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Middle School Monday: Professional Development. Not the Optional Kind.

A Crucial Strand of PD.

We have an early-release day coming up. Does your school have those? Where you get to squeeze the work of a whole school day with students into a shorter time frame and then stay for meetings and/or professional development? Just typing that out is making me a bit tired.

This year, our staff is breaking up into small groups to work together on a professional development ‘strand’ of our choice. Two of our ELA teachers asked me to lead a strand on diverse literature. How awesome is that?

I eagerly said yes. Not only is it a favorite subject—and my guiding framework for collection development—but, we all need to be engaging in PD on this topic. We all need to continually be learning more. Thus, our REFLECTIVE LITERATURE PD strand was born. In addition to our ELA teachers from each grade, we also count our Assistant Principal and one of our Social Studies teachers as members.

Of course, the need for reflective literature is part of a larger conversation. When we talk about having books in our schools that reflect our students, their lived experiences, and their interests, it’s necessary to situate that idea in a discussion on culturally relevant pedagogy, structural inequities, institutional racism, and white privilege.

As we engage in these discussions with school staff, it’s helpful to remember that we are all at different points on our own cultural competence journeys. I thought I’d share our four point plan for our first meeting as these are resources or ideas that you might enjoy for yourself or want to share.

One. The Danger of a Single Story.

In Chimamanda Adichie’s illuminating TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story, she shares her own first experiences with reading to drive home the point how “impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children.” She brings together insights on reading, writing, power, stereotypes and story. And the joy of reading books that reflect you. Even if you’ve seen this before, each time is a gift for us as viewers—new understandings, powerful ideas, and favorite quotes. It made an ideal kick-off to our discussion.

Two. Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 Infographic.

The CCBC infographic below—Diversity in Children’s Books 2015—appeared on Sarah Park Dahlen’s post, Picture This: Follow Up. [The powerful imagery draws on the Windows/Mirrors analogy for literature first written by Rudine Sims Bishop. If you’ve never read her original article, find it here.]


This infographic is talking strictly about QUANTITY. Debbie Reese’s post at A Close Look at CCBC’s 2015 Data breaks down the 0.9% for American Indians/First Nations even further—taking into account reviews and authors. It is a crucial complement to the raw publishing data.

We didn’t start with these numbers to depress us, but rather to galvanize us.

Three. Race: The Power of an Illusion.

After a quick walk-through of PBS’s informative site, Race: The Power of an Illusion, we broke apart to engage with the site on our own.

Four. #ownvoices.

We then talked about the importance and necessity of #ownvoices titles. I had curated a stack of novels from our library collection and gave EXTREMELY quick booktalks on the titles. We each then chose one to read for our next PD strand meeting. Below are some of the titles chosen.


I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib and I get excited talking about reflective literature!


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Building the Stacks: What I wish administrators, publishers and authors knew about collection development

The other day, I was interviewed by up and coming ya author Victoria Scott regarding Collection Development.  Collection development is, of course, one of the biggest parts of our job.  Although, ironically, I once worked at a library that put together a spread sheet of how much time you should spend each week of your 40 hours doing what and they allotted 1 hour a week to collection development. This was, of course, a pretty absurd time table.  It takes a lot of time to read reviews, put together carts through your jobber, weed collections, etc.  All of this helps us reach our primary goal: having collections that teens want to check out and read.

It must seem to others like some type of a magical process . . . new books keep appearing in the library.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I take my job to build collections very seriously.  In order to have a good collection, I need sufficient funds, and in order to have sufficient funds, I need to have a well circulating collection.  It can be an upward spiral or a downward spiral.  But the truth is, we can’t have good circulation numbers if we don’t have good materials.  This means we continually need new materials – and in a timely manner.  Library systems don’t always have ordering processes in place that allow for the quick acquisition of new materials.  And we all know that budgets are shrinking.

In my previous library system, we ordered materials every two weeks and it was a beautiful thing.  Realize that all your copies of Catching Fire have been lost or damaged?  No problem, a new order goes in every two weeks.  Did you just find out that book you ordered was number two in a new trilogy?  Also not a problem, you can order book one pronto.  (And yes, yes I have done this more times than I would like to admit. I would love it if reviewers would make a point of mentioning that a book is in a series, what number it is in the series and, if at all possible, the other titles in the series – especially if this is book two.)

