It’s not a new discussion (see “For Further reading” below). It’s certainly not a discussion with an easy resolution. Just think of all the titles you, your school, your district, and the public struggle to figure out what to call you: school librarian, school library media specialist, teacher-librarian, technology “tech” coach, instructional technology coach (or just instructional coach), peer coach, classroom tech coach, 21st Century technology literacy coach, technology integration coach, or facilitator or coordinator or resource or support or leader or...
Without a doubt our own identity crisis only adds to the confusion. Earlier this year I created an infographic illustrating the overlap of a school librarian’s role with that of a classroom teacher.
So I decided to try my hand at creating an infographic to attempt to decipher the roles of school librarian and technology coach.
Before I did a search for icons to use from http://www.iconarchive.com, I thought I might use photos. I did a search on http://search.creativecommons.org/ focusing on Google Images and typed in “cool librarian.” Most of the resulting pictures included books. Then I used the same site to do a search for “tech coach” -Texas. (Try the search; you’ll see why I omitted ‘Texas.’) Most of these picture results included computers.
Herein lies the predicament #1. As my photo search reminded me with a metaphorical slap to the head, school librarians are historically, traditionally, perpetually perceived as the keeper-of-the-books. Nevertheless, school librarians are equally, if not differently, qualified to be technology coaches.
What I’ve learned from attending (many) workshops and reading (even more) testimonials is that what makes a great technology coach is relationships. Period. While it helps to be aware of...
… the differences between information literacy and technology literacy,
… and that technology troubleshooting is part of computer literacy,
and it is invaluable to remember that …
... no matter what, our focus should always be on student learning,
the bottom line is trust. People in the role of technology coach must be perceived as peers and partners not penalties and punishments. School librarians and technology coaches both exist to make the teachers look good and be more effective not to report back to administration that so-and-so is a resistant technophobe or an old dog who won’t learn new tricks.
Herein lies predicament #2: Consider a school librarian’s effect: If we’ve done our jobs well in collaborating with a classroom teacher and planning/supporting a lesson, the classroom teacher shines, and the school librarian is invisible. (Unless we’re co-teaching, naturally.) The very nature of our jobs jeopardized our own opportunities for widespread, school community acknowledgement of our technological talents. Even the job title some librarians prefer - ‘specialist’ - pigeonholes us. Technology coaches don’t use the term ‘specialist;’ they use coach or facilitator or coordinator or resource or support or leader or...
We already are our schools’ technology coaches. In addition to being the keeper-of-the-books and all that entails, is there anything in this list or on the infographic that you do not do? (If there is, you should be doing it!)
provide access to information
assess online resources
collaborate at all levels
create digital content
develop and implement digital literacy curricula
promote digital ethics
serve multiple grades
provide in-house resources
collaborate on lesson plans
model lifelong learning
apply multiple modes of contact
provide in-context teacher technology training
train staff and students to incorporate technology
teach by standards
participate in strategic planning
provide teaching staff P.D. training
recommend technology infrastructure
provide support staff’s P.D. training
provide Web access to resources
participate in troubleshooting
What you can do... If you know you do all of these things, or could do all of these things, but your school district is jumping on the trendy technology coach bandwagon...
◇ Show the infographic to your administrators ◇ Get your board-approved job description to include the things you really do, not what they think you do ◇ Work with the willing: work with the teachers with whom you already have trusting relationships and ask them to help you entice the doubters by touting their own successes with your services ◇ Make sure you’re on your district’s technology committee and strategic planning committee ◇ Volunteer to present at department meetings and board meetings ◇ Stay up-to-date on school technology through journals, blogs, workshops, conferences, etc., and then share what you learn with your colleagues and administration.
At the very least, ask questions:
- If staff development has no time to implement technology coaching now, how will this differ or enhance the P.D. staff receives from the current model?
- If the library media center (i.e., school librarian) researches, acquires, maintains and trains on digital content, is a redundant but separate system being created or will the educational technology coach(es) and the school librarian(s) be working in tandem? What is the role of the school librarian as we see it vs. how administration sees it?
- Is the educational technology coach a district position or a school position?
Don’t be shy. Don’t be passive. We help ourselves to help others when we help others know about how we help. Or as Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, “Zaphod marched quickly down the passageway, nervous as hell, but trying to hide it by striding purposefully.” Stride purposefully; you already are your school’s technology coach because you are a school librarian.
For further reading:
Beglau, Monica, Jana C. Hare, Les Foltos, et al. International Society for Technology in
Education.Technology, Coaching, and Community. Eugene, OR: ISTE, 2011. Web. http://www.isteconference.org/uploads/ISTE2013/HANDOUTS/KEY_81724011/Coaching_Whitepaper_digital.pdf.
Cofino, Kim. "Libraries & EdTech: Like Peanut Butter and Jelly!." Always Learning. Edublogs.org,
10 March 2008. Web. 28 Jul. 2013. http://mscofino.edublogs.org/2008/03/10/libraries-edtech-like-peanut-butter-and-jelly/.
Hamilton, Buffy. "Do I Really Have to Leave the Role of School Librarian To Do the Work of a
School Librarian?." The Unquiet Librarian. Wordpress, 12 April 2012. Web. 28 Jul. 2013. http://theunquietlibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/do-i-really-have-to-leave-the-school-library-to-do-the-work-of-a-school-librarian/.
"ISTE | NETS for Coaches NETS Project." ISTE | NETS for Coaches NETS Project. International
Society for Technology in Education, 2011. Web. 29 July 2013. http://www.iste.org/store/product?ID=2595
"New Jersey Study of School Libraries." NJASL. New Jersey Association of School Librarians, n.d.
Web. 2 Aug. 2013. http://njasl.org/NJ_Study.
Pentlin, Floyd. "Who’re you gonna call? The “school librarian”." AASL Blog. American Association of
School Librarians, 17 January 2010. Web. 28 Jul. 2013. http://www.aasl.ala.org/aaslblog/?p=913.
Guest Blogger Info
Arlen Kimmelman, Ed.M., M.A., NBCT
President-Elect, New Jersey Association of School Librarians
School Librarian, Clearview Regional HS (NJ)