All teachers have a philosophy of education. Whether we’ve put it into words or not, it’s there in some nebulous form in the back of our minds as we prepare our lessons and interact with our students, and it determines how we approach the task of teaching each day.
I’ve recently been attempting to define my vision and mission as the library media specialist at my school. The springboard for this inner dialogue was a statement I made in an email to a fellow book blogger. I told her, “My mission is to match kids up with ‘just right’ books that will help them discover a love of reading.”
In the 22 years since I became a school librarian, a lot has changed. There is much more emphasis on technology now, because there is so much more technology available. Fortunately, it turns out that I am a not only a book-loving nerd, I am also a computer geek, so that suits me just fine.
But maybe I’ve been focusing too much on the technology side of things lately. As the Technology Coach for my school, it’s inevitable that much of my time will be spent helping students and teachers learn to use technology effectively. But as the Librarian, I need (and want) to concentrate on helping students fall in love with reading by introducing them to great authors and illustrators, by exposing them to award-winning books, by helping them to hone their book selection skills, and by encouraging them to share their favorite titles with one another and with the world.
Can technology play a role in doing all of this? Absolutely! Most authors and illustrators have wonderful web sites, our library catalog is available online to students 24/7 and includes eBooks as well as print resources, and our students are invited to leave comments about what they’re reading on my Book Buzz blog.
But there’s really no substitute for old fashioned story time sessions and face-to-face book talks. Yes, I know students can enjoy books online; I’ve purchased a subscription to TumbleBooks for my school. Yes, I know book trailers are all the rage right now; I’m following the School Library Journal Trailee Awards contest right along with the rest of you. I just don’t want to lose sight of the fact that in addition to learning how to read, kids need to discover the sheer joy of reading.
So I’m re-examining my library lesson plans to make sure I’m achieving a balance between sharing the Internet tools and the printed books. Because in the end, computer content can’t replace human interaction, no matter how engaging the digital world may be.
Photograph by John Lovretta. Click to enlarge. http://www.burlington.lib.ia.us/youth/Cswelcom/storytime.htm
p.s. As an interesting side note, my original title for this post was “What is My Real Mission,” just as it appears now. But as I proofed my writing before hitting the publish button, I realized that I had inadvertently typed “What is my Read Mission” instead! Actually, I guess either one would have worked!