Here are some things I wish that administrators knew:

We can’t have a high circulating collection if I don’t have the funds and ordering processes in place to build high circulating collections.  You can’t put the cart before the horse and demand it be successful.  Sometimes, you have to invest in something in order to see good results.  High circulating collections need time, space, and money.

Teen publishing is literally exploding these last few years.  There are so many titles being published, and such high demand for the titles, we need to make sure our budgets and spaces account for that.

We need space for face out shelving. That is all.

In my interview with Victoria Scott I mention the requirement that some libraries have that a book have a professional review in order to be added to the collection. Not just a professional review, but a positive professional review which justifies spending money to add the material to the collection.  But, the truth is, the Internet and inclusion of books in places like Wal-Mart and Target are changing the landscape of reading and what teens ask for.  In addition, they want to see tie-in novels to their favorite tv shows and movies, which are often not reviewed.  There needs to be ways to successfully include recreational reading in our collections.  These type of collection development policies leave teens with two choices, read only those books that adults have declared “quality” reading materials or read nothing.  I would rather that they read something, anything, with the hope that it will be the bridge to reading that finally makes them a satisfied library customer than walking out our doors unsatisfied.

We can’t keep ignoring the success of e-books.  We need to look at our collection development policies and budgets to make sure we have successful ways of meeting our patrons e-book needs. Yes, teens read e-books.  Even my tween has an e-book reader.  One can make the argument that not everyone has an e-reader and we dilute our funds for many but reaching out to meet the needs of a few; but we also risk alienating those few – and they are growing in number – as library supporters if we don’t prove our relevancy and meet their needs.  They will see no need to vote for supporting us because we no longer meet their needs and they have gone elsewhere.

The bottom line is this, if teens can’t find what they are looking for in the library, they aren’t coming back because there are so many other ways for teens to find what they want to read.  We may be free, but if teens have continued unsuccessful trips to the library, we still become irrelevant.

Here are some things I wish publishers knew:

If at all possible, try and show your book cover as much as possible in your ads, online, etc.  Teens judge a book by its cover and I am going to be honest, I judge a book by its cover.  It is, of course, not the most important factor – but it is something that I have to realistically consider.  If I have to cut an order because I have gone over my budgeted amount (which by the way is always), I am going to cut those lesser known titles that have boring or outdated covers because the bottom line is my teens won’t check them out.

If a book is a part of a series, make sure and mention that.  If at all possible, mention the other titles in the series.  It’s win/win for us both.

Every time you mention your book or show your cover, please make sure your ISBN is there.  I can’t order a book without the ISBN (with the ordering system we use, ISBN is the easiest access point) and it muddies the process if I have to go looking for it.  Along with less funds, we have less time as well.

All hail the power of the ARC! Although it is true that I can’t read every ARC I get, I look at them all and read a great many.  Like I said in my interview with Victoria, it really helps take some of the (albeit educated) guesswork out of collection development.  It also allows me to get actual teen feedback before making a purchase.  This is especially true for newer authors, new series, etc.  New is always a risky proposition, but you can help me take some of the risk out of it.

Here are some things I wish authors (and publishers) knew:

The other day, as I read my fifth book in a row about teens trapped somewhere – a mall, a school, wherever – I thought about diversity.  Not people diversity, but book plot diversity.  It is true that a lot of my teens are looking for the next Hunger Games – but that doesn’t mean it has to be a literal Hunger Games type plot. Sometimes when they say they want the next Hunger Games, it just means the are looking for the next big thing.  And to be honest, I have a lot of teens who haven’t read the Hunger Games or didn’t finish the series because they just didn’t like it.  There must be that temptation, I am sure, to write and publish those books that seem so similar to what is selling like hotcakes.  Heck, there is that same temptation to add it to our library collections.  But everything has a saturation point.  And I can’t help but look at those teens coming into my library who don’t find what they need in our collections; who don’t find themselves reflected in the books that they read.

Case in point: I’m going to age myself here, but when I was growing up I used to watch this little show called The Cosby Show. It was a funny, touching show about a family that was basically just like mine.  They fought over every day things.  Their parents were embarrassing but for all the right reasons. And they often did stupid things.  They did, of course, happen to be an African American family.  But the show wasn’t about them being an African American family, it was about them being a family.  Twice this week – and it’s only Tuesday as I write this – I have had tweens come in looking for books and everything that we discussed that was popular had a fair skinned main character.

