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Looking Back, Looking Forward
09/07/2015

Julius Pañares

Looking Back, Looking Forward. This was the title of an article written by Hilda Weisburg and Ruth Toor in the the June 2015 issue of American Libraries. The article was about a first-year school librarian’s assessment of the school year and how to close the library for summer. The title seemed applicable to starting a new school year in our library media centers, too.

Looking back, what truly awesome things did we do last year involving instructional strategies, technology, reading promotions or professional development? Will we repeat these things this year where they will have the greatest impact? We should! Tweaking is always in order to make what we do relevant, but I am a big believer in not reinventing the wheel when we have a good product. 

In contrast, what ‘new’ will we bring to the 2015-16 school year? What will we do to demonstrate that our library media programs are relevant and impact our students’ education? We’ve heard the words ‘reinventing’ and ‘evolving’ numerous times in our profession. ‘New’ can sometimes imply challenging or even overwhelming, but this does not have to be the case. 

One of my ‘new’ goals is about freshening up booktalks (looking back, looking forward!). As teachers find it more and more difficult to give up time with their students for booktalks, I will do ‘drop-in’ booktalks. These are five-minute booktalks. I’ll arrange with the teacher ahead of time the date and time for the drop-in booktalk. I’ll then drop in the classroom (saving travel time to the library for the students) and present one or two booktalks. It may seem like a soundbite situation, but I’ll have the kids’ attention. I plan to do these booktalks frequently, mostly when I have an aide or other adult to supervise the library for a brief period of time in my absence. Mixing it up a little bit more, I won’t be limiting the drop-in booktalks to just English or LA classes. Other content areas are ripe for booktalks –  The Disappearing Spoon in chemistry classes, All the Light You Cannot See in world history classes, for example. Be visible, and meet the students where they are – a constant in our profession.

What new goals will you set for this year? Will you look back and improve on a past item or will you look forward and tackle a brand new something? Good luck with your ‘new’ goals!