Give Me Five #8 – Self Promotion

Give Me Five #8

By Tommy and Linda Johns


This is another article in a series that has a simple premise.  The articles will take you less than five minutes to read (that’s when you give US five!) and will deal with a problem or concept pertaining to our work encouraging kids to read.  Each article will also include a list of five ideas, reasons, tools, steps or other helpful items (that’s when we give YOU five!) related to the topic of the article.  While none of these articles will claim to be the last word on any topic, we promise to make each one fun, well researched and way beyond the obvious. (If you have missed the first articles, you can view them at or e-mail us at and we’ll send you an MS WordTM file of the articles.)  Here is Give Me Five


#8 – “Be a Self Promoter!”

When Tommy worked in a job that had a lot of very significant, but almost always behind the scenes, work, he often groused (mostly to himself) about the fact that nobody knew how valuable he was to the organization.  On one of the rare times he got a chance to voice his frustration about being taken for granted to a colleague in another similar organization, the friend told him something he will always remember.


He said, “Remember the old proverb, ‘He who doth not toot his own horn, the same shall not be tooted.’”  We don’t know where this ancient proverb originated, or even if it is ancient, but there is undeniable truth in these words.  This sage told Tommy that if he wanted people to know how important his contribution was, he had to be the one to tell them.


Media Center work is a lot like that.  It is likely that many people in your school have little idea of the value you and your classroom bring to the school, both students and faculty.  You need to let them know.


Of course you can’t just go around telling everybody how great you are.  Tommy’s grandmother married a guy like that after his grandfather passed away, and the family almost stopped inviting them to Thanksgiving dinner!  At their house! 


And as much as you deserve it, you can’t buy t-shirts that say “Our Media Specialist Rocks!” for the morning news crew to wear.


No, your approach has to be much more subtle; but the challenge of being a ninja self promoter just makes it all the more fun!  Here are some ways to make sure that while nobody talks IN the library, everybody is talking ABOUT it!


Announce New Developments Publicly – When a new shipment of books comes in, make sure that everybody knows.  Send an e-mail to the teachers, make an announcement on the morning news program, ask a volunteer to create a bulletin board or display.  When a reading campaign kicks off, go around the tables during lunch and encourage the kids to take part.  Display prizes (if that’s the direction you are going) near a high traffic area.  If you are announcing the work of the media center, the fact that you are the key worker there will not get lost on those hearing the news.


Be Visible – Go to grade level collaboration meetings and share resources with the teachers.  Stand out in the hall in a costume or holding a sign about some new or exciting thing in the media center.  Ask for a Media Minute at PTA/PTO meetings and share some of the work and offerings of the media center.  Since your classroom serves the entire school, you have the right (one might even say a responsibility) to share with parents, teachers, and of course, administration, the kinds of contributions that your area offers to the school.


Be Sensitive to the Culture of Your School – We were recently involved with an AR reward event that was held during lunch, so the kids would not spend time away from class.  Every morning this school announces their school motto, which includes a phrase about spending “time on task.”  The media specialist held her event when the kids would not miss valuable class time, and she was careful to mention WHY she chose this format in an e-mail to the teachers. 


Stay on Top of What’s Being Taught at Your School – Be aware of the Georgia Performance Standards for each grade level and what is being taught when.  For example, a teacher recently asked a media specialist about ordering biographies of specific people they were studying.  When the MS was able to respond, “Are these the people listed in your grade level GPS?” and then followed up by saying, “I have already included several of those in a couple of different reading levels in my order,” it was obvious by the teacher’s expression that she was impressed and appreciative.  Another way to be a ninja self promoter is to set up displays that highlight resources that would help teachers and students with their work.  Send a monthly newsletter via e-mail that tells teachers what books, magazines, DVD’s, and equipment you have available for them.  Tell them what’s new or what has been around but has not been utilized.  Your new teachers don’t know what you have or are willing to do for them, and the veterans have always done it the way they have always done it.  Just sharing information can make a real difference.


When a Project Ends Well, Celebrate “OUR” Success – One of the best ways to brag on the services provided by the media center is to publicly congratulate all who made an event or emphasis a success.  If your push for reading biographies resulted in a circulation increase in that area, make sure you thank “all those students and teachers who made our emphasis a success.  You checked out 78% MORE biographies in September of this year than last September.”  If you have a great book fair, thank the team of volunteers and media center staff as well as the students and teachers who adjusted their schedules and came to the fair.  Every time you thank them, the message is going out loud and clear that the media center is a significant part of the school and that its leadership contributes to its effectiveness.


Toot your own horn!  You CAN be a self promoter and endear yourself to those around you.  The media center can and should be a significant factor in the success of your school’s mission, but people have to know about it to take advantage of the services you offer.  By following these suggestions, you can help your colleagues and your students while you increase your visibility in the school.  Everybody wins!


Tommy has been self promoting his work encouraging kids to read for almost three decades as a school show presenter and educational entertainment specialist.  Find out more at Linda, a first year library media specialist in Cobb County, has already discovered great value in self promotion and has used many of the ideas above to boost her visibility and value to her school.  We welcome your comments on this column and ideas for future “Give Me Five!” articles.  You can contact us at or 

Posted on October 18, 2008, in Activities, Best practice, Communications, Ideas, Program administration, Recognition, Standards and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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