One of the reasons that I loved The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez is because it tells the story of a boy who doesn’t usually get to have his story told.  Girls are not swooning over him.  He does not have washboard abs and a killer smile.  But Charlie’s is a story that needs to be told because there are so many Charlie’s out there.

Sometimes, it is precisely because something is unique and different that it becomes so special.  We need those stories on our shelves to.

Now it’s your turn.  What do you wish your administrators knew about collection development? How about authors and publishers?

Edelweiss, Or Crack Cocaine for Librarians/Collection Development People (Stephanie Wilkes)

This is one of those ‘informative training type’ posts where I want to let you guys in on a little website that has completely blown my Snuggie off.  (Don’t steal my phrase…I’m gonna trademark that.)  Basically, if you are a librarian who orders books or if you work in collection development, you are going to want info about this website.  Edelweiss is a website that has this tagline: “Whether you’re a bookseller, sales rep, librarian, reviewer, or publisher, you have the same goal: to connect readers with books”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Basically, this website is an amalgamation of publisher’s catalogs.  All of them.   EVER.  Well, probably not all of them but pretty much all of the ones that you are ordering books for your collection from.  Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Egmont USA, Houghton Mifflin….you name it.  (I’m not paid by anyone to rep their publishing companies at all…if I left you off it was just because of a major lack of coffee and like I said, every publisher in the WORLD is on this site.  So that is your inclusion.  I’m going to stop now.)

So, instead of waiting for those color catalogs to come in the mail and letting them pile up on a corner in your office along with all other mail that we get daily, you can create an account and peruse the catalogs one by one all day long.

Now why is it crack-cocaine for you?  Because you can sit there and go through these catalogs for hours. Days.  Weeks.  Possibly months if you are an extremely slow reader, clicker, and you have an older computer.  Basically, the books are all listed in the catalog and you can see publication date, a ranking on Goodreads and the blogosphere of reactions, if it is the Frontlist or Backlist, the blurbs for the book, about the author info, publicity info from the publisher, and the list goes on.  Here is a sample of one of the listings for a book that I am absolutely salivating over:

See the page here

You can see the sale date, the ISBN #, the targeted audience, pages, sales rights, the Goodreads meter that shows the popularity of the title, summary, bio, marketing plans, selling points (which can be used for book talks), and quotes and reviews.  What more could you ask for?

Oh, well this:

See the page here

That little green button?  Yes, on Edelweiss you can Request a Review Copy for your e-reader.  So, it takes what NetGalley has done and brought it up to a collection development level.  I will say that NetGalley does have more YA titles than Edelweiss though, not sure why. 

Here’s the deal…with the abundance of rights being sold for trilogies and series, it is in your absolute best interest to use resources like these when you are working on collection development.  I preach day in and day out that Amazon should not be your discovery point for book selection and I 100% stand by that statement.  If you are a true professional, you should be using professional resources.  If you are training to be a librarian, work in a library, or want to ever work in this field, you should be learning how to use professional resources, not websites like Amazon, to determine what books are coming out and when.  There are several websites that collect information about release dates for YA books ( and TeenReads (   And, personally, if you want to browse a website to see what is selling, I urge you to use Indie Bound (

There are other options you can use on this site to help you, some of which I am just now starting to use now that the glazed eyes have worn off after a three-day collection development spree.  For example, creating your own collections and even using a feature called GeoSearch, which enables you to find materials published that may have your city mentioned or authors near you. 

Okay, so a recap.  Schedule yourself a good 4 days in your office.  Make a large pot of coffee/tea/beverage of choice and sit down at your computer.  Crack your knuckles.  Pop your neck.  Go to http://edelweiss.abovethetreeline.comand create an account.  We’ll see you next week and Karen and I will try not to post anything very exciting until then.  And for those of you who already have an addiction to Edelweiss, we will be having our first Edelweiss Non-Anonymous meeting soon via Twitter. 

If you have questions about Edelweiss, feel free use their help page or contact them via Twitter @weiss_squad.  They are super helpful, super friendly, and as with all metaphorical drug dealers, readily available. – Stephanie Wilkes

National School Climate Survey results about LGBTQ students’ experiences in school

GLSEN-NSCS-2015-Cover_0GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, released its biennial National School Climate Survey, which documents the experiences of LGBTQ students from across the country, in mid December 2016. The good news is that things have improved slightly from their 2013 survey. The bad news is that it’s still really ugly out there.

