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The ABCDE of Teacher-School Librarian Collaboration:


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Title: The ABCDE of Teacher-School Librarian Collaboration:

  • The ABCDE of Teacher-School Librarian
  • Advances
  • Barriers
  • Challenges
  • Directions
  • Enablers
  • With thanks to
  • Dr Jannica Heinstrom (Research Associate, CISSL)
  • Paulette Kerr (Doctoral Student, SCILS)

Recent Key Sources
  • Patricia Montiel-Overall Toward a Theory of
    Collaboration for Teachers and Librarians SLMR
    (Volume 10, 2007)
  • Barbara Immroth and W. Bernard Lukenbill
    Teacher-School Library Media Specialists
    Collaboration through Social Marketing
    Strategies An Information Behavior Study SLMR
    (Volume 8, 2005)
  • (http//
  • Carol Doll Collaboration and the School Library
    Media Specialist. Scarecrow Press, 2005)

  • Dominant construct in professional rhetoric of
    school librarianship
  • Advocated as a high priority for school
  • Emergence in 1980s Cooperative Program Planning
    and Teaching (CPPT) Haycock
  • Important dynamic in student achievement (eg
  • Little evidence that teachers were consulted in
    the formulation of the collaboration focus
  • Lack of theoretical grounding weakly
    articulated education / social psychology /
    leadership / networking teaming underpinnings
  • lack of consensus as to its conceptual boundaries
    and operational definition confusion between
    coordination, cooperation, collaboration
  • Schrage (1990) John-Steiner, Weber, and Minnis
    (1998) Shared creation built on complementary
    domains of expertise
  • Callison (1997) coplanning, coimplementation, and
  • Montiel-Overall (2007) trusting, working
    relationship between two or more equal
    participants involved in shared thinking, shared
    planning and shared creation of integrated
  • Goal to enhance student learning? is it mastery
    of curriculum standards is it mastery of
    information skills and the creation of students
    who mirror librarians collaboration itself
    sometimes appears as key goal
  • Low levels of collaboration are documented
    (Callison, 2005, Todd 2005)

Instruction and Collaborations Some Vexing
  • What constitutes effective shared school
    librarian-teacher collaboration and pedagogy?
  • Do teacher-school librarian collaborations
    actually work, that is, do they enable students
    to achieve?
  • Do they enable students to achieve better and/or
    more than traditional instructional methods such
    as isolated library lessons not linked to
    curriculum content?
  • What is the nature of the achievement enabled by
    teacher-school librarian collaborations?
  • If collaborations do work, why is participation
    in collaborations by school librarians seemingly
  • Is collaboration the most appropriate mode of
    instructional intervention?
  • Should school librarians focus on the individual
    and small group help rather than class room

Purpose of ILILE Study
  • To develop a deeper understanding of classroom
    teacher-school librarian instructional
  • - their dynamics, processes, enablers, barriers
  • - their impact on perceptions of learning and
    instruction, how (if at all) collaboration has
    changed the nature of classroom practices
  • - impact on learning outcomes
  • - its role in continuous improvement and school

  • Qualitative study of the experience of the
    instructional collaboration
  • Operational definition Instructional
    Collaboration is where the classroom teacher and
    school librarian jointly set goals, design
    learning experiences, and teach and evaluate a
    unit of study.
  • 170 partnerships established as part of the
    IMLS-Kent State University ILILE program over a
    three year program 2003-2005.
  • Experience with the first instructional
    collaboration undertaken with the school partner
    as a result of the ILILE program

  • 130 of 340 who participated in the ILILE training
    program (38 response rate)
  • 85 school librarians (65) and 45 teachers (35)
  • 121 (85) with masters degrees in LIS / education
  • Average work experience T 12 years (range 1
    36 years) L 13 years (range 1 32 years)
  • T L 25 had 5 years or less teaching

Respondents per Role and Grade Level
The Structure of the Survey
  • The survey instrument was in 6 parts
  • Part 1 Background information
  • Part 2 The class details
  • Part 3 Planning your collaboration
  • Part 4 Implementing your collaboration
  • Part 5 The impact and outcomes of your
  • Part 6 The future of your collaborations

Class Details
  • Grade level
  • Number of students
  • Number of lessons
  • Curriculum area(s)
  • Content standard(s)
  • School Library Guidelines
  • Culminating activity / product that the students

Curriculum Areas
Contents Standards Focus
  • Language Arts acquisition of vocabulary
    comprehension strategies writing processes and
  • Science standards related to nature of matter
    and properties of pure substances standards
    related to chemical reactions (in the context of
    common household ingredients)
  • Social Science standards related to Native
    Americans, Ohio Prehistoric People

