Updated: Jun 22
Why do we do what we do?
You have managed to get to the end of the school year. You have got as many books back as you can, you have tidied the shelves, you have fixed or removed the damaged or old books (weeding) and you have even managed to do a stock check. Yay, the school library doors are now closed until September.
At this time of year we see many end of year reports shared on social media, lots with amazing loan figures and other impressive statistics. You look at these and think about what you have done over the year and realise that you could write something just as impressive but no-one is expecting this from you. No-one has asked for a report so why bother? or even, I have no idea how to start writing one...
Reflecting on the year just gone can be really beneficial and a great way to look at advocacy for your role. It is good to look back on what you have achieved in order to look forward and plan for the coming year. Having a plan for the coming year is a great way to guide you to your goals and will help you talk about what you do to those who decide whether your job is import or not. Sharing your annual report with your SLT, whether they asked for one or not, shows that you know what is happening throughout the school and how you link to it.
I wonder if many of us get to the end of the year with a feeling of despondency and relief that we have survived another year purely because there is no clear path ahead. Who is responsible for giving you a clear path? Your SLT (Senior Leadership Team) or yourself? I wonder if there is no goal apart from 'to do the best that I can do in the situation I'm in' will ever leave you feeling as if we are actually achieving anything apart from surviving?
My challenge for you is to start planning your end of year report 2020 now. Think about what you will need to achieve this. Here are a few thoughts to help but if you have more ideas then please feel free to add in the comments below.
What are your school aims.
What is your school's mission statement.
What is the learning focus/objectives for the school for the year ahead? If it is literacy or skills for example?
Can you find out what the learning focus/objectives for each department? Probably best to start with English, History and Geography first.
Remember that any end of report you write should be linked to the information you find above. For now your plan for the year ahead should be with the thought 'how am I going to help my school achieve these aims and objectives. If the clubs, lessons or initiatives you currently run don't fit in with what you find out can you tweak them so they do or do you need to change them? Has the information you found out given you an idea to try something else?
You will find that some of what you do is playing a part in engaging students in reading for pleasure and that's great! If literacy is not a school focus at the moment (although it always should be) it is alright to keep something that are working and you think is important.
Planning for your year ahead.
Running your school library is not just about checking out those books and helping students find the information they need. Running your school library is about doing this with a purpose. If you are questioned about what you do can you answer linking to the school aims?
Do you know why you weed old and tatty books?
Do you know why it is important for you to get to know the students?
Do you know why you run the book club?
Do you know why you help to run the AR (Accelerated Reader) programme?
Do you know why you find resources for teachers who ask?
Do you know why you need a budget to buy more books?
There are so many more questions like these that you, as the school librarian, should be able to answer and your annual report will able you to make sense of it all. None should be answered 'because this is what I was asked to do' or 'because I know that it is good for the students'. These are reasons you do your job but not good reasons for a school to look at your school library and find value in it.
When writing an annual report remember the 'so what?' If you can't answer this with the statistics you collect then don't add it to your report. Annual reports can be empowering if you do them well. Is it time for you to start looking at your 2020 annual report now?
If you have read this and are going 'this is what my annual report does' then please share in the comments below. We would love to seen them!
Edit: Leslie Watts a secondary school librarian wrote this blog after reading mine. How I write my annual report.
Lucy Chambers kindly gave this example of an annual report for me to share. Please click to download.
Further help and learning:-
Planning and writing your annual report presenter Elizabeth Hutchinson
Strategic planning is your superpower: Making the invisible visible presenter Lori Korodaj