Teaching/Librarianship Portfolios May Be More Important Now

With the rumblings about change in education and some districts eliminating positions like school librarians to cut costs, it might be time for updating the portfolio. Building a stronger representation of  what we do with students and sharing it with those who hold the keys to our positions and paychecks is vital. We know the strides we make with each student. We see progress on a daily basis and over time. Those who are outside of our environments and who must balance budgets do the best they can with the knowledge they have. The information we provide them might help us continue our work as we support student learning.

When I created my first constructive portfolio that served me well, I referred to How to Develop a Professional Portfolio: A Manual for Teachers, 3rd ed. by Campbell, Cignetti, Melenyzer, Nettles, and Wyman, Jr. (2004). Prior to that, I followed what our school had developed for evaluation purposes. With the manual, I found a more comprehensive, professional, and reflective way to represent myself and my repertoire as a teacher and a school librarian. The portfolio I developed served me well.

Now, I am going to revisit my portfolio with an eye on the future. What will be most important for evaluation? What skills should I focus on or seek professional development so I may add them to my knowledge base? Will I include items that I have on the Web? How will I address electronic applications that do not translate well to paper? Should I develop two separate portfolios: one paper and one electronic? Should I add to those a portfolio that has elements of both?

When I make these decisions, I will want to make them with the knowledge that the formats that I select will be accessible in the future. Why? Last week I cleaned out a drawer that had floppy discs in it. They are useless now. Whatever portfolio information that I might have had on them and did not have in a different format is not accessible to me at the moment. I will want to be sure to choose formats that I can keep for a long time. This will offer me opportunities for reflection and evidence of growth.

To get started on my new portfolio, I need to plan. Decisions must be made on what to collect, where to store what I collect, and how to organize it all. I have options. I would like to use what I have rather than make a side trip to the Container Store or my local office supply store. This might take some thinking time and creativity, but I am sure it will be worth it. A good start will help set a solid foundation for developing a portfolio that will provide evidence of what I do well.

Are School Librarians Shapers and Movers?

Here is something to think about as I begin this New Year.

I have noticed more people out walking in my community this week. It might have something to do with the resolutions that they have made for the New Year. In our school libraries, are we creating displays that reflect healthy choices that might reflect some of the resolutions made? Or, are we reflecting our community in some other way, such as the upcoming presidential inauguration or MLK holiday?

School libraries enrich a community.

School librarians play a role in how the enrichment process takes place. In a way, they help to shape the community through selection, service, and in other roles that they perform daily. Interaction between the school library and the community allow for the best information to be available for the students who live within that community. This interaction will create trust between the school library and the community because communication exists between the two. At times, there may be disagreement but the school library will reveal their bias for providing more information and viewpoints rather than less; follow sound policies that have been established for the protection of all students; and reach an agreement with the community that will best serve it, with the understanding that change is always forthcoming.

Do school librarians have the ability to shape and move a community? Yes, but they should follow ethical standards set forth by the profession and proceed with care for their students and community by providing service that represents that community and not their own desires.