in which I attempt to be a rockstar teacher librarian :)

Posts tagged ‘school librarians’

Freewrite Notes: on being an effective change leader

This morning we heard from a woman who works in curriculum development and implementation on the characteristics/qualities of an effective change leader. Interspersed within the presentation were some group activities that made us analyze our own tendencies, figure out what works, and determine how to build on those strengths and better support our weaknesses so that they, too, can become strengths. We honed in on what we expect a school culture to look like, and how best to support one another in a quest to be a cohesive learning environment.

Below are some notes I took, in snippet form; they are recreated here in the hopes that I’ll continue to reflect back upon them as the year progresses. [Additionally, I’ll likely lose the piece of paper on which they’re jotted, but the Internet forgets nothing].

  • Own your actions, regardless of result
  • Celebration is only authentic when you have something to show for it – don’t build expectations of success before success has actually been realized
  • Sometimes the STATUS QUO needs a WAKE UP CALL
  • The concept of impressive empathy means:
    understanding the perspective which others have
    being able to think “in someone else’s shoes” to determine understandings
    modeling respect even and *especially* when respect is not reciprocated
    realize that behavior is often situational; to change the behavior, first address the situation in which it occurs
  • Practice working against your own distorted brain – by
    practicing humility & admitting/owning mistakes
    create/foster a climate of openness and feedback of the critical kind
    focus on your core priorities, of which there shouldn’t be many – the key is *focus*, after all
  • The implementation dip is real and research bears out that truth – figure out a strategy before implementation to address the recovery period, minimize the amount of time spent in the recovery period, and explaining how you’re moving forward and improving to concerned stakeholders (who may not have the benefit of all the information re: implementation of something new within your school/organization/subculture)
  • Understand that: You will be judged. Judgement does not have to take the form of negativity. Constructive feedback trumps backhanded compliments – be direct and avoid belittling others if you want your feedback to be heard and taken to heart.

Any thoughts? Is it too jargon-y to make sense? Anything that stands out to you as a great idea in the midst of that rambling?

Thoughts on: Evidence-Based Practice in SchLibs

This week, our professor offered us two different discussion prompts/ideas/guiding questions on Evidence Based Practice.
I reproduce them below, but understand that my thoughts don’t necessarily align with either question, but rather the practice of EBP in school libraries on the whole. My brain decided that’s how it wanted to function today.

What are some of the issues or concerns that might hinder school librarians from engaging in EBP and, in your opinion, are they valid, insurmountable, etc.? What are potential evidence-based strategies that you might use in your school library? (For example, Ross Todd mentions rubrics, checklists, portfolios, etc.)

First, a few statements that may sound a bit harsh:

  • If one’s understanding of EBP is that it is librarian-focused, not student-focused, one needs open up to the greater possibilities.
  • If the thought of implementing EBP is overwhelming, rest assured it’s entirely possible to do so in pieces, and necessary.
  • If you believe school libraries and learning are important, please continue reading! 🙂

What is evidence-based practice? I’ll allow Ross Todd to explain that, in this quote from The Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians which can be accessed here on the School Library Journal website.

“School libraries need to systematically collect evidence that shows how their practices impact student achievement; the development of deep knowledge and understanding; and the competencies and skills for thinking, living, and working. This holistic approach to evidence-based practice in school libraries involves three dimensions: evidence for practice, evidence in practice, and evidence of practice.”

Here’s the beauty of evidence-based practice: it won’t look at the same at school 1, school B, or school 3. The three components that Todd speaks of work together to take in the big picture, apply it to the local picture, and create a local picture. The end result is the ability to say,

This school in particular has been affected/changed/transformed/improved through X, Y, and Z initiatives, which were developed based on this needs assessment based on our local learning community. This team of persons implemented these initiatives and we have witnessed outcomes 1, 2, 3. Our students learned how to do this, that, and the other and successfully reached the learning objectives that were designed to meet their particular needs. These initiatives were developed based on research of best practices, and then applied in specific ways to the needs our learning community presented.”

Wouldn’t you love to be able to say all of that about the projects and learning going on in your school library?!

Perhaps it sounds overwhelming – I can appreciate that. One step at a time! What can you implement into the library program that will turn towards a culture of evidence-based practice, and help incorporate it consistently? Maybe starting with rubrics for projects – and having students help you create those rubrics and engage in their own learning. What about adding in reflective practice on the part of students – starting small with a discussion-style “wrap up” of the project with ideas on what went right, what went wrong, and what went awesome?

