by Traci Chun, Rob Harsch, Wayne Johnston, Bobbie Lowe, and Mark Ray (Vancouver Public Schools, WA)
— Dr. Steve Webb (@SuptVPS) April 13, 2016
Referring to teacher librarians (TLs), this 2016 Tweet by Vancouver School District superintendent Dr. Steve Webb speaks to the theory and practice of linking school librarians and libraries to innovation in VPS. With the belief that increased making, coding, and student design are an essential part of preparing future ready graduates, Vancouver has recognized librarians’ interest in these innovative practices. In addition to encouraging libraries to incorporate making and design into their programs, there is a belief that teacher librarians can also promote these instructional practices within schools. By building capacity and extending permission to play, VPS school libraries are offering both students and teachers exciting first opportunities to make, design, and learn.
Librarian interest in making at Vancouver Public Schools began at the grassroots level, largely through social media and word of mouth. VPS began supporting librarians interested in making with the formation of a community of practice focused on the topic.
VPS’s connections and professional learning networks also extend regionally and nationally.
Support people who are at different places on their learning journeys — people who are running, walking, jogging, and even the ones who do somersaults. Allow the group/yourself the ability to change and evolve as needs arise. For example, our first makerspace community of practice struggled when it added new members in the second year. We found that having two internal cohorts within the community of practice helped to support the unique needs of everyone in the group.
If we wanted teacher librarians to introduce making to their libraries and their students, we had to start by introducing it to them. We all know a great way to learn is to jump right in and participate. We wanted teacher librarians to know exactly how powerful making could be and why libraries are a great place to start. Our goal was to make sure that teacher librarians felt empowered and prepared to introduce making in their space.
“Bravery was our motto this past year. My community of practice giving me the strength to know that I was allowed to fail and that I was supported was irreplaceable.” – Bobbie Lowe, Teacher Librarian
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