Tag Archives: teachers

Is marketing a dirty word for school libraries?

La lectura es el viaje de los q no pueden tomar el tren

I’m writing an article about marketing the school library for the publication FYI.

Marketing. I used to think that it had nothing to do with education. Marketing school libraries? Bad taste. Things of value should stand on their own merits.

But here we are living in libraries within schools – part of the school, not quite part of the school. I have to admit that much of what I do is a form of marketing – the benign kind, the sincere kind, but marketing nonetheless. No, we are not selling our souls but we do need to reach out and make connections with the teachers who have charge of the students. We need them all so that we can make a difference.

Still, I have many questions about this marketing thing. I would love to have a full-on discussion with other teacher librarians about this, and with teachers, to see what they think. To see what you think.

So I’m going to offer a few of my thoughts in the hope that you will leave a comment. What do you think about this as a teacher librarian, as a teacher? The following is selected from my article:

Library promotion and the forging of relationships with staff is what we do every day.I don’t claim to be an expert and there is no ‘one size fits all’, but what I’d like to do is share my personal experience and my story.

Marketing your school library is not optional, as far as I’m concerned.

Why?

Marketing the library is a most important job, not only to make the library visible but also to make it shine, to show its vibrancy, so that teachers and students will take a break from their relentless busyness and take notice; so that they will want to come in to see what’s going on.

Sadly, libraries are sometimes invisible – despite bright and shiny new furniture, despite the brilliant displays, despite the extensive collections, despite the well meaning efforts of librarians. What I mean by that is that the library and library staff are not an intrinsic part of the essential teaching and learning activity of our schools – they don’t show up on teachers’ or students’ radar –  unless we make them so. And we have to keep making them so on a daily basis.

The library used to be THE PLACE people came for information but it’s simply not the case any more. Surely you’ve noticed how often student assignments are set and completed without anyone stepping into the library. We all know how indispensable we can be and should be when research assignments are created so we need to educate students and teachers that we have the experience to support them in navigating the flood of information they now have at their fingertips. We all know our area of expertise: we can show them how to find what they need when it seems like finding a needle in a haystack – how to locate, evaluate, sort through and select, organise, interact with and synthesize information so they can create what is required. But often teachers and students will have no idea that they are playing in a sinkhole when they trust Google to find what they need. There is no doubt that we need to seriously promote ourselves as playing an essential part in everyday teaching and learning.

How?

Granted, that is easier said than done. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. I would say, trust your instincts. create connections, nurture authentic and meaningful relationships with teachers, faculty heads, leading teachers, assistant principals and principals.

Be yourself, be real. Don’t put on your teacher librarian persona and go out door knocking like a missionary. There is no script. You will know what to say.

Be patient. It won’t happen overnight. It might not happen the way you envisage but something will happen. Connect with other teacher librarians, blog and tweet about it, and share your experiences, reflections, evaluations. Be honest, be deep. It’s not all about what can be seen from the outside, it’s also about creating cultural shifts, shifts in understanding. All of this takes time. Look for and celebrate small successes.

Be awesome, surprising, and indispensable. Find and share what teachers want and need, but also make it amazing and wrap it up in gorgeous colours with metres of ribbon and exotic feathers.

Think about the library as a space; it’s prime real estate. The library can be a Wunderkammer, and when people come in, they should feel happy and intrigued, and wish they could stay a while. It should be a refuge for teachers from their relentless running from class to class. And you should become indispensable because you have offered to create something they have little time to do.

Where?

Everywhere – in library spaces, in classrooms, during chats in the corridor or quick catch-ups after a staff meeting, during sports days, music days, and PD days.

Don’t forget the power of promotion online – to your staff, students and school community but also to those outside the school walls. Let’s promote ourselves and what we do in our schools to the outside world, creating a reputation for being awesome, inspiring others, and being inspired by them.

It’s essential that we are seen in places other than the library. Let’s unleash ourselves from that ancient library institution – the desk. If we are stamping books and dealing with delinquent photocopiers for too much of our time, let’s think about what we can do to change that.

How to develop good relationships with teachers

My personal approach is working from the ground up with individual teachers I feel are responsive to collaboration and to my crazy ideas. I recommend you spend a lot of time in that relationship, trying to make solid, deep things happen, and that you blog the whole process with photos and repost everywhere. This way one documented collaborative project can be used as an example for many more such projects. The blog post will capture examples, reflection and evaluation, for teachers who want to see how the project worked, as well as evidence of good things happening.

Integrate, integrate, integrate

Become integrated with classes and the curriculum. Avoid feeling happy enough with isolated ‘library program’ -type lessons. As long as teachers view what we do as library programs, they will view what we do as separate, and not take it seriously. This goes for  students too. We need to be there throughout the whole project, either in the classroom or through our interaction with teachers. 