174 page report (which is available as a PDF) looks at discrimination, harassment, assault, biased language, school resources and support, and more, and examines how these factors affect educational performance, safety, and mental health of LGBTQ teens. The report is filled with statistics, charts, and graphs that drive home the point that LGBTQ students face a lot of opposition at school and frequently don’t feel safe or supported.  Being knowledgeable of the potential struggles and understanding where they (and you!) can go to find useful resources (books, websites, helplines, etc) is a major step in the right direction. As GLSEN reports, “The survey has consistently indicated that specific school-based supports are related to a safer and more inclusive school climate, including: supportive educators, LGBT-inclusive curriculum, comprehensive anti-bullying policies, and supportive student clubs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).” Also, “For the first time, GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey also includes insights on bisexual student experiences, school policies that specifically affect transgender students, and anti-bullying student education. The survey also asks students about discriminatory policies and practices around extracurricular activities and traditions like graduation, portraits, homecoming and prom.” (See here for the media release, where this quote came from, for more quick facts.) This report should be required reading for anyone who works with teenagers. 

The following data is taken from the survey results.


Findings of the 2015 National School Climate Survey include: 


Anti-LGBTQ Remarks at School

• Just over two-thirds of LGBTQ students heard the word “gay” used in a negative way often or frequently at school.

• More than half of LGBTQ students heard homophobic remarks such as “fag” or “dyke” often or frequently at school.

• Just under two-thirds of LGBTQ students heard negative remarks about gender expression often or frequently at school. Remarks about students not acting “masculine enough” were more common than remarks about students not acting “feminine enough.”

• Two-fifths of LGBTQ students heard negative remarks specifically about transgender people, like “tranny” or “he/she,” often or frequently.

• More than half of LGBTQ students heard homophobic remarks from school staff, and nearly two-thirds heard remarks from staff about students’ gender expression.


School Safety, Harassment, and Assault at School

• Close to 9 in 10 LGBTQ students were harassed at school.

• Sexual orientation and gender expression were the most common reasons LGBTQ students were harassed or assaulted at school.

• Nearly three quarters of students reported being verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation; more than half were verbally harassed because of their gender expression.

• Over a quarter of students reported being physically harassed at school because of their sexual orientation; 1 in 5 were physically harassed because of their gender expression.

• About 1 in 6 students reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year, primarily because of their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender.

• Relational aggression, i.e. spreading rumors or deliberate exclusion, was reported by the vast majority of students.

• About half of students reported experiencing some form of electronic harassment (“cyberbullying”) in the past year.

• Over half of students were sexually harassed at school in past year.


The high incidence of harassment and assault is exacerbated by school staff who rarely, if ever, intervene on behalf of LGBT students.

The majority of LGBTQ students who were harassed or assaulted at school did not report these incidents to school staff.

• The most common reasons that LGBTQ students did not report incidents of victimization to school staff were doubts that effective intervention would occur, and fears that reporting would make the situation worse.

• Less than a third of LGBTQ who had reported incidents of victimization to school staff said that staff had effectively addressed the problem.

• When asked to describe how staff responded to reports of victimization, LGBTQ students most commonly said that staff did nothing or told the student to ignore it; 1 in 4 students were told to change their behavior (e.g., to not act “so gay” or dress in a certain way).


The report goes on to discuss: 


*absenteeism (“[A] lack of safety may lead to missing school, which can result in a student being pushed out of school by school disciplinary or criminal sanctions for truancy or dropping out of school as a result of poor academic achievement or disengaging with school due to the days missed.”)

*academic achievement (“We assessed the relationship between school safety and educational aspirations for students in our survey and found that LGBTQ students who reported higher levels of victimization based on their sexual orientation or gender expression were more likely than other students to report lower educational aspirations.”)

*psychological well-being (“Previous research has shown that being harassed or assaulted at school may have a negative impact on students’ mental health and self-esteem. Given that LGBTQ students face an increased likelihood for experiencing harassment and assault in school, it is especially important to examine how these experiences relate to their well-being.”)


