This semester I’ll be taking a deep dive into the new National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians and School Libraries and exploring how those fit into my role as Future Ready Librarian.
To begin, I’d like to take a look at the Six Common Beliefs or guiding assumptions upon which the standards are based.
For a great overview of how these updated belief statements compare to the nine Common Beliefs of the previous standards, see Hilda Weisberg’s blog post.
1. The school library is a unique and essential part of a learning community.
A key statement within this belief is “By providing access to an array of well-managed resources and technology, school libraries enable academic knowledge to be linked to deeper, personalized learning.” Personalized student learning is at the center of the Future Ready framework, and this belief statement recognizes the library’s role in providing an environment for this learning. A Future Ready Librarian “designs collaborative space” and “curates digital resources” to “empower students as creators.”
I want my library to be the “hub of the school.” Empowering students as creators has been of great importance to me, not only in terms of the resources available at the library for students but in helping this to become an Academy priority. I want my students to be creators and not just consumers of technology, and I advocate for this with the staff in my role facilitating teacher technology goals within their professional learning plans.
2. Qualified school librarians lead effective school libraries.
According to this belief, “Qualified school librarians perform interlinked, interdisciplinary, and cross-cutting roles as instructional leaders, program administrators, educators, collaborative partners and information specialists.” This guiding principle recognizes the Future Ready Librarian’s role not only as a collaborative partner in curriculum and instruction but as instructional leader who “facilitates professional learning” and is well positioned to “lead beyond the library.”
Juggling the many roles of the librarian can be a challenge, but I think leading beyond the library is important. I serve as Academy Technology Committee Chair and Future Ready Project Manager. My responsibilities include mentoring staff in their technology professional learning goals and planning Academy technology professional development. I stay current on ed tech by maintaining a strong PLN on Twitter and serving as a Board member and active participant of the Education Technology Association of St. Louis.
3. Learners should be prepared for college, career, and life.
This belief stems from the idea that “the purpose of learners’ education is to empower learners to pursue academic and personal success, whether in inquiry, advanced study, emotionally and intellectually rewarding professional work, or community readiness.” This aligns with the mission of The Alliance for Excellent Education, the organization behind the Future Ready movement. The Alliance is dedicated to ensuring that all students “graduate from high school ready for success in college, work and citizenship.” The Future Ready Schools initiative is based upon the idea that implementing “personalized, research-based digital learning strategies” will help students achieve their full potential.
This year our Academy began our back-to-school professional development considering what makes an ideal graduate and what we do as educators to develop this. This began an Academy-wide focus on adopting the essential elements of Project Based Learning. This shift to inquiry-based learning has been a opportunity for me as the information specialist to serve as a resource to staff and students.
4. Reading is the core of personal and academic competency.
Along with utilizing “motivational reading initiatives” and using “story and personal narrative to engage learners,” this guiding principle also recognizes the role of the Future Ready Librarian to ensure “up-to-date technology and digital and print materials that include curated open education resources.” OER is a big push within the Future Ready movement.
Meeting the independent reading needs of my students and fostering their love of reading is a major focus of my library and our LFLA Reads program. I have not been as focused on OER, but I know that the #GoOpen Missouri Education Initiative has some great resources.
5. Intellectual freedom is every learner’s right.
A key statement within this belief is “Learners are expected to develop the ability to think clearly, critically, and creatively about their choices [in what they will read, view or hear], rather than allowing others to control their access to ideas and information.” This relates to the Future Ready Librarians role not only in providing access to information, but in guiding students to be informed, digital citizens. Future Ready Librarians also serve as “advocates for student privacy.”
I am excited to be attending Dr. Kristen Mattson’s METC18 preconference session “Digital Citizenship: Moving Beyond Personal Responsibility,” which will be focused on empowering students as members of digital communities.
6. Information technologies must be appropriately integrated and equitably available.
According to this guiding principle, “Education leaders and policymakers should strive to provide sufficient access to up-to-date, robust technology and connectivity. An effective school library plays a crucial role in bridging digital and socioeconomic divides.” According to the FRL framework, a Future Ready Librarian “ensures equitable digital access.”
At my high poverty, Title I school, this is a huge issue. Since I came to the Academy as Library Media Specialist six years ago, I have been an advocate for improving our infrastructure, technology support, the number of devices and the quality of technology professional development. We now participate in E-Rate, have increased technology support from 10 hours per week to 30, have more devices thanks to switching from laptops to less expensive Chromebooks, have adopted Google Suite for Education, and use the SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition) model as a framework to improve technology integration. Yet, my students still experience barriers to access at home. In a recent survey of our high school students only 37% have a computer at home with reliable internet service, creating a “homework gap.” I am currently working on a partnership for next year that will bring Chromebooks to the library that are available for students to checkout overnight.