New ISTE Standards for Educators Highlight Librarians’ Role

Advocating for equitable tech access and participating in professional learning are among the mandates of the new standards.
Educators should continually participate in professional learning, advocate for equitable access to technology, and model positive and ethical use of technology, according to the Empowered Professional qualities named in the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) newly revised and updated Standards for Educators. ISTE CEO Richard Culatta introduced the standards during the opening keynote session at the ISTE 2017 conference in San Antonio in June. Organized into the two categories—Empowered Professional and Learning Catalyst—the newly updated standards shift from the previous Standards for Teachers, which emphasized supporting student learning with technology, to focusing on the roles of educators in “using technology to empower learners.” As Learning Catalysts, educators should be collaborators, designers, facilitators, and analysts, according to the standards. In these roles, they are expected to collaborate with other educators as well as students. They design and facilitate student-centered learning opportunities, and as analysts, collect and use data to inform instruction and assessment. While the standards are not specifically written for librarians, we librarians and media specialists have long embraced these roles in our schools and communities. As learners, we have have created many networks to connect with other library professionals. From state library associations to the American Library Association, ISTE, Twitter, and Facebook, opportunities for connecting are endless. Librarians have one of the largest and most active ISTE professional learning networks: conference rooms at ISTE were not large enough to hold all of us who wanted to attend the Future Ready Librarians and the Hack Your School Library panel discussions. We are often leaders in our schools—advocating for student access to resources and technology; curating and sharing the top websites, apps, and databases with teachers and students; and finding opportunities to participate in and lead committees that keep our students at the center of teaching and learning. As collaborators, designers, and facilitators, we work closely with teachers and students to create meaningful learning opportunities, whether through local and global partnerships or maker spaces and Hour of Code activities. As analysts, we collect and use data about how our materials and spaces inform decision-making, and we advocate for more and better resources for students and teachers. As citizens, we teach students about information, digital, and media literacy.

Future Ready Librarians

Elissa Malespina speaks at the ISTE Future Ready Librarian panel.

These characteristics of librarians were on full display at the hour long Future Ready Librarians panel discussion at ISTE, featuring nine librarians from schools across the country. Diana Rendina, former media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School in Tampa, FL, who will move to the Tampa Preparatory School next year, discussed how collaborative learning spaces in her library accommodate both active learning and quiet study areas. Kathy Schmidt, from Coleman Middle School in Duluth, GA, told attendees to “invite yourself to the table” when it comes to committees and discussions that will directly impact our libraries. Elissa Malespina of Somerville (NJ) Middle School, talked about how the maker space in her school’s library is empowering students to be creators—but also to learn that failure is part of the learning process. Heather Lister, library consultant for Mackin Educational Resources in Hershey, PA, advocates for equitable access, not only through technology, but also by addressing the physical, emotional, and intellectual barriers users face in libraries. Donna Sullivan-MacDonald of the Orchard School in South Burlington, VT, highlighted how participating in community partnerships allows her students to connect locally, nationally, and globally. Finally, Jonathan Werner of Cape Elizabeth (ME) Middle and High School championed student-centered services and the role librarians play in digital citizenship education. With the shift from “Standards for Teachers” to “Standards for Educators,” the new standards incorporate and address everything we as librarians strive to do and be every day. We are not guardians of books. We are learners, leaders, advocates, readers, literacy champions, digital citizens, collaborators, designers, facilitators, statisticians, mentors, and teachers. How does your work encompass the ISTE Standards for Educators?

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