Tag Archives: teachers

The ‘teacher’ in ‘teacher librarian’

Earlier this week, through Twitter, I became acquainted with Lisa Hinchliffe, Professor/Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction in the University Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an affiliate faculty member in the university’s library school.

While perusing her writing, this paragraph resonated with me:

Careful consideration to constructing the learning environment and not only focusing on teacher performance has been a mantra for my instructional design practice since then.

This is a very interesting area of investigation for me as a teacher librarian. When people ask me where I work and I say Melbourne High School, they assume I’m a teacher and when I say I’m a teacher librarian, they say, oh, you’re in the library, as if I’m in a box, maybe like a music box that, when opened, keeps the ballerina firmly attached to her space, rotating clockwise only to one tune – definitely not a teacher, not a real one anyway.

Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact, because (and I feel like telling them this, but it’s too long and sounds defensive), my role is just as integrated in education as a teacher’s only it’s more diverse and doesn’t necessarily play out as the teacher at the front of the class which the teacher owns.

Everything I do is connected with the teaching and learning that happens in the school: I work across the curriculum, I teach transferable, global skills, I create curricular content and educational resources online, and I depend on collaboration with teachers and students. Nothing useful would eventuate if I didn’t collaborate – that is, have conversations, come into classes, watch how teachers teach, watch how students learn, etc. If I didn’t do that, if I didn’t have that insight and developing understanding, then my work would be detached from the work of teachers and learning of students, and I would be exactly what most people think I am – in a world of my own, the library world, ‘not doing any work’, as some teachers like to joke (it’s getting tired).

Of course, the big one in terms of being accepted as a real teacher is that you assess student work and write reports – and that’s sad because teachers’ talents do not reside in this tiresome task.  It’s sad that the marking becomes the overriding signature of teaching.

So, big rave, but ‘teacher performance’ is what most people equate with ‘teaching’ and ‘being a teacher’. If I don’t ‘teach class on my own’, if I’m not standing there talk-teaching, then I’m not a teacher; I must be a librarian.

Sigh.

‘The learning environment’ that Lisa mentions is really something that I’m interested in unpacking, and I think I’m in the position of understanding it well because of my whole-school involvement with teaching and learning.

All teachers know well that learning happens everywhere, anytime and not just in the classroom during the class. I have a form this year, for the first time, and I try to inject as much learning (in the broadest sense) as possible in those 10 minute daily sessions. The blog that I started for my students is a virtual time-capsule which I hope they’ll appreciate once they leave school. It’s a mish-mash of photos of students, recorded interviews with them, short panel sessions about what they think, whiteboard surveys of inane content, interspersed with creative short films and animation, gifs, memes (whatever I think they might respond to), and some academic guidelines along the lines of study skills and sharing of our online resources for some of their subjects. Mostly the blog is an experiment, and the main aim is to create community, to let them know I care about them, not just their academic pursuits, hopefully support them when they do something they’re proud of, enable them to support each other.

The ‘learning environment’ is exactly what the library is about. Of course, the whole school is a learning environment but the library is a more concentrated one.  Unlike classrooms which are utilised by specific teachers and classes, the library is the space for everyone – across age groups, academic levels, and curriculum. It designs its space and purpose very carefully, in response to the needs of its users, never static, always acting on ongoing reflection and observation, experimenting.

The word ‘library’ has been contentious for a long time – some prefer ‘learning commons’, some ‘media centre’, others insist the traditional ‘library’ is still the most apt name. Perhaps. It does come with a lot of baggage, but then new words acquire the baggage over time. In the past I was annoyed when ‘library’s’ main connotation was a space for books but these days I doubt that anyone would have that limited view for either school or public library. Both are open, welcoming spaces and both are synonymous with learning.

It’s the ‘teaching’ part which is more difficult to insert. I’ve pulled out two quotes from Lisa’s powerpoint (linked from her blog post):

“Teaching: Any activity that has the conscious intention of and potential for facilitating learning in others”.  Robert Leamonson

“Good teaching is the creation of those circumstances that lead in significant learning in others”. Donald L. Finkel in ‘Teaching With Your Mouth Shut’.

