A Big Sloppy Love Letter To My PLN!
When I was a classroom teacher, I often found myself feeling isolated from the rest of the world. Perhaps it was the era in which I taught (it was definitely a web 1.0 world back then) or maybe I didn't "put myself out there" as far as engaging in more professional learning opportunities. Don't get me wrong, I loved teaching. For the whole of my 10 year stint as an English teacher, I was fortunate to work with great people and great students. And yet, for all the joy I experienced during that time, I don't think I grew very much as a learner or as an educator. Certainly, I can pin point pockets of inspiration or moments in which I stumbled upon people or resources that inspired and challenged me to reflect on my practice and evolve as an educator. But given the length of time I taught, the professional growth I experienced as a teacher truly pales in comparison to how much I've learned and grown during the four years I've worn the hat of librarian.
Indeed, in an era defined by no money, no resources and no hope, I feel as though my professional cup runneth over.
This year, I have started a PLT for librarians in my district - with our goal being to collect data and study literature/research that helps us draw the line between our programs and student achievement. So far, about 10 librarians have officially joined and I'm hopeful more will jump on board. Ultimately, after a year's worth of work, we want to emerge with a compelling argument and formal presentation that will help us save positions and reinstate line-item library budgets in our county.
Even as I type all of that out, I realize that it may seem like a daunting, if not impossible, task. And yet, I have to admit that I feel a bit like the Alfred E. Newman of Librarians, insomuch as, I'm simply not worried. Yes, it's hard and important work, but I've never felt less alone and more empowered as a professional than I do right now. In addition to the group of professionals in my own district who have stepped up to the plate, I feel buoyed by the combined knowledge of the people I follow on Twitter, the Diigo group I've started related to the topic, the members of my state professional organization's listserv and the enumerable blogs that I follow. Whatever gaps in knowledge I may possess, (and let's face it, there are many), I know they are more than filled by the people I choose to hang out with.
Tonight, I had the pleasure of hanging out with nearly 100 really smart people in a TL Cafe Webinar. As is almost always the case with these things, I emerged inspired and, if I'm honest, a little overwhelmed - not by the sheer amount of genius in the room, (frankly, I'm growing used to that), but by how fortunate I am to have access to such brilliant and generous people. Truly, however many notches I am able to put in my own personal victory column, I owe a debt of gratitude to the people who let me sit next to them (either literally or virtually) and soak up their knowledge. I am one lucky girl.
That said, if it's true that the key to appearing smart is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are, then I must look like a genius. And, frankly, I'm okay with that. :)