Teacher Day @ TLA - Teachers + Librarians = Dynamic Duos!

By Jennifer Eckert, Library Specialist in Northside ISD, San Antonio

Collaboration with teachers is a large part of any school librarian’s job. We are always looking for ways to inspire and encourage collaboration in order to meet all our students’ needs. Let that inspiration come from facilitating an experience at the Texas Library Association's 2020 Annual Conference!

The TLA Annual Conference – made up of books, authors, technology integration, makerspaces, curriculum connections, and supportive librarians – is the stuff of teachers’ dreams. Connect with your teachers, encourage their innovation, inspire them to greater collaboration, and impact their instruction by inviting your teachers to join you at this year’s Teacher Day @ TLA!

Teacher Day @ TLA, which will take place on Thursday, March 26, 2020, provides classroom teachers with the opportunity to experience a special one-day event during the TLA conference comprised of speakers, activities, and pricing designed just for them.

This is your chance to inspire your teachers and form a dynamic duo! You, as a sponsoring school librarian, will play a crucial role by identifying interested teachers, helping them secure permission and funding for their attendance, guiding them through the registration process, and ensuring our guest teachers have a positive experience.

The planning has begun for a fun, interactive day for the teachers who attend, as well as the librarians who sponsor them. Participants are welcome to stay for the full conference. Now is the time for interested librarians to:

a) identify motivated classroom teachers and

b) start to lay the groundwork for conference attendance and travel funding.

The focus of this program is for classroom teachers who experience a TLA conference to return to their districts as library advocates and collaborators - or perhaps become librarians themselves. Details and application information about Teacher Day @ TLA, an event that has become an annual highlight, can be found at http://www.txla.org/teacher-day. You can also follow us on social media for updates using the hashtag #TDTLA. Don’t miss this opportunity to increase collaboration on your campus!

Getting Creative: Collaborating With Your Fine Arts Department

by Nicole Cruz, Lead Librarian, Sharyland ISD

TCA Touring Artists pictured: Outspoken Bean-Slam Poet, Donna Ingham-Storyteller, and Ruby Nelda Perez-Actress. 
Sharyland High School Theatre Director Christopher Fernandez is pictured with the students in the bottom left corner.

On Thursday, September 5th, a joyous squeal was heard at the Penny Payte McLeaish LRC. A very happy librarian had just opened her email and read the following message: Congratulations! Your Arts Respond Performance Support application was reviewed by our board today and approved to receive this amount - $1,350. Grant number 85748 was funded. 

The mission of the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) is to advance our state economically and culturally by investing in a creative Texas. TCA supports a diverse and innovative arts community in Texas, throughout the nation and internationally by providing resources to enhance economic development, arts education, cultural tourism and artist sustainability initiatives. Even though this is not my first TCA Arts Respond Performance Support Grant, every time I read those words - grant funded, it is always a euphoric feeling. It means quality performers will be entertaining, informing, and connecting with the students and staff of the campuses that I serve. It means that successful teacher and librarian collaboration has been achieved. It means that the arts are alive and well at the school that I serve. Students will cultivate an appreciation of the arts when they are exposed to quality dancers, illustrators, musicians, storytellers, authors, and actors. The arts encourage creativity, innovation, and self-confidence—essential skills for a 21st century workforce. The Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Roster is comprised of talented and professional performers. 

The news was received in September, but the initial collaboration and planning was done in July to meet the August 1 deadline. This application was a collaborative effort between teacher and librarian. The Sharyland High School theatre director Christopher Fernandez and I have built a professional collaborative relationship over the course of four years. I credit Mr. Fernandez's successful theatre program as being the partner for the matching portion of each grant. In order to apply, applicants must commit to funding half or a little more than half of the total cost for performance fees, per diem, travel, and hotel expenses. School librarians can find partners through parent organizations like PTA or PTO; booster clubs, art department funds, principal accounts, or community organizations. I’m also grateful to have a supportive campus principal. Lori Ann Garza has provided the necessary approval and assistance with logistics, scheduling, and audience recruitment.

The fall round of grants were awarded to 111 sites across the state. Non-profit sites include community theatre programs, museums, symphonies, fine arts councils, public libraries, development boards, and schools. The total funded is just under 9 million. The TCA staff are supportive and helpful when it comes to questions during the application process, after receiving the award, and follow-up on necessary documentation at the close of the program. Anina Moore, Director of Communications for TCA, is a constant source of wisdom and support. 

How can you apply for a TCA Arts Respond Performance Support Grant? I want to encourage librarians to collaborate with art teachers, music or band directors, theatre directors, or dance instructors to bring quality performances to their campuses. The applications and attachments are due November 1, 2019. The application is straightforward and easy to complete online. Applications are for performances and activities by artists from the Texas Touring Roster occurring December 15, 2019 - March 14, 2020. Go to the TCA website to learn more or email Anina Moore at anina@arts.state.tx.us 

#txlchat, or Yes, Virginia, you really should be using Twitter for professional development

by Kristi Starr, librarian at Coronado High School in Lubbock ISD, TxASL Chair-Elect

August and September always bring lots of excitement and renewed energy. It’s a time of new beginnings and reboots. With September comes a new season of #txlchat - a weekly 30-minute Twitter chat each Tuesday evening at 8:00PM Central. Each week you will find a topic of discussion applicable to librarians and library settings. You can lurk (observe) or contribute as much as you’d like. From seasoned veterans to first-year librarians to those still completing certification, all are welcome!

#txlchat, like most Twitter chats, follows a Q&A format. Questions will appear every 5 or so minutes, noted by Q and the question number. Responses should be preceded with A and the question number. Each response should contain the hashtag #txlchat For a more in-depth guide to engaging in #txlchat, check out this document if you plan to follow from a mobile device or this guide for participating on a Chromebook, laptop, or desktop.

We know that it’s difficult to set aside time every week for a chat. Family takes priority, work can get in the way, and sometimes we just plain forget. That’s why each chat is archived using Wakelet. Sharon Gullett sends out the archive Tuesday night or Wednesday morning via the TLC listserv. You can also access all the archives at http://txlchat.weebly.com/archives.html Want a reminder 30 minutes before each chat? Sign up to receive messages via Remind. You may also preview the topics and questions for the week prior to the chat. If you want to share ideas but know you won’t be available, use a site like Twuffer to schedule your tweets.

#txlchat has been one of the best, most consistent learning platforms I’ve encountered. The weekly chats have allowed me to expand my professional learning network (PLN) through contact with other librarians across the state and country. For 30 minutes each week, we come together - learners and sharers from disparate locations and time zones, each seeking ways to improve our practices, to engage and impact our communities.

Topics for September include

September 3 - Welcome Back with the Power of TexQuest
September 10 - Falling into Programming
September 17 - Libraries Transform
September 24 - I Can’t Live Without ...

Join the #txlchat team tonight for a fast-paced half hour of learning. You’ll be glad you did!