3-Hour School Library Field Experience for Pre-Service K-12 Teachers

Institution: Lavery Library at St. John Fisher College

Recognizing how essential collaboration between the K-12 classroom teacher and the school librarian is in promoting information literacy, the team worked together to form a three way partnership that included the college’s Lavery Library, the college’s School of Education, and approximately 100 school librarians in Upstate New York near the college’s campus. The Education Librarian team member contacted school librarians of surrounding K-12school districts and asked for their participation; response by the school librarians was enthusiastic.

The team then created a requirement for every K-12 pre-service teacher enrolled at St. John Fisher College to spend 3 hours of field experience in a school library. The three hours field experience in elementary libraries is imbedded into course EDUC356: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in Literacy. For secondary education pre-service teachers, the three hours are imbedded into EDUC 418: Literacy Instruction for Middle-Childhood and Adolescent Learners.

Professors teaching those courses were included in all team discussions and readily agreed to prepare students for their school library field experience by communicating to students their expectations regarding connections each student should make between course assignments, school library resources, and information literacy.

The process itself is simple. Undergraduates and K-12 school librarians are paired by the College’s Director of Student Teaching. Soon after each semester starts, the undergraduate introduces him or herself to the school librarian via email and they find a mutually agreeable date and time for the undergraduate to spend three hours in the school library with the school librarian.

The student carries paperwork with him or her for the school librarian to sign as verification that the 3 hours field experience has been completed. The completed paperwork is returned to the college’s Director of Student Teaching. During the three hours, the undergraduate can observe how the school librarian collaborates with the classroom teachers in the school. The undergraduate can asks questions like:
If I was a classroom teacher in your school, how would you and I collaborate?
How could I use the library resources when planning my lessons?
What are some examples of ways you currently work with classroom teachers?
What should a classroom teacher do to make the most of the school library librarian?

The thinking behind this project is that newly hired K-12 teachers are often so busy they never connect with the school librarian. However, if their undergraduate teacher preparation allows them to experience the value of classroom teacher/school librarian collaboration, they enter their profession seeking out the school librarian because they realize from the very beginning that the school librarian is a value-added piece of their students’ educational experience.

Project Type: Completed Project

Budget: N/A

Team Members:

Kathleen Sigler, Education Librarian, St. John Fisher College
Melissa Jadlos, Library Director, St. John Fisher College
Dr. Wendy Paterson, Dean of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education
Allison Bosworth, School Of Education Director of Field Experience and Student Teaching
Other team members were the approximately 100 K-12 School library Media Specialists who participated

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