Monday, July 23, 2018

10 Days, 5 Guest Speakers

My Library Additional Qualification course has ended the face-to-face portion of the classes. It was a fantastic experience, made so by the twelve thoughtful, hard-working participants. It was a very compact, intense course, but we learned so much from each other in such a short time. I was also grateful to five guest speakers who willingly came and spoke with the educators about important issues in school librarianship. In chronological order, these wise wonders were:

1) Melanie Mulcaster on Monday, July 9, 2018

Melanie spoke to our group about two important topics - collaboration and maker spaces. She brought micro.bits for everyone to tinker with and drew upon the brain power of the class through the use of for polling.

2) Michelle Solomon on Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Michelle wore two hats during her visit with us - as a representative of the Association of Media Literacy, and as one of the teacher-librarians of Northern Secondary School, the site of our course. Because of Michelle's connections, we were able to actually tour a library space during a library course!

3) Jennifer Balido-Cadavez on Monday, July 16, 2018

Jen is a DECE (Designated Early Childhood Educator) and demonstrated to us the importance of honouring knowledge from other sources. She was our only non-teacher-librarian speaker and illustrated effectively the way that the school library and the kindergarten program can work together to benefit our youngest students.

4) Alanna King on Monday, July 16, 2018

It was a bold experiment to have two guest speakers appear simultaneously, but with elementary and secondary teacher-librarians-in-training at the course, it was important to offer choice. Alanna used Google Hangouts to "teleport" into our space and discuss transliteracy. Thankfully the technology cooperated and we enjoyed Alanna's insights.

5) Jennifer Brown on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Jenn initiated some courageous conversations around Equity in the Library Learning Commons. She tag-teamed with me, in her capacity as the Ontario School Library Association's President-Elect / Vice-President, to explain the importance of this subject association.

Now, I've heard and read about what makes effective professional learning for teachers. This article decries what they call "drive-by training" and what I've seen described negatively as "parachute presenters". (It refers to someone who is unfamiliar with the local scene dropping in from above to share their ideas and then leaving.)  However, I think that our five speakers brought a lot of value to the class and were worth including. Why?

  • All these individuals came from my PLN (Professional Learning Network), which demonstrates the importance of developing your own contacts for ongoing learning
  • Knowledge never comes from a single source or individual, so giving the floor to other people and perspectives are vital
  • Every one of these presenters offered to keep the conversations going. They've provided their emails and Twitter handles and encouraged all participants to contact them in any way if they want to talk
  • No one is an expert in everything - each speaker brought their own expertise to the class
  • It's encouraging to meet people at different stages of their library journey. This September will be my 22nd year of teaching in a school library, so I'm at a different area of my development. Library leaders Melanie and Michelle were actually in the process of taking their own Library AQ courses while they were addressing my AQ group! Anyone can be a library leader!
I really hope that I will stay in touch with all the participants from the course. Who knows - maybe if York University asks me to return in my capacity as AQ instructor, some of the participants from Summer 2018 can be speakers for Summer 2019 (if they aren't taking the next stage of the AQ!).


  1. It was fabulous to learn with and from all of you. I was honoured to come and visit. I do hope that we will continue to learn from each other.

  2. Diana:
    Thank you. I’m a little teary on this end, having had a somewhat different experience with my AQ this spring. I'm so proud of your decision to bring a variety of speakers in to talk to your class. I'm happy you managed to bring in people of different cultural backgrounds, at different points in their careers, to share their knowledge with your students. I would love to know some of the feedback from your student group, on what worked for them in this learning experience.
    You continue to set a beautifully high bar in your professional work! Thanks for that.