July 6-8, 2011 marked my third annual work with Library Camp OTF. Every year, the Ontario Teachers' Federation, in conjunction with different subject associations, offers an incredible deal - for just $50, you receive three full days of professional learning opportunities as well as two nights of accomodation and two meals per day in the city where the PD is held. This year, the Ontario School Library Association focused on financial literacy, the newest Ministry of Education initiative. I was asked to re-do my presentation on gaming in the library that I delivered at the Canadian Library Association's 2011 conference in Halifax on Friday, but I was there for all three days to provide support and assistance to the many teacher-librarians from all over the province that attended.
I was so very impressed by the committment and energy that the participants brought to the table. Here they were, only a couple of days into their well-earned summer break, and they chose to work together and learn together. Even if conversations were "off-topic", they were "on-education", and that was just fine by me. We need to respect adult learning styles and the different professional goals that participants bring with them to these sorts of events. Each year, I think the camp improves - not just in how and what is shared, but even in the people that attend. In the past, I found that we were more likely to have some people who placed more emphasis on using their nearly free temporary residence in Toronto to play tourist; now I find that more of the recent attendees have a marvelous balanced attitude. No one begged for us to end early; it was more likely that people hung out after the session had officially ended to continue their professional conversations with their new acquaintances.
I was delighted to reconfirm that I learn just as much from the participants as I do from the "experts" and presenters. As the people who blogged about attending the International Society of Technology Educators conference in Philadelphia showed (especially through their tweets - check the hashtag #iste11 for proof), some of the richest learning happens in the hallway conversations, the talks with others during breaks. I felt the same way during Library Camp OTF. Here are some examples of structured and leisurely learning that occured for me:
Just as I benefited from Elizabeth Gordon's review of creating norms in the introduction, I was enriched by Cyndie Sirsi's passion for using dance in the library as a tool for deepening understanding that we had in the parking lot, and Mary Catherine Doyle's insights into determining the best people to buy from as we drove to a vendor for some "after-session shopping".
Just as I benefited from Roger Nevin's instructions on how to create (and delete) webpages using Google Sites and ways to create and share videos with ease via Smart Board's recording tool and Google Docs, I was enriched by Artemis Manoukas (and the new teacher-librarian at Heritage Park P.S., whose name I have totally forgotten!) who shared with me their experience with the impact of pets on students and plans for incorporating financial literacy with ecological stewardship, and Lucia D'Arrisso's delightful uses of costumes to engage her school community (and retelling how her kindergarten students patted her and cooed "you are so beautiful" when she dressed as Snow White).
Just as I benefited from Joanne Laforty's pre-retirement presentation on assessment and evaluation in the library (remember the new paradigm as explained in Growing Success states that the main purpose of it all is to improve learning) I was enriched by Christy Den Haan-Veltman's writing and publishing experience and willingness to help with the magazine, and Karen Fong's expertise as a kindergarten teacher shaping her library program (using a "glow and a grow" to give positive feedback, for example).
Just as I benefited from Ruth Hall and Elizabeth Gordon's connections between financial literacy and the Together For Learning document I was enriched by Cindy Mohareb and Karrie Smith's reflections on their gaming experience and the benefits it showed them, and Bonnie Moffat's group plans to create QR code t-shirts ("scan me") and scavenger hunt activities for their school libraries, and Heather Sheehy's courage to try new tools even when they are less-than-successful on the first attempt.
Thank you to everyone that attended. As I said after distributing the certificates, let's keep the learning going, and the connections we've made with other educators alive and thriving.