The greatest influence on my professional philosophy is the many teachers, librarians, students and families who I have had the privilege of working with both in the fields of education and library science. From them I have learned the value of collaboration, the skill of connecting with students and the importance of commitment, integrity and respect. Most importantly, I have learned that teachers can and do change the world.
At the core of my philosophy is the belief that all people can be agents of change and growth within their own lives. Every human being, whatever their age, race, creed, color, gender or place of origin, has both the ability and the right to learn, grow, achieve and succeed.
Philosophy of Teaching
My philosophy of teaching is built upon three principles: student centered learning, standards based teaching and research based practice. These principle reflect my commitment to the provision of high quality instruction and information service.
Student Centered Learning
The single strongest predictor of success or failure in teaching, is the level of trust and commitment that is developed between students and teachers. In my experience, when student and teacher are unified in purpose great learning occurs. This means that teachers must work to understand students. Assessment must be comprehensive. Our lessons must reflect the reality of the world in which our students live. Finally, meaningful connections must be built between subject based content and real world problems. By placing students foremost in our thinking we ensure that our teaching is relevant, engaging, meaningful and rewarding for both teachers and students.
Standards Based Teaching
High quality education is the right of every student. Every student therefore deserves a teacher who is able to effectively address standards for learning through the provision of instruction which is rigorous, relevant and comprehensive. In addition to helping establish goals for our students, standards also identify observable outcomes which can be clearly measured and used to evaluate student success. Just as every student has a right to learn, every student also has a right to be held to a high standard of learning. Standards communicate to student high expectations. We expect a lot from student because they are capable of a lot. When we set low standards for student achievement or no standards at all, we do students a grave disservice.
Research Based Practice
Good educators recognize the value of research based practice. When we build instruction around proven research, we are demonstrating the strength of our commitment to improving student outcomes. Using research based practice is part of our professional obligation because in addition to being instructors, teachers and librarians are scholars in their respective fields as well. They critically evaluate existing instructional practices in light of new and emerging research in the fields of education, pedagogy and information science.
Philosophy of School Librarianship
School library media specialists are not just information experts; they are learning specialists who guide students through the process of independent inquiry and facilitate self directed learning. Teacher librarians foster independent thinking, self agency and personal responsibility.
To accomplish this goal it is necessary to go beyond the traditional roles of the school librarian. In addition to facilitating access to information and maintenance of the library collection school librarians must also expand our purview to include practice that links subject based content with practical knowledge and active learning strategies. In this context the library is more than a repository of knowledge and information. It is in fact, a laboratory of learning where students can engage in project based, experiential and experimental learning.
The changing role of the school library extends not just to students but to teachers, parents and administrators as well. School library program can no longer afford to isolate themselves from the rest of the school community. On the contrary the 21st century school library media specialist must actively engage with teachers and administrators to ensure that library program accurately affects the needs of the school community. We must also expand our services so that they are more inclusive of families and parents. It is also important to actively pursue and cultivate relationships with local businesses and community partners.
As the schools primary information professional, it is the school library media specialist who is responsible not only for navigating the changing information environment, but for evaluating the efficacy of emerging information resources and technologies as well. In addition, the school library media specialist must be prepare to advise and train both teachers and students in the use of new technology/information resources.
Most importantly the school library media specialist must be a partner in promoting student achievement. To accomplish this end the school library media specialist must be prepared to work with teachers and administrators to develop programs that support curricular goals. This may involve engaging in cooperative teaching but it may also involve developing after school programing for struggling students. The strategies we use to improve student achievement will differ depending on the needs of students and the school community. Our goal however remains the same; to contribute in whatever way possible to the achievement and success of both individual students and the school community as a whole.