Cool Tools for Schools, Thing 26: Taking the Lead & Connecting with Stakeholders, Part I

Like so many of my colleagues I am just not comfortable tooting my own horn and talking about all the great things that happen in the library. But, I know how important it is so I was looking forward to this Cool Tool feature and learning some new tips and tricks-it did not disappoint! My notepad from the webinar and all the other resources is covered with takeaways and ideas but I’ll do my best to translate those scribbled notes into coherent thoughts and ideas.

photoShare what you learned from the readings and webinar. 

Oh man, what didn’t I learn from the readings and the webinar?!? I learned:

  • about tons of great advocacy sources (like the webinars included in the Cool Tools roundup and the AASL’s advocacy site)
  • more about what stakeholders potential want from their library services (thanks AASL Advocacy toolkit!)
  • I should be customizing my advocacy efforts for each potential stakeholder group (so simple, so impactful!)
  • I should be tweaking my elevator speech so that it is hits the key points for each group of stakeholders (again-so simple, so smart, so true!)
  • I should be thinking of my students as stakeholders (and probably my most important stakeholder at that) and not just students
  • I should be gathering feedback from my stakeholders so I can constantly assess how I can make changes and meet their needs
  • that this can be overwhelming but it is doable and, most importantly, it is necessary

Do you now have a new elevator speech?

I can’t say that I have a new elevator speech because I never had an elevator speech to begin with-whoops! But, I did force myself to stop saying, “Yeah, yeah, elevator speeches are important I should probably come up with one” and actually spent some time trying to come up with one. Then, I spent some more time trying to figure out what minor tweaks I should make for each of my stakeholder groups. I have to admit however, that I was having trouble coming up with somthing I liked on my own so I hit the internet for inspiration. I came across some excellent articles that really helped me here, here, and here.

I decided that for all of them, I’d use the same introduction, the tagline I came up with for our library, “books are just the beginning” (more on that when I discuss coming up with a logo in part III). Then, I’d tweak the rest depending on the stakeholder.

So, my lead in sentences for each stakeholder will be something like:

  • for a teacher: We have tons of resources that can help with your lessons.
  • for an administrator: School libraries can improve student test scores.
  • for a parent: Even in elementary school, our library program can lay the ground work that will help your child become career and college ready.

I adapted the following “hooks”:

  • for a teacher: Co-teaching can really improve student learning while reducing both our workloads.
  • for an administrator: Larger and newer collections can also increase student achievements
  • for a parent: Information retrieval and evaluation is a lifelong skill that all students will need, regardless of their future career goals.

I found the following proof for my claims:

  • for a teacher: Research shows that collaborative planning between a teacher and a librarian raises tests scores.
  • for an administrator: Studies have shown when spending for libraries increase, reading scores and student test scores rise as well.
  • for a parent: Research shows that when librarians teach students information literacy skills, it can raise student test scores.

I thought I could personalize it with the following:

  • for a teacher: I know our students often struggle with the reading level of module texts, I can help you bridge those gaps.
  • for an administrator: Unfortunately, our nonfiction collection average age is 12-22 years old.
  • for a parent: I’m sure you want your son to be safe on the Internet while finding authoritative information for school assignments and having a full time certified librarian and a strong school library program can help make sure that happens.

Finally, I thought I could use some version of these asks:

  • for a teacher: What are you working on now that I could help you with?
  • for an administrator: When can we meet to discuss some of my ideas for using nonfiction to improve student achievement?
  • for a parent: Can I send you some of my favorite resources you can use at home with your child?

I also like that the one article suggested following up with the person you connected with whenever possible, especially if they had a question!

I think I need to start carrying my business cards with me so I can give people an opportunity to connect with me after the elevator speech. Might be time to tweak their design a little bit too so it coordinates with the new library logo…

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