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New Paths in Library Advocacy: Reflections on the NC Teaching Fellows Jr. Conference

Today I had the amazing opportunity to work with some of my state's most valuable resources: new teachers.  The students in the classes I taught today were (roughly) one year away from completing their teacher education program as part of the NC Teaching Fellows Program.  (An aside, our legislature voted to zero out funding for Teaching Fellows this year - a travesty you can learn more about here). 

I've been nervous and excited about these presentations for weeks now.  Nervous because it always feels a little strange to play to an audience outside of libraryland and excited because I often wish my own teacher education program had offered the opportunity learn from and about school library media specialists and how they could help me (as a classroom teacher) and my students. To this day, although (in general) I feel like my own teacher education program perpared me fairly well for what I would experience in the classroom, I don't think I'm alone in the lamenting the lack of emphasis on the instructional team I would NEED to be a part of in order to truly provide my students with everything they would need. Indeed, I can't remember anyone talking to me about the school librarian and what he/she could do for me (my kids).

And so, to be honest, I couldn't wait to get in the room with these eager, fresh faced, soon to be teachers - if for no other reason that I felt I had a golden opportunity to fill a gap for them that was not, until much, much later, filled for me.   Advocacy is a topic that seems to be on the tip of every school librarian's tongue these days.  To that end, while I think many of us are becoming quite savvy when it comes to sharing what we do with those who have the power to impact our budgets and positions, I fear we may be missing the boat when it comes to embedding ourselves in education of the next generation of teachers/administrators.

In the end, however, I can't help but think that I got just as much (if not more) out of the experience than they did.  While I feel the sessions went well and I received great feedback afterwards, between the two of us, I feel like the big winner. Not only were the students funny and smart, they asked great questions, were willing to try new things and were filled with that new teacher spark - the perfect mixture of idealism, optimism and the unstoppable drive to make a difference. Ah... if only I could bottle that spark.  I'd keep most of it in a special, glass case labeled "In Case of Emergency." The rest I'd load into a one of the supersoaker squirt guns and take aim at those people we ALL work with who really need a good soaking. But I digress.  Even without the bottle (and squirtgun), I couldn't help but feel nostalgic being around them. Nostalgic and inspired.  As much as I hope I was able to help shape the image that these "youngsters" (I nearly cried when the second section informed me they were not alive when I was in middle school) will have of school librarians when they land in their first classrooms, the shape of my world was changed too by their contagious energy and endless enthusiasm - just a little of which rubbed off on me.

The following are my presentations from today's sessions.  As always, everything posted here is free for you to use, share and make better.

PS: Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to these presentations!  Your input proved invaluable!  Here's some proof: 

Future teacher:  "Will this symbaloo be available after this session?" Me:  "Yes. It will be available forever." FT:  "Really???" Me:  "Yes." FT:  "Really???" Me:  "Yes." FT:  "Thank you! Thank you! Oh Thank you!"


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