Passing the Torch: Collaborating to Create a Legacy
by Wendy Burch Jones
No doubt the current role you are in is not your first teaching position. When teachers move classes and/or move schools there is always an anxiety ridden period of change. This paper looks at how this experience becomes even more problematic when teacher-librarians move about, especially for brand new TLs. As Wendy says, “There is a lot to wrap your head around in terms of understanding the role itself, how it relates to the rest of the school community, and how it will work with the schedule you’ve been given - all of which are specific to each school.” Wendy and her colleagues decided to make it a little easier for incoming school library professionals by providing them with a legacy document to ease transitions.
Thank you so much for sharing this very important work you have been doing. I received a similar document when I stepped into my first job as a TL, covering the mat leave for a colleague, however, I have since found it overwhelming to try and create anything for the next TL when I pass the torch. I often talk about how I try to make decisions in my LLC with the next TL in mind, as I know I will always eventually pass the torch. The hardest part is putting everything in writing though! I appreciate you sharing your template and look forward to bringing it to the attention of my local TL association as we also see a high turnover rate. This work shows that collaboration between TLs is just as important as collaboration between TLs and classroom teachers!ReplyDelete
Hi Nicole! Thanks for reading. Your comment reminds me of something our TDSB coordinator of Library Learning Resources often says - that the teacher librarian is the most important resource in the SLLC! When we remember this philosophy - it serves to help remind us that we possess a great amount of data, knowledge, experience, and pedagogy that combine to make us literally irreplaceable. So best we write it all down as best we can, eh? LOLDelete
Wendy, your paper (and the process of searching in vain for my *&*#@%^! "oopsie stamp") has made me wonder if this template would be useful to fill out even if a TL was NOT planning on leaving the library. What do we do daily? How can we articulate what we have done and have yet to do? Where do we document our practices, even for ourselves to realize or understand?ReplyDelete
The other piece for me is figuring out how to "free" the incoming TL and allow/liberate them so they can make the space "their own" while still honouring the history and existing culture of the space (your 2nd last paragraph on page 10). I remember being given lots of files when I first came into my current library (in 2004 - dang, that was a lot time ago) and realizing that I couldn't approach it in quite the same way because I was a different person with a different style (and plus, there were overheads > remember those?) - the whole apple cart shouldn't be upended because of an individual personality, but I think about the line in the study on Exemplary School Libraries in Ontario and how each school library is unique, due to both its school community and its school library professional running it. I look forward to seeing your new school grow, your "old" school thrive, and your TMC8 paper!
Hi Diana! Thanks for reading. I think you make a great point here. Perhaps ongoing notes would be beneficial as part of an annual report? It's an interest thought to wonder what's worthy of documentation as we go.Delete
And also interesting to consider how to frame such things such that an incoming TL is given the freedom to honour the past while being given the ability to reimagine spaces so they work for both themselves as the current working TL and school community as it has evolved.
Lots to think about!
I'm sure this document not only helped a new TL say hello to the school, but also helped you to say goodbye!
I see the benefits in being better able to understand the goals of the departing TL, but also, it allows for a critical eye to evaluate the practices and systems in place, and to ask if the library is serving the community to its fullest.
On page 3, under scheduling, you wrote about the habits of certain teachers, such as only allowing students to take out books at their own level, and I see examples like this as an opportunity to create new habits and invest time in sharing knowledge around the philosophy of reading.
Lastly, I'd like to share an anecdote. This summer, while participating in PD, I was talking with a teacher about the frequency at which TLs are moved within a district. The teacher voiced his dismay at the loss of relationship building that was undertaken by BOTH the TL and the teacher. I have to admit, that I had not previously considered how teachers feel about losing a trusted colleague. It was a gentle reminder to keep the efforts of teachers in mind as we work.
Thanks for this walk through your thinking and planning.
Hi Lila - thanks for reading. Yes - this was most definitely cathartic for me. It truly ended up being a love letter to a dear friend to was taking over the space and to the library itself.Delete
In my transition to this new school - I really felt your comments about the frustrations of ongoing change. I am the 4th TL in this school in 4 years. And the general sense among staff is one of "meh" towards library. I suspect it will take a couple of years before they believe I'm truly "not going anywhere" and before their belief in the stability of any kind of library program is re-established.
Wow. You reminded me all over about my own first elementary school library. We were both Pied Pipers and the kids and I loved it. H. W. Wilson had a very popular Manual at the time that I read and ignored, but the rotation of TLs was most alarming. I'd have to ask Ester Rosenfeld about all that. No wonder sustainability is such a problem. I think the best thing you did was the private conversations like: "How I skimmed other library budgets in the district to almost double my own. It is secret that if I told anyone at Tres. Mt., I'd have to kill them... The thing you Canadians is that you have the best ideas in the world for creating great learning commons. I was a terrible warehouser, but like so many of you, the kids and had a super, super time and that was what mattered the most. Just keep doing the things you do best!ReplyDelete
Hi David - thanks for reading! I love that you had a manual and ignored it. :) I think the private conversations with other TLs was the key to my success at O'Connor and for sure is proving to be my saving grace at my new school, too. I am so grateful to be a part of a strong network of TLs that is supportive, understanding and creative. They are always there to answer questions, help problem solve, and offer suggestions. I'd be lost without them!Delete
Such a simple idea that hadn't even crossed my mind. This is something we need to develop for our district. I am so happy someone else has written a roadmap for me :)
Thank you for sharing your work so we have a starting point to begin
This is so well laid out and well thought out.
I wish we had this resource last year as we have two new teacher-librarians on our YCDSB high school team. With my retirement on the horizon (Spring 2024), I have been thinking more and more about passing the torch. I will definitely use this and I think that I will take my time completing it and I will share it with my principal because I agree with others that this template is an excellent advocacy piece as well.ReplyDelete