Saturday, July 7, 2018

My Tips & Helpful Google Docs For Awesome Collaboration Between Teacher Librarians and Teachers!

Building instructional partnerships with the teachers and others in our building and school community is a big part of....
what we do as Future Ready Librarians to support Curriculum, Instructional and Assessment.  
As stated in the Future Ready Librarian framework, we....

Partner with educators to design and implement evidence-based curricula and assessments that integrate elements of deeper learning, critical thinking, information literacy, digital citizenship, creativity, innovation, and the active use of technology.  
Also, in the new Future Ready Librarians Framework and ISTE Standards for Educators Crosswalk,  we Build Instructional Partnerships within the....
Collaborator, 
Analyst and...
Designer ISTE Standards for Educators.

As you can see, building instructional partnerships through collaboration is one of the most important things we can do as teacher librarians.

Over the years as the K-12 Teacher Librarian at Van Meter School in Iowa, there were lots of things I did to build instructional partnerships and foster rich collaboration with my teachers.

The first thing, of course, was to build meaningful and special relationships with all of the teachers.  It is important to take the time to get to know each other while you develop trust and friendships.
The next thing is to find lots of ways to work together through co-teaching, collaboration, coming in to teach a special lesson, helping out when they need you, stopping by with a helpful digital tool or app....and the perfect book, and so many other ways.

One of the things I struggled with was how to keep up with this collaboration and all of the conversations we were having.

How could I know what was happening in their classrooms throughout the year? How could we see even more collaboration happening throughout our school? How could we support our students in the best possible ways?  How could I make sure all of my standards and expectations were being met as the teacher librarian with the students and teachers, as well as those in the classrooms? 
Then one day I had a good idea!  

I would create a Google Doc where all of the teachers could add their plans each month throughout the school year.
With this Google Doc I knew exactly what was happening in their classroom on a monthly basis and could collaborate, plan and create amazing learning experiences with them for our students better than ever before.  Our administrators also appreciated that they could now see the collaboration that was taking place between us. 

The teachers would add what was happening within their classrooms and curriculum.  They would add resources, books, websites, links and whatever extra information was needed.  

I would then go into the Google Doc and add ideas, books, resources, links, digital tools and apps, and most all of a plan for how we could work together to create the best experiences for our students.  

When I would meet with the teachers, we would use this Google Doc to guide our conversations on what we were working on and what was coming up.  We also used it as a place to document those quick conversations that happened in the hallway, library or even in emails or texts.  It kept us all on the same page and made those precious moments together in person and virtually really count. 
I collaborated with all of the teachers including all of the special education, TAG, reading specialists, physical education and other related arts teachers.  One of the best parts of having all of us together in the same Google Doc was the collaboration that also happened across grade levels and specialties.  

For example, maybe the first graders were getting ready to video tape their community projects they had been working on in the classroom, art room and library. At the same time, our 4th graders are learning more of the editing features in iMovie.  We could partner them up for one of the class periods for some great peer-to-peer teaching...It was a win-win for everyone.  We all loved it when collaborations like this took place. 
This fall as I head back to the Van Meter Library with my friend and partner librarian Jessica Rabe, we will use the same kind of Google Doc to kick off another year of building instructional partnerships.  It will be so important as we build relationships, collaborate and make our library program the best it can be while supporting our teachers and students in the best possible ways too. 

I have made a copy of the Elementary Schedule and Collaboration 2018-19 Google Doc that Jessica and I will use that you can find here.
And a copy of the Secondary Schedule and Collaboration 2018-19 Google Doc that you can find here.
When Maura O'Toole suggested splitting the schedule for collaboration into two semesters (fall/spring), I made another Google Doc for all of us us to copy. 
 You will find the Google Doc split into two parts of the year here for elementary.
And here for secondary here.

Feel free to make a copy and add your teachers, plans, resources and ideas too.

And three last tips I have for collaboration and building amazing instructional partnerships....

1. Always say yes and find a way to help with anything they need.  Together you will find solutions and wonderful ways to work together.

2. Don't wait to be invited to collaborate. Show up. WOW them with what you know and can do to help them. Be their best support. Figure out their favorite treat or drink. Be creative about how you meet if you can't find time during the school day....My second superintendent and I use to meet for coffee of Saturdays where I helped him with social media and blogging.  :)

3. Have fun collaborating!  It is always one of the most rewarding parts of our jobs and our students and families appreciate this effort and these relationships too. 

I am excited for a new year of Jessica and I collaborating, planning and creating amazing learning experiences for our students.  I can't wait to hear how you are going to do that in your library and school community too!  

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