I have been fortunate to work with some great teachers over the years, and have enjoyed a collaborative partnership with many of them. Some collaborations have been of the quick, basic, on-the-run variety, while others full team-teaching lessons. There are benefits to both of these approaches, but over more recent years I have been included in more assessment and department planning, where I have worked with the head of department or teacher in charge to embed identified information literacy skills (IL) across several lessons for all classes at that year level. This is an approach which offers more potential for sustained success and impact for a greater number of students while providing the foundation for more skills to be built upon.
However, no matter how willing and enthusiastic a teacher and librarian pairing may be, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to begin the collaboration and work out the role each person will take as part of the collaborative effort.
As a way of facilitating discussion and focus on teaching approaches to selected IL skills, the following collaborative planning templates can be used alongside the Information Literacy Skills Framework, to ensure skills can be identified and progressed.
As a librarian, one of the keys to initiating a successful collaboration with teachers is to treat your initial conversation as you would a reference interview, where you ask the necessary questions to equip you with the information you need. It can be easy to make assumptions, so if in doubt about what a teacher is asking you, use this technique for clarification. Sometimes our assumptions can be as simple as a misunderstanding about what certain terms mean. For example, many years ago when discussing “finding information” with a teacher I discovered that while I was talking about finding information resources she was talking about finding information within a resource.
When planning specific lessons, the next template can be useful. Though most schools will have a lesson plan template within their departments, this one ensures the extra librarian value is incorporated into the mix.
In the excitement and busyness of putting the flesh around the collaborative bones, it is easy to neglect to collect evidence of the result. We need to be able to identify what worked in the collaboration so we can make sure to repeat it, as well as what didn’t go according to plan so that it can be tweaked or redesigned for next time. Both librarian and teacher will view the lesson from unique perspectives so it is important to record anecdotal evidence from both.
In order to make sure this reflective final step happens, the next template promotes evaluative conversations and can be referred to the next time that unit of work or lesson is to be taught. It is also valuable to record thoughts and observations through the course of teaching, so keeping post-it notes handy is a good idea.
This collaborative planning example was adapted for planning with the Year 7 chemistry teacher last term.
We both have a copy to refer back to, which means it can be used in future planning for both next year’s Year 7 programme, as well as developing these skills further through the Year 8 chemistry curriculum. We don’t have to rely on memory for the approach, including resources we used.
(We have yet to add our evaluations to this document, but this is due to happen, as the next Year 7 module class is about to begin.)
If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to begin your collaborative journey, using these templates may be the key to opening a discussion with a teacher or librarian colleague. Keep the first collaboration small so it is manageable and be prepared to catch the “collaboration bug”! Why not share your efforts and questions with us here in the comments or on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ILspaces) to grow the conversation.