A Staff Learning Library

A Interesting Idea to get great resources into the school for staff professional learning

Interesting Ideas

Here’s an Interesting Idea to expose your staff to great professional learning.  This idea will show staff that you are investing in their learning and change the focus of your staff meetings.  Bottom line, staff that are learning and developing are having an impact on your students. 

There are so many wonderful professional resources available for educators. The adult learners I have met are hungry to continue to develop their program, their understanding and their skill set for working with students and families.  Why not make it easy for them to learn?

When used properly there are some benefits achieved when an entire class uses the same textbook or completes the same novel study, but most would agree that when students have choice and a variety of resources are available,  they achieve greater outcomes and are more invested in their learning.

The same is true for staff.  

The adults in your buildings should be exposed to a wide variety of resources so they can make individual decisions about what they want to read and research.  When staff invest in their own learning it has a greater chance of changing practice.

So, make available the opportunity for staff to select professional learning resources that are going to benefit them and the students in your school.  By doing so, you can increase the number and quality of professional resources in your school and the collaborative learning opportunities organized by your staff.

Here’s how it works.

This can be started at any time in an established school as well, you just have to share the concept.

To start a new school I wanted to get a professional library up and running. We had a section in our school library devoted to professional resources for staff so they could sign out and borrow new, current, high quality books. I didn’t want to be the one to stock it with books I thought they might use.  I wanted their input on resources.

I let all the staff know that if there was a professional resource that they wanted, I would get them a copy. At an early meeting I brought some of my favourite resources.  These were books that I had on my shelf, that I used often and had an influence on my as an educator.  I announced that the school wanted to make a commitment to their professional learning.

At any time, if there was a book that they had seen, or heard about I wanted to be able to get them a copy.

At the beginning of the year teachers were responsible for goal setting and making their Annual Learning Plan (ALP).  As an administrator, going through these documents is an important support for teachers and I encourage you to read a previous blog about this.  Found here.

If a teacher referenced a book in their ALP I would write back and tell them the school would look after the purchase.

But I would also go through the ALPs and connect staff with great books.  Using Solution Tree Canada as an example I would be able to take the teacher’s suggested area  of development and send them a resource list in that area.

This idea is simple, it can be a bit costly, but it is worth it. 

I created an expense line in our school budget and would purchase two copies of the book.  

Let’s say the educator was interested in this fabulous book……

Eller and Hierck's Trauma Sensitive Instruction
An example of a great book to purchase for the school’s professional resource section

I would purchase two copies and place one copy in my office. This was a visual reminder to me that I had made the purchase and who had a new book. I would give the other copy to the teacher and it was theirs to keep.  They needed to make me one little guarantee or promise.  We would pull up the school year calendar of staff meetings and look for a month where they could offer a session highlighting the book, sharing with staff how it had informed their program and what they were doing different in their classroom because of it.  They had to show me and others how their practice had changed because of this book.

At a future staff meeting we would have multiple opportunities for staff to travel to different presentations put on by their colleagues.  They would share the book, talk about its influence, do an activity and/or presentation for half an hour and then repeat the presentation for a second audience.

From a staff members’ perspective, they win.  They get a valuable resource to keep and it only costs them the time and effort to read it and present it.

From an administrators’ perspective, I win.  I am supporting the professional development of my staff.  I am having staff meetings turn into learning opportunities facilitated by the staff.  And I am getting high quality professional resources into the school for others to read and use.

After the staff meeting presentation was over I would take the second copy that was in my office and place a bookplate inside the front cover with their name on it. 

Bookplate inside front cover of a professional resource
Bookplate Sharing with staff who is our ‘expert’ for this resource

Then we would place that copy of the book in the professional learning section in our library for staff.  Great books started to accumulate.  Staff could see who on staff had read the book, used the ideas from the book and become a bit of an ‘expert’.  Some staff started going out and purchasing a copy of these presented resources on their own so they could have their own copy. 

In a few months, staff started finding resources that were not in the library that they wanted.  They would come see me and pitch the idea, I could do a little investigating to make sure the resource was from a reliable and trusted source.  If it was in an area where I had little experience I could reach out to colleagues at the central office or others that I knew to find out if the book was known and if it aligned with the mission/vision of our school board. 

Great books…Staff learning…Investing in your staff…Changing staff meetings…Changing classroom practices…Appreciating your people….It may cost a few dollars but it is an Interesting Idea that has great value.

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