Yes, Virginia: Teachers and Librarians CAN Be Successful Collaborative Partners

There has been a lot of angst and debate in recent weeks about the fate of school librarianship and how librarians should approach collaborative partnerships with classroom teachers.  While I could probably compose an effective text-based diatribe about these topics, I thought it might be more meaningful to share with you some firsthand account video reflections.  Susan Lester, the teacher featured in these videos, is my partner in my Media 21 Capstone project.  For nearly ninety days between August 1 and December 17, 2009, we taught together, side by side, for two class periods a day.  We are looking forward to resuming our partnership for the last two or so months of school as we prepare to pilot the next and unofficial phase of our Media 21 initiative on March 10.

Not only is she an exceptional and reflective teacher, but she is also one who understands the power of collaborative partnerships.  While Susan and I truly relish the joy we get from working together, that is not nearly half as gratifying as witnessing how that partnership helps our students.  I consider the collaborative relationship we have cultivated to be one of the greatest professional and personal successes of my career, and I am honored to be part of the world of Susan and her students.

Here are just a few of Susan’s qualities that I think make her a successful teacher and someone who is an example of a model collaborative partner:

  • Susan is a risk-taker who models life-long learning in front of her students.
  • Susan is someone who is willing to share ownership of her classroom and the learning experiences she seeks to create and facilitate for her students.
  • Susan is motivated by a desire to create meaningful learning experiences for her students rather than be driven by a test culture that conflicts with many aspects of her teaching philosophy.
  • Susan is wise enough to realize that the best classroom is one that values many experts and diverse forms of expertise, not just one.

If you are in doubt that the kind of collaboration you read about in library school really exists, I hope these videos will renew your faith and reaffirm your belief that the partnership of a classroom teacher and a school librarian can be a mighty and transformative presence in the lives of students.

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5 thoughts on “Yes, Virginia: Teachers and Librarians CAN Be Successful Collaborative Partners

  1. Dear Ms. Hamilton,

    How are y’all doing? My Neutral and Brooklyn/Queens accents seem to be melting away (unlike the snow)
    (That conference last October has left an indelible effect on my speech pattern. Colleagues are saying “Are you really from around here?)

    This is great news and I am not surprised. You continue to be an ambassador for the good in the field and move forward. These clips are a practical sharing tool.

    I have forwarded your postings to colleagues who are quite impressed (and out of the loop).

    Congratulations on presenting in Arlington (I@SE). I will unfortunately be unable to attend due to testing and speaking engagements (with tech colleagues and our state wide LMS) to promote the collaborative possibilities with 24/7 outreach. It is amazing how many of the “congregation” do not hear or understand the “choir”.

    Let me know if I can forward any items for sharing, as always anything I discover I gladly forward for all to use and apply.

    Speak to you soon.

    Martin H. F. Gonser
    aka InfoMeister

    “It is more important to offer a solution rather than take individual praise and credit.”

  2. Buffy, thank you for sharing such a positive example of subject area/information specialist collaboration. When egos are put aside and the focus shifts to students, powerful learning can occur.

    Everyone benefits from these types of partnerships!

  3. Thanks for the exemplification of what we so often talk about but for many is just an abstract concept — collaborative teaching. My practicum students are really struggling in some of the situations they are in because the teachers are not used to collaborating and just to find someone to do a collaborative project with has been a challenge.

    I will be showing this to them and we will discuss your project as an kind of thing to work towards — not in the practicum but when they are in a position to build the kind of relationship you have with Susan.

  4. The good relationship you have with Susan really impressed me, too. As I, the school librarian, embark on a collaborative project with an Early Childhood teacher in my school I hope I will be able to apply some of the good advice you give including: be flexible, be a good listener, don’t be afraid of failure, be a risk taker, and do what it takes to create a rich learning experience for my students. Thanks, Buffy.

  5. Pingback: What is a good 21st century library program? « Reading Power

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