The first step to moving towards EBP is to start moving towards EBP. 🙂 Start with analyzing your students needs and determining learning goals. In what ways can you gather evidence to support teaching to meet those goals? In what ways can you gather evidence that the learning goals are being met effectively through both teaching and learning? I firmly believe that simply starting to think about how to incorporate evidence-based practice is the first step to making the transition smooth.

I liked this short summary of areas from which to gain evidence in your practice, from the School Library Media Specialist Eduscapes page.

This means gather evidence from various perspectives (Loertscher & Woolls, 2003):

  • learner level – student gains (i.e., achievement test scores, rubrics, portfolios, attitude scales, checklists, reflections)
  • teaching unit level – lessons and learning (i.e., checklists, collaboration rubrics, evaluation forms, timelines, log sheets)
  • organization level – library output (i.e., center statistics, hardware and software data)

As someone who is about to enter the school library world, I have one more request to make – please share your evidence! Share the successes; share those that didn’t meet expectations; share how you’ve revised; share what you’ve learned; share what your students have learned and how learning outcomes have changed along the way; share how your role as a library media specialist has changed as you’ve learned more; share.

And now, a statement that hopefully wraps up my ramblings coherently and gives us all hope and motivation for the future, that comes to you via Ross Todd (again, from the Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians):

“EBP is not about scrambling to find additional time. It’s about establishing priorities and making choices based on your beliefs about the importance of school libraries and learning.”

Intellectual Freedom & Online Safety

From “Minors and Internet Interactivity: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights” – ALA

“Prohibiting children and young adults from using social networking sites does not teach safe behavior and leaves youth without the necessary knowledge and skills to protect their privacy or engage in responsible speech.  Instead of restricting or denying access to the Internet, librarians and teachers should educate minors to participate responsibly, ethically, and safely.”

This statement, I feel, was the clearest and most undramatic that emerged from this week’s IST 611 readings. I particularly appreciate the effort ALA makes to ensure that their guidelines and suggestions apply to librarians and teachers while preserving the right of parents to make the best choice for their child.

One of the questions posed to use this week is:
How important should / will the teacher-librarian be in providing the additional educational component required of CIPA?

The educational component referred to is as such, “The Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act directs E-rate applicants to also certify that their CIPA-required Internet safety policies provide for the education of students regarding appropriate online behavior including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and regarding cyberbullying awareness and response.” More information on this revision is available via the Federal Communication Commission 11-125 Report.

What do I conclude based on the above two readings (and numerous others which I shan’t direct you to)? Not only should we be educating our students, as school librarians, in how to act and conduct ourselves on social media, social networks, chat rooms, and other corners of the wide Internet space, but we must do so.

Classroom teachers are often strapped to get through the curriculum within the school year. The additional burden of the Common Core standards implementation is time-consuming and most likely to be a long process for many teachers. In the meantime, and continuing through, we have an opportunity to teach students (as demanded above) in conjunction with our belief in intellectual freedom, our knowledge of information fluency skills and societal demands upon today’s students, and the immediacy with which we must approach our students and begin teaching not only appropriate behavior, but appropriate and useful applications.

What do you think? Do we have time in our school day to accomplish this? Will we be supported if we do? I, personally, think we’re in a great position to take on this role – assuming we find the time to do so.

Quick Thoughts on: EBooks/Print Books for Students

I’m reading through this blogpost/article/web-hosted-thing-of-words that discusses the implications of a recent study on students preferences when it comes to reading text, print or digital. I thought others might appreciate it. There’s a link to download the study which the author refers to, for further research, if you’re interested.

I’m finding myself very conflicted (unsurprisingly) on the whole debate, between what I think I need versus what my students need. Additionally, there’s this whole “projecting our own needs or ideas onto our students and presuming that’s what they want” mentality that I’ve run into a few times (and I’m certainly not a fan of it). So! Here’s the link, if you’re interested.

I think this potentially affects all of us, regardless of what age level we teach. I know the high school I’m currently at is straddling this divide and still figuring out what direction to go… what do you think?

A Few Thoughts On: Digital Footprints

We all know digital footprints exist. We all have one. Whether you’re reading this blog from your phone, or from a public access computer in a library, you have a digital footprint. That’s not the question.

Here’s the question:
what image does your digital footprint create of you? Think of each link, image, post, etc., that’s linked to your name… does it make an accurate representation of you? Does it disguise who you really are? If you want people to find certain things — are they? If you don’t want people to find certain things — do they?

So often the focus of discussions on digital footprint focuses on, hide the bad stuff, highlight the good stuff, and hope it all ends up seemingly neutral! Excuse me for a moment, but… how absolutely ridiculous. The internet doesn’t care if you look good, bad, ugly, or neutral. How you appear is partly your responsibility… and partly the work of search engine optimization and different search terms.

