This week, McKinney ISD joins libraries nationwide in celebrating the many ways that libraries serve our communities—and in the case of MISD, our teachers and students.
April 8–14 is National Library Week, an annual recognition and celebration of the work of libraries, librarians and library workers. Our libraries aren’t just places to borrow books or study; they’re valued campus resources for our teachers that impact learning throughout our schools.
In recent years, the term “library” has given way to “learning commons” in MISD to reflect a shift in philosophy and practice.
You may find yourself asking, “What is a ‘learning commons’?”
“Our learning commons sites are just large classrooms,” explains MISD Director of Instructional Technology Lara Lindsey. “We changed our model several years ago to a learning commons model which offers a lot of flexibility, and we encourage teachers to bring their classes every day, all day long if they need to. That’s where the information is. That’s where the computers are. But, it’s no longer about coming to the library just to do research. There are opportunities for a variety of learning activities to be happening all the time. I think our learning commons looks more like Starbucks or Barnes & Noble than it does a traditional quiet library. Sometimes it’s loud, but at the same time it’s innovative and collaborative.”
In addition to the traditional shelves filled with books, the learning commons offers an expansive digital literature library that can be accessed by students at any time, and it features a virtual reference library of four to five thousand volumes of established, published reference books along with Discovery Learning reference videos.
“A lot of what we do while we’re working with all of these materials,” adds Lindsey, “is working on information literacy and evaluating resources and asking, ‘What am I reading? And, does it have value?’ Which is a very important skill today.”
The MakerSpace concept has gained traction in recent years and is a key feature of the modern MISD learning commons.
“Those are areas where kids can get in and just tinker and work with their hands on materials to solve their own problems,” says Lindsey. “They can be self-directed or they can be directed by their teacher into some kind of a challenge in the MakerSpace. You could be coding a robot, or you could just be working with creating something with toilet paper tubes and making a three dimensional object.”
If the space and the way it is utilized looks different these days, the role of the librarian has changed as well. Today, they’re more aptly titled media resource specialists, and what they provide for our campuses is light-years beyond managing the library inventory.
They have at least three years of classroom experience, a master’s degree and TEA certification.
“The media resource specialist is really a master teacher with a heavy emphasis in information literacy,” explains Lindsey. “The job has evolved, and now it’s becoming much more about the technology side in addition to the literacy side, so they juggle a lot of responsibilities. Our media resource specialists play dual roles, helping leverage technology with teaching and learning, as well as running a traditional library.”
They spend significant portions of their time, Lindsey said, working with teachers on lesson design and providing support for those lessons. “They’re a jack of all trades,” she said. “They kind of do it all when it comes to learning in the classroom. They get in there and plan with the teams and help them facilitate new ways to do old things.”
And, the faculties of MISD campuses have recognized their contribution by naming a media resource specialist as Campus Teacher of the Year eight times in the past seven years: Tonya Hinkebein (Burks, 2012); Peggy Perret (Eddins, 2012); Christy Hames (Webb, 2012); Wendy Dickerson (Glen Oaks, 2015); Cathy Vance (Press, 2015); Amanda Hamilton (McClure, 2016); Angie Stallbaumer (Bennett, 2017) and Jamie Morris (Dowell, 2018).
It’s National Library Week. So, it’s a great time to thank an MISD media resource specialist for the way they support our teachers and serve our students.
And, maybe return that overdue book while you’re at it?
For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or firstname.lastname@example.org.