The A, B, C's of Literacy Leadership & Readers' Advisories

Ideas on Literacy Leadership and Readers' Advisory:Tips for New Teacher Librarians

There is much to learn in the role of a Teacher-Librarian. In fact, the job of a Teacher-Librarian can be down right exhausting even to the experienced, but for someone who is new to the profession it can seem overwhelming and mystifying in its many facets. This particular wiki was created by several BC Teacher-Librarians to help solve some of that mystery. We will focus on the topic of Literacy. This wiki contains information about literacy and readers' advisory and the various forms they may take, as well as links to resources that a TL would find helpful to support them in this topic. Lastly, it contains a 'Top 10' list where we have identified the top 10 things that a beginner TL should know about the topic of Literacy and Readers' Advisory. We invite you to join in our collaborative effort and add to the collective knowledge of what it means to be a Literacy Leader in our schools and communities.

TLDL wordle

What is Literacy?
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the "ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society." (UNESCO - The Global Literacy Challenge)

The Changing Nature of Literacy:
Many people intuitively think of literacy as the ability to read and write. True literacy also includes the ability to comprehend (to evaluate, synthesize and apply) and to communicate knowledge effectively. Contemporary literacy includes operating in the digital world in formats that require new skill sets and the ability to adapt to rapidly changing information and communication technologies of our world. It is the Teacher-Librarian's role to help students and classroom teachers to develop the literacies necessary to navigate contemporary information.

What is a Literacy Leader?
A literacy leader is someone who is willing to take risks, to present new ideas and projects with passion and to support others' new ideas. Literacy leaders do not have to be the ones to spearhead new projects. In fact it is often more effective to be the person who can provide the information and resources to support someone else's project or mentor someone in how to use a literacy teaching technique or a new technology.

The "Top 10" of Literacy Leadership

1. Literacy is more than reading and writing. We need to focus on literacy programs that involve reading/writing, but go further and explore the digital/multiple literacies of the 21st century.

2. Be collegial. It can be an isolating job being a teacher-librarian who works alone in your library. Make a point of connecting 3. with the rest of your school staff. If people feel comfortable with you, they are more likely to ask for support or to support you in a new initiative.

3. Demonstrate risk taking. Try new things during your library lessons. Often the best way to introduce a new technology or teaching theory is to model it for others. Colleagues will respect you for trying and feel more comfortable to take risks themselves.

4. Make connections. Find ways to let the school community know about what you are doing. Use the school website, monthly columns in the school newsletter, a blog or wiki of library projects and literacy ideas.

5. Show your work. Create displays of student work, keep student portfolios, assess learning outcomes and let classroom teachers and administration see what a difference new programs make.

6. Share with your professional community. Join your local teacher-librarians' association. This is a wonderful place to get ideas from what other professionals are doing in their communities. You don't have to re-invent the wheel.

7. Promote your library. Let students and staff know about the types of things you can offer. Make lists of resources or services you can provide. People with an outdated idea of what teacher-librarians do may not know what to ask for.

8. Be available. Let staff and students know when you will be available for them. Offer help at the last minute if you can.

9. Build it and they will come. Make your library a welcoming and safe place for students to be - to work together, to try new ideas, to take learning risks and fail and try again.

10. Give the gift of time. Give students time to read! Incentive programs are not necessarily the way to go, instead create a great collection and give students time to explore and find those things that interest them.

Use the links below to locate information on these specific topics

Family Literacy
Family Literacy

Reader's Advisory: Inspiring Young Readers
Reader's Advisory: Inspiring Young Readers
21st Century Literacy
21st Century Literacy