I have had a terrific time talking with teacher librarians and teacher librarian wannabes in my courses through the University of Alberta. It is a dynamic and excited bunch of people. I think they are typical of the people that I have seen in the teacher librarian community overall. Passionate about literacy and learning, free speech and good books and highly involved in their own professional development. We have an incredible network of teacher librarians and librarian technicians in Saskatchewan. In an era which has seen cuts to funding for libraries and teacher librarian services all over North America, they are staunch and tough group.
I went to a short course provided by an expert TL in the summer a couple of years ago for teachers assigned to be TLs interested in getting a better start. It was totally voluntary by everyone there – the woman leading it and the persons taking it. Keeping formally educated TLs in libraries has not always been the first priority of districts but the individuals who get into libraries don’t want that to be the case. This was clear in the courses at the U of A too. Some of the people had had random, unexpected assignments in libraries and there they were shelling out their own money to get the background they felt they needed. This seems almost universal with teacher librarians. It is one of the things that makes be want to get in there – self-motivated, inquiring minds.
I have had the incredible opportunity to meet and mingle with some of them twice in the last two years, at the Saskatchewan School Library Association conferences. I believe that these conferences have been some of the best professional development that I have been involved in. This forward thinking group had Doug come to speak about change and web 2.0 and schools. As a wannabe TL myself, I have listened to their discussions and their commitment to schools and kids. I have probably talked too much to. I can’t seem to help myself from having an opinion on everything and mentioning it. Partly my nature, partly the nature of being in ‘academia’ for a year. I’m supposed to have an opinion. (I learned at the end of my third year of university that the difference between an “A” paper and a “B” paper was having an opinion, who knew?)
It has been hard to be TL in the past few years. I think it strange that as pressure grows on schools to ‘produce’ that one of the key players that might be involved in that ‘production’ has been summarily axed in some districts and simply ignored in others.
For the record,
teachers are dedicated and committed persons
teaching is very demanding and an easy political target
teaching is not getting easier
teachers and teacher librarians don’t have enough time to do their jobs as well as they would like to
teacher librarians are passionate advocates for literacy, critical thinking and appropriate use of media and are an underused resource for schools and divisions as far as I can see
teacher librarians are a crucial piece of the literacy puzzle and can be powerful instructional resource people in schools
I hope I get to be one.