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John H Lee Memorial Award 2022

22 Feb 2023 8:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The John H Lee Memorial Award is presented to an individual or a school team in recognition of innovation in learning and teaching practice in a school or schools through learning technologies.

The 2022 recipient of the School Library Association of New South Wales John H Lee Memorial Award is the library team from the Pittwater House School comprising Kathryn Eyre (Coordinator of Library), Patricia Doonan (Junior School Teacher Librarian) and Michella McIntosh (Library Technician).

The impact of Covid-19 on school libraries over the last three years has been dramatic. While all school libraries in New South Wales embraced learning technologies to survive, some were able to pivot quickly and effectively to not only survive but thrive. This was the case in the Pittwater House school library where, due to the school’s location on the northern beaches of Sydney, school lockdowns began in March 2020; earlier than their counterparts in other areas of Sydney and far earlier than in regional New South Wales.

Like most school libraries, digital resources and learning technologies were already in use by the Pittwater House library team before the lockdowns. However, as one the first schools to move to remote teaching and learning, the library team lacked the experience of others on which to build and develop library services and resources in the virtual environment. Consequently, and by default, the team became trailblazers for activities that later became standard practice in many school libraries during remote learning.

The Pittwater House library team developed several innovative practices to accommodate the absence of opportunities for library staff to work face-to-face with students and teachers about resource use and to address the inaccessibility of the physical collections. For example, loan and reading histories for each of the school’s 900 students were extracted from the library catalogue and used to create customised reading packs for students. These packs were supplemented in some year groups with digital mini library guides to support students with additional learning needs. The collection of physical resource packs was organised through a driveway “click and collect service.” Particular attention was given to Year 12 students to ensure they had access to study guides and supplementary resources.   

Providing equitable library access for all students during the pandemic was a primary consideration of the Pittwater House library team. Online weekly library lessons at designated times ensured assistance was available to students. In the early years, where technology access can be challenging, individual contact was made with every parent of students in Kindergarten and Year 1 to ascertain they type of support and resources that could be provided for students through the library. For students needing assistance, guided video tutorials were created and shared.

Online library lessons using Zoom and Microsoft Teams focused on the use of the school’s eBook and Audiobook collections and the safe use of learning technologies being used by students. Class presentations were often followed by individual instruction to ensure all students’ needs were catered for. Importantly, library staff delivering online lessons incorporated lessons learnt through professional reading about online teaching and learning. For example, reading aloud was an important strategy adopted to role model and encourage reading fluency in students. Throughout the remote learning period, digital collections were reviewed and updated, digital resource lists created, and collaborations were timetabled with teachers on the use of Clickview.

The Pittwater House library team employed a range of learning technologies to provide innovative solutions to support learning and teaching needs in their school during the pandemic. The initiatives introduced during remote learning provided the library team with a forum to showcase their skills and knowledge, not only to students and teachers, but to the broader school community who were kept informed via online newsletters and social media posts. The work and passion of the team meet the criteria for the John H Lee Memorial Award.

Members of the School Library Association of NSW congratulate Kathryn Eyre, Patricia Doonan, and Michella McIntosh on receipt of this award.

This award will be presented at Professional Learning Summit: The Strength of Story  on March 4th, 2023.

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