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Friday, June 19, 2015

Build Your Skills: Put Classes, Conferences, and a PLN to Work for You

by Donna KearleyCoordinator for Library Services, Denton Independent School District

Last month (before the 2015 TASLA conference), we discussed statewide options through TLA and TASLA to build leadership skills.   Here, in Part 2, we continue our discussion with regional and social media options for professional development. 

Your regional service center and social media provide many opportunities for building leadership.   This cornucopia of ideas may be overwhelming, so just try them until you find the one that fits your personality and your school’s culture.   No one person can use all of these tools - well, at least not at the same time!

Your Regional Service Center.  Look to see what is offered from your regional service center.  Most have someone whose position is to build leadership and another person who trains Instructional Coaches.  Many of those workshops are open to a wide range of job titles.  Check to see what is offered in your area.

Social Media is a good way to build your Personal Learning Network.  
  • Find someone you admire Twitter and follow them.
  • Participate in #TXLChat and/or #TLChat
  • Follow other school librarians on Facebook or Linked In.
  • Look for ideas for lessons and leadership on Pinterest or Instagram.
Webinars.  There are several sources of webinars including AASL, Edweb, School Library Journal and other providers.  The  webinars on EdWeb have been fabulous. The topics range from inquiry, PBL, Flipped Learning, Databases (Joyce Valenza), and Brain Based Learning.

American Association of School Librarians every Fall.  AASL offers a biennial conference just for school librarians – in 2015, it will be in Columbus OH. Attend Experience, Education, Evolution for practical skills and inspiration. In the other every other years, AASL puts together a 2 day Fall Forum covering a current topic. Recent topics have been "Transliteracy" and "The Anytime, Anywhere Learning Landscape."  I’ve attend these two and both were fabulous; attendees are friendly, inclusive and enthusiastic about the same things you are!.  

How do you begin?  

Start small.   If Social Media is uncomfortable to you, choose one application and learn to use it well before moving on to something else.  No one can be an expert in everything.   

Find a mentor.  Find someone who is an expert in the skill you are learning.  Ask them to mentor you until you are comfortable using it on your own.   

Instructional Videos.   You can find a teaching video on just about anything.   Look for ones teaching you leadership, skills, as well as instructional tips and tricks.  

District Level Activities :
  • Stay up on practices like Digital Citizenship.  Digital Citizenship is a federal mandate as part of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).  How can you show your administrators you are meeting their needs in this area?  Are you covering all 9 areas of digital citizenship? If not, you might wish to look at Common Sense Media to see sample lesson plans.
  • Learning Commons.   Have you explained to your administrator what a Learning Commons is and what it brings to your student’s learning?  Put together a 5 year plan to transform your library into a Learning Commons.
  • Know your district’s goals and how you fit into them.  Present a plan to your administrator of ways you are supporting their goals.
  • Invite School Board Members and District Level Administrators to judge competitions, read to students, meet with your student advisors.  They love to be out in the buildings and it gives you an opportunity to make your program visible.  But don’t blindside your principal.  Keep him informed of when Board Members and/or Administrators will be in the building.  
  • Create an infographic on your Library Snapshot Day activities and share with people who have the ability to support your program.  

All of these ideas are easy ways to demonstrate leadership and skills.   Stay tuned for Part 3 later in the summer to learn about specific ways to build leadership with your administrators.   


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