Additionally, it looks at discriminatory policies, discriminatory discipline, restrictions, and prohibitions regarding public displays of affection, attending dances, forming a GSA, writing about LGBTQ topics, etc. It breaks the data down by race, ethnicity, school type, location, region, and more.


GLSEN offers many recommendations for turning these statistics around, such as giving students more access to LGBTQ-related information (literature, history, etc), forming GSA groups, providing professional development to increase the number of supportive teachers and staff, ensuring school policies are not discriminatory, having anti-bullying and harassment policies that make it clear that they provide safety for LGBTQ students, and teaching an inclusive curriculum.


LGBTQ students experienced a safer, more positive school environment when:


– Their school had a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or similar student club

– They were taught positive representations of LGBT people, history, and events through their school curriculum

– They had supportive school staff who frequently intervened in biased remarks and effectively responded to reports of harassment and assault

– Their school had an anti-bullying/ harassment policy that specifically included protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.


Previously at TLT:

Check out my previous post GLBTQ YA Resources for Building a Collection and Supporting Teens, which compiles articles and websites for great suggestions on books to add to your library collections and how to support GLBTQ youth. Another previous post here at TLT is Back to School: How to support and respect LGBTQIA+ students. More posts can be found by searching the tag LGBTQIA+ on the blog.


Also check out:

The Human Rights Campaign’s Welcoming Schools Project, which “is one of the few LGBT and gender-inclusive programs in the country that has a K-5 focus with resources to help elementary schools and educators address bias-based bullying—including anti-LGBT slurs and gender put-downs.”


Unfamiliar with GLSEN?

From their site: GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN’s research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit

@GLSEN on Twitter

You Don’t Have to Use the Internet & Other Absurd Things Politicians Say in 2017


Internet privacy is under attack with the current administration. This means that the things you say and do online can no longer be considered private in the same ways we thought of them a few weeks ago. Congress has ruled that Internet providers can sale your information in an effort to make more money. You, my friends, are for sale. But one law maker contends that it’s okay that you don’t have Internet privacy because YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO ONLINE!

But wait, is that true? Let’s count discuss just a few of the ways that people do in fact have no choice but to go online in the year 2017.

Do you want a job? Chances are you can only apply online. And in order to apply, you’ll need access to a computer, the Internet, and an email address.

Do you want paycheck stubs for a loan or to apply for college? Yep, you can probably only get those online as well.

If I want to know what grades my child is getting in school, I can only find out online. Our school district does not send out any paper report cards at all.

Need to go to the doctor? You’ll have to fill our those per-certification forms online.

Want to apply for the FAFSA to get financial aid for college? Online thank you.

Want to keep in contact with professional colleagues? Participate in professional development? Online classes? Webinars?

Keep in contact with military family stationed in far away places?

Want to participate in politics? Contact an elected representative?

What about contacting a business or corporation to get more information or file a complaint?

Are you a student who wants to graduate? Chances are you will have to submit homework and assignments online.

The truth is, if you want to communicate, learn, work, grow or anything in the year 2017, you do in fact have to get online. Very few people manage to effectively live off the grid because our world is designed to be very much on the grid. And now that we’re all there and need it to survive, the government wants to take away our reasonable rights to privacy. This is something that I think we should all be concerned about.

How to Protect Your Online Privacy Now That Congress Sold You Out

So what do we do? Continue to talk about the importance of online and data privacy. Contact your legislators. You can also look into building a VPN to help protect your privacy. But the important thing is this: We can not let the false narrative that being online is a choice stand.

And here is where I would like to add a note about the power and importance of libraries. Every day libraries around the world open their doors to those who don’t have steady, dependable access to the Internet for a variety of reasons. We provide the access they need to do all of the things we talked about above and more. And libraries have been stalwart defenders of patron privacy. Online privacy matters.

Middle School Monday: A Crucial Strand of PD. Part Two.

MSM1After last week’s post on Day One of a Reflective Literature professional development strand, readers reached out to learn more. As we had Day Two of our strand just last Friday, I thought I’d do two things today. 1: tell you what our plan was for that PD and 2: first, briefly talk about the most critical part of this sort of PD.

What is the most critical part of PD on equity training/culturally relevant pedagogy? Answer: It’s ongoing. It’s daily. It’s never finished.