Should we speak up about what we’re doing and how we can help teachers in staff meetings? I’m in two minds about this. Staff meetings are usually after school and staff are tired and want to go home. On the occasion that I did stand up and promote what teacher librarians could do to support staff and students, I tried to be as entertaining as possible, and hoped that laughter would keep them focused. I would be reluctant to do that too often so that staff do not start to switch off. In my opinion, working on deeper relationships with individual teachers is more effective.

So these selections are a small part of the article which will soon be published in FYI. The article includes a lot more practical examples which I hope will be useful to other teacher librarians.

It would be so good to hear from you all. I open to changing my mind about approaches. Leave me a comment, okay?

But seriously, can we afford not to be marketing our libraries?

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Libraries, Teacher librarians, Uncategorized

Welcome to your library – teachers

Welcome to your library teachers

 

On Tuesday I’ve been asked to give a very short talk about the library at the staff meeting. It will be my first talk to staff since I’ve been acting head of library at MHS. I’m very nervous about speaking to the staff at my own school, more so than if I were speaking to a group of people outside the school, but I need to get over it.

Basically, I want to let teachers know about the change of culture for VCE private study. Previously the library was home to an enormous number of students who had no other space, and the noise was often out of control. Even though I was initially unsure about insisting on a silent library, favouring discussion and collaborative study, I had to respect the principal’s directive, and believe him when he said that students were complaining they couldn’t study in the noisy spaces. This year students have a choice between the silent library and the ‘dining hall’ (sounds much more posh than it is) where they can work collaboratively or just relax. We’ve all been flabbergasted that most of the students still choose the library despite our strict rules for silent study. Who knew? Of course, carpet and air conditioning have something to do with this, but we are seeing so many students knuckling down to serious study.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time on a presentation which is just a visual prompt for my brief talk. I hope teachers will look at the slides instead of me! Our main focus this year is to work more closely with teachers to create rich resources, create curriculum/assignments and teach collaboratively. We hope to forge relationships and become a vital part of teaching and learning at the school. We’ve divided faculties amongst the teacher librarians, and I hope that the TLs take ownership of their areas of expertise, and that they enjoy their new roles.

I hope you can make sense of the visual prompts in the presentation. My talk will be brief and I plan to speak very plainly; I’ve consciously avoided educational jargon. Today I read an article by Daniel Pink, “My challenge to you: only speak like a human at work” which confirmed what I’ve believed – that if you can’t say it simply and sincerely, you’ll lose your audience, or at least you won’t have much of an impact.

Sorry I wasn’t able to embed the presentation, so you’ll have to download it via the link at the top of the post. Not sure why I can’t – maybe it’s Chrome?

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5 things I’d like my teacher to know about me – meme and retrospective

The talented (and Pottermore expert) Judith Way tagged me in this meme – 5 things I’d like my teacher to know about me. You can read Judith’s post here. Why not? It’s short, it’s useful in preparation for school as a zoom-in on the student-teacher relationship. Okay, so here goes: –

1. Just because I get good marks doesn’t mean I don’t need encouragment. This happened to my older son too. Teachers often focus on boosting the confidence of struggling students, leaving the bright ones without any encouragement. All kids need to feel encouraged and appreciated.

2. I might present as a happy student because I’m well behaved, but inside I’m bored to death. Of course in my day (in primary school) you sat patiently for ages while everyone took their turn to read, particularly, the struggling readers who needed more practice. Bad luck if you’d already read the whole reader (yes, one reader for the whole year) before school started.

3. Just because I get good marks doesn’t mean I am confident. In fact I am far from confident and suffer over little things, beating myself up about my imperfections. (Just realised there’s a bit of a theme here, and also I should probably go to a counsellor! so many things stirred up here…)

4. I love the way you decorate the classroom (primary school obviously). I may not say anything but all the differently coloured papers, craft activities, displayed work makes a happy environment for me and I remember it all decades later. Visual, tactile, olfactory experiences are powerful and affect the learning experience. Okay, so  obviously all my answers focus on primary school.

5. I need more context. So many activities, simple as they were, left me feeling confused. I didn’t see the point of the exercise. Then I started wondering if I was the only one feeling confused, especially when everyone else seemed to accept the activities without any problems. Even as far back as prep grade, I remember wondering what the point of Tic Tac Toe was. Maybe I was missing the point. Do you think that perhaps I may have been a little paranoid? Still, kids are not stupid, a little context goes a long way. Remember, kids are learning so much every day, there’s a lot of information processing going on. Lots of discussion and question time will help with this.

So now I need to tag other people to write a similar post. Bearing in mind these people may not choose to participate given their busy lives. In hope, but with understanding in case you can’t do it, I tag you, @jennyluca @angelquilter @kimyeo @sujokat @Larrydlibrarian  Thanks and don’t worry if you can’t do it – busy time of year!

PS Yes, I know, I need therapy.

