Monthly Archives: August 2011

Changing schools, staying connected

I’m in a surreal phase this week, my last week at the school where I’ve been almost 5 years. An unwelcome illness kept me from school for 2 whole weeks (can you believe?) and helped begin the distancing process. Now it’s just 5 more days, and I really do feel like I’m in a strange half-world (although I think the prolonged illness is probably to blame).

The last couple of months have been very strange indeed. Our overseas trip during the last week of term 2 and the 2 weeks of holidays was full on, then major jetlag, followed by extreme tiredness and then the couple of weeks of fever and general unwellness, interrupted the normal routine. Somehow I managed to miss one son’s 18th (hiding out in the bedroom but very aware of noise and hilarity) and make it to the other son’s 21st last Friday which was very enjoyable.

Back to school for one last week, and Book Week will ensure that this week will not be without dramas and hopefully good times.

As I think forward to my new school, new library team, new students and staff, I’m grateful that some things will carry across without any fuss. I’m talking about my online resources – my blogs, wikis and Google Sites which can be adapted to resourcing the new school’s curriculum, and can also still be used by teachers and students at my old school. At this point I can justify my determination to keep resources in the cloud and not just within the walls of the intranet. This way everybody wins.

I’m also very pleased that I’m seeing the fruits of a student blogging initiative. The blog I started as a library blog, Fiction is like a box of chocolates, mainly to promote reading, started to expand in different directions. Firstly, I involved staff in reviews to show students that their teachers read and diversely, and secondly, I pulled students in to write reviews. I wanted students to take ownership of the blog, and so a small but dedicated and talented group began expanding reviews to include film and games. I encouraged them to find their own style, and I’m happy to say that this is what occurred. The blog has become a platform for students’ interests, opinions and writing. One of the students went out on a limb and wrote about something close to his heart, depression and people’s attitude to it (in this post). The blog stats attest to the readership these boys attract, and I’m very proud of them. The boys also have big plans to write a Science Fiction story collaboratively which will be published as a serial in the blog. I’m looking forward to seeing how this project develops, and I’m happy that I can leave knowing that that this group of boys have taken ownership of the blog, that they can work together to keep this project alive.

I leave my school knowing that I can keep in touch with friends and colleagues online, and that we can continue to share ideas and online resources. Although I’m moving on, I’m looking forward to bringing ideas and skills to my new school as well as continuing to share with my old school.  My zone of collaboration is expanding.

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I’m a teacher librarian. Put up your hand if you know what that means.

I was reading Jennifer LaGarde’s excellent post and nodding. So much I agree with about the school’s perception of teacher librarians, and reasons why teachers aren’t leaping to collaborate with us. Jennifer summarises it like this –
  • Teacher Isolation:  As a classroom teacher, I was deeply entrenched in my own world.  I spent so much time worrying about what was happening inside my classroom, I sometimes forgot there was a world spinning outside of it.
  • Teacher Education #Fail:  If my own teacher education program emphasized instructional partnerships of any kind, I forgot to sign up for that class.  Collaborating with other professionals was not a skill that I was taught in teacher school.
  • Librarian #Fail: This message was not being sent by the school librarians I worked with.  Or if it was, not very effectively.
I was a also ‘classroom’ teacher long before I decided to mutate into a teacher librarian. Teacher librarians and librarians belonged in the library and looked after books. They weren’t intrinsic to my day to day functioning. Since that time, the role and skillset of TLs has exploded, but who knows that apart from TLs themselves? We sigh, we complain to each other, we throw our hands up into the air, but we’re wasting our time  if we’re not collaborating for active advocacy. This point was made very clear to me during my Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) studies at Charles Sturt University. I soon realised that it is one of the most important things to keep foremost in your mind, otherwise you are spending many, many hours creating resources no teacher uses; your offers of collaboration and support fall on deaf ears.
Thanks,Jennifer, for creating this flyer. Maybe we should screen this daily and hope that it gets through subliminally. Frankly, I think that TLs will not be accepted inVictoria, Australia, unless the focus of education changes from the content-driven, mark-based VCE to a focus on teaching and learning skills which are badly needed and which would equip young people for work and life.  Don’t get me started.
Of course, ‘selling yourself’ must always be accompanied by a sincere and consistent effort at developing real relationships. Don’t be a door-to-door salesperson. That’s just horrible.

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How much personal information do we give away every day?

                                                             Image: ‘Facebook Wants a New Face
Facebook Wants a New Face

A couple of days ago my son had an unsavoury phonecall in the middle of the night from someone who had taken the trouble to conceal his number and his real voice. The incident prompted a discussion about privacy, about Facebook and ‘Friends’ and led me to notice this video in a blog post within Judy O’Connell’s Scoop.it .

Privacy International – Data Trail from This is Real Art on Vimeo.

I’m all for the positive connections for students (and anyone, really) on social networking sites but I suppose unless something goes wrong, we might be tempted to overlook the reality of things. I think, as much as I enjoy sharing things with ‘friends’ online, I should review what I’m sharing and who I’m sharing it with. As educators we should be addressing issues of privacy and the implications of our digital footprint, and the best way is to model it ourselves.

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