Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lessons from The Big Easy

President-elect Sarah Justice and I spent six days in New Orleans at the American Library Association annual conference at the end of June. We attended meetings as your NC representatives to the American Association of School Librarians Affiliate Assembly and spent some time stalking authors and speakers on the exhibit floor and in concurrent sessions.

Here are some lessons I learned from our trip to The Big Easy:

  • Network with as many folks as you can. At our meetings, we had the opportunity to talk with school librarians from our region (KY, SC, WV, VA, TN, NC) as well as across the country. But it was also the conversations standing in author signing lines and on the airplanes and throughout the conference that reconnected us with passionate readers, tech savvy individuals, and information gurus.

  • Pack lightly and mail your books home or stick them in your suitcase. Yes, I borrowed my five year old daughter's suitcase for the trip -- rolled clothes and I had plenty to wear for our six days. But I did mail two boxes of books (freebies and a couple that I purchased) back home to avoid hefting 40-50lbs of books on the plane.

  • Wear comfortable shoes to a national conference. While Deb Christensen clocked over 16,000 steps on her pedometer one day during the conference, I'm sure that between the two of us Sarah and I walked 40 miles during our trip. Comfy sandals and supportive tennis shoes were our friends.

  • AASL has some great resources, if you'll just take advantage of them. At our Affiliate Assembly meeting, we were reminded of the toolkits and planning guides at the AASL website that can help us be better teachers, assessors, planners, and advocates in our library media programs.

  • Leadership is key to making things happen in our profession. While we heard some incredible speakers and authors, we also heard from key leaders in our profession, folks who are at the building levels just like us and making a difference everyday in the lives of students, teachers, and fellow school librarians.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Focusing on Solutions

Gina Webster, media specialist at Walkertown Middle School, posted this on the NCSLMA listserv back in November, but it is very timely and worth revisiting, considering the impending budget cuts.

I've been feeling a sense of urgency and a call to action lately. I'm generally focused more on solutions than problems, so I thought I'd share a few ideas that may be worth considering as we consider our emerging and evolving place in education.
1. Develop a student focus group to get feedback & fresh ideas to connect w/ what they need/want from their library.

2. Create a space on the library/media center's website that showcases collaborative work with teachers & students.

3. Find at least 5 other School Librarians who have a positive attitude about growth/change.

4. Develop an online request system to solicit ideas for future purchases.

5. Weed.

6. Invite someone from the Board of Education to participate in a lesson, program, or special event.

7. Realize that books may change in format and such but READING isn't going anywhere.
Focus on reading and literacy and you won't go wrong.

8. Try a new techy tool and shamelessly show it off to anyone who'll listen.

9. Use a social network to build a professional support group, think tank, sounding board, and cheering section for yourself.

10. Find a reason to make parent phone calls every week. Solicit volunteers, reinforce student accomplishments/learning, whatever you can do to remind parents of your role in their child's education.

Lots of library love to you all,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Save the NC Teaching Fellows

It's almost like we are all becoming endangered species---I've written to the "officials" about our media programs, about NCCAT, and now, sadly, the Teaching Fellows program.  I thought I'd share my letter with you all because I know that at least you will give me a response (and I would think that response is total indignation).

Over the years, I have accomplished many things that I can honestly say I am proud of--I’m proud to be a mother to two adventurous boys (7 years of my life); I’m proud to be getting ready to celebrate my wedding anniversary (9 years of my life); I’m proud to be a middle and high school librarian in an amazing small school in Western North Carolina (13 years of my life); and finally, I’m proud to be a Teaching Fellow.  I have been a Teaching Fellow for HALF of my life.  I am so proud of this accomplishment that I achieved when I was 18 years old.  I was just starting my “adult” life and I knew exactly what I wanted to do, which was to work with the students of North Carolina.  I have dedicated my life to this endeavor.  In my years of working with high school students, I have met many of the younger generations who feel this same way.  A very grateful senior at my high school just received word that she will be receiving the scholarship for next year.  And now, this wonderful opportunity that I was given is being ripped away.  I do not understand how anyone could think that this action is a good idea.

By being a Teaching Fellow, I was introduced to so much more than what the average education student experiences--and I feel I can truly say this because my college roommate was also an education major, but not a Teaching Fellow.  I had extra classes in education, was introduced to the classroom much earlier than during student teaching which is when most future teachers step into the classroom, and had a network of fellow educators to lean on.  After graduating, when I applied for jobs I had that extra gold star of being one of the “best and brightest” because of being a Teaching Fellow.

With all the cuts to people who are currently in education, how can you already punish those that wish to become teachers?  Please fight to keep the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program...future generations of students will thank you.