TASL Voices for Conference 2016 (You are coming to Houston, right?)

By Renee Dyer, TASL Chair 2015-16 and Librarian at Weslaco East High School (WISD)

As the Chair of the Texas Association of School Librarians, and as a librarian in the Rio Grande Valley, it is very important to me to ensure that talented, school librarians from around our great state have a chance to share their knowledge and expertise at the 2016 Texas Library Association Conference.   With the help of Dr. Laura Sheneman, Coordinator of Library Services and Information Resources for Region One Education Service (McAllen area) and Mrs. Nora Galvan, PSJA’s (Pharr-San Juan-Alamo) District Library Coordinator, I contacted all of the School District Library Coordinators throughout Texas.  I asked them each to email me the names of librarians in their districts who were doing great things in their libraries and districts.   With their help, and the talent of the school librarians throughout Texas, our 2016 conference is gearing up to be one of the best ever.   Below you can see the most current list of sessions TASL has in the works for our 2016 Conference.  I hope you will all make plans to attend.  Stay tuned for some new blog voices from among these new presenters! TASLTalks would love to also hear from folks in the western half of the state – just email the editor.

The above map shows where all the TASL presenters for the 2016 TLA Conference hail from.

These programs are listed with emphasis on the school district so readers can look for their friends, and make plans to attend conference to see their programs. Not included here are additional programs by well-known Texas librarians – you’ll recognize those names when time gets closer. Look for these new folks with great new ideas and approaches!
  • Choosing Great Read Alouds and Creating Curriculum Connections for PK-2 Elem Students -- Angie Arnett, Megan Casas, Betty McGinness, Cy-Fair ISD
  • Clubbing in the Library: Inspiring Students through Library Innovation -- Terri Harknet, Joy Prather, Diana Weber Prosper ISD
  • Disruptive Innovation: Dismantle the Structure and Open the Environment -- Stephanie Green, Dayan Hernandez, Klein ISD; Ian Powell, PBK Architects
  • Global Read Aloud: Connecting Classrooms Around the World with Author, Jenny Holms -- Seantele Foreman, Michelle Leggett, Pearland ISD
  • Library Cafes- have your school cafeteria build one for your library: Harlingen CISD did it-so can you! -- Dina Cano, Ana Cavasos, Mireya Galvan, Harlingen CISD
  • Museum or Circus?: Finding Balance in Your Library -- Amianne Bailey, Marnie Cushing, Colleen Duke, Sharon Harmon, Alison Reyes ~~ Mesquite ISD
  • Resource Re-Defined: School Libraries as Learning Spaces -- Stacey Cameron, Nancy Jo Lambert ~~ Frisco ISD
  • Roll Out the Red Carpet!: The 2015 Branding Iron Award Winning Program --Kristi Cook, Bradley Noble ~~ Klein ISD
  • S.O.L.E.: Self Organized Learning Environment a new way to teach the research process -- Tracy Hayes, Leslie Reynolds, Brittney Tubb ~~Mesquite ISD
  • School Librarians as Instructional Leaders: Be a Super Hero to your campus staff! -- Laura Sheneman~~Region One ESC
  • Summer Reading Reinvented -- Thomas Simiele, Pasadena Public Library; Melissa Rippy, Dr. Christine Van Hammersveld, Pasadena ISD
  • Transform Your Teaching using ng Technology Application TEKS -- Cassie Janda, Pam Krueger  ~ Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD
  • Using Backward Design to Reinvigorate Your Library's Curriculum -- Francine Rader, Regents School of Austin
  • The War Against Boys: How libraries are a great starting place for helping boys achieve their highest potential -- Elizabeth Friend ~~ Frisco ISD
  • What's On The Menu? Collaborative Lessons with Classroom Teachers and Librarians -- Angela Steagall ~~Tuloso-Midway ISD
  • Windows to Reading: Opportunities for Improving Literacy Outcomes for Students -- Linda Erwin, Kathryn Stephenson ~~ Aransas County ISD

What am I?