School Library Standards
  • Identify directories and search engines.
  • Select a specific database for an assignment and
    explain why it is the appropriate one to use.
  • Use a variety of technology resources for
    curriculum and personal information needs.
  • Review strengths and weaknesses of various types
    of electronic resources for research need
  • Develop open-ended research questions about a
    defined information need.
  • Create information products to share information
    using different formats.
  • Take notes, organize information into logical
    sequence and create product.
  • Evaluate how information was found and assess the
    quality of the information product.
  • Perform searches for information in specific
  • Use technology to conduct research generate
    questions to be answered

Planning the Collaboration
  • Motivations for collaboration
  • Strengths brought to the collaboration
  • Gains through this collaboration What was in it
    for me?
  • Gains for students through this collaboration
  • Initial concerns, why you felt that way, and how
    you dealt with them.
  • Range of activities that you engaged in to plan
    the collaboration
  • Communication channels during the collaboration
  • Main strengths of taking the time to plan
    instructional collaboration
  • Difficulties encountered during the planning of
    the collaboration and how dealt with

Implementing the Instruction (Doing the teaching)
  • Strengths you perceived about teaching the unit
    together, and why it was a strength in the
  • Difficulties you encountered during the teaching
    of the unit, and why you thought it was a
    difficulty in the collaboration. Indicate how you
    dealt with it.
  • In what way, if any, did the collaboration change
    how you typically do things in your work?
  • What did the collaboration enable you to do as an
    educator, if anything, that might have been
    difficult to do without it?

The Impact and Outcomes of The Collaboration
  • Perceived success of the instructional
  • Factors that contributed most to the success or
    absence of success of the instructional
  • What did the instructional collaboration do for
    your students in the class? And how do you know?
    (identify the evidence that enabled you to know
    this outcome.)
  • What were, if any, the most important personal
    learning outcomes for you as a result of this
    instructional collaboration?
  • In what way(s), if any, did your instructional
    collaboration change your subsequent professional
    relationship with your school partner?

Collaborating in the future?
  • Number of instructional collaborations you have
    undertaken since you participated in the first
    ILILE program.
  • Factors contributing to undertaking or not
    undertaking further instructional collaborations?
  • What incentives would encourage more
    instructional collaborations in your school?
  • What advice, if any, would you give to members of
    your school community contemplating instructional
    collaborations sometime in the future?
  • Record any additional ideas about your experience
    with the ILILE instructional collaboration here.

Motivations for Instructional Collaborations
  • Primary motivation for teachers was to build
    collegial and collaborative relationships
    teaching as a social and collegial experience
    socialization and networking. (80 of
    motivations) Collaboration with librarian was a
    natural extension of social dynamic of teaching
  • Primary motivation of librarians centered on
    marketing library services, increasing their
    status within the school, and spreading
    library-centered collaboration in the school.
    (38 of motivations)
  • Librarians also sought to develop their content
    knowledge or pedagogical skills around which they
    would cooperate with teachers. The collaborative
    project was viewed as a means to acquire needed
    professional development (22 of motivations).
  • Only 6 (L) and 5 (T) motivations centered
    improvement of students learning outcomes.

Strengths brought to the collaboration
  • Teachers and librarians mentioned their
    particular areas of professional expertise as
    their major strengths. Librarians took pride in
    their insights into technology and information
    skills (60 of strengths identified), while
    teachers referred to curriculum knowledge,
    pedagogical skills, collaboration and social
    skills (63 of strengths identified).
  • Characteristics such as divergent and convergent
    thinking, creativity, flexibility, openness to
    experience, organization, planning were regarded
    as important traits that facilitated the working
    process by both partners.
  • Some participants also saw value in insight into
    the partners area of expertise, so that teachers
    were proud of the technological and information
    insights they had, while librarians regarded
    their understanding of the curriculum topic being
    studied as important to enabling the

What participants hoped to gain through the
  • Teachers
  • Improved pedagogy, content knowledge, better
    understanding of curriculum (55 of gains
  • Resources, technology help or support from
    librarian to meet teachers needs for students
  • Affective reason, eg friendship, relationship
    with colleague, have fun (9)
  • School Librarians
  • Integrated notion of library as part of the
    educational milieu, marketing, model best
    practice for libraries, (44 of gains identified)
  • Improved pedagogy of information literacy (27)
  • Improved status of librarian, demonstrate
    importance (13)
  • Affective reason, eg friendship, relationship
    with colleague, have fun (10)

