Monday, August 6, 2012

#tlchat Shout Out: Or Why Every Librarian Should Contribute to a Math Blog

When the folks at Engaging Educators asked me if I would write a post, (for the Ten Marks blog) about #tlchat, the twitter hashtag for teacher librarians,  I jumped at the chance.

First off, Ten Marks is a software program that helps kids improve their math skills.  You heard me right:  Math skills.  Not reading.  So, yeah, when they wanted a librarian to contribute to their blog, I was all over it.  I mean, let's face it, despite my own recent forays into collaborative math instruction,  partnerships with our calculator wielding friends are often few and far between.  So... I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak to an audience outside of the echo chamber of libraryland.  

To be truthful, this is probably a longer post for a different time, but I wonder about the ways in which librarians share the story of library with the rest of the world. However unconsciously, I think we are often the bearers of two very different messages: the one we share with our colleagues and the one we share with everybody else.  

Think about it. 

Go to any library (or even techie) conference around the world and you'll find sessions and keynotes filled with stories from the library just brimming with innovation, collaboration and master teaching.  Indeed, given the opportunity to chat with each other, we can't wait to share our successes, to brag about our students and to spotlight our profession as one of problem solving, creativity and pedagogical prowess. 

But are these the stories we share with teachers?  With principals?  With the school board member we bump into at the grocery story?  I'm not so sure.

A recent post by David Lankes (which I recommend reading) discusses the notion that all of the recent talk about "saving libraries" has given the (false?) impression to those outside the library world that librarianship is a sinking ship - and I think there's something to that.  Don't get me wrong, given the reality of the last couple (and next few, perhaps) years, it's tough NOT to view every shot to bend a willing ear as a mandatory opportunity to roll out the library stump speech.  Further, while I would be the first to say that every interaction, every conversation, every silently observed movement in the world is the chance to spread the gospel of library, I think the message we share everywhere has to be one of library vibrancy, of instructional innovation and of continuous, contagious passion.   In his post, Dr. Lankes said it's time that we stop trying to save libraries and while I'm not sure I completely agree, I do think it's time we stop giving the world the impression that libraries need saving.

Which brings me back to the short piece I was able to write for Ten Marks.  While it's a small thing, surely, I'm grateful for the chance to speak to a different audience about something that a) I'm passionate about and b) has nothing to do with budget woes, personnel cuts and/or legislative actions. 

A PLN in action at a library that doesn't need saving. 
I was also attracted to this opportunity because the piece they asked for was to be part of a series to kick off and celebrate Connected Educator Month.  If you're unfamiliar with CEM, don't worry, it's brand new!  While most of us just think of August as the end of an entirely too short summer break, this year, the US Dept of Ed tagged it as the official month in which to celebrate and focus on strengthening instructional practice through the development of online Personal Learning Networks.  That said, as someone who feels completely and utterly indebted to her PLN on a daily basis, there was just no way I could say no.  

And, finally, I just love #tlchat!  As I said in the post, it's become a "go to place" for me to connect, learn and share.  It's more than a hashtag, it's a connective thread, a constant stream of new information and a positive and proactive means of subtle, but effective, library advocacy that doesn't convey a "sky is falling" message.   Again, there's just no way I could say no.   So, I didn't. :)

Anyway, I hope you'll read the post.  But more importantly, I hope you'll join the conversation! 

PS:  Mega thanks to Ben at Engaging Educators for asking me to do it AND, especially, to Joyce Valenza, without whom #tlchat would not exist! 

3 comments:

  1. Congrats on your guest posting! I'm jumping over there next, but wanted to say I love your blog and happy to have found it.

    I don't work for the library, but I'm a regular patron and former volunteer and take every opportunity to tell others what the library has done for our entire family. There was talk last year about closing local branches and that is when I started blogging about the benefits of local libraries. I haven't covered the beauty of math skills, but you have my brain firing away. I'm going over to Ten Marks now.

    Michele

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  2. Very well said. I totally agree that we need to stop crying about the peril of libraries and dig in and really change the perceptions about the way libraries used to be (instead of trying to convince them with our words.)

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  3. Very good. Really impressed with the blog here. First time I read the views of librarian in math.

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