Library Media Specialists as Collaborative Partners

Instructor: Joanna Harris

Joanna has taught high school social studies both online and in a traditional classroom since 2009, and has a doctorate in Educational Leadership

This lesson would benefit anyone looking for information on the role of the library media specialist as a collaborative partner with other educators, and how they can also promote effective principles of teaching and learning.

Library Media Specialists & Collaboration

The library media specialist has several roles to play with administrators and teachers alike. They are librarians, teachers, instructional partners, and information specialists who collaborate, or work in tandem, with others in the learning community to educate students, improve information literacy, and to model, share, and promote effective principles of teaching and learning.

Studies have shown that students succeed when educators collaborate with one other. Classroom teachers and library media specialists can begin to build partnerships by learning to recognize opportunities to model and share ideas in planning and teaching. One collaboration strategy is the use of taxonomies designed for both.

The Library Media Specialist Taxonomy and the Teacher's Taxonomy of Resource Based Teaching and Learning were combined in 2000 because of their similarities and built-in components for collaboration. For example, Level 8 of the combined taxonomies discusses curriculum changes, and the need for classroom teachers to consult with library media specialists for their expertise on using technology to enhance lessons or units.

Another collaboration strategy is to open channels of communication that work best for both the library media specialist and the classroom teacher. At times, a more formal structure may be needed to build the relationship. For example, at faculty meetings, library media specialists could take the time to introduce themselves, and detail some ways they can help classroom teachers use technology, like online video services such as YouTube, in their classrooms, and how to remove ads from those videos that may be inappropriate.

To promote effective principles of teaching and learning through collaboration, a library media specialist could also use the Partnership for 21st Century Skills program. This program calls for school districts to include critical thinking, communication, collaboration, information media, and technology skills into their curriculum and instruction. Information literacy is a significant part of curriculum development, and library media specialists are expected to be experts at including technology in education. The 21st Century Skills program has proven successful because of the collaboration it promotes between library media specialists and classroom teachers in writing, planning, and implementing new curricula.

Evidence of Successful Collaboration

The most important reason for collaboration among educators is to boost student achievement. As more research documenting the benefits of this collaboration is forthcoming, a recent study from the University of Arizona successfully produced a four-part model detailing how library media specialists and classroom teachers can collaborate to achieve student success.

The four-part model calls for the library media specialist to work with content teachers across disciplines, making collaboration an integral part of interdisciplinary education. As educators move through each phase of the model, flexibility, deep trust, and communication build, leading to shared visions, cooperative planning, and ultimately, higher student achievement.

Model A describes how coordination between classroom teachers and library media specialists can improve student achievement. For example, a library media specialist could design an interactive website that allows a classroom teacher to post assignments and supporting literature, and offers the opportunity for parents and the teacher to communicate and share ideas and concerns.

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