Questions may be submitted for this column using the confidential link at the bottom of this post
"My school has a new principal for the 2016-2017 year, what and how should I go about convincing him to increase my very small budget?"
- TEACH: You must teach your principal about school libraries. Not as simple as it sounds, but a basic point often overlooked. Principals generally have no training anywhere in their formal education around school libraries. Their understanding of what we do, and what intent our programs and space are designed to provide, may all stem from their experiences as a student (no kidding!!) If they went to a school with no library, or limited library services, their understanding then, is very limited. How do we fix this? Set up monthly meetings with your principal. More than that and you risk taking up more of her/his time than they can afford to give. Plan the meeting. Send a handout and an agenda a couple of days in advance. Have an agenda around a topic: poetry month; instruction in the library; technology concerns; teacher professional development. Show up prepared and ready to demonstrate to the principal that your meetings are not just to gab, but to discuss issues important to your space and the school as a whole. Send your principal article worthy of her/his time and be prepared to discuss when you arrive at the meeting. Bring a hardcopy as a back-up.
- SHOW: Demonstrating the worthiness of the school library is through an active and vibrant space. This may take time, but precious budget dollars will not be given to a space that is closed for lunch, void of any vibrant learning experiences, and empty much of the day. If you are an elementary school on a fixed schedule, you have the job of integrating your plans for those fixed classes into the classroom curriculum and project topics. Host book groups during lunches and after school, use the time after school to host and sponsor clubs and other activities, have teachers become comfortable coming to you for resources and questions. Money will follow.
- LEAD: Show your principal that you are a leader in your school. Provide professional development for staff, join committees, volunteer to be part of student life whenever you can. Leadership and risk-taking are so essential to our roles. It makes asking for a budget that is worthy of a school library just that much easier, as money follows success. This we know. Some up-front work will reap monetary (and other) rewards as time goes by.