A Year in the Life of a Teacher Librarian – Term 3
It has been my goal for some time now to share what my role as a teacher librarian is comprised of in the day in, day out. I hope that it sheds some light into what can sometimes be a mysterious and unknown role to those outside libraries. I hope it might inspire someone to enter the world of school libraries as I was once enticed. And I hope it encourages others in the school library world to share their experiences. Of course, my role and experiences are unique and would differ if I was in a different country, state, school, library setting or role, and the joy of library work is that no one day, library, role or experience is ever the same. I may post once a month about this, but far more likely I will put fingers to keyboard once a term. If you would like to read all of the posts in the series, you’ll find them here.
As I sat down to write this I had a look back at the last time I wrote about my Year in the Life of a Teacher Librarian. I was shocked to discover that the last time I posted about this was at the start of Term 2 and now here we are at the end of Term 3. Whoops. But I guess that just shows how busy the past few months have been. So, instead of trying to write a few posts to fill in the gap, this one will cover everything from the middle of Term 2 to the end of Term 3. Are you ready?
A new vision
At the end of Term 1 I was given the opportunity to prepare and present a new vision for the school library and my role. During Term 2, I met with a range of leaders and the school library team to narrow down what this future could look like. Meetings like this take time but I really love them. I met with my principal to narrow down a little bit what he was looking for and was delighted when his response gave me the freedom to think really big. It’s extremely exciting for our library to work for someone who values our profession and gives his staff this much trust and professional license. I drew upon the brand audit I had conducted previously (you can find out more about that here), created a proposal and I presented my pitch to my principal at the start of Term 3. I am so excited for our school library’s future.
The Secondary Library was asked to move out of our current space at the end of Term 3 to make way for renovations to the building. The Secondary Library will then move into a new building at the start of 2023, with the Junior Library staying in the same location. It means we have to move twice within a few months, after already moving last year, but it’s all in the name of progress and our new space will be worth it. My Library Tech and I worked through our plan to weed and update the fiction collection and have this done by the end of Term 3 and I am proud to say we did this. We also assessed our non fiction collection and made plans for how we would move forward with updating this collection, which we will start next year. We made our move plan in Term 2 and we began to pack up in Term 3. Massive thanks to other librarians who shared tips for moving. We used Quantum Library Suppliers to move and store the bulk of our collection and shelving. They were fantastic. Thankfully, having a thorough plan meant we only moved things once and things went really smoothly. It was a really mammoth task (libraries have so many things!!!) and as I write this my feet are still sore from all the walking I did, but we did it!!
Book Week 2022
Of course, Term 3 also means Book Week. This year, it landed just a few weeks before our library move and we also had to separate our secondary school and junior school celebrations. Despite it all, we still managed some excellent library displays, costume/PJ dress-up days, an author visit with the fantastic Samera Kamaleddine, trivia and Kahoots, competitions and more.
Professional learning and school visits
Term 2 and 3 were big terms for professional learning. I presented at and attended the National Education Summit Brisbane Building Capacity School Libraries conference. This was an excellent two days to connect with so many wonderful school library staff, catch up with familiar faces and meet new people. I love the learning that happens at these events but I mostly love the networking.
I also presented to the teacher librarian students at Charles Sturt University about dynamic school libraries. It was wonderful to speak to these amazing people who are joining (or are already part of) our school library profession. I loved their enthusiasm and fantastic ideas.
I also presented about content curation alongside the team at Concord Infiniti thanks to Eduwebinar. You can watch the recording of this free event here.
I also presented a short section as part of SLAV’s Reading Forum about authentic reading responses. The other presenters shared some fantastic insights and ideas.
I think one of my highlights of the term was being invited onto Amy Herman’s School Librarians United podcast alongside Dr Kay Oddone. As a long-time listener it was incredible to be invited and see behind the scenes at the amazing amount of work Amy puts in to bring this podcast to us. You can listen to our episode Creating Culture Change here.
I was also asked to run a session for our junior school staff on using Canva. This was really fun and something I hope to replicate for our secondary school staff and students.
Finally, I was invited to visit two school libraries during Term 3. One was newly renovated/rebuilt and the other was looking to revamp their services. It is always fantastic to visit other school libraries. I love the ideas you can gather, the chance to share ideas with other librarians and the time to reflect on our own library and practice that visiting another school library provides. I always make sure to take my library tech with me and will be setting up a similar visit for our junior library staff soon.
Preparing Budget requests
Term 3 is also the time for us to put together the budget requests for the following year. It takes a lot of work to finalise these details but it is really important to get it right, particularly as our planned changes require a few changes to our budgeting process. I am someone who likes to budget thoroughly – I know the price of every invoice and how much I need to spend on different collections and how to make the money we get stretch twice as far.
Study Tour activities
In Term 2, I was approached by our international school to strengthen the relationship between them and the school library. They already run weekly lunchtime origami sessions in our junior library, but we are excited about what else we can do together. We started in Term 3 by hosting Create sessions for our school tours. These are groups of students from overseas who come to visit our school for a short time. We hosted them in the library for a combination of activities – robotics with the Spheros and Ozobots, badgemaking, Lego and cards and boardgames. They also enjoyed checking out our manga collection.
Teen reading research
Our school took part in the Deakin Teen Reading Habits research in Term 3. This involved two classes from all grade in Year 7 to Year 12 undertaking a survey. I also participated in an interview. We are looking forward to the release of the nation-wide data this research has gathered and what it means for how school libraries continue to support teen reading habits.
Readers Cup and Clubs
Both the junior and secondary school participated in the CBCA Readers Cup competition. Our Dungeons and Dragons club continued to grow and meet, starting after school meetings. I love how the students have taken ownership of this and are directing everything, from the group combinations to meeting times and running the campaigns.
I was also approached at the end of Term 3 by two different staff members wanting to join up to create some other clubs – a book club for athletes and a textile club for making and sewing. My answer, as always, was an enthusiastic YES!!! and “when do we start?” Looking forward to the future of what these and other clubs will entail.
Of course, in amongst all these changes, updates and new ventures, the daily library lessons and tasks continue. Term 2 and 3 are definitely research season, so I spent a lot of time with Year 8, 9, 10 and 11 classes across science, history and health subjects around creating good inquiry questions, creating good search strings, evaluating sources, using databases and journal articles, summarising and paraphrasing, and referencing.
I also worked with the Year 7 classes on their fantasy unit and had lots of fun with an intro to fantasy lesson in the library with VR and teamwork building games. Our regular Year 7 and 8 fortnightly English reading sessions continued. I also worked with Year 9, 10 and 11 English classes about using video editing software and online tools to create news stories or digital stories. I love stepping into this tech side of what we get to do as a library and helping teachers to support their students in this way.
I also got to partner with one of the design technology teachers with her Year 3 class. They were making signs and she wanted to get them using the Cricut machines to do this. I ran an intro lesson with each of the Year 3 classes and then worked alongside this teacher as the students designed, cut and made their signs. We also introduced the Cricut machine to our Year 9 IST class, so they could make House merchandise using HTV and the heat press. Lots of fun.
I also ran a few sessions with various grades on making positive choices around screen time and staying safe online.
Overall, Term 2 and Term 3 have been extremely busy but have opened up so many exciting opportunities. I love how the library is growing and changing and how the staff and students are embracing these changes. I love how many people are coming to us with ideas that we get to run with. Now it’s time for a two week break in which I will be doing lots of planning for Term 4 – lesson planning, budget updates, collection development plans, move plans, event plans. I know Term 4 is going to go by extremely quickly but it is also going to be an EPIC term. Can’t wait.