Badges Are Not An Alternative to Library Media Specialist Certification!

I love to learn!!  As a school librarian there is ALWAYS something new. Professional opportunities abound on the Internet with online classes and webinars. Google, PBS, Coursera, and Creative Commons are among the organizations offering virtual learning opportunities and awarding certificates or badges. Some companies, like Flipgrid, offer badges based on usage.

Jennifer Casa-Todd recently reflected on her journey to Google Cerification on her blog. Casa-Todd states "Preparing for the test taught me so much that I would definitely use and show others." I agree that these certifications and badges have merit and are valuable ways to continue learning. Badges/certificates are a great visual to show teachers and students what we know and how we can help them. They also demonstrate to administrators the independent work we do to grow professionally. 

We know that certified school librarians are being cut in school districts across the country. My fear is that school officials will feel that a non-certified individual with a few online classes and badges can sufficiently replace a certified school librarian for a fraction of the cost.  

A professional school librarian in Connecticut (where I live and teach) holds an 062 School Library Media Specialist teaching certificate. This endorsement is earned after successfully completing the required academic coursework, which includes both library science and educations classes. Student teaching experience is required. In addition, many of us also have a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science (MLS).

Just because someone can create a Google Site, has made a bunch of grids in Flipgrid, or has completed a webinar, does not mean they have the experience and knowledge to implement the "badge learning" into meaningful grade-level appropriate lessons that enhance curriculum. 

How do we make sure that stakeholders and school decision makers do see us as "book stampers" that can be replaced with non-certified personnel who has a couple of badges or online certifications?   Don't be afraid to promote! 

Publicize what is happening in your library, the lessons you teach, the collaboration with teachers, the activities you plan for students! Use social media, attend board of education meetings, get on your school leadership team, talk to a parents, submit to the school newsletter. Publicly celebrate when you earn a badge from one of the professional learning opportunities AND share how are implementing it with students!  Do not think of this as self promotion (I think many of us shy away from this), think of it as celebrating our profession and the amazing learning experiences we provide for our students!


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