Blog Archives

Go West…New Program at UWG

This awesome GLMA blog provides an excellent forum for announcing that the University of West Georgia is now offering an Ed.S. in Instructional Technology WITH School Library Media Certification. This means if you hold a Master’s degree and do not have media certification, you can go directly into the Specialist in Education Instructional Technology program and complete the program WITH School Library Media certification added. We are very excited about offering this program in addition to our Add-on media certification, and M.Ed. and Ed.S. programs in both School Library Media and Instructional Technology. (You might also want to check out our Online Teaching Endorsement and/or certification.)

GO WEST!!!

Phyllis R. Snipes,
University of West Georgia

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Teacher Leader Endorsement Program: Posted at PSC website – ALERT!!!

The PSC website has posted a proposed rule (http://www.gapsc.com/Rules/Proposed/edprep/20100915/505-3-.073.pdf) that would rescind the existing Teacher Leader Endorsement and replace it with a new rule regarding the Teacher Leader Endorsement Program. While the old rule provided that the endorsement should be offered to those holding level 5 or higher teaching or service certificates, the new rule would offer endorsement programs that prepare teacher leaders who hold certification as teachers, those in the service field of School Counselor, or in the leadership field of Educational Leadership. Do you see anything MISSING here???  The proposed rule, to become effective December 15, 2010, glaringly omits the media specialist service field as an option for the Teacher Leader Endorsement Program. Let’s take a look at the requirements for this leadership endorsement:

  1. Candidates who complete the program are teacher leaders who will facilitate the design and implementation of sustained, intensive, and job-embedded professional learning based on identified student and teacher needs. This includes, among other indicators, modeling lifelong learning, being reflective, engaging in professional development, advocating for the profession, staying current and knowledgeable of policy, trends and practices, working with others to build professional learning communities for collaborative work, and designing professional development. (Sounds like a school library media specialist.)
  2. Candidates who complete the program are teacher leaders who work with others to promote the development of a school culture that fosters excellence in teaching and learning and focuses on continuous improvement creating a sense of belonging and building a collaborative work environment. Indicators include building a collaborative culture, using a research-based change model for needed change, supporting a collaborative learning community that embraces a shared vision, considering ethical and legal implications of decisions made individually and collectively, and helping the school/district refine its vision based on emerging trends and initiatives. (The LMS focuses on collaboration, ethical decision-making, and trends and issues in schools consistently.)
  3. Candidates who complete the program are teacher leaders who demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of curriculum and apply this knowledge to the alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment to standards. This includes possessing a knowledge of the discipline and structure of the curriculum, understanding the sequence of grade levels and delivering meaningful professional learning and instructional strategies, engaging teachers in cooperative planning, demonstrating deep understanding of the curriculum and what students should know and understand in each instructional unit based on those standards, and identifying content specific resources for curriculum implementation. (Possessing a strong knowledge of the curriculum enables the LMS to assist with professional learning and selection of appropriate resources.)
  4. Candidates who complete the program are teacher leaders who model best practices in pedagogy and serve as a mentor and coach for other educators. Indicators include modeling and articulating exemplary instructional practices based on current research, assisting teachers in developing higher order questions, guiding teachers in in-depth understanding of lesson planning and delivery, integrating technology to support classroom instruction and student learning, guiding teachers in designing and selecting appropriate assessment instruments and strategies, and assisting teachers in identifying resources and providing appropriate support services for specific student needs. (A huge portion of the LMS time is spent supporting lesson plan development and assisting teachers with integration of technology into instruction.)
  5. Candidates who complete the program are teacher leaders who access and conduct research, and apply research findings to improve teaching and learning. This includes guiding colleagues to relevant research, conducting and engaging others in action research, following ethical procedures when conducting research, and remaining current on educational research, trends, and innovations. (“Ethical research” and “current trends and issues” are areas of the LMS’s expertise.)
  6. Candidates who complete the program are teacher leaders who demonstrate the ability to collaborate with all stakeholders to improve student learning and foster/influence change. Indicators include developing and sustaining trusting, productive, and supportive relationships with all stakeholders, promoting an atmosphere of collaboration through problem solving processes, promoting effective communication and collaboration with diverse groups of people, and identifying and utilizing resources to promote school and community relations. (The LMS is an advocate for the school with all stakeholders, always presenting ideas and resources for strong programs.)

