My role as a librarian at George Washington Carver Elementary in Maryland, a Title I school, started five years ago. I have watched the title “librarian” and the meaning of the word “library” change entirely over the past few years, with the role of teacher librarian melding into something that simply cannot be replaced in a learning environment. For me, it’s important to provide students with the opportunity to practice problem-solving skills to develop the self-confidence they need for a bright future.

I can’t make that happen without the help of others. With our eyes always set on the future, the library staff and I have created a learning commons that continues to evolve. To make sure we’re prepared for what lies ahead, we keep a close eye on our space and students by doing the following:

● Providing consistent structure and hands-on, engaging expectations for students each year
● Collaborating with instructional specialists and team members
● Building our makerspace and computer science program
● Writing grants to raise money to continuously upgrade the library
● Serving as curators of quality technology and other resources

When I went to library school, I never thought about the library as the place to grow relationships, harbor creativity, and inspire empathy and critical-thinking skills. I looked at it as a way to put great books in students’ hands and help teachers out when they needed it. People may not realize that libraries can facilitate global connections. There is power in libraries, and here are a few of my best practices to help make yours powerful, too.

1. Success in my library is based on relationships.
Take the time to implement the tools that work for students and get rid of the ones that don’t. Use technology to create an environment that engages students in a purposeful manner. Our makerspace and creative problem-solving programs have increased our students’ communication skills and self confidence.

About the Author:

April Wathen is a teacher librarian at George Washington Carver Elementary School in Lexington Park, Maryland. Follow her on Twitter @AprilWathen.


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