By Irene Kistler, Northeast ISD, San Antonio

Last year, I had the honor of being named one of six finalists for Texas Teacher of the Year. It was an amazing ride, and I loved representing Texas school librarians in the Teacher of the Year program. It was validating to be recognized by other teachers, beginning with my campus and then beyond.
On both a personal and professional level, I am solid in my understanding of who I am – I am a teacher. I am teaching every day in my classroom. My classroom just happens to be the library, much like a science teacher’s classroom setting is a lab or a drama teacher’s classroom is a black box theater. The location does not define the role, I do. I am a teacher. My class list? Every single student in the building. Every. One. 
But a funny thing happened on the way to Austin…educators had an identity crisis on my behalf. There is a cognitive dissonance running amok, both within the field of school librarianship and among the educator communities we serve. And interestingly enough, many of the conversations were sparked by my e-mail signature. Who knew people really paid attention to an e-mail signature? I can verify for the world that they very much do. 
The Teacher of the Year program advocates for educators everywhere. One way they promote the program is to kindly ask the participants to indicate their participation via an e-mail signature. Here is my current signature:
Irene Kistler
2015 Finalist, TX Teacher of the Year
School Librarian
Alamo Heights High School
iLearning Commons

In the signature, it indicates both the Teacher of the Year role and the school librarian role, which to me are one and the same. But during e-mail correspondence with school librarians, I would occasionally be queried about the Teacher of the Year add-on. Colleagues were always very positive, but definitely were experiencing a conflicted understanding. Here are some of the questions I fielded via e-mail or in person, all because of the signature:
·         So are you in a classroom, and then you do the school library job on your conference time? (no)
·         Where are you during the day? (school library)
·         How did your teachers find out you were a teacher? (I told them.) 
           Admittedly, I entered the field of school librarianship late in my career. It was actually my 20th year with students. I first served 19 years as a 3rd, 4th and 5th grade elementary teacher. Upon fielding these and other questions, I realized that I had been incredibly lucky to work with school librarians who clearly defined themselves as teachers. They planned lessons, collaborated with other teachers and implemented both direct and indirect instruction with students. My school librarians loved the books on the shelves, and definitely engaged in Reader’s Advisory for students and staff, but they were also so much more…they were teachers. 
Walking into my own school library for the first time, I carried the echoes of Kim Green, my school librarian when I worked at Northern Hills Elementary in San Antonio. She referred to the library as her classroom and herself as a teacher, so that’s what I did. It didn’t occur to me, until I experienced the Teacher of the Year journey, that school librarians could sometimes hesitate to name their role, but it’s important that we do. Naming ourselves as teachers, and our space as a classroom, protects our profession. We matter. You matter. 
As the reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act makes its way into law, with effective school library programs included for the very first time, let’s spread the news. Let the 2015-2016 school year be the year we state boldly that we are teachers. And if you’re not certain what to say, say what Kim said: “I am a teacher and the library is my classroom.” It worked for me. 

AASL has new Advocacy Toolkit - Check it out!

By Dorcas Hand

Just announced this week by Past President Terri Grief, the new AASL Toolkit for Promoting School Libraries offers a wealth of new tools. The videos are especially strong – short, pithy and immediately useful.

First, what are leadership dispositions (knowledge, persistence, commitment, and more), and how can they help me in my library day-to-day? That’s just one of three videos in this section. Videos on Communication and Visions of the Future are equally strong.

Next, as outlined in the Advocacy module of the toolkit, AASL’s Five Step Planning Model begins with a goal. Once the goal is identified the five steps are:
1.     Determine your objectives.
2.     Determine your target groups.
3.     Determine your strategies.
4.     Determine your communication tools.
5.     Evaluate.
While these steps don’t seem like rocket science, they do simplify the process of planning your Advocacy program – and it is essential to HAVE an Advocacy Plan mapped out to support everything you do now and everything you want to build. There’s even a list of 10 Tough Questions that someone might ask you – and the answers, like ready-written elevator speeches!       

The Communication module offers tips for Marketing your program INSIDE your school and OUTSIDE to the community. Very helpful. And the AASL Learning for Life (L4L) program is tied in for maximum benefit on your campus.

So, the content modules are Leadership, Advocacy and Communication. And then there is the most useful, hit-the-ground-running content of all: Tools and Resources. Here you’ll find links to many AASL Advocacy resources, including sample reports and graphics as well as a brilliant set of Talking Points for 0-age 5, K-6th grade and 6th-12th grades.

This new Toolkit offers a wealth of tools for school librarians interested in beefing up their Advocacy Programs. Texas school librarians should take full advantage of everything now at your fingertips.