It’s time to broaden our understanding of ‘teaching’. Only then can the ‘teacher’ in ‘teacher librarian’ begin to be understood.

Constant Moyaux (French, 1835–1911)
View of Rome from the Artist’s Room at the Villa Medici, 1863
Watercolor on paper

 

Leading from the margins. Teacher librarian work.

 

My role as teacher librarian is like plasticine. I rarely try to explain what it is because it’s different for every TL and different for me from day to day, and so it’s complicated and  nobody wants a long-winded answer.

Broadly speaking my role is to support and enhance teaching and learning in the school, or more correctly, to support students and teachers and enhance what they do, because it’s not a program, it’s a human to human interaction.

When I collaborate with teachers, it is different for each collaboration. That’s obviously the same for every TL. I might have an idea, a vision, but I need to start from where they are, from what they are doing and from what they want to do. Conversation is absolutely the most crucial first thing with a lot of listening from me. And then questions to clarify my understanding.

I realise that I should remain as open as possible to the the way this collaboration might go because that’s the only way a true collaboration can work, and the only way we leave room for the best possible work to happen.

Recently I asked permission from an English teacher to sit in on one class – it was a year 10 English class – on a regular basis. I wasn’t sure how to explain it to her, but I knew that I wanted to be there to observe her and her students, to see the teaching and learning processes, to understand her teaching style and see the content and skills being taught.

Often teacher librarians do one-off lessons, sometimes without knowing the names of most of the students, not knowing anything about them. Typically we perform  a specific job eg we help students with their research process in one of their assignments. I call this a performance. We often feel put under pressure to perform well because this might be the only time we see these students all term or even all year, or else we don’t want to disappoint teachers in case they don’t ask us back. The pitfall is if we try to cram skills and content in a way that is often doomed to fail. Maybe fail is a harsh word, but it’s our only chance to make a difference, to prove ourselves, to convince students and teachers that what we do is valuable.

I believe that real teaching and learning is possible only when there is a developing human relationship between students and teachers. How is this possible in a short one-lesson performance? I don’t think it is. And so teacher librarians are often trying to brainstorm ideas which will enable a more organic relationship with teachers and students in the classroom.

Back to the English teacher – I did feel a little odd just sitting there in the first couple of classes, doing nothing but taking notes.  I wasn’t sure at this stage what I would do with these notes if anything at all but I just kept taking them in the hope that something would be revealed to me. Although I knew the students were studying poetry, I knew that the exact shape of the learning in that room was as yet unwritten.

A class is a process, an independent organism with its own goals and dynamics. It is always something more than even the most imaginative lesson plan can predict.

Thomas P. Kasulis (Source)

Eventually I decided to quietly create a blog and just add them there. There were three posts for three lessons and I added a couple of images and a video. The students are reading poetry and going through the process of annotating the poems and constructing their understanding together, guided by the teacher.

I wasn’t sure what the teacher would think of the blog – which I started without asking permission, but only as an experiment – like throwing some lines onto a page, just testing possibilities. I emailed the link to her and her response was positive. She remarked on the value of the audiovisual aspect. Blogging does work even just for the documentation of what happens in class. It’s neat, sequential, easy to add images/videos, and is an excellent archive.

This is a good start, I think. Good to show rather than tell and wait for the confirmation. There’s so much more to blogging but better to wait and let it unfold. Best to take the cue from the teacher. Patience and communication will hopefully lead the way to a fruitful collaboration.

When I read ‘leading from the margins’, without knowing the context, I thought to myself ‘that’s what I’m doing – I think’. Hope I’m not being presumptuous. I’m trying to shift things in small ways and I’m doing this not from any position of importance or power but just from a quiet, unremarkable place.

Someone might ask: Is what you’re doing, strictly speaking, the role of a teacher librarian? I hear that voice in my head sometimes. Should I really spend time ‘sitting’ and waiting for something I know not in advance to start stirring that will inform my collaboration in this class?

