After about a year of working as a teacher-librarian at the school library I still feel a sense of amazement at having access to so many books and materials. It is the most beautiful, the most empowering space at school, enabling everybody who comes in to enjoy exploring the materials and learning on their own.
The school library is not a passive place to sit down and listen; it is loud and lively as students are there almost all the time. Everyone is a student here, and everyone is a teacher, too. Most students coming to the library are book lovers; and, each one is a unique personality with different attitudes and ways of thinking. Apart from talking about the books we love, we also discuss various topics from Science and Aviation to Arts and Philosophy. I enjoy listening to students’ stories and insights, and I love that they are intellectually curious and open to new ideas.
The other day a 4th year student told me that he was fond of Richard Dawkins’s books. As he was fascinated by the renowned English biologist and writer, I was intrigued and curious to find out more about the scientist on the Internet. If you are interested you can explore the site, and follow R. Dawkins on Twitter, too. I also enjoyed reading the Richard Dawkins interview in the Guardian.
Working at the Aviation technical school library is really cool for an English language teacher as there are a lot of opportunities for speaking English with the students and foreign guests (as EASA/ETIHAD Airways representatives visit our school a few times a year), while helping the students with their emails and application letters, or the preparation for FCE exam and so on. I have also enjoyed being a part of the school online magazine editorial team (I have an English language section: “Fun with English” and “Interesting Facts about Aviation”).
I am very happy to have a full autonomy to organize my time and activities at the library. As I know the curriculum, I understand what the teachers and students need and thus I can help them to find the necessary materials, especially for Aviation English lessons (as I created the syllabus and wrote two Aviation English workbooks a few years ago). I recommend some useful educational sites and English dictionaries online to students, and we sometimes search for the meaning of some unfamiliar English words and structures together.
Devices can’t be used in class but they can be used at the library and the students can use them effectively, safely and in a good way. The students in the photo above, which I took a few months ago, wanted to play dominoes but didn’t know how to, so they turned on a mobile phone and found in no time a YouTube video clip how to learn playing dominoes. That was a fantastic idea for practising English in a real-life situation, as the students were motivated to listen to English, then we were chatting about it in English, and it was really amusing.
Also, I can remember a very interesting lesson at the library when a student asked me to explain to her the Passive Voice. I was flipping through a few books and I found the right one (The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien) with a lot of the passive voice examples in the short introduction about the ancient letters called Runes. I got the student to read the text, then to find and focus on some passive sentences, and I led her to the grammar through a series of steps. I actually explained the grammar concept briefly by eliciting the answers from her in English. She grasped the form and the use very quickly, and she was also interested in reading the book afterwards.
Technology made a great change for how libraries work, it is more exciting now and I am trying to motivate the teachers and students to use the social media (Blog, Twitter, Facebook…) for learning and reflecting. In everyday contacts I encourage them to reflect on their learning because it enables them to articulate their learning processes and encourages independence.
Last year I launched the school library blog where everyone can find some interesting information about the school and cultural events in the city, a lot of useful educational links, and the blog posts I created together with some great motivated students. I am also trying to promote computer and media literacy at school by conducting various questionnaires and by talking to students about how to evaluate the sites and find the reliable information. We also discuss the privacy concerns, plagiarism and copyright piracy.
Learning is a collaborative journey, and it assumes that individual learning is enhanced not through competition but through access to the insights and resources of the whole group. As a teacher-librarian I am trying to support learning and teaching in so many ways: establishing a framework for learning for our students, motivating all at school to read more and for pleasure, inspiring the students and teachers to be life-long learners.
My main aim as a teacher-librarian is to transform learning, to make it more learner-centred, more meaningful and useful for students. I also try to motivate my colleagues to share their knowledge, experiences and ideas and improve their personal practical knowledge through collaboration.