By Karyn Lewis, Teacher – Librarian at Memorial Parkway Junior High (MPJH), Katy ISD
Follow her on Twitter at @ktlewis14 and @TheEagleHideout
I have heard many speakers talk about “telling your story” through social media so that others you connect with can see the wonderful things you are doing in your library. I believe this is so important, and I have learned so much from the librarians and educators I connect with through social media! So I started Tweeting, creating Vines, and posting on my Library Facebook page all the fabulous things that were happening in my library. I felt so connected and loved the PLN I was building! However, when I stopped to look at who was seeing what I was sharing specifically from my library accounts, I only saw 110 followers on my Library Twitter account and 166 followers of my Library Facebook page, no matter how many times I shared my social media information with parents at my school. I started to wonder if I needed another path to share what I was doing with more people, and for a brief moment I even considered reviving my blog. Before I did that, I took some time and thought about who I wanted to know more about what is happening in libraries and how they are changing and evolving.
As important as it is for the parents of my students to know what is happening in the library, I felt like it was even more important for teachers and administrators to see examples of a vibrant library in action. So I worked on building my relationships with principals and companies who believed in the changing dynamic of libraries, and saw that more of them were sharing what I put on my personal Twitter account about my library with their followers. I created a Facebook group of librarians called “Leading from the Library” to share what we find and what we are doing with each other, and I also joined the “Future Ready Librarians” Facebook Group to learn from this innovative group as well. Now when I attend conferences I make a point of visiting those companies’ booths to let them know the impact their products are making in the lives of my students and in my library. I go to sessions by those I have connected with online and introduce myself to them before or after they speak so that we can put a face with a name and continue to build our relationship and share even more ideas.
It was one such connection that led me to the opportunity to have my voice heard on a much larger scale this year. I have always loved the Capstone books for my elementary students because they have wonderfully creative series with kid-friendly topics and illustrations. I have worked with my Capstone representative on several projects in my library, and it was through her that I was introduced to Kat Coughlan, the general manager of Cantata Learning. Kat and I connected at a Capstone sponsored dinner where she and I talked about the importance of play and music in children’s learning and life. Following the dinner she reached out and asked if I would be willing to be a Cantata Learning ambassador to share how I use music, and the Cantata books, in my library and with my students. I was just happy to be invited to be a part of something I believed so much in and felt like it would be a great way to highlight all of the noisy things I get to do with my students in my library!
The first thing Kat asked me to do was use some of the Cantata books in my library lessons and share some feedback and stories with her. So she sent me a box of the newest sets of books and we started singing and making noise in the library. I participated in one of their global projects, and observed how the students reacted when I used the songs in the library. Over the summer Kat shared my stories with the staff at PR with Panache, who Cantata Learning is working with to spread the word about using music to teach. I have worked with PR with Panache to write a few pieces that highlight the benefits I found in using music to teach vocabulary, self-regulation, and reach ELL students. The process for writing each article was rather simple, and they helped me every step of the way! A staