Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 29 - Transparency in education includes the Internet?

gwynethjonesgwynethjones @gntlinto Go at your own pace, but realize the idea of Internet privacy as educators is pretty much over now- school webpages? gwynethjones gwynethjones @gntlinto I respect privacy but Transparency for educators is so KEY right now! Creating that positive digital footprint for ourselves :-)

These were some immediate reply tweets I received from another teacher-librarian after I commented on her blog post. She had written a thoughtful piece on how she determines whom to follow on Twitter. I read them and was slightly dismayed to see item #3 (Twitter name = use your real one) and item #7 (location = mention where you Tweet from). I try to be pretty cautious about my online presence, after I once wrote a tongue-in-cheek mini-biography for a publication that made it online and gave too much information. I also know that many of my students use Google to search for evidence of me online. That's why I tend to use certain monikers or online aliases. My husband uses his real name for all his Internet activities but I think he has a thicker skin than I do and can better handle the challenges and insults sometimes thrown his way. Gwyneth's words itched at me like a mosquito bite, so I changed my Twitter handle to be something a little closer than my original Twitter name. I'm not ready to go whole-hog yet (my Facebook account is still pretty untraceable to most people), but I've made baby steps in the direction of being more transparent.

Positive digital footprint. How's yours?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

November 22 - Should some time be reserved "non-TL time"?

On Saturday November 20, I attended (at the request of my principal) a conference offered by SMART Tech. It was a good conference. I learned a lot. I got a free t-shirt and a backpack too and swag is always appreciated. I have to admit that I wasn't super-keen on going at first. If I hadn't chosen to skip the ECOO conference the previous weekend (which was hard to do because it's another very good conference), then I would have been booked to attend a meeting or conference every Saturday this November. I have children of my own (a nearly-11 year old and an 8 year old) and I like spending time with them on the weekend. I'm lucky that my husband's occupation allows him to work from home and take care of our kids - he is there to give them lunch, pick them up from school, and help them with their homework. Still, I hate leaving him and the kids for hours on days that should be "family time".

But how does carving out "family time" work, especially when people encourage 24/7 access to school library resources and flexible library hours? Friday was devoted to parent-teacher interviews, but we still had students in the school practising in the morning with their music ensemble and working in the afternoon with their volleyball team. This demonstrates the devotion these teachers have to the clubs and teams they offer and the dedication the students have to improving their craft - but should they get a day off? These are hard questions for me to ask myself, because I get really irritated when I read union-produced articles about extra-curricular activities and transporting students to events that encourage educators to "just say no" to everything.

I think part of the answer lies with quality vs quantity. I don't have to have the school library open every single recess for students to come to finish assignments (and avoid the cold) - I'm allowed to close it for bathroom breaks and visits to the staff room during treat day, as long as I try to keep it open for their use when I can. I don't have to be at home all Saturday with my own children and entertain them constantly - I'm allowed to take some time for me or for PD, as long as when I am with them that I'm truly "with" them, doing stuff together. I'm neither "SuperMom" nor "SuperSchoolLibrarian" - I do what I can as long as I remember: "to thine own self be true".

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 15 - So much to say, so little (screen) time

Last Sunday, Global TV aired a segment about education uses of technological innovations.

I don't like watching myself on TV, but it was a good opportunity to talk with the students, especially the students involved, about how media is created. As the grade 3s noted, the film crew spent the entire morning taping at our school. The team had 3 hours of footage just from our school alone, and the video seen on the news was less than 5 minutes long. The students did a good job of identifying the audience for the video, the main message it wanted to impart, and the reasons why some people were shown more than others. I was fascinated to see that an answer I had given to an unaired question became the closing remarks of the reporter. I'm glad they thought enough of the explanation to include it! This was a neat chance to feature the school library as part of 21st century learning (I ensured that we filmed in both the main lab and in the library's mini-lab). Thank you Global TV!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November 8 - Evidence Based Practice for all of us

Last week, during our administration team meeting, we were looking at our School Improvement Plan. Our board wants us to have SMART goals (SMART's an acronym that stands for something like "strategic-measureable-attainable...") and many of my colleagues felt uneasy with the notion of proving how we were helping students learn and assigning percentages to the gains. As a teacher-librarian, none of this was new to me. Teacher-librarians have been using evidence-based practice for quite a while now. Clearly demonstrating exactly how (and by how much) the school library program contributes to student learning was necessary because the school library staffing was neither automatic nor guaranteed. Regular classroom teachers aren't used to having to prove their worth, or the worth of what they do in the classroom, because classrooms aren't in danger of being cancelled. Creating end goals with evidence to support the success can be a good mindset to get into, because it makes you examine what you are teaching, and how effective it is. Sure, it'd be nice to worry about other things instead of collecting statistics, but if we look at it as assessment for/of learning rather than a pointless bureaucratic exercise, it becomes less of a pill to swallow. As long as we ensure that we are measuring what we think we are measuring (I had this aha while writing my 2009-2010 annual report and altered it to reflect my new understandings), then it might be worth the effort. As Anita Brooks-Kirkland said on her blog, we cannot rely on vague feel-good statements about school libraries.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1 - Anyone wanna partner? Anyone?

This year, I have an amazing schedule. I provide a small amount of library and media prep but the majority of my time is devoted to "collaborative structured ICT partnering". What that means in layman's terms is that when the grade 1-8 classes go up to the computer lab, I accompany them and their home room teacher; we co-teach the lesson and that way, everyone learns from everyone else. I also have an entire day of open collaborative library partner time - fantastic, right?

The problem is that no one has signed up for my open partner time.

I can attribute this to several potential causes. It could be because everyone has structured time already built into their timetables so they may not feel the need to book more spots. It could be a lack of time for the classroom teachers to find and plan a unit with me. It may also be due to last year's less-than-ideal schedule, where I only had something like two periods available for partnering (which couldn't be retooled to best fit others' timetables, because last year I was 1/2 library [all prep] and 1/2 junior & intermediate literacy & numeracy SERT); if you're not used to having partner time available, why seek it out this year?

I feel terribly guilty about all this "free time" I have. I'd rather be teaching. I can't even assuage my conscience by bar coding books or shelving, because I have two amazing adult volunteers that have that all under control. I don't want to lose my open partner time because it isn't being used, but I do want it to be used. I'll keep offering those times (I noticed last week when I offered it as "free extra prep time for writing report cards" that I became the most popular person in the school) and hope things pick up. Any other suggestions?