a recent blog post at the School Library Journal Blog, Practically Paradise got me thinking about how to engage teachers to plan with us (school media specialists/librarians).
In the four years I have been at my current school I have found some things that have worked and others that were not as successful, and some that worked once and then didn't work the next time I tried it. One thing I have found is, that teachers are busy and there is never enough time in the day for them to get what they need to get done, done and sometimes I am just another thing that they have to get done on their list. I think the one thing I can offer teachers is, if I can somehow get something off of their to do list, if I can help them either find the right resources for a project or help them teach some skill to their students then instead of being something on their to do list, I am the person to help solve their never ending to do list.
In our school, even though it is small (575 students) many of the grade levels do not meet at specific times each day or even each week, but they do usually eat together in the teachers lounge at least 3 times a week. I try and schedule my lunch so I can go and eat with a different group a few times a week. And while lunch talk is not always about what is going on in the classroom, it is a great way to work in a comment, like "hey, I heard that you guys were working on a dinosaur project, I have some great books, want me to pull some for you?"
I also use e-mail as my life line to the teachers. Most teachers at our school check their e-mail frequently, so I use it to my advantage. I send out e-mails almost daily with a new website or tech tip that I think a teacher might be able to use. I also frequently send out links (or even copy and paste right to the body of the e-mail) to articles from blogs or online newspapers that I think some teachers might be interested in.
I also try and take a few minutes at least once a month in the faculty meeting to go over what is going on in the media center and I try and remind everyone about the services that we can provide to them, sometimes the media center might not be on the top of a teachers mind, but when reminded, they seem to come out of the woodwork for help.
I also try and do a newsletter for the faculty a few times a year. I print out copies and hang them in the faculty bathrooms and faculty lounge and I e-mail a PDF copy to everyone on staff. I started a little contest this year, I hide a question somewhere at the end of the newsletter, the first 3 people to e-mail me the answer to the question wins a little prize.
I think that running a successful school media center is part library knowledge (books, technology, research)and part PR, if you publicize it (hopefully) they will come!