How do I engage in this PD daily? 1. By learning from my students. 2. By following and learning from educators, authors, and activists on Twitter who are experts in this field, including:

@TheJLV @djolder @debreese

@davidekirkland @chrisemdin @CrazyQuilts

@zettaelliott @jbakernyc @Tolerance_org

@malindalo @RafranzDavis @EvaVegaWorld

A reminder: engaging in equity training requires that we be willing to sit in discomfort as we examine our own bias, identify structural inequities in our own institutions, and engage in discussions with colleagues.

One. Implicit Bias.

To jump start our discussion on implicit bias, I used the beginning of a presentation from the 2014 YALSA Young Adult Literature Symposium titled Using Multicultural YA Literature to Examine the Impact of Racism on the Lives of Teens of Color. Full disclosure–it’s a presentation I worked on that explored the realities of institutional racism, the reasons why talking about race and racism is necessary, and ways to use diverse YA literature to open up these dialogues with teens. We only did the first few slides, but there are certainly different portions that could be used in these discussions.

Two. Checking in with our #ownvoices novels.

It will be lovely if at each PD meeting, a member discusses the #ownvoices novel she/he chose to read at the first session. On Friday, I talked about Ghost by Jason Reynolds. Well, I didn’t talk about it…I wanted my colleagues to hear Jason Reynolds talk about it. [We watched a portion of his talk at the National Book Festival.] I’ll talk more about Ghost with all of you down the road, but, I:

  1. Loved it.
  2. Want to use it as a sixth grade class text in the Spring.

Three. Individual Work.

After introducing Harvard’s Project Implicit, I shared the link and suggested that we all engage in at least two of their implicit bias tests.

I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib and I hope you have a great week. I’d love to hear about your favorite/most crucial Twitter follows!

Friday Finds: December 2, 2016

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Common Sense isn’t Really all that Common

Middle School Monday: Professional Development. Not the Optional Kind.

Teaching Teens Media Literacy 101

Book Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

Book Review: Safe is Not Enough: Better Schools for LGBTQ Students by Michael Sadowski

Video Games Weekly: Lego Harry Potter Collection

Behold the Power of Reading; Or, how my 8-year-old was inspired to start her own #TrashTuesdays

#MHYALit: Unbearable: A Reflection on Hunger, a guest post by Lindsay Eagar

#SJYALit, Social Justice in YA Lit – The 2017 TLT Project

Finding an Authentic Teenage Voice, a guest post by author Amy S. Foster

Around the Web

Raising A Child With Dyslexia: 3 Things Parents Can Do

Lemont H.S. class reading list questioned by parents

Not about teens, but worth a read.

Betsy DeVos and the Wrong Way to Fix Schools

Fullness of Humanity: Native Americans in Youth Literature

Team for YA Best-Seller ‘Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


Back to School: How to support and respect LGBTQIA+ students

This time of the year means school is back in session, or nearly back in session, for many of us. It’s a good time for a reminder of how to support and respect LGBTQIA+ teens in classrooms and libraries, as well as be reminded of a few great resources. Obviously all of this goes for all people of all ages, but for a lot of queer teens who may be dreading heading back to school, it’s extra important. I know teachers, librarians, and others who work with teens are there to encourage and support all teens and are already aware of these issues and resources, but it never hurts to have a quick and easy list to be able to reference and pass along.


Have other suggestions of resources or reminders? Add them in the comments!

Last year, The Chronicle of Higher Education had this great video post, ‘Ask Me': What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know.

This Mashable post, 5 accidentally transphobic phrases allies use — and what to say instead, is a good quick reminder of how much our words matter, too.

For more on words, check out this American Psychological Association Psychology Benefits Society post, Stop Saying “That’s So Gay!”: 6 Types of Microaggressions That Harm LGBTQ People and, on Buzzfeed, this post, 19 LGBT Microaggressions You Hear On A Daily Basis.

Are you familiar with the National School Climate Survey? From their site: “The 2013 National School Climate Survey(pdf) is GLSEN’s 8th biennial report on the school experiences of LGBT youth in schools, including the in-school resources that support LGBT students’ well-being, the extent of the challenges that they face at school, and insights into many other aspects of LGBT students’ experiences. The survey has consistently indicated that a safer school climate directly relates to the availability of LGBT school-based resources and support, including Gay-Straight Alliances, inclusive curriculum, supportive school staff, and comprehensive anti-bullying policies.” In this November 2014 TLT post, I summarize many of the main findings. The 2015 National School Climate Survey report will be released in Fall 2016!

