CTC Standard 18: Diversity
“Each candidate demonstrates skill in selecting, preparing, evaluating and using instructional strategies, activities and resources that are appropriate to the diverse needs, interests and learning styles of all students and that may relate to differences such as ethnicity, culture, gender, physical or mental capabilities, language and socio-economic background.” (p.18)
Especially when financial resources are so strained, every moment and every dollar must be well used in the school library. Good intentions are not sufficient to guarantee good judgment: library time use must balance instruction with free access; purchase of materials requires balancing diverse needs, changing priorities, and limited budgets, and designing library instruction and activities which are both engaging and standards–based requires teaching expertise. Recognition of diversity is crucial for all librarians who aspire to meaningful service; but it is especially important for school librarians joining in the effort to recognize and help every student. Service to diversity is the foundation of school library selection. So important is this principle that it is emphasized through a second appearance in the Professionalism section.
Elementary libraries pose some special selection challenges for librarians because in addition to the diversity of ethnicity, language, or socioeconomic background, there is a vast range of skill, needs and interests between kindergarten through 6th grade. At one of my elementary postings I am teaching kindergarten students the basics of ‘book–handling’: which way is up? Where is the title? How wide is it ok to open the covers? On the same day I am helping 5th graders with their ‘State Reports’, instructing in paraphrasing, citation, and beginning source evaluation. As a developing librarian I have appreciated the advice I received from teachers about what works best with the students they teach. For example, when I taught 2nd graders a lesson on book reports, the teacher was very specific: “Twenty minutes on one lesson. That’s what you get in second grade”. By minute 19 I was very glad I had planned carefully based on her advice.
One resource I have been interested to learn about during my field experience is the Accelerated Reader program. This program, which I knew through mixed reviews in high school settings, seems to be very successful in our elementaries. Library circulation is high where the program is in place, and students seem enthused about their reading. Based on what I have learned, I recommended to teachers at my assignment site that their school investigate the program. AR will provide their inexperienced library technician with many features that will help run the library more effectively, including a record of each student’s reading level and a booklist of suggestions. The principal is now pursuing this possibility with the district office, and I begin to feel more confident of my contributions to the school.
Frequently in a small space with a budget to match, elementary libraries must offer a daunting variety of material and services. I have made good progress through my field experience, but as a high school teacher I admire the primary library staff members and am aware that part of being competent is to know that I have much more to learn.
- Log of Book Report Choices
These files show elements of work I did for a teacher of a 4th-5th mixed grade class. An image of the teacher’s handouts is attached first. I assisted the students in choosing books for these reports during my visits throughout late fall; my list of books checked out by the students in one group for the second book report is also attached. As requested by the teacher, I tried with mixed success to suggest alternatives to books in series they had read before. Half the class is seen checking out their books in the photo below.
Below is an image of the Accelerated Reader Handout from Flowery School. I instructed visiting parents after school in the home use of this program.It was a boon for the library technicians and for myself as a visitor to have access to the AR information on all students’ reading level when selecting books for them. I recommended the program to my second elementary placement site as a purchase which would fit with their curricular goals and be useful to their library.