by Dorcas Hand
It’s May. We’re all counting the days until Summer Vacation. And occasionally we have little moments that look ahead to next year, ideas for bulletin boards or improved lessons. I hope you jot those ideas down so they aren’t lost before their time arrives. I’ve always got a list going – it’s a great source of inspiration when I’m feeling blank.
But really, today’s topic is this year, the one we want to finish strong. Take a few minutes this week to make a list (A) of things you’ve accomplished in the library this year. Then add a column (B) to that list where you jot what different each item made in the academic success of one, some or many of your students. Add one more layer (C) to this list: stories that illustrate the success.
Here’s an example. I have a 5th grade student who really doesn’t want to read, but I convinced him to try a graphic novel. That was in October. By January, he was borrowing several a week, and making occasional forays into regular novels. This increase in reading has supported a slow improvement in his other grades, and a noticeable sense of self-confidence as he enters the library more often. This anecdote also illustrates the usefulness of graphic novels in pulling reluctant readers along.
And another: I’ve been trying for years to build a research project with 8th grade. This year we succeeded, and the ELA teacher allowed me to team teach it with him over 3 months in the fall. He brought the kids once a week to the Library; I would teach one more element of the content sources from simple in September to complex in November. The papers completed before Christmas were outstanding; these students will head to high school better prepared to do HS level research. And the teacher noticed how much easier his life was working with the librarian.
What will this exercise do for you? It begins to build your Annual Report – yes, you need to write one. You want to offer your Principal and extended campus leadership a compilation of library data and anecdotes that illustrates how your vision and program impact student success. Be sure you offer a wide variety of impacts – grade levels, disciplines from core reading and social studies to perhaps PE and other specials, ESL and test supports. You know you are essential but you want to be sure everyone else does as well. Give kudos to teachers who have stepped up to discover how collaboration strengthens student success, and to students who have made huge strides in (for example) literacy skills – even to parent volunteers who believe in your library program. Make the principal look good for supporting you – without their leadership, the students wouldn’t enjoy a librarian on their campus. Use quotes, student drawings - even student research projects. Insert photos of students and graphs (or infographics) of your data. You can even hint at some of your ideas to make things even better for next year’s kids.
If there will be a new principal or Literacy Coordinator on your campus, this report can bring them up to speed as quickly as possible, and open the door to further conversation.
As you pull this report together, remember that administrators love data – but they need stories that make the data sing. You have both – numbers that reflect circulation and lessons taught, student smiles when they get just the right book, new books purchased with PTA help and so much more that is specific to YOUR work on YOUR campus and in YOUR district.
Your report doesn’t need to be long and involved. Speak from your heart but tell them what they need to know. Demonstrate again what you do that is essential to student success; your library program is nothing without a librarian. This is time well spent – don’t miss the opportunity. If you start your list this week, you have another week or more to pull the final report together without stress.
Just do it!
Here are a few links to examples – use these as inspiration. You don’t need to have a fancy one the first time.