While you’re looking at TLT, also check out this GLTBQ YA Resources for Building a Collection and Supporting Teens post. From there you can explore links on reading lists, blogs and Tumblrs to follow, resources, hotlines, and more. Two essential blogs to check out for reading recommendations, reviews, and great overall discussions by and about LGBTQIA+ people and issues are Gay YA and LGBTQ Reads. You can easily go spend a few hours poking around both sites—and they would be hours very well spent.

Campus Pride. From their site: “Campus Pride serves LGBTQ and ally student leaders and campus organizations in the areas of leadership development, support programs and services to create safer, more inclusive LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. It exists to develop, support and give “voice and action” in building future LGBTQ and ally student leaders.”

Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. From their site: “The combined vision and mission of the Consortium is to achieve higher education environments in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni have equity in every respect. Our goals are to support colleagues and develop curriculum to professionally enhance this work; to seek climate improvement on campuses; and to advocate for policy change, program development, and establishment of LGBT Office/Centers.”

HRC Welcoming Schools. From their site: “HRC Welcoming Schools is a comprehensive approach to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools with resources and professional development to embrace family diversity, create LGBTQ-inclusive schools, prevent bias-based bullying and gender stereotyping, and support transgender and gender-expansive students.”

At Teaching Tolerance, a Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, check out this post, Best Practices: Creating an LGBT-inclusive School Climate. From their site: “It all starts with awareness. Often educators are unsure how to support their LGBT students in a meaningful way. These best practices were compiled to give school leaders the knowledge they need to create a climate in which their most vulnerable students feel safe and valued. Through inclusive policies and nurturing practices, administrators, counselors and teachers have the power to build an educational environment that is truly welcoming to all students.”

Middle School Monday: It’s Still Summer by Julie Stivers

MSM1It’s Still Summer.

I truly only planned on writing one post about summer, but this topic caused discussion amongst school librarians who reached out to me—and it also caused some lingering discussion inside my own head. I can’t let this topic go, yet. Mainly because last week’s post was incomplete. I realized it as I spent some time in one of my favorite places.

The public library.

Gah, I love public libraries. How could I talk about what school librarians do during the summer without mentioning visiting our local public libraries?

Libraries have always been sanctuaries. We try to turn our school libraries into sanctuaries for our students [is there anything more rewarding than to feel like you’ve succeeded in that?] and we, in turn, enjoy visiting them ourselves.

I love seeing what books librarians and staff have recommended. That in and of itself is fascinating to me. [Imagine working with other librarians!] I especially look for those books recommended by our county’s teen library helpers.

It’s also enlightening to turn the tables on myself. When I walk in those library doors, I’m another patron. There is a power in that—and a lot to learn. What do I like seeing when I walk into the space? Book displays? Circ desk? It’s always grounding to stand on the opposite side from our normal role. And, the books, people. The books!

Professional development.

Some of us may be lucky enough to attend trainings or conferences over the summer—either that our school pays for or that we eat the cost for ourselves. We also spend time watching webinars as part of our ongoing PD. If you haven’t participated in one in a while, I encourage you to see what you’re missing.

Free “On-Demand” Webinars from YALSA

Complimentary Content/Webinars from AASL

I’m excited about this upcoming SLJ event:  SLJ Teen Live Virtual Conference coming on August 10th. The keynote speakers are Meg Medina and Maggie Stiefvater. I don’t think any other promotion is necessary after that reveal, but this is “an online conference highlighting the biggest upcoming YA books and important issues impacting your teen materials and programming.”  Register here.

Book reviews.

In addition to the copious amounts of reading we do throughout the summer, there is time spent on choosing those books for our first book orders of the year. Clearly, this involves our own reading and the reading of multiple and diverse review sources.

This summer has been highlighted with necessary and illuminating discussion on the nature of reviewing and the overwhelmingly white POV represented in most reviews. For specific commentary on a new YA title, If you haven’t already, please read Black Voices Matter by Zetta Elliott and this Guest Review on Crazy QuiltEdi by Jennifer Baker. Of course, simply reading these reviews is not enough—we have to use this information to make informed decisions about our library purchases, or in this case for me, non-purchases.

For school librarians on a traditional calendar, we’re on the downward slope to the start of the school year. Have fun on that slide!