DEC Scan Journal : Volume 34 Issue 3
2015 Volume 34, Issue 3 39 Contents Editorial Reflections Teaching & learning Research Curriculum support Share this Resource reviews Organisationally, this program can be challenging because of the number of students involved. The large year group is usually split into three smaller groups of 40 to 50 students. Each group comes to the library to meet the books during one period. Each student has a chance to listen to two books for around 30 minutes, in groups of about five. Students are, of course, encouraged to ask questions and be part of the conversation. An essential part of a successful day is the preparation. About two weeks before the event, the Wollongong Council program coordinators come to the school to explain the event and give the Year 9 students an overview of the books that will be available. The students then choose their books and the coordinators compose a timetable. Is it valuable for students? The most rewarding part of the Living Books event is seeing the enthusiasm of the students afterwards, especially the students who are usually not very engaged at school. I have recently revisited some student interviews that I filmed after the 2008 pilot program at Bulli High School. I was delighted all over again by the student’s overwhelmingly positive response. To quote one young student: It’s like, wow! On the day of the pilot program, some of the Year 9 students took the day off because they weren’t keen to be involved. The following day they heard all about it from their friends, and a number of them came and asked if I could run it again. The Bulli High School event was a significant event for one of the books too. He was a former student, who spoke about his difficult experiences at the school as a gay person. He had mixed feelings about returning to the school, but at least the library had been a place where he had felt safe when he had been at school. It was a difficult and emotionally draining day for him but he did make a difference for some of our students who were struggling with similar issues – they realised that they were not alone. Other, typical, comments from students about what they learnt from the books have included: Be who I am, no matter what Inspirational! Don’t take life for granted You get to know how it feels to be in their shoes I liked that they could tell their true stories without being afraid of being judged Just live life one day at a time Not to put myself down, stay positive Be yourself, everyone else is taken I am more open-minded to different sexualities To be yourself – we are all individuals and have the power to survive any of our problems I shouldn’t complain about little things If you want a good life you have the opportunity to make it happen Making it happen - collaboration is the key The most effective way to have a successful event in the school library is to collaborate with as many staff members as possible. With the Living Books program at WHSPA, I work closely with the Head Teacher of Welfare, the Stage 5 Coordinator, the school counsellors, the chaplain and our invaluable Student Support Officer. All of these staff members play vital roles in the smooth running of the event. Many times during or after the event, students are identified as needing support or are a concern, so the appropriately skilled staff member takes over. It was essential for me to build collaborative relationships with these staff members in order for them to understand the importance of this program and its effect and value for students. Through effective partnerships, I was able demonstrate how teacher librarians are able to contribute to student learning by assisting teachers to create unique learning experiences and positive learning outcomes. Community engagement and partnerships Teacher librarians are well placed in schools to engage in community partnerships, and successful coordination of community events raises the profile of the school library within the school community. This partnership also includes learning from every event and implementing new ideas. Part of the Wollongong Living Books program is a debriefing meeting with the books and Council staff at the end of the day. This is essential, as the event is quite emotional and draining for the books. They have a chance to discuss how it went, and raise issues or concerns they had.
Volume 34 Issue 2
Volume 34 Issue 4