I’m teaching a few classes this week on digital citizenship, particularly in regards to creating and curating a digital footprint. Don’t let IT create YOU. Our focus is going to be on ways that we can creative a positive footprint. What do I mean by that? I mean, leaving imprints in places we want to be imprinted.

Create a blog. Share your work with an audience outside your classmates. Share your photography on Flickr, and learn about different licensing agreements and how you can share (or not share!) and remix (or not remix)! Set up a GoogleSite for yourself, or build a portfolio. The list goes on. And so there’s a sneak peek into my week!

Some Honest Thoughts: Post-Elem Practicum!

I still can’t believe this was my last week at my elementary practicum. Wow, how time flies when you’re incredibly busy, and we were. I’m incredibly grateful for the experience! A few things I’d like to note:

  1. My teaching skills have come a LONG way in a short time. I grew to feel really comfortable in front of the room and speaking with the students while instructing them. I recommend everyone try to teach a “pretty full” week, or if you can’t do that, teach an entire day (5 or 6 classes, different grade levels). The constant need to adapt, redirect, change, etc., will really help you in terms of gaining confidence teaching. (Not saying it isn’t difficult…but it’s well worth it!)
  2.  As almost a necessary result, my behavior management skills improved exponentially over just a week. At one point I wrote in my notes, “Don’t be afraid to STOP and REDIRECT”. It can be frustrating when you think “I need to teach X and Y, we need to do activity Z, and they’ve got to find new books in 35 minutes”. But, when behavioral issues mean the entire class is distracted, it’s okay to stop, redirect, refocus, and come back to the lesson, even if it eats into the time. Otherwise, you’re simply continuing the lesson so you can feel successful, when really it’s more about making sure your students are successful at the end — even if it’s not quite up to what your expectations were when you were planning. That was a lesson I needed to learn, but I learned it quickly!
  3. My experience after school with the Tech Club really helped me gain an understanding of my students, because I saw them three times a week- twice in tech afterschool, once during the school day. Because I’m not a “digital native” and can actually be a bit of a Luddite, it was great for me to see how ten year olds approach digital work, creation, production, and just general computer skills.There’s a huge difference, for the record, between students who may be in the same grade but have vastly different skill sets and experience with tech. While I was at the school, we learned/reviewed/made projects/created using Wordle/Tagxedo, Animoto, and Make Belief Comix, and I did a tutorial on how to create using Prezi. This week we started discussing Popplet as a mind-mapping tool but also a presentation tool.

By the time I left today, with 129.5 hours under my belt, I felt really good about how this whole rapid-paced experience went. Considering I went into (school name) feeling like the elementary level was going to be incredibly difficult and “out of my comfort zone”, I emerged feeling like I could really make a difference working with the younger students in our school system. That’s probably the best feeling one can have after student teaching…. right?

Some Quick Thoughts from an Elementary Practicum Student!

I know, I know, I’ve been fairly terrible about blogging during grad school. The truth is that I prefer micro-blogging. Think twitter posts and conversations, long comment threads in facebook groups, and the like.

That said, I want to try to be better about putting things down in blog form this semester.
Reasons why:

  • I have to post a blog once a week for my practicum seminar anyway. I may import some, as possible.
  • I’m taking extensive (paper) notes on each day of practicum. I’m going to have to type them up. May as well share!
  • Sharing is caring.
  • I want to look back and say “oh yeah, I did that!” not “oh yeah, I wish I had typed up some of those experiences before I forgot them”.

So without any further pontificating…a few things!

  1. I interact better with the younger age group than I thought I would, honestly. There’s a learning curve on both sides, teacher-to-students and students-to-teacher, but it’s going well so far!
  2. You know how we talk about teaching “just-in-time” so skills align with activities and projects? Right… well, learning just-in-time works too. Like learning how to use a technological tool 10 minutes before you teach it. Not everything has to be rehearsed, scripted, etc. — there’s a freedom in the land of improv, as well.
  3. One of the most frustrating things, after “I can’t find a book” is when the question “well, what are you interested in?” is followed up with “I don’t know”. It’s this that I’m still working on – how to respond, how to find common ground, how to help a student determine what their interests are. 
  4. It’s okay that I haven’t jumped on the iPad bandwagon yet, but time will tell if I can continue to hold that view.
  5. Not having the privileges to update software as needed so that other software/tools can be used causes frustration. Sorry, tech club. 😦
  6. Wrestling books are COOL, y’all. 😉
This book is double-sided. It's like a "choose your own adventure"... in WWE.

This book is double-sided. It’s like a “choose your own adventure”… in WWE.