Friday, October 12, 2012

2 Weeks, 2 Coasts, Countless Opportunities for Learning

Over the last couple of weeks I've had the amazing opportunity to do some "boots on the ground" bi-coastal learning.  I spent the end of last week leading and learning with some amazing librarians in my home state of North Carolina at our state conference.  Then, this week, I've been learning and leading with the rockstar teacher librarians of my OTHER homestate of Washington.  Seriously, somebody needs to pinch me!

I mean, just look at these good looking folks!


Both conferences were brimming with sessions focused on student learning and on moving ALL educators forward within the context of an educational climate that includes financial uncertainty and a brand spanking new curriculum. I was impressed by both organizations for furthering professional growth for librarians in a way that puts students first and stuff second (or third or fourth or not at all). Looking through the programs, I saw an emphasis on teaching and learning - rather than on copyright and book binding.  I love it.   This is the kind of PD that our profession is hungry for and the planners of both conferences really delivered.  Kudos to all involved.

Some of my favorite moments?

Well, in North Carolina, I had the extreme pleasure of meeting some of my library "soul sisters" from South Carolina who made the trek north to attend our conference.  It was an utter joy to hang out with Tamara Cox, Monique German, Heather Loy, Fran Bullington and Cathy Jo Nelson - even for a short time.  AND as Tamara pointed out on her blog, we were even color coordinated!

Another highpoint was running into my buddy Lucas Gillespie, a tech educator in NC who attends library conferences, not only to share his AMAZING work with students and his use of game based learning, but to LEARN from school librarians.  What a joy to see him in so many sessions and to read his tweets about the cool stuff he is going to take back to his district.  Bumping in to him made me even more excited for NCTIES in the spring!

However, the best part of the conference, for me, was presenting with my BFF and teacher partner in crime, Ryan Redd - a rock star math teacher who spent 2 days learning and sharing with school librarians because she "gets" that it takes all of us, working together, to make the difference for kids. Our session, on using video games to impact student learning, made me happy for so many reasons.  Not only was it well attended by school librarians, but other math teachers, tech educators and even school administrators joined us for a fun, fast paced session.  But for me, the highlight was a totally unscripted moment in which Ryan said that she couldn't put into words what it meant to have "another teacher" working along side her to help meet the needs of her students.  I loved that she called me "another teacher" - a candid, and again unscripted, moment that made me want to pump my fists and say "yes!" If all classroom teachers and administrators thought of us in that way, library funding, library staffing and, most importantly, library services to students would (in many, many places) be a lot different.

In Washington, it's tough to pick a favorite moment.  As I write this, I'm only one day into my two days here and still have another day of learning to go.  So far, however, I'd have to say that two moments are currently competing for the top spot.  First, I loved collecting the ideas generated during my two pre-conference sessions on how school librarians can position themselves as teachers, leaders and learners in their schools, districts and communities.  As part of my session, I created 2 linoit boards and as we explored various topics, participants shared their strategies for moving our profession forward.  As much as I love sharing my own work, collecting the stories of my colleagues for future learning was a sheer delight.  However, I can't deny that my second favorite moment from this conference has to have been the opportunity to connect with librarians from the state that I called home for many years before moving to North Carolina.  What a joy it was to find myself seated next to a librarian with whom I went to high school!  Or to learn that the current librarian in that same high school was sitting in my session scheming ways to publish photos of me from the yearbook. (Bring it, girl!)

All in all, it's been a great two weeks for learning and sharing.  Although I'm WAY looking forward to spending a little time at home next week, loving on my husband and two dogs (all three of whom may have forgotten what I look like), I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.   In the meantime, I'm including all of my presentations from both conferences below, along with the 2 Linoit boards that I mentioned above.  Please feel free to use and share them in anyway you feel would be effective.  And if you were among the countless educators that I've met over the last few days, please accept my sincere thanks for making me feel both welcome and as though I've been among friends.

Happy learning!

From TechnoPHOBE to TechnoFAB - Pre-conference session presented with Jennifer Northrup!


NC "State of the State" Address



140 Character PD: Twitter for Teacher Librarians



Game On! Using Video Games to Ramp Up Your Instruction!


Snapshot of a 21st Century Librarian



Linoit Board: Session 1


Linoit Board: Session 2