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How social networks empower teachers – slideshow presentation

I’ve created this slideshow to accompany a presentation I’m giving to staff on curriculum day about how social networks empower teachers. It’s a little text-heavy but I’m using the slides to structure my talk and hoping that the slideshow will be a resource for interested staff to refer to after the talk. I’ve probably spent much too long on the preamble, the ‘what’s it all about’ but the mindshift preceding any technical instruction is very important. It’s a good idea to view the full version of the slideshow because the embedded version has cut off the far right side.

I have a lot to learn about public speaking and so I am a little nervous about the presentation itself. It’s going to be a challenge providing enough information about what to do with Twitter, Diigo, Vodpod and Scoop.it and how to do it, as well as leaving enough time for some hands on play. Hopefully it will all come together and I’m prepared to skip great chunks of the presentation after I get a feeling for the mood of the group attending. I’m still new to the school and I’m thinking that I should not focus entirely on cramming content but take the opportunity to get to know the teachers attending my session.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Filed under Social learning, Social media

YouTube.com/Teachers is launched – let’s flip the classroom

Breaking news:

YouTube.com/Teachers has just been launched.

This morning I read Will Houghteling’s announcement in the  Google Certified Teacher Group –

This morning we launched YouTube.com/Teachers as a resource for educators everywhere to learn how to use YouTube as an educational tool. There are lesson plan suggestions, highlights of great educational content on YouTube, and training on how teachers can film their own educational videos. This site was designed/written by teachers for teachers and we hope it’s the first step in really kick-starting a community of YouTube-using educators (sign up for the new YouTube Teachers email list on the right hand side here)

Read the launch blog post here, co-authored by James Sanders and the launch tweet is here if you want to RT it.

There are many reasons why we should make more use of videos in our teaching: to increase student engagement; to cater for the visual learner (most learners will appreciate a visual means of learning); to introduce a new topic to students before the class; to provide a visual tutorial which students can revisit as many times as they wish and at their own pace; to provide an alternative style of instruction – to mention just a few. Flipping the classroom is something I think should happen more often – provide the video as homework to precede the class, and that way students are already familiar with the content and classroom time can be used effectively for discussion, collaboration and creation.

You can join the YouTube Teachers’ Community on this page if you want to receive emails about the ways in which you can incorporate YouTube videos in your teaching.

I think it would be a good idea to create a YouTube channel for your classes and you can read about that here.

Have a look  at 10 ways to use YouTube in the classroom and also at different types of tools to create your own videos or for students to create them. There’s a lot more on the site including tips for video production.

You can search and browse educational categories of YouTube videos here. The Khan Academy alone has 2.676 videos to choose from.

It really is just sensible to be aware of best quality resources available instead of reinventing the wheel. Unless, of course, you are creating an original alternative to the wheel!

Browsing through the different curricular areas of various tertiary institutions, I am aware that there is a wealth of resources for students requiring more sophistocated content and thought, and that applies to all students at my school, Melbourne High School. For me, as teacher librarian, this wealth of resources is begging for curation. I’m thinking about YouTube.com/Teachers  from my role – it’s there, it’s fantastic, how do I promote it to the whole school, and how do I embed it into a space where teachers will find and use it.

I welcome feedback and thoughts about this excellent resource. As always, I will be sharing this resource and my thoughts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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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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Kids teach parents tech in their own way

This makes me laugh; I think my eldest son may have left home because of this.

It’s true that many of the ‘parent’ generation are less than expert at tech. Embarrassing, yes, and something I can completely relate to. When I did my Master of Education online, I didn’t even (dare I say it) know where the ‘on’ switch on the computer was. So the line ‘have you tried switching it off and on?’ would have not helped me one little bit.

My son was about 12 then and helped me struggle through the whole thing so that I could complete the degree. It was painful for both of us. I used to think that, once I’d logged onto the Charles Sturt University site, if I made a mistake, the people at the other end would know, and it would be embarrassing. The same as when I was a very young and I thought the people on the TV could see me. I’m not very tech-savvy.

It’s ironic  because, as my friends know, I’m connected a lot of the time (still don’t have the phone, but contemplating). My role as teacher librarian in finding and setting up the most interesting, relevant and engaging resources is made possible only by the enormous amount of time I spend online connecting with people and organisations, asking questions, joining discussions, saving it all to Diigo and Vodpod, sharing it with people.

It’s interesting to note the emerging learning styles of young people, on the whole, demonstrate an independence we never had. Connected, they find what they need to do what they want. We get on their nerves because we are helpless and think we need someone to tell us how to do something. They google, youtube, and whatever else, or even create videos to teach us, just to get us off their backs.

As educators, it would be nice if we let go of the traditional teaching/preaching approach, gave our students some credit, trust and space, and allowed them to learn actively by taking charge of the research/learning process. Instead of us teaching them, they could create teaching videos for each other. I hope to try and turn around some of the learning and teaching in the classroom this year.

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Filed under 21st century learning, parents, technology