Collaboration is a good thing, yes?  A lone teacher can do a great job but out of class teachers communicate with their colleagues. There is nothing odd about two people in the classroom although I can see how habitual ownership of the class by one teacher can result in rigidity. I bring to the collaboration a passion for connecting students with each other and beyond the classroom. A blog can make that happen. Firstly it allows a student to connect with himself, to write out his thoughts and construct his understanding. The blog follows the development of this process and archives it, allowing retrospective reading. A blog is a published writing platform and invites readers. Suddenly the student is not just writing for the teacher in order to receive corrections and marks, but has a reading audience. At the very least the readership of his classmates. And beyond that the possibilities of interaction beyond the classroom.

I’ve been blogging for over 8 years and connecting to people across the world – people who share my interests and love of learning together – so I understand what’s possible. Talking about it usually doesn’t win teachers over but showing what’s possible and going slowly will have a better chance. I hope.

I’m leading from the margins and that’s okay.

Of course Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel’s slideshare includes heaps more than I’ve touched on here, so take a look at it.

We host a Teachmeet @MHS #tmmelb

Last Saturday we hosted a TeachMeet in the school library. A TeachMeet is an informal gathering of people working in the education sector coming together to share ideas and expertise. It’s a great way to hear about what educators are doing in the primary, secondary, tertiary and public (eg museums) sectors. TeachMeets happen all over the world and meetings are held wherever people are happy to host. The format is simple – you can turn up or you can volunteer to present for either 3 or 7 minutes. There is usually a break for refreshments halfway through and it’s also customary for the hosts to suggest a nearby venue for drinks or dinner after the Meet. And it’s free!

Using bots to teach kids coding (Steve Brophy)

You can see in the wiki that we had a decent number of people attending, from a range of educational backgrounds. I always find that, as a secondary school educator, I learn so much from the primary teachers, from e-learning leaders, from people who work in public libraries and museums. And since the sharing sessions are so short, there is time for what’s most important – the conversations. Many people are also on social media so it’s a good chance to keep in touch later on Twitter or through their blogs, for example.

Order of presentations (see TeachMeet link for shared presentations):

Steve Brophy @stevebrophy Ivanhoe Grammar School K-12: Paper and programming

Bernadette Mercieca @bernm9  Xavier College E-Learning coord/teacher: What are we doing to help early career teachers flourish?

Eleni Kyritsis @misskyritsis Firbank Grammar School: Student Inquiry

Jan Molloy @janpcim Immigration Museum P-tertiary:   #AskACurator Sept 16 Getting involved

Catherine Morton @gorokegirl Melbourne High School Teacher Librarian and Fiona Matthews Whitefriars College Lead Coach – Learning, Teaching and Technology : One Conversation at a Time: Peer Coaching

Kim Yeomans @kimyeo St Martin of Tours primary TL: Connecting with authors via Twitter.

Tania Sheko @taniatorikova Melbourne High School How to really get to know people online.

Mel Cashen @melcashen Princes Hill: My reflection from camp

Kristy Wood @Kristy_M_Wood Primary teacher K-6: Teacher wellbeing

If you are interested in learning more about the presentations – since you can’t really get much from the titles – I would encourage you to go to the wiki where some people have already shared links to their presentations next to their names in the program. I’m sure there will be more shared later so check in again.

When I wrote a blog post about my talk – how to really get to know people online – I shared it on Twitter with a few people whom I’d met in an online course (MOOC), Rhizo15. These were people I had mentioned in my post. The morning before the TeachMeet I noticed some feedback from these people (none of them in Australia) which I was able to quickly add to my slide presentation. It was a lovely example of how these relationships continue to evolve long after the course (MOOC) has finished. After the TeachMeet I noticed Kevin Hodgson had even created a comic for us – very special.

The best way to see some of the ideas and passion shared on this day is to look through the Storify below which captures some of the tweets and photos on Twitter.

View the interaction about this TeachMeet on Twitter (Storify).

I remember my teachers #celebrateteachers #clmooc

I’m later than everyone else in responding to Kevin Hodgson’s invitation to #celebrateteachers which “Laura pitched as a game of tag” and so appropriate for #CLMOOC (the Making Learning Connected MOOC). (Thanks, Wendy, for blogging about this).That was a week ago. But the idea of remembering or celebrating teachers appealed to me so I thought better late than never.

