|Information Power describes two of the important
roles of school library media specialists as teacher and instructional
We need to separate our roles as warehouse managers from those of
instructional innovators. Unless we want to continue the cycle we find
ourselves in, we need to carve out what we can do well, do it, and
refuse the guilt for what is left.
Markuson, C. (1986, Fall). Making it happen: Taking
charge of the information curriculum. SLMQ, p. 37.
This requires collaborative work with teachers. After learning as much
as possible about the curriculum through state and local standards,
curriculum guides, textbooks, lesson plans, and test data, the library
media specialist is ready to approach teachers for collaborative planning.
Classroom curriculum drives the collaborative planning process.
Types of Joint Activities
According to Cooperation, Coordination, & Collaboration (Martin
Blank, Sharon Kagan, Atefa Melaville and Karen Ray), there is a hierarchy
of activities starting with cooperation and moving up to
collaboration. A review of many activities actually fit into the
first two categories, cooperation and coordination.
All three are important, but lower level categories than true
collaboration. All appropriate activities along this continuum are
valid ways to work with teachers, but higher levels of interaction are
important to function as true instructional partners in the instructional
design and curriculum development process.
Vision and Relationships: Cooperation
|Basis for cooperation is usually between individuals but may be
mandated by a third party
|Organizational missions and goals are not taken into account
|Interaction is on an as needed basis, may last indefinitely|
Vision and Relationships: Coordination
|Individual relationship are supported by the organization they
|Missions and goals of the individual organizations are reviewed for
|Interaction is usually around one specific project or task of
Vision and Relationships: Collaboration
|Commitment of the organizations and their leaders is fully behind
|Common, new mission and goals are created
|One or more projects are undertaken for longer term results|
Structure, Responsibilities & Communication: Cooperation
|Relationships are informal; each organization functions
|No joint planning is required
|Information is conveyed as needed|
Structure, Responsibilities & Communication: Coordination
|Organizations involved take on needed roles, but function relatively
independently of each other
|Some project-specific planning is required
|Communication roles are established and definite channels are
created for interaction|
Structure, Responsibilities & Communication: Collaboration
|New organizational structure and/or clearly defined and interrelated
roles that constitute a formal division of labor are created
|More comprehensive planning is required that includes developing
joint strategies and measuring success in terms of impact on the needs
of those served
|Beyond communication roles and channels for interaction, many
'levels' of communication are created as clear information is the
keystone of success|
Authority & Accountability: Cooperation
|Authority rests solely with individual organization
|Leadership is unilateral and control is central
|All authority and accountability rests with the individual
organization which acts independently|
Authority & Accountability: Coordination
|Authority rests with the individual organizations but there is
coordination among participants
|Some sharing of leadership and control
|There is some shared risk, but most of the authority and
accountability falls to the individual organizations|
Authority & Accountability: Collaboration
|Authority is determined by the collaboration to balance ownership by
the individual organizations with expediency to accomplish
|Leadership is dispersed and control is shared and mutual
|Equal risk is shared by all organizations in the collaboration|
Resources and Rewards: Cooperation
|Resources (staff time, dollars and capabilities) are separate,
serving the individual organizations' needs|
Resources and Rewards: Coordination
|Resources are acknowledged and can be made available to others for a
|Rewards are mutually acknowledged|
Resources and Rewards: Collaboration
|Resources are pooled or jointly secured for a longer-term effort
that is managed by the collaborative structure
|Organizations share in the products; more is accomplished jointly
than could have been individually|
Read Donham, J. (1998). Enhancing teaching and learning. NY:
Neal-Schuman, pp. 79-98.
Jean Donham looked at the role of the library media specialist in
planning with teachers in "The School Library Media Specialist as a
Member of the Teaching Team: 'Insider' or 'Outsider'" (Journal of
Curriculum and Supervision, Spring 1996, pp. 229-248). The
author describes the special skills library media specialists bring to the
planning team as well as the many roles they normally play in team
meetings. She identifies the following roles:
|Clarifier. Gives relevant examples; offers rationales; restates problems.|
|Compromiser. Is willing to yield when necessary for progress.|
|Elaborator. Builds on the suggestions of others.|
|Encourager. Praises and supports others.|
|Gatekeeper. Keeps communication open; encourages participation.|
|Harmonizer. Mediates differences; reconciles points of view.|
|Initiator. Suggests new or different ideas.|
|Opinion giver. States pertinent beliefs about discussion and others'
|Summarizer. Reviews discussion; pulls it together.|
|Tension Reliever. Uses humor or calls for break at appropriate times to draw off
|Tester. Raises questions to test out whether the group is ready to come
to a decision.|
Debra Kay Logan has developed a list of strategies
for developing teacher contacts or how to pester your teachers to
identify ways to build collaborative working relationships with
Questions to Ask
Jane Bandy Smith in Achieving a Curriculum-Based Library Media Center
Program (ALA, 1995) and Carol-Ann Haycock-Page in Collaborative
Teaching - more than just another way to teach information skills
provide questions intended to help a library media specialist structure a
planning session with a teacher so that the process will be efficient and
|What are your goals or objectives for this unit? (Other ways of
asking about this: What is the purpose of this instruction? Why are we
doing this? What are the transferable concepts or processes we
wish students to develop, and how can we make it relevant for the
|What specific concepts or skills do we want the students to learn?
|Are there any specific content standards you want to focus on?
|What processes or skills would you like your students to master in addition
to content knowledge?|
|Will this activity be at the beginning, middle or end of the unit?
|How do you think students could be involved in locating, analyzing,
synthesizing, and presenting information?
|How would you like to grup students for these activities?
|How much time would you like to spend on these activities?|
|Tell me a little about your students and their abilities and prior
knowledge on these topics.
|Have your students done activities like these before (especially if
they are working on research skills)?
|How does the topic relate to what students already know?
|What should be done to interest students in the content?|
|What resources would you like to use other than the textbook?
|Will all learners use the same materials?
|Do your students have any specific learning needs in regards to
|Do you want to use fiction and biography?|
|What would you like to see as the final product?
|How do you plan to evaluate student products? What criteria will be
|How could you evaluate the process they use?|
[ Top ]