What participants hoped the students to gain
through the collaboration
  • Teachers
  • students to learn curriculum content (28 of
    student gains identified)
  • increased information literacy (26)
  • Increased depth, better quality of learning
  • View of the library as an instructional space, an
    extension of the classroom (14)
  • integrated view of learning combining both
    curriculum areas (7)
  • School Librarians
  • students to develop information literacy (34 of
    gains identified)
  • students to develop a better perception of the
    library and the librarian (20).
  • integrated view of learning combining both
    curriculum areas(14)
  • students to learn curriculum content (12)
  • Increased depth, better quality of learning (7)

Mutuality of Intent?
Initial Concerns Solutions
Planning Difficulties and Strengths
Strengths in teaching together
Difficulties during Project
Changes in the ways they typically work
  • Closer relationship to other partners in the
    school, and a better understanding of their needs
    and capacities. This understanding makes it
    easier to adjust to and work with them in the
    future. (51 T 12 L)
  • Changes in practical work routines, such as
    planning more within the project, or working at
    another location than customary. (24 T 22 L)
  • No change (13 T)
  • The librarians regarded their increased status
    and appreciation in the school as the biggest
    change the project brought them. (25 L)
  • When librarians work closely with a trained
    teacher, they learn valuable instructional
    techniques, and gain a deeper understanding of
    the students learning process. The librarians
    grow as teachers (16 L)
  • Confidence of librarians to start to market
    collaboration more, and reach out more actively
    to teachers pursuing more collaborative projects.

Factors Behind the Success of the Collaboration
Impact of collaboration on students
Evidence of Impact of Collaboration
Personal Learning Outcomes
  • Deeper understanding of collaboration, and a
    stronger belief in its benefits.
  • Development of professional skills, refinement of
    practice, and a more profound insight into
    pedagogical processes
  • Deeper appreciation of the partners
    professionalism. This entailed both admiration
    for professional skills, as well as an
    understanding of what the partner wanted to
  • For teachers
  • Richer insights into student learning outcomes
  • Acquire new information literacy skills and a new
    appreciation of library resources
  • For Librarians
  • Including the librarian in the actual teaching
    processes brought students closer to the library
    and its services a professional reward

Subsequent Professional Relationship with
Collaboration Partner
  • Working closely together at the collaborative
    project had brought the partners together. In
    almost all cases the subsequent relationship
    continued as a genuine friendship within and out
    of school, or as a supportive and highly valued
    working relationship.
  • 40 of the participants indicated a deeper
    understanding and respect for the others work,
    saw the partners efforts and professional goals
    valuing of partners teaching style.
  • 30 of participants continued to refine and
    develop the structure that had developed through
    the first collaboration, and over time the model
    of collaboration stabilized.
  • Partners continued to bounce ideas and brainstorm
    with each other, seek advice, outside of the
    formal collaborative structure.
  • Ongoing consultative role Teachers asked
    librarians for help related to information
    literacy instructions, while librarians consulted
    teachers for curriculum advice in order to adapt
    their information literacy instruction to the
    current curriculum content the teacher was
    addressing in class.

Positive Factors Contributing to Further
  • Teachers
  • Good outcome of the first collaboration
  • Acquired collaboration skills
  • Understanding of partners needs
  • Undertaken on average 2 collaborations since
    ILILE project
  • Librarians
  • Good outcome of the first collaboration
  • Marketing of library, status, reputation
    developed / spread in the school
  • More confidence
  • Undertaken on average 3 collaborations since
    ILILE project

Absence of further Collaboration
  • Teachers
  • Time
  • No opportunity
  • Librarian
  • Time
  • Partner unwillingness

Incentives to Encourage More Collaborations
  • Teachers
  • Time (50 of incentives identified)
  • Tangibles (money, credits) (19)
  • Support by school / administrator staff
    replacement, scheduling, release time (19)
  • Librarians
  • Time (35 of incentives identified)
  • Support by school / administrator staff
    replacement, scheduling, release time (30)
  • Appreciation / validation by others, value and
    status recognized (13)

Advice to Members of School Community
Contemplating Instructional Collaborations
  • Do it for the kids focus on the learning
  • Just do it go for it / give it a try Go for
    it! Shake up those laminated lesson plans and
    jump in!
  • Start with something / someone familiar build
  • Work to build social relations as a foundation
    for developing instructional partnerships
  • Prepare and plan, divide responsibilities, and
    revise as needed build a team of equals, build
  • listen to each others expectations
  • Flexible, open attitude
  • Get training the professions exhortation to
    collaboration seems to deny the complexity of
    dynamics and relationships then ILILE came

Guiding Principles for Effective Instructional
  • Principle of sustained and guided development
  • Principle of transcendent belief in instructional
  • Principle of mutual intent
  • Principle of socialization
  • Principle of complementarity
  • Principle of integration sum of parts is
    greater than the whole
  • Principle of where there is a will there is a