As teacher librarian for Elk Creek Elementary School, I have been on the Elk Creek Elementary School’s leadership team for 9 years. I have been a member of district and school leadership teams for 19 years. In my teacher-librarian role, I have been an instructional leader, collaborative partner, staff developer and a critical link to resources and information. Every day I find ways to link district goals and the actual implementation of these goals to help our talented and skillful staff of master teachers be more effective in their goals for successful instruction so that our school can continue to demonstrate excellent growth in our students’ academic success.
Nearly all members of our staff have participated in leadership roles in the past ten years. We are proud of our shared leadership at Elk Creek. As a full time T-L, I have been the link in providing the essential consistency, insight, staff development and support for our staff as each teacher grows in their leadership role. Shared leadership is one essential key to Elk Creek Elementary School’s tremendous success.
Schools do not have cookie cutter principals or staff developers. Each principal and staff developer comes to a school with a unique leadership style. Teacher librarians, as effective leaders on a staff create the links to compliment the work the principals and staff developers try to accomplish. We are the key to their success as a link to the staff, a pathway to trust and problem solvers in so many aspect of their work.
Streamline Essential Information
Teacher librarians serve and support our teachers to ensure they have the information they need to be effective in our students’ success. Our cognitive coaching skills, collaborative model for planning lessons, team teaching opportunities, models for best practices in instruction and technology staff development provide the difference between our students receiving a superior quality versus inferior education. Classroom teachers simply cannot do it alone!
Teacher- librarians streamline the links for accessing all essential information. We take the time the teachers do not have to provide our staff with specific information requested related to district policies, data, new curriculum, and many, many resources related to building curriculum content knowledge, lessons and best practices in technology tools for instruction and learning that is essential in providing high quality, effective instruction for students.
Formula for Success
Elk Creek Elementary School has worked tirelessly over past years to create an instructional team for our students to unlock the mystery for success for all students. And what we have done WORKS! Elk Creek Elementary is proud to be one of only 21 Jeffco schools to receive the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award for 2011. The data proves we have exceeded the expectations for students’ growth in every category. Our success story is not a story of luck. We have earned this distinguished recognition because of our collaborative environment. Our formula includes teacher librarian and staff working together for common goals, valuing the contributions of each essential staff member on our team of skilled professionals.
Half Time Breaks the Link
I am very sad to say that the budget cuts for this past year have broken my link at Elk Creek in this successful formula. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As a full time librarian, 5+5 equaled 15. Now, 5+5 equals 7 at best. Split between two schools now, I no longer can attend all the leadership meetings at either school and therefore have become much less of a leadership influence. Although we are using technology to bridge this gap, I am not as effective with being able to problem solve and advise as if I were involved directly in the timely moment. Acuity B data for our 4th and 5th graders has already in just one semester shown that the scores of our students have dropped in standard 5 in the area of non-fiction text features. Without the opportunities to be in classrooms team teaching nearly as often, I cannot support teachers in teaching these skills to students. Teachers, as content experts, need our support in lessons as they are being taught. Delivering instruction in isolated lessons unrelated to timely instruction is not best practice and much less effective in influencing the learning potential for our students. Best practice instruction has been a key to our success. Because I am only at a school half the time now, the opportunities for me to model and participate in best instructional practices for instruction have been cut to more than half the time. Administrative and management tasks take the majority of my time now. Two libraries, in two different schools, with two different sets of needs resulting in lack of consistency, takes away from my collaboration time with teachers and instruction time with students more than half. The level of “emergency Issues”, eating into valuable time, has risen, resulting in teacher frustration, because consistent problem solving cannot be dealt with in a timely manner.
Half Time Leads to Lack of Academic Growth
I put my head down on my desk each evening and grieve for the loss of my effectiveness. I look at a long list of unfinished business at the end of each day and I am already the last one to leave school for the night. I grieve the loss of our academic growth that I predict with certainty will be inevitable. I grieve for the new school that I am serving because I have not had the time to establish those meaningful relationships and trust that are an essential prerequisite for a positive, collaborative environment. I grieve that the links at Elk Creek are breaking. I grieve that the essential links for school success at my new half time school will never be established or as strong as they need to be.
I leave you with this question. Why is Jeffco, a district I have been very proud to be a part of for 19 years, whose number one goal is to provide an education for students so that every child can grow and be successful, breaking the strong essential link, our teacher- librarians, that is crucial for Jeffco’s success?
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