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5 ideas to start the new school year with a clear focus and plan.

people sitting round a table planning
Let's start planning together

Planning for the new school year has started with gusto across Twitter. Excited school librarians finally talking about opening their school libraries properly. For some of them it is the first time in 18 months. But what does planning mean to you though? Is it something that you have in your head or is it something more formal than that? However you do it now I hope I can give you some ideas to maybe do something different in the future. A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about writing your end of year annual report. Some of it was about how you could use it to not only look back but also look forward and plan for the year to come.

If you got round to writing your annual report this summer, well done! I hope you now have a clear focus on how you are going to move forward this year. I also hope that you have a plan on how you will go about sharing it too. Those on your list should be your line manager, your headteacher and your link to the board of governors. If you don't have a link with your governors, it is good to try and find one as this is an important place to have support for the school library. CILIP SLG created this leaflet which helps explain why a school library is important. I would also include sharing a highlights version of your annual report with parents or on your school website. Sharing it is just as important as writing it. Even if you believe that no one is going to read it you should still share it.

If you are sitting here reading this thinking 'plan, who has time for a plan?' you certainly wont be the the only one. We have had a very unusual couple of years and just getting the doors of your library open will be a success. However, if you are feeling ready for more then please read on.

Planning for the new school year

If you have been following my blogs you won't be surprised to hear me suggest that a good place to start planning is by downloading and read the IFLA School Library Guidelines. A publication that gives school librarians a complete picture of what a school library could be offering. It is a truly inspirational and aspirational look at school librarianship.

It can be a little overwhelming so I thought that in conjunction with the guidelines I would make an easy list to get you started. To help you plan with purpose along with the page links to the guidelines so you can read them for yourself. You are not going to achieve all of this in one year but it is a good place to start your long term plan.

1. Definition of your school library (p.16)

Understand what your school library is about. If you can't do this then how can you explain it to others? If you had 30 seconds to define your school library what would you say? It is not easy so writing it down and practice saying it is a great way to get it into your head.

If you need some ideas, then read this thread I started on Twitter below.

2. Roles of a professional school librarian (p.27)

Many of us make assumptions about what this is. Mainly from our own experiences of the school libraries we have seen and worked in. However, there is a lot more to being a school librarian than meets the eye. This chapter opens the door to moving your school library and your role forward in a way you may not have considered before.

3. Programmes and Activities of a School Library (p38-45)

This whole chapter is worth checking out as it highlights all the exciting areas a school librarian can focus on. Try stepping out of your comfort zone and decide which of your regular tasks could be done less often to allow time for some of this.

  • Literacy and Reading Promotion

  • Media and Information Literacy Instruction

  • Inquiry-Based Learning Models

  • Technology Integration

  • Professional Development for Teachers

4. School Library Evaluation Checklist (p65)

It is good to go through this list as it highlights areas to focus on. You may want to remove some of the questions and add others of your own but it is a great starting tool.

5. FOSIL (Framework Of Skills for Inquiry Learning)

If you have not already found a framework for Inquiry Learning then check out FOSIL. It is a Reception to Year 13 framework that builds on the skills needed to navigate and understand the online world effectively. For more information check out The FOSIL Group website here and make sure you look at the resources page for ideas to get you started. If you want to read more about FOSIL check out my page here.

Want more help to get started?

Over the last few years, I have been creating online training for school librarians and teachers responsible for school libraries. If after reading this blog you would like more help please check out my training pages here.

Good luck with the new school year. You are not on your own so please get in touch if you need any help or support.

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Thanks Elizabeth, I sat myself down today and worked through this process. Feeling a bit less overwhelmed now!

Aug 25, 2021
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I am delighted to hear this! Please keep in touch and let me know how your year is going. Good luck for September!

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