Saturday, April 1, 2017

Bringing Adventure to the Library: The Super Librarian Way

In the fall of 2015, I stepped out of my comfort zone to become Super Librarian. For this school year, I had chosen to do a super reader theme in the library. When I had gone back to work at the end of July, I was in a Leadership Team meeting where we were discussing possible PD to do with the teachers when they came back to school in August.  The principal wanted each team member to do a PD presentation. This is when I had the opportunity to share with the members of the team my vision for the library program that I had already shared with my building principals. I told them since 5th and 6th grade teachers / students did not have scheduled library times that I wanted to find a way to get them more involved in utilizing the library. I shared how my husband, Stony Evans, and his co-librarian (at the time), Misti Bell, had collaborated with their teachers at Lakeside High School.  Even though we are an elementary school, there was no reason why we should not be able to bring some of these same types of programs to our teachers and students. The members of the Leadership Team thought this would be a great idea. The school counselor, Leslie Whalen, told me what would make my PD presentation even better would be to dress up as Super Librarian.  This was certainly out of my comfort zone, but this was a risk that I was willing to take to get the teacher's attention about my library vision.

The Day Super Librarian Flew into PD

To become Super Librarian, Mrs. Whalen said that she would help me to put my costume together. She brought me a mask and a cape that she had used several years before for another event. All I had to do was dig through my closet.  I found a short black skirt and a black turtle neck top which I accented with a zebra print belt and earrings.  Then I added some red tights along with my tall black boots.  To complete my oufit, I printed out a shield with a red "S". In a matter of minutes, I was transformed into Super Librarian!

To enter the room, I had selected to play the iconic theme to Superman. Once the music began, I ran into the room with my cape flying behind me. The room filled with laughter and applause!  This particular school year, we were beginning a book study on Dave Burgess' Teach Like a Pirate book. Before I began my presentation, my principal, Mrs. Rosburg, said that this was a perfect example of what we would be reading about in this book throughout the school year.  Now that I had everyone's undivided attention, I could begin my presentation with excitement that I hoped to spread to the entire faculty.

A Preview of the Adventures with Super Librarian

When I began the presentation, I had the teachers brainstorm about the traditional, stereotypical library. Of course, the first thing said was that it was a quiet place. Another thing was that it was a place to go get books.  Next, I showed them a Wordle of what a 21st century library should include. I asked them to call out what words on it that stood out to them the most. One of the biggest words on it was "collaboration". I shared that this was my vision for our library and that I wanted to team up with them to create some learning experiences in the library that the students would never forget.

To get their wheels turning, I shared with them some of the activities on Stony Evans' blog, Library Media Tech Talk. I focused mainly on one of the more successful collaborations in which he had teamed up with Misti Bell and their team of teachers about the Dust Bowl. You can read more about this collaboration here.
I pointed out how they had utilized the library space as an extension of the classroom to take students to another place and time. I challenged the teachers to think about their subject area and some ways that we could do something like this with our 5th and 6th grade students.
Super Librarian presenting during a PD session.

When to Catch Some Adventures with Super Librarian

In order to get collaboration going in a library, the schedule has to be set to allow flexibility for some of these adventures. Since I have scheduled classes with my K-4th grade students at Park Magnet School, I had to talk with both principals about my vision and the schedule. Going over my possible TESS goals for the next school year in the spring of 2015, I told both principals about my collaboration goal. In previous years, my scheduled classes were on various times on every day of the week. For this reason, it made it hard to collaborate with the 5th and 6th grade teachers. I asked the principals if they could put all of my scheduled classes on Monday-Wednesday.  This would leave Thursday and Friday to have an open schedule for the collaboration to happen. I was excited to receive my schedule to see that they had made this happen. During my PD presentation with the teachers, I was able to share this great news with them.  I told them that since the principals had honored my request that we had to make wise use of this time. For this reason, we needed to create library adventures on these days to make this happen.

Advertising the Adventures with Super Librarian

Just like we find out about new movies or television shows through advertisements, librarians should advertise when special events are going to take place in the library. Each time that a library collaboration is going to happen, I always email out to the faculty letting them know what is happening and inviting them to come walk through the library. These events are also advertised on my Twitter and Instagram accounts, as well as my blog, to spread the word beyond the four walls of the library. It is my hope that these postings will help to inspire librarians and teachers in other parts of the world to begin their own library adventures. I had a teacher who came to observe a collaboration one day and she said, "When can I bring my class to do something fun in the library?"  If we don't invite teachers to come watch some of the library adventures, they may miss out on a starring role in their own collaboration.

Final Thoughts

I encourage you to begin collaborative adventures in your library. If we don't get out of our comfort zones and help to show the super powers that a library can have for the learning community, they will never know what possible adventures await them.

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