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.