session to give an overview of #ESSA and #ESSAlibraries. If you are not familiar with the new ESSA, please go to the U.S. Department of Education website and read about it. Seriously. Each state has a steering committee that will be making recommendations in which way their state will support the law. Here is Arkansas's Steering Committee

At the moment, each state will be making their own statements about how they will be supporting ESSA. It states that an effective school library program is "allowable". ALLOWABLE. Not mandatory. Not necessary. ALLOWABLE.

Our programs are more than ALLOWABLE!

In my opinion, every school librarian needs to take a moment to contact the steering committees to discuss how an effective school library program can meet and improve the needs of students. NOT what it does for you? What does it do for your students?

Prepare an "elevator speech"; a 2-minute speech that you can give to any stakeholder willing to listen. Be able to share your impact on student achievement. It needs to show growth and achievement. How does your learning community use and share your space? What do you want to show? Share a story and key data. Share information, such as:

  • circulation stats
  • who uses your library daily; # of students during free flow or flex schedule times
  • meetings in the library; showers; PTO; special classes & events
  • lessons
  • digital & print resources
  • budgets (are they adequate?)
  • collaboration
  • professional development specialized for school librarians
The American Association of School Librarians has compiled official position statements for school librarians. 

As a school librarian, your advocacy should involve:
  • knowing your stakeholders
  • form local and state coalitions 
  • think outside the box (asset map)
  • be able to connect school libraries to ESSA & student achievement
Basically, in order to advocate for your school library program, you need to be familiar with ESSA and LOUD about what your school library does to benefit your learning community. Advocacy isn't bragging or whining. It is providing information about your program to your stakeholders. 

Who are your stakeholders?
  • Governor
  • State legislature
  • State boards of education
  • Local educational agencies
  • Representatives of Indian Tribes located in your state
  • Teachers
  • Principals and other school leaders
  • Specialized instructional support personnel
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Administration and other staff
  • Parents
  • School Board members
  • Local and public libraries
  • Businesses
  • Vendors
  • Universities and University Department Heads
  • Boys and Girls' Clubs, school clubs
  • Local groups (i.e. Kiwanis, Lions Club, etc.)
  • Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Commerce Educational branch

Be an advocate! 

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