Collaboration and Coteaching
Gess, A. (2009). Collaboration: Finding the teacher, finding the topic, finding the time. LMC, 27(4), 24-25.
Many classroom teachers view the library as either a waste of time or chance for them to have planning time. Good collaboration between the classroom teacher and library media specialist can help increase language arts test scores, as shown in studies done in Colorado and Oregon, where they have strong collaborative library media teachers. The first step is to find the right teacher who values your work and is excited and willing to work together. The second step is to choose a topic that meets the AASL standards and utilizes technology, such as webquests . The third step is deciding if it should go as an introduction to a unit, in the middle, or as a conclusion/review. It’s always important to make it accessible to students with different learning and language needs. Always finish a unit by evaluating the success of it with the classroom teacher. Through successful collaboration, teachers will stop viewing library time as a break or waste.
At my library placement last year in a middle school, teachers hardly ever brought their classes to the library, so I found myself doing a lot of collection weeding and other tasks that didn’t involve working with students. I met with the Language Arts department every week and always offered to collaborate with whoever wanted to, but no one ever took me up on it. In my experience, most teachers don’t want to collaborate because they think that there may be extra planning and preparation. I’m at an elementary school this year, and most of the teachers drop their kids off at the library so they can do planning, which makes it difficult for collaboration. Recently, the administrators started requiring all the teachers meet in the library for grade level planning, so I’ve been able to join in the conversations they are already having about their current units of study. I work on tying that into my read-aloud with the younger grades, and with the older grades, I’ve been showing them primary sources that connect to their units. Ideally, teachers would stay during library time to support learning goals, but at my school, teachers are not required to stay, so I think my more successful units will happen with the teachers who do stay.