I can remember some of the names of my teachers in primary school. Let’s see… nothing before grade 2 when I had Mrs Robinson. I remember odd bits and pieces about her. Her husband must have been called Neil because she often told us about what she did on the weekend with Neil. It took me a while to figure this out because I had been too busy wondering why she spent the weekend going places with the boy who sat in the front row (also Neil). I also remember that she sat next to me when we went to the movies to see Born Free (1966) and asked for half of my peanut butter sandwich (which I resentfully gave her). I don’t remember my grade 3 teacher’s name but I do remember that the first thing she did on our first day was write the word ‘honesty’ in big letters on the blackboard, and talk about how highly she valued honesty above everything else. Grade 4 – Mr Quilty. I don’t want to write what I remember about him so we’ll skip that.

In secondary school I remember quite a few teachers, especially my French teacher whose classes were so much fun through songs, poetry, film, discussions and conversations about everything French.

The teacher I want to celebrate is not someone who was all sweetness and smiles. In fact she gave me a lot of grief throughout the time she taught me – from early primary to late secondary. She was my Russian teacher both privately and at the Saturday school for Russian language and culture. Until I was 9 my cousin and I had private Russian lessons at her house, and she favoured him and criticised me. I was a scapegoat. My narrow handwriting was a sign of a mean character, I had no taste, my Russian was inferior, and so on. Returning from a trip to Russia, she brought presents, and I was to choose from two things. The one I chose clearly indicated my lack of good taste, and when I changed my mind and chose the other one, I had chosen the one she had wanted for herself. At about the age of 9 I’d had enough and had a meltdown, telling her that I hated her guts. When my mother came to pick me up both of us were crying, and my teacher was asking my mother what she could have possibly done to be on the receiving end of such an outburst. It was decided I would return to the Saturday school and be part of her class. I was relieved to take refuge in a group of students and no longer be the subject of so much attention.

People are complex. We all have good and bad in us. I also remember my Russian teacher speaking passionately about literature she loved with her whole being. She didn’t care about keeping to class time limits when she was trying to inspire us about literature, art, Russian culture. She spent countless hours preparing us for Russian concerts and plays, working with us privately to perfect pronunciation and tone, gesture and facial expression. She designed costumes, making sure they were historically correct, she painted sets, she drew large portraits of writers, poets, musicians to accompany her speeches at our annual days of Russian culture. She lived and breathed her work and her passion, her work and her identity were one.

As difficult as it was to forgive and try to forget the ways she treated me when I was younger, it was also difficult not to be impressed by her and be in awe of her during my secondary school years. She left a permanent impression on me. She was someone whose passion for literature and art played out her entire life.

In her later years I grew to love her, and she was fond of me. I visited her on and off when she had moved out of Melbourne and she asked to see me. She was still extremely passionate, relentless in her expectations of people, but had mellowed over the years. In her early 90s she was diagnosed with cancer and I visited her a couple of times. It was understood that I wasn’t to feel sorry for her and that life was just taking its course. I remember she made sure she kept up with world events, mapping them out on a hand drawn map of the world she pinned to her wall. She passed on to me books she treasured, art prints she had collected in a folder and other bits and pieces. Finally, with little time left to live, she asked to see me for the last time and said goodbye with a fairly steady voice. I remembered the times in my adolescence when she had read out aloud from literature, tears streaming down her face, and yet now she was almost completely composed.

People are complex. She taught me many things including an appreciation for the Russian language and its culture, but perhaps the most important thing was that none of us can really be easily or completely understood, and that we are not perfect.  As much as we might prefer to stick to the idea of people being nice and predictable, easily understood, most of us aren’t. By the time I had forgiven her, by the time I grew to love her and her eccentricities, her all-consuming passions, I had come a little closer to accepting the darker side of people in general, including myself.

Teachers can make a difference in our lives beyond what they try to teach us.

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

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?

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.

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.

[googleapps domain=”docs” dir=”present/embed” query=”id=dcb397dn_375864rs8h7&size=m” width=”555″ height=”451″ /]

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!

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+.

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

Librarians Are Ready [slideshare id=8693280&w=477&h=510&sc=no]
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.