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School Librarians & Change – Part 1 of 3 by Nancy White

Change is in our midst. To be sure, there is nothing more constant than change, but I believe 2010 is going to be the year that stands out for school librarians in Colorado.  Over the next 3 weeks, I will highlight the 3 areas of change that I see having the greatest impact.  The first of these is the new content standards in Colorado.

In December, 2009, the Colorado State Board of Education adopted new content standards for P-12. These new standards are now infused with “21st Century Skills” – to include innovation, critical thinking and reasoning, information literacy, self-direction and collaboration. These skills are the very core of what school librarians teach through collaboration with classroom teachers –ever mindful that teaching skills in isolation is not productive for students.   We help teachers design standards-based units of inquiry and to create  a learning environment that allows room for students to acquire these 21st century skills.   Our AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner are a road map for how to successfully implement the 21st century skills portions of the new standards!

In November, I had an opportunity to do a brief presentation about school librarian-led initiatives in my district that impact student achievement and address 21st century skills for the Commissioner of Education and his management team, along with Gwen Giddens, Learning Resources Director from District 11 in Colorado Springs, and Mary Beth Bazzarella, Library Systems Curriculum Coordinator from Jefferson County School District and Julie Starling, Educational Technology Curriculum Coordinator in Jeffco.  During the Q & A time at the end of our presentations, it became evident that the Commissioner was highly interested in what we had to say, and particularly pleased to know that within the state, there are school librarians who, stand ready to assist teachers with the implementation of the 21st century skills they now find embedded in their content standards.  It is now up to you, school librarians in Colorado, to take the leadership of this in your school. Share the AASL standards, and invite your administrators to observe you first hand as you collaborate to design, co-teach and assess the 21st century skills.

Do you stand ready? A recent posting on Joyce Valenza’s blog, The Neverending Search responding to Seth Godwin’s post, “The Future of Libraries,” which was inspired by Robin Cicchetti’s blog post “2010” makes me wonder where Colorado School Librarians are – as a whole.

Joyce said:

In case you were sleeping, over the past two years, stuff happened.  Big stuff.  Stuff we should have led. I’ve been watching as other professionals in education grabbed turf we should have grabbed or tred together.

Colorado school librarians, I don’t know if this is true for us – or true for you, but right now, at this very moment, change is in the air.  New standards have just been released in Colorado, and every content area now contains references to inquiry based learning, information literacy, and technology tools that include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, and other Web 2.0 tools. Who knows how to help students acquire these skills and use these tools in your school? Who can help relieve the anxiety that classroom teachers  are likely to feel as they look at these new standards for the first time?  You can! You must be visible, vocal, and “in the know” when these standards hit the pavement in your school. You can do this! Be a leader – and through your leadership, help your school manage the change brought about with the new standards.

Nancy White
Co-President, CASL

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3 Responses

  1. This sums it up and says it all:

    “Who can help relieve the anxiety that classroom teachers are likely to feel as they look at these new standards for the first time? You can! You must be visible, vocal, and “in the know” when these standards hit the pavement in your school. You can do this! Be a leader – and through your leadership, help your school manage the change brought about with the new standards.”

    Thanks Nancy for your great “Part 1” it sums up everthing I’ve been reading and commenting on lately!

  2. Connie – Bet we’ve been reading the same stuff! 😉 Happy new year!

  3. Librarians: You might want to participate in this week’s Ed Chat: http://www.edweek.org/ew/events/chats/2010/01/21/index.html#info “Making Sense of 21st Century Skills.” It is important to have the school librarian voice in these conversations with administrators, teachers, and policy makers around the country.

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