Leadership Opportunity: TLA's TALL Texan's Program

How many of you set professional goals?  I always have; they give me something to strive for and keep me focused on growing as a professional. Becoming a school librarian was one goal that I accomplished in 2001.  But there was still more to do.

2009 was a pivotal year for me as a school librarian and as a leader.  I had just finish my 8th year as librarian and had crossed off the professional goal of opening a new school.  During this year, I also decided to apply to the TALL Texans Institute, a leadership development institute.  I had always been fascinated and curious about leadership so applying for this just seemed like a natural next step.

Attending the institute truly changed me as a leader-it also allowed me the opportunity to connect with other librarians in the public, academic, special, and school library fields while also connecting be to the larger network of library leaders in Texas. But hey, don't take it from me; let's let other TALL Texans share their thoughts.  I reached out to past Tall Texan attendees Priscilla Delgado (San Marcos CISD), Christy Cochran (Austin ISD), and Lisa Kulka (Northeast ISD) to get their insights:

What initially caused you to submit an application to attend Tall Texans?
TALL Texans had been on my radar since I was in library school.  I remember one of my professors talking about it in class one day, and I took an interest and made a mental note to look into it once I became a school librarian.  A few years later, after graduating from the School of Information at UT and teaching for 3 years, I was at a conference and there was a session about TALL Texans, which I attended.  Again, I made a mental note to apply for the program once I had 5 years of library experience under my belt.  This past year was my 5th year as a school librarian so I applied, and was fortunate to be one of the 24 librarians selected for 2016.

I heard of TALL Texans my first year in the library and I wanted to get as much PD about being a librarian as possible. Unfortunately, I had to wait a few years to get my feet wet, but it was always in the back of my mind. Recently, a friend and colleague of mine was a part of TALL Texans Class of 2015 and personally invited me to apply because she saw the value in the program and knew I would feel the same. I wanted this opportunity to become a better library leader and more familiar with Librarianship at the state level as well as greater exposure to TLA and its offerings. 

In the first few years of being a school librarian, you learn SO MUCH!!  However after being on the job for a while I felt that I wasn't growing professionally as much as I did in those early years.  Because of that, I'm always looking for opportunities for growth.  The opportunity to "Accelerate my leadership skills" really appealed to me, but I'll be honest, the application was daunting!  I'm glad a pursued it and so appreciative of those who pushed me to apply for this opportunity. 

How has attending Tall Texans impacted you in your library profession?Priscilla:
TALL Texans came at the right time in my career; it has allowed me be more vocal and successful in advocating for not only my school library, but the libraries in our school district as well as our public library.  It has deepened my partnerships with the greater San Marcos community and has opened doors with other opportunities in my field of work.  

First and foremost, the professional connections with so many different librarians with diverse library backgrounds   has been invaluable. As a school librarian, I have the privilege and honor of now collaborating with public, academic, and special librarians to continue vertical alignment of information literacy at all ages and stages of life. Second, I feel I have more confidence and information on how best to advocate for my program and the field of librarianship

The biggest impact of TALL Texans has been through the relationships that I made during those 5 days.  I REALLY feel that my fellow TALL Texans are "my peeps" for life!  They are some of my main "go to" people when I need to bounce ideas off of someone.

What has surprised you most about the training you received?
One thing they told us on the first day was to "lean into your discomfort." Before attending TALL Texans, I very much stayed in my comfort zone.  However, after the TALL Texans institute, I have really taken that phrase to heart, and I have found that I am embracing any discomfort I might feel and looking at it from a different perspective.  Leaning into my discomfort allows me to grow and experience things I otherwise wouldn't. It's been quite liberating and satisfying!

The thing that surprised me the most was the immediate collaboration and involvement we all had in the program. As a group we bonded very quickly and challenged each other to stretch past our comfort zones in a safe and encouraging manner. This is so important for such a limited time period! Also, I was surprised by the consistency and cohesiveness of the entire training over the 4-5 days of learning that was happening. Everything built on each other and was relevant, no matter where your background in librarianship. 

I loved the Strengths Finder tool that we explored.  It has helped me understand the way that I work with others and evaluate changes I need to make in the way that I operate.   

So there you have it-3 perspectives from past TALL attendees-it is readily apparent that their take-aways will carry them forward in their leadership development!

Curious to learn more?  Click HERE to obtain additional information about the TALL Texan application process.  You can also sign up for the online program on October 24 to learn more about the application process. Also, if you've attended TALL Texans, please share your thoughts about attending and what you gained-we'd love to hear from past attendees!

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