These requirements and indicators ARE things media specialists do, and it is important that we retain the ability to acquire the Teacher Leader endorsement if we are to be recognized as leaders in our schools and school systems. Your comments on this issue can be posted at the PSC website by following the process listed here:

  • All interested persons shall be afforded reasonable opportunity to submit data, views, or arguments orally or in writing. Anyone interested in making a written statement may do so by submitting it to the undersigned at Two Peachtree Street, Suite 6000, Atlanta, GA 30303. It is requested that such a statement be delivered on or before October 16, 2010. Opportunity for oral hearing shall be granted if requested by 25 persons who will be directly affected by the proposed rule, by a governmental subdivision, or by an association having not less than 25 members.

We strongly encourage you to take action on this so that we retain the right to receive this endorsement, and maintain our roles as leaders in our schools.

Phyllis R. Snipes
Elizabeth Bennett
University of West Georgia

Debatable topic #7: Certifiably “Right” or Provisionally “Wrong”?

As my students have debated this topic in the past, I never really compared the stand of other states with Georgia on this issue. As my interest was piqued on the matter, I did a little searching and found an excellent resource in School Library Media Activities Monthly: “School library media certification by state (2008)”, by Deborah J. Jesseman, Scott M. Page, and Linda Underwood (2008). I was shocked to find that only four of our 50 states require no teacher licensure as a certification requirement – that is, they offer provisional or conditional certification without holding prior teacher certification. According to Jesseman, Page and Underwood, only Georgia, Maine, Oregon and Texas allow for SLMS initial employment without full teacher certification. However, Georgia is one of the fifteen states that does require a Master’s Degree as the entry level for the SLMS. While Georgia’s entry level for school library media is indeed the Master’s level, one can still be hired while working on the degree/certification prior to completing the program in some school districts in Georgia.

So, based on this extremely brief glance at certification requirements across the country, the question becomes: should full certification be required for hiring the school library media specialist, or should the provisional certification while the candidate is working on full certification be sufficient for hiring?

Considering full certification: Research across the country (Lance, 2005) shows that test scores improve when a good, strong media program is in place. If a media specialist is employed who has not been fully trained, those statistics might be in jeopardy. Also, Information Power, the national standards for school library media programs, presents standards and goals that should guide our media programs and, without being fully trained through a solid media training program, these goals and standards cannot be adequately accomplished. NCLB brings another dimension to the role of the media specialist that cannot be fully appreciated without mastering the breadth of a full preparatory program. Consider the mission statement of the American Association of School Librarians: “…to advocate excellent, facilitate change, and develop leaders in the library media field.” This requires adequate training.

Considering provisional certification: While certification implies qualification, this is certainly not true in all instances. Broadwell states “…there are things that can be done on the job, where the actual work is being done in the true environment, that cannot be simulated in the classroom” (1994). It is true that the most effective learning takes place when one is fully involved in the experience. Students who are employed in the media center prior to being fully certified bring an enthusiasm and energy to the media center that is infectious for the entire school. Practical application of policies and procedures are the cornerstone of the most effective teaching practices, and that practical application comes on a continual basis, not at the close of a program of study. Also, there are areas in Georgia where fully certified media specialists are not available, so a viable option for employing and training good media specialists is to hire those “in process.”

Georgia recognizes the importance of a certified school library media specialist, but also recognizes that there are quality applicants that could be hired and then encouraged to complete their certification. In the final analysis, a superior candidate is one who manifests qualifications for successfully discharging the duties and responsibilities of a school library media specialist, and that is the candidate that should be working hand-in-hand with our students and faculties. Is full certification a necessary component for such a superior candidate???

