Wednesday, November 30, 2016

School librarians and libraries help Every Student Succeed in Iowa!

Steven Yates, president-elect for AASL, presented a wonderful workshop on ESSA in Cedar Rapids and via Zoom to other AEAs across Iowa on Tuesday, Nov. 29th. We taped this workshop and will be sending out a link to the recording soon.

On Wednesday, Nov. 30th, a small group of teacher librarians and library professionals from across the state are meeting with Director Ryan Wise – at his request - in Des Moines to have a conversation about ESSA, school librarians and effective school library programs.

 We all have an excellent opportunity to help Every Student Succeed in Iowa! We can send emails to with messages (see steps 4 through 9 for some ideas). 

It’s hard to sum up all of what happened in the three-hour workshop to a single email. For now, I will give a brief summary of what you can do now.

1.       First of all, go to the ESSA web site and download the Iowa handbook we used for the workshop: There are excellent resources in there, including video links for more information about ESSA and libraries.

2.       Next, think about who in your community would have a stake in local school district plans to ensure that school library program provide students an opportunity to develop digital literacy skills and improve academic achievement? Who needs to have college and career ready individuals graduation today?  Those might include teachers, administrators, parents, current students, other library and educational associations, community colleges, private and public colleges in your region, news organizations, businesses, former students, public libraries, and many more. I am sure you can think of some to add to this list.

3.       Next, think about what they can contribute to our efforts and three things you could do today to build or strengthen your relationship with them.

4.       Now it is time to develop your personalized “elevator speech” based on ESSA’s key areas that relate to school librarians and effective school libraries.  You can use this message for an email to the Iowa DE or to share with friends to ask them to share with the Iowa DE.

5.       Start with ESSA’s key messages for school librarians are as follows:
a.       School librarians and access to effective school library programs, impact student achievement, digital literacy skills, and school climate/culture (Title I)
b.       School librarians share their learning with other professionals when they attend conferences and workshops, applying the benefits of new techniques, strategies, and technologies to the entire district (Title II)
c.       School librarians are uniquely suited to lead the effort in applying for competitive grants because of their expertise and access to strong professional learning networks (Title II, Part B)
d. School librarians increase access to personalized, rigorous learning experiences supported by technology, allowing equitable resources for all students. (Title IV) 

6.       Connect the message specifically to your work with a quick fact or data point and a story. It is OK to use data from a survey or research if you do not have specific data from your school or district to support your story. A story or anecdote that shows the impact you have on a student or students is key here.

7.       Consider who you are talking to, what they care about and what it is within their power to impact.

8.       Wrap it up by making a specific request of what you would like them to do to help.

9.       If it helps, practice in front of a friend or the mirror. It’s important to be prepared should you find yourself faced with questions and comments such as “Are there really any libraries left?” … “We don’t need librarians when you have the Internet.” … “Everything kids need is on Google.” …

Check the IASL web site for more updates on ESSA at and on state listservs.

Keep up the good fight!