Feb 19, 2018

Your Story Is Worth Telling: Reflections from the Leveraging Librarian Leadership Workshop

On Jan. 29, approximately 58 Grant Wood AEA teacher librarians joined forces for a day of learning, connecting and sharing. The 58 attendees of the “Leveraging Librarian Leadership Workshop” kicked off the day with a keynote from Stony Evans, a powerful voice in the profession and a high school teacher librarian from Arkansas. Stony shared his inspiring story, telling of his journey as a librarian and the impact blogging and connecting with other educators (via tools like Twitter and Skype in the Classroom) has had not only on his growth as a professional but also on the opportunities for his students.

Following the keynote, participants explored the Future Ready Librarians framework, examining and self-reflecting on various tenets of the framework, creating a shared vision and exchanging ideas for implementation. The theme and conversations continued through the afternoon with conversation strands connected to the various tenets with topics like Openly-Licensed Educational Resources (OER), Accessible Education Materials (AEM), Makerspaces and curriculum.

The day concluded with reflections and commitments. Teacher librarians shared their ideas for next steps and ways to continue to tell their story via a reflective Padlet. Participants also shared ways to continue to follow each others’ stories via a Teacher Librarian Contacts document.

Stony Evans (@stony12270) shared his reflections on the day via his blog Library Media Tech Talk. Read an excerpt below:

Your Story Is Worth Telling
The day started off with me presenting a keynote to the teacher librarians in attendance. Lynn specifically wanted me to share about my experiences with social media, blogging, and library collaborations. I also added in some student stories to illustrate how school libraries can change lives. It is always good to remind ourselves why we are in education; we are there for the learners.

I called the keynote, "Your Story Is Worth Telling" because if we don't share our library stories, who will? Also during the presentation, I shared how connecting to other schools via Skype and Google Hangouts had been so transformative for our learning community. My friend, Elizabeth Hutchinson (@Elizabethhutch), visited with us for a few moments from the Island of Guernsey via Google Hangouts to talk about the power of being a connected educator and librarian. Everyone seemed very inspired by Elizabeth and her stories as we modeled the possibilities together.

Workshop participants connected with Elizabeth Hutchinson via Skype.

Workshop participants connected with Elizabeth Hutchinson via Skype

After the keynote, Lynn presented about the Future Ready Librarian Frameworks and the new AASL Standards. Participants were asked to change to different groups and visualize what a Future Ready Student actually looks like. They did this by drawing a Future Ready "student" on large paper pads with markers. They took time to discuss and share their interpretations and how we can best serve learners from the school library.

Participants creating visual representations of Future Ready students.

Participants creating visual representations of Future Ready students

Conversation Strands

Lynn Kleinmeyer leading conversation around the Future Ready Librarians framework.

Lynn Kleinmeyer leading conversation around the Future Ready Librarians framework

In the afternoon, teacher librarians had options of several breakout sessions in the form of 25-minute conversation strands. Some of the topics included OER, Makerspaces, Expanding Your PLN via Twitter, and Making The Most of Your Space. Facilitators would share highlights of their experiences and share resources, then all in attendance could share and discuss together. It was a great time of learning for everyone. To finish up the day, Lynn asked everyone to reflect and give feedback on a survey. At the conclusion, everyone said their goodbyes and departed.

Outcomes
I don't recall ever seeing so many excited teacher librarians in a room for professional development. I strongly believe all 58 educators that attended wanted to improve for their students. During the conversations and group activities, the idea sharing was continuous and productive. They were all happy to see each other and learn together!

Twitter posts from Stephanie Frishkorn and Michelle Krus about the Leveraging Librarian Leadership Workshop

Tweets shared with Stony or via #gwaealibs

A few days after I got back home, I received some very exciting Tweets from teacher librarians. One had started a blog. Another had committed to seeking teachers that would be willing to collaborate. I was super excited to see that Michelle Kruse had connected her classes via Skype for World Read Aloud Day (see her Tweet below)! She was so motivated that she even led a school-wide Skype read aloud a day later. Imagine the excitement in Michelle's school as she became the great connector in the building. She changed her school by virtually knocking down the walls for her learners and teachers!

Conclusion
I firmly believe that teacher librarians must continue reaching students with literacy promotion and information search techniques. I also know that we must prepare students to be Future Ready by aspiring to achieve the many components of the Future Ready Librarians Framework. It is not enough to quietly work in our spaces. We have to get out of the library and build relationships and collaborations. We must share our library stories in every way possible and connect those stories to the standards. These are important points to change the perception of our profession and build strong advocacy among library stakeholders.

I hope that more teacher librarians can experience professional development like what I witnessed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Such experiences pave the paths of change and advocacy for our profession.

I want to express thanks to Lynn Kleinmeyer for inviting me to visit Iowa and providing me an opportunity to share library stories. Thank you to the Grant Wood AEA, for allowing me to come. Finally, thank you to all the teacher librarians that attended. I will never forget this experience! Let us all take steps out of our comfort zones for those we serve and share the countless stories from the school library.