As library professionals we are surrounded by exciting research, brilliant minds, and amazing practitioners. Armed with these resources, we should “elevate library positions in schools, ensure deep student learning and keep libraries at the forefront of teaching and learning” (Roots Lewis, 2016). This can be accomplished in several ways.
First, being a leader means knowing what matters and why. It is not enough to just read research; the librarian needs to share and act on research. This can be accomplished by co-teaching and collaboration. Evidence shows that learning experience increased when classroom teachers and librarians co-taught students. As the librarian co-teaches, it is important to document student learning. Later this evidence can be used to showcase achievement within your program using photos, anecdotes, videos, and even graphs and charts.
Being a leader at a school also means knowing what matters to your principal and why. Determine what similar goals you have, and then build on them using your strengths. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the school can help. Listen to your principal (and other admins) and ask the right questions. Librarians, after all, are “all about matching people with great resources” (Roots Lewis, 2016). So whether it’s bullying, test scores, poverty, attendance, or any other topic, find articles, video, research, studies, and other relatable information and share them.
Always be careful to ferret out gems, because you don’t want to deluge busy admins. In fact, never go unprepared with only problems. Always come bearing possible solutions and an “openness to work out a better solution together” (Roots Lewis, 2016).
And remember to highlight your best practices. According to the late Donald Clifton, who studied leadership for decades, “What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths…and can call on that strength at the right time” (Roots Lewis, 2016). Documenting evidence of learning and providing snapshots of your program in regular intervals are best. This serves not only as a communication tool but an advocacy tool as well.
This author cited a number of other articles and sites to assist in documentation and advocacy including Evolving with Evidence by J. Valenza in Knowledge Quest 43(3), 36-43.