Trendy instructional theories are encouraging teachers to repeatedly use the "So what?" question in order to get to deep understanding. So…it seems appropriate when reflecting on the unveiling of "new standards" to experiment with this: So what? Everyone's writing new standards. Why should I care?
Our nation is currently immersed in new standards of all kinds: Common Core (CCSS) Standards (which embrace English Language Arts and Math); new Social Studies Standards (C3); new NextGen Science Standards; and many new state standards. So, it only makes sense for our profession to also keep pace with our changing culture, our information explosion, our reading ecosystems, and new technology tools. To ignore an evolving educational landscape would be irresponsible.
AASL did not work in the dark, but developed these new standards after research, reflection, and contribution from 160 librarians, and 20 focus groups in 8 various locations. Therefore, these new standards reflect voices from the field—front line workers such as you. Mary Keeling, Task Force champion, commented at the AASL Conference unveiling that this is an "opportunity to reflect and grow."
The most daunting aspect of unveiling and embracing new standards is time; we don't have enough time already so where in the world can we possibly find time to evaluate, re-plan, repackage, and align our instruction with new standards? Here's the good news: You are probably already operating under a great deal of the new standards. Chances are your district leaders and curriculum developers have worked hard to keep your school aligned with national and state curriculum changes embracing inquiry-based learning and student engagement. You are probably keeping pace with technology tools and building a collaborative team. If you have been planning library programs and resources for all your stakeholders, then you are already operating from the new suggested vantage point. The standards can help us to purposely improve our focus and gather new ideas.
A good way to evaluate where you are and where you need to go is with a little simple self-assessment:
- Watch some background videos on the AASL Standards website (http://standards.aasl.org/).
- Grab the Standards brochure, red pen, and green and yellow highlighters.
- Using the chart on pages 4-5, green highlight what you are doing already.
- With a red pen, circle areas where you see a need to improve.
- Underline in yellow highlighter areas where you are "close."
- Make a list of new vocabulary to embrace.
- Plot and plan a course to reach your new educational destination of alignment. Slow and steady wins the race! For example, if you don't collaborate, then set your goal at one teacher per month. If your lessons don't engage the students, ask yourself, "How can I get students talking?"
The best way to learn anything new is to manipulate, evaluate, and apply. If you read and react with this valuable printable chart, you will be one step closer to adopting these standards as your new, recalculated instructional path. You will be ready to boast that you're Future Ready and aligned with national standards. You will be ready to discuss with your principal how you engage students and prepare them for 21st -century collaborative work models.
If you need improvement, concentrate on the learner competency "power verbs" below corresponding to your area in need of improvement. Collaboratively brainstorm how you can improve your library lessons and research to make them student-centered learning adventures. The learner competencies listed below come straight from the new Standards Framework and demonstrate how the new standards are suited for lifelong learning.