Comments welcomed!!

Dr. Phyllis R. Snipes
University of West Georgia

Broadwell, M.M. (1994). Supervisor: On the job training. (4th ed.). New York :Basic Books.

Jesseman, D.J., Page, S.M., & Underwood, L. (2008). “School library media certification by state (2008).” School Library Media Activities Monthly. From Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved January 20, 2009, from http://www.schoollibrarymedia.com/cert/index.html

Lance, K.C. (2005). Powering achievement: The impact of school librariews and librarians academic achievement. Library Resource Service. Retrieved January 21, 2009, from http://www.lrs.org/documents/lmcstudies/proof2005.pdf

Classroom Experience…To have or not to have, that is the question!!

As promised, here is the first discussion topic of a somewhat debatable nature: should classroom experience be required in order to become a school library media specialist?

I can recall the days of yore when this was the focus of very heated debate among Georgia “school librarians” and certification officials for the state. Many felt that since the librarian was also considered a teacher, he/she should have actual time in the classroom in order to fulfill that required role. Others, however, held that since the requirements for the job were much more varied and only a portion was teaching, classroom experience would only serve minimally in preparing the librarian for work in the school.

Today, as an argument for the library media specialist to have classroom teaching experience, one of my students posed the questions: Would you want your principal to have no teaching experience? Why should the media specialist be any different? In order to collaborate successfully with teachers and students, some teaching experience is invaluable. The media center is a place where creative teaching should be at a maximum, and without some prior knowledge of various teaching strategies, creativity is limited. In order to work with teachers on lesson planning, curriculum issues, and critical thinking strategies, having taught in the classroom provides irreplaceable training. Also, many questions on the GACE, where a passing score is required for certification in GA, focus on instruction and teaching strategies. Bottom line is: Can you have a highly qualified teacher-librarian who has not had classroom experience?

On the other side of the issue, many people who seek certification in GA have had very extensive training in the area of technology, which is a required skill for today’s library media specialist. We have become a doorway to the future through technology for our students, and classroom experience does not always contribute to that aspect of the media specialist’s role. Many people who have worked in the business world already have skills in place to “sell their product.” Communication skills are paramount in the role of the business executive, so they would come into the job with better preparation than that received through classroom teaching. Many skills would be transferable: expense accounts to library budgets, managing a territory or group to managing a media center, prioritizing and making a business plan to preparing a library yearly plan, etc. With these skills already in place, the transfer to managing a media program and collaborating and teaching with teachers would be easily accomplished.

I recall my own preparation as a librarian when I started my first job in Bartow County in 1974 (this was prior “library media specialist” terminology). I had classroom experience through my Early Childhood Education practicum, so was prepared through the regular “teacher preparation” channels. A more focused field experience within the library media center might have better prepared me for work in the school as a media specialist. After working as a librarian for two years, I spent 4 years in the classroom and that experience truly enhanced my potential to be an excellent media specialist. On the other hand, I am not certain that continued work in the school library would have limited my potential for excellence, even without the classroom experience??? There is value on both sides. One main truth exists: experience within a school setting, whether through managing your own classroom or gathering intense field experiences, helps to prepare and equip the media specialist to work and collaborate with teachers and, therefore, help kids!

It would be most interesting to hear others’ thoughts on this issue!

Phyllis Snipes, Assistant Professor,

University of West Georgia

Resources:

Achterman, D. (2006). Another school of thought. School Library Journal, 52, 41.

Buddy, J.W. (2007). Using personality traits and effective communication to improve collaboration. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23 (9).

Kaplan, A.G. (2007). Is your school librarian “highly qualified”? Phi Delta Kappan, 89.

Starkman, N. (2007). The New librarians. T.H.E. Journal, 8 (34).