Of Knowledge & Application of Content
Candidates in school librarian preparation programs are knowledgeable in literature, digital and information literacies, and current instructional technologies. Candidates use their pedagogical skills to actively engage learners in the critical-thinking and inquiry process. Candidates use a variety of strategies to foster the development of ethical digital citizens and motivated readers.American Association of School Librarians. (2019). ALA/AASL/CAEP school librarian preparation standards. ALA.
School librarians wear many different hats, and are, in essence, Renaissance men and women--or at least the current age's version. Hence, as school librarians in general and I in particular seek to engage and motivate students, we must ensure that we ourselves are well-versed and knowledgeable in manifold subjects and applications, including the bulk of the humanities (literature of all kinds especially, but also history in particular), many of the sciences, and various fine and performing arts as well. Doing so allows us to address everything from analyzing and meeting students' academic, developmental, emotional, psychological, and social needs to implementing stimulating lessons to enhancing the physical library space, all of which impact student learning and serve to guide students toward being well-rounded, informed, and fully literate citizens. So, think of me, then, as your modern "Lianardo."
A great way to power up student motivation is through a reading promotion program. It also enables a school librarian to address various cultural and social aspects of students’ actual lives, and/or to enhance students’ understanding of other cultures and people. The program I co-created with a cohort colleague, ”Read Around the World in 80 Days," accomplishes these things by providing kids with extra impetus to read--or should I say “explore?”--as they “travel” across the globe via literature. With a kick-off reading rally to get things started, fun and informational resources like posters, lists of titles to read (geographically arranged by continent), student “passports,” an interactive bulletin board, prizes (for classes and individual students), and an international feast to cap it all off, the program offers materials and activities as diverse as life throughout our wonderful world.
Anyone who has spent any time at all with me is well aware of my love for Shakespeare; my geekery is (as Juliet would say) "boundless as the sea."
When creating a "'Tis CopyRIGHT, Not CopyWRONG," a Shakespeare-themed infographic on copyright and fair use, I used the likeness and phrasing of the man who is likely the most-referenced writer in the English language, whose work is widely quoted and whose words are used so often that most folk don't realize he originated them, to describe and detail how to ethically locate and utilize others’ work and how to properly credit authors and creators for their efforts.
George Bernard Shaw wrote: “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” I would posit that nothing could be further from the truth, and that Shaw would have done well to attend to his forefather in literature and philosophy, Aristotle, who stated rather: “Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach.”
In fact, I would even take it a step past Aristotle. In order for school librarians to truly understand the information-seeking process, how to thoroughly and accurately evaluate data and information and subsequently use and communicate it to others, and, most importantly, share the entire modus operandi of inquiry and the critical thinking that accompanies it, they must both do and teach. In the case of inquiry, educators can first engage in their own research, and then study alongside their students, demonstrating the different steps of any exercise and highlighting different ways of analyzing information and modeling critical thinking.
In On Hildegard of Bingen, I took part in my own journey of study and research. Using a particular research method, and proceeding apace, step by step, I was able to uncover new information about this medieval German abbess and polymath, with whom I have long been intrigued.
When launching our school library website, I endeavored to create a virtual version of our school library that is at once entertaining and educational; one that captures some of the magic of our actual space, is relatively easy to use, and provides learners with tidbits designed to interest them while making them well-informed. It features: our "virtual library," a Bitmoji classroom that contains hyperlinks to read-alouds, activities, resources, videos, and other "Easter eggs"; information on Google's online digital citizenship program, Be Internet Awesome; information on the library's mission and library policies and procedures, book recommendations, a digital commonplace book, and a great deal more.