We’re All on the Same Team: A Librarians Perspective with Philip Williams
In this episode we’re chatting with Philip Williams, Head Librarian at NIST International School in Bangkok, Thailand.
Bonus: Watch the video of this episode on YouTube!
As a librarian at NIST, Philip is part of the coaching team, so this episode in particular highlights the overlaps of how a modern librarian fits into a culture of coaching at a school. Philip shares lots of great examples of how, even in schools without a coaching team, a librarian can be a stepping stone into building that coaching culture – with librarians as an information literacy coach.
What do you think coaches do?
First thing that coaches do is listen. A collaborative and collegial role, working alongside staff and students, and respond to the need they bring along. Important to have an aim and objective focused around learning with a point where you can wrap it up.
How do you work with the coaches at your school?
Formal: planning meetings with teams, planning meetings with coaches
Informal: mobile as possible Librarian is like the original coach: just in time learning for research and reading. Curation, reflection and communication are now the key transferable skills that librarians are working with.
What are some good opportunities for coaches to work with you?
Consistency among coaches and library allow the librarians to demonstrate those messages in the library as well. Library is “designed for discovery” the way coaching is invitational.
What do you do when you don’t have the opportunity to work with a coach?
Connect within your community as broadly and as vertically as possible. Important to build relationships with administration at multiple levels. People need to have faith that the library will make a difference.
What are the essential elements for coaching success in a school? What’s needed to build a coaching culture?
As coaches, we need to be responsive to the needs of where students and teachers are. Have a deep knowledge of our own skill set. What are we bringing to the environment that is unique, to be able to inject ideas and resources. Fostering and learning and continuing your own PD. A cohesive pedagogical integrity, a shared philosophy of learning. The thing that’s unique to the coaches role, is that they have flexibility in their schedule to support the organization.
Where do coaches / does coaching fail? And what can we do about it?
You can’t get it right all the time. You’re going to make people unhappy at some times. It’s hard not to be caught up in sensitivities to that. Just have to work hard and be visible, take an active role in your community – it’s not going to fall into your lap. Ask yourself: how is the work I’m doing visible to my community? What is the impact it has? Sometimes coaches are so flexible and adaptable that they don’t have an answer to the question: “what do you do?” – in being so flexible there’s no definition. Be as decisive as possible, when appropriate, so people have frameworks to pin their understandings on.
What makes a coach invaluable to you?
Connection: Because they’re so mobile throughout the community, they hear and see things that I can’t see. They can then make connections between their work as coaches and my work as a librarian, allowing Philip to close that loop and take the opportunity to support student (or parent, or teacher) learning.
What was your “aha” moment that shifted your perspective from not caring about coaching to being on board?
Wrestling with the idea of what a coach is, at NIST, has been an “aha” moment. Such a natural fit in with the DNA of what a librarian is there for, it’s not a stretch.
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