If I stayed in my library…

Am Fenster, 1922 by Hans Kammerer

In keeping with a limited budget for professional development, the question about relevant choices came up.  The conversation that arose centred on proven relevance for my role as teacher librarian, and in terms of being in line with we’re doing at school. I wanted to go to  Gary Stager’s part in a leadership seminar series. Here is an extract about the seminar –

For school leaders, the immediate challenge is to create productive contexts for learning where there are greater opportunities for inquiry, project-based learning and student leadership, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status.

The relevance of professional development is an interesting topic for conversation especially for me as a teacher librarian. My role is not subject centred, and I find that I usually have to explain the types of things that I do, and the types of PD which might be useful. I understand that a limited budget forces the question of relevance, and might lead to the opinion that Gary’s talk is not specifically targeted to my role or even what we are doing at our school. It might be reasonable to expect that the chosen professional development session should be specifically targeted at what we do in the library.

Why does this not sit right with me?

As much as I appreciate and enjoy professional development opportunities related to my profession (teacher librarian) – and there is so much variety here since this role has an impressive array of hats – what I love most is an opportunity to be stretched, challenged and even surprised; to be reminded about the basic core of our jobs at school – LEARNING! – and to interact with people from different walks of life.

People who attend Teachmeets will know what I’m talking about. We hear from educators in different roles – primary, secondary, tertiary, from principals, heads of elearning, IT, program coordinators at museums, non-school libraries, and the such. You get what I’m trying to say. There is so much to learn from each and every speaker, regardless of their role, and that’s precisely because of the diversity of experiences. Sometimes a primary teacher will have a unique approach to teaching which a secondary teacher will not have thought of. I know that I have so many connections and ideas while I’m listening to these people. And the conversation following is just as valuable. How sad, how 2-dimensional, to receive professional development which is carefully measured, predictable and safe.

What would I be like if I stayed in my library, if I stayed in my school, my staff room, my neighbourhood?



Filed under learning

4 responses to “If I stayed in my library…

  1. Tania
    It will come as no surprise to you that I appreciate your feelings about Teachmeets, about the breadth of experience they expose us to. There are so many opportunities out there because of our online professional learning networks. In light of these opportunities I think we get ‘fussier’ about other PL we attend. I hope you negotiate a suitable outcome!

    • We do get fussier, although fussier may not be the right word. We just have a clearer idea of what we need. As far as my own PD goes, I won’t be able to attend even one SLAV PD. The disappointment is softened knowing I have the opportunity to attend Teachmeets and mix with the familiar and new people, always with good ideas. Thanks!

  2. Lesley Ngatai

    I’m with you- this is entirely relevant to your PD. To quote: “PD was best when specifically targeted to what we were already doing… PD was most effective when offered within the school, and least effective when outside the school.” This sounds limited and short sighted
    Development us by its nature future focused- how will u get to creativity / innovation if u focus on now- what your org does today is not what it may need to do in2-5 yrs
    Internally provided PD only is limited to / defined by the org’s culture- you need outside exposure to ideas, cultural practice and different ways if knowing, learning and doing.
    I applied to attend a Jane Goodall leadership day once she spoke about her work setting up the famous Gombi chimpanzee sanctuary and then about chimp behavior and what leaders could learn from it: it was excellent and inspirational ;and targeted at executive kevel management) Staying within your own walls will limit your prg vision and anility to be tesponsive/ age further down the road

    • Hi Lesley, pleased to meet you. Well said, and of course, I entirely agree. What a fantastic experience to hear Jane Goodall speak, and a perfect example of how you will actually learn more from someone who is in an entirely different situation. Staying within your walls is dangerous. When I look at what typical PD I’m expected to attend, I start to switch off before I even get there. Inspiration is often found outside the walls, even where you least expect it.

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