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The Library Media Specialist's Role in Professional Development

Instructor: Kim-Kathie Knudsen

Kim-Kathie has taught high school and college Spanish and has worked as a professional development specialist and instructional technology administrator. She has a master's degree in Teaching and Curriculum and is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership.

The library media specialist plays a critical role in the professional development of other teachers by providing support and training on digital resources, instructional technology, and research materials. Learn how the library media specialist can provide unique professional development opportunities to teachers.

The Changing Role of a Librarian

Librarian

As you enter a high school library, you notice students sitting quietly at study corrals while the librarian is in her office. Sound familiar? That scenario is the library of yesterday, not of today. Today's students use the library, often called media center to research using digital tools, create content, collaborate on projects, and work with others. The role of the school librarian has morphed into a keeper of knowledge to a collaborator with students and teachers. Knowledge of digital tools and trends in instructional technology makes a librarian a valuable asset to a school district. Using this expertise, the media specialist is able to provide professional development to teachers in innovate ways, given the unique nature of their job.

The Media Specialist as a Coach

The term ''coach'' probably isn't what comes to mind when we think of a traditional school librarian, but a media specialist can provide professional development to teachers as an instructional coach. An instructional coach is a teacher leader who provides personalized professional development in a specific situation and helps a teacher improve instructional practices. For example, an English teacher may need help with ideas on how to teach Chaucer and connect with students. The media specialist may recommend databases, research tools, and project ideas to the teacher and even co-teach a lesson with the teacher, using tools at their disposal in the media center. The specialist can work side-by-side with the teacher throughout the unit. This form of professional development certainly takes time, but gives the media specialist a wide range of opportunities to connect with teachers.

The School Library and Technology

Library

Today's school libraries have become a media hub. Many schools have replaced tables and isolated study areas with flexible seating with outlets for students to either plug their own devices to charge or use technology available to them in the library. In order to help students and design a cohesive library curriculum, the school media specialist has often become an innovator in instructional technology and can share that knowledge with teachers. Formal and informal professional development in technology can include sessions for teachers on how to use internet searches, digital research materials, and creating content with technology. The librarian can also serve as a professional development resource for a district's technology initiative or 1:1 program, which provides every student with an internet-ready device.

Technology allows for the media specialist to share resources with teachers as part of informal professional development. Resources can be shared on the library website, the school's learning management system and targeted email to staff. Many librarians are now active on social media such as Twitter, and share resources and topics of interest to district staff.

Opportunities for Professional Development

Most districts don't have the luxury of abundant time for professional development and it takes a bit of creativity to work on professional learning. Consider the following ways school librarians can facilitate this learning:

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