Our district (K-8) is kind of a mess with some of the elementary librarians completely doing their own thing so students arrive at the middle school with really varying knowledge. (I think each librarian needs to respond to the individual needs of their own building, but there are some basics every student should have as part of the library curriculum) We have no library director and per usual, no one in the district administration really knows what is happening in the libraries. Some of us think it would make sense to have the middle school librarian also take on the additional role (with increased pay of some sort) of curriculum director. How do you suggest we best present this so administration can see the benefit?
- Begin by developing support for your idea among some of the staff members who might be affected by it. Spend time with teachers, other department heads or chairs, counselors, assistant principals, and others. Circulate the idea and have facts and data to back up your argument. Ask questions such as “What do you think?” Would this be helpful? Is there something that I am missing?” and more. Gathering feedback, even if negative, can help you make that first approach to administration more informed and grounded. What concerns do others raise about your proposal and how can they be overcome? The prospect of your proposal being shot down immediately is lessened through the presentation of these informal but potentially insightful conversations.
- Next, decide on the format of your presentation to administration. Administrators are busy people, with overwhelmingly full agendas every day. A succinct presentation of the facts is appropriate. How you do this depends on what managerial style your admins have. You can present your thoughts orally first, and follow them with a report sent online, using the tool of your choice, or you can send the request first, followed by a meeting. This is all up to you.
- Good advocacy hinges on good communication. No matter how strong your argument is, how good your ideas are, or how influential your evidence is, they count for nothing if you can’t get them across to your administrator. Use the buzzwords of the day when you present your proposal. Listen carefully to the concerns of your administrators and use these concerns in your argument. Also important is to call on the words of other professionals in the field. Do your research and find scholarly articles to support your argument. Certainly there is much that has been written concerning the scaffolding of skills from K - 12 that can be used when presenting your argument.
- Talk about how your proposal will enhance student learning and school performance. It should never be about the Library Media Program, but all about how well we are serving students and how we should be providing equitable access to knowledge across all elementary schools and for every elementary school student. Someone needs to put this into place and guide the elementary staff to provide this equity, and that person is a department head or curriculum director through the middle school library professional.
- Start with the end in mind. When presenting your proposal, whether in writing or in person, start off with a synopsis of what you are asking for. The rest can come later, but you will miss out on the opportunity to grab your administrators attention from the very beginning.
- Be brief. Know your audience and know the best medium to use to garner the attention and thought you are seeking from the administrators involved.
- These are difficult times with budgets that are stretched thin. We are reminded of this every day, and of course, this is nothing new. This is why a persuasive argument, fueled by qualitative and quantitative investigations and which focuses on student learning and success, is so important.