Tag Archives: Teachers

Book Lists – 100 Must Reads

Looking for a good book to read? Looking for a good book to recommend to your patrons? Looking for a good book to add to your collection? If so, here are some great lists for you!

Alarming Teacher Dropout Rate

Teachers1In 2013, public school systems in the United States employed over 3 million teachers.  A report from the Alliance for Excellent Education states that almost half a million U.S. teachers leave the profession each year. That means nearly 15% of all U.S. teachers dropout. Almost 50% of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years.

This high turnover rate disproportionately affects high-poverty schools. The teacher dropout rate is nearly 20% higher at high-poverty school than at affluent schools. The primary reasons for the high teacher dropout rate are low salaries, and lack of support.

Most veteran teachers were not assigned a mentor, but instead found informal support from a caring colleague. However, not all new teachers found support. Often, veteran teachers remember their first year in the classroom as difficult, lonely, and unaided.

To prevent dropout, especially of new teachers, the report recommends induction programs that include multiple types of support and high-quality mentoring. Although it is not mandated, North Dakota does have support for all new educators through the state-funded Teacher Support System. These programs for teachers will nurture instructional skills and increase the teacher’s creative ability to enrich student lives. Better teachers grow better students which benefits our whole culture.

 “It is what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – Earl Weaver (baseball manager)

Theory & Practice in the Library and Classroom

The library school I attended emphasized the theoretical basis of library knowledge. Granted, there was a practical aspect to some classes, but theory ruled. At the time I remember being a bit annoyed that more emphasis was not given to practical issues we might encounter while working the front lines as librarians. Now that I’ve been a practicing librarian and a trainer, I see that theory not only involves the knowledge of principles and methods of a discipline, but it also implies a philosophical view that colors everyday practice.


Basically, the key to good practice in the library and classroom is quality customer service. Good manners, common sense, and a friendly attitude ground good practice. However, teachers and librarians also need the context, pedagogic, curriculum, learning, and management theories that support good practice.


One of my favorite examples of theory and practice involves Richard Feynman, American physicist and Nobel Prize winner. This theoretical physicist, in a practical demonstration, showed how a glass of ice-water adversely affected the O-ring, which turned out to be the primary cause of the Challenger disaster. It was a simple demonstration that everyone understood and it exposed the problem.

Theory and practice go together and are circular. Theory conditions practice which leads to re-evaluating theory, which leads to adjusting practice, etc. Teachers and librarians need to find the balance between theory and practice; too much of one over the other puts the whole model out of whack.

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” ~ Malcolm S. Forbes

Brief Guide to Peer Review and Scientific Publication


Sense About Science just published this excellent guide to explain the peer review process and help people make sense of public debates about science and medicine. If you want to know more about peer review and research publication, or if you need a handout for students on how to analyze resource quality, dig in and enjoy!

How Teens Do Research

In 2012, the Pew Research Center conducted an online survey of teachers. They were asked what research sources their students are most likely to use. The top four sources students use are:  Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and their peers. Less than 20% of students use databases or librarians for research. 64% of teachers say today’s digital technologies do more to distract students than to help them academically.

The Pew study also noted that today’s students lack traditional, low-tech skills like reading printed reports, talking (not texting) on the phone, or conversing (not emailing) with a colleague at the next desk.

[Purcell, Kristen, et al. “How Teens Do Research in the Digital World.” Pew Research Center Report, November 1, 2012, http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Student-Research]

The subscription databases provided by the ND State Library are credible sources for student research information. They are easy to search and provide a variety of citation formats. The challenge for teachers and librarians is to get our students to use them.

 “A library is richer than Fort Knox and everybody has the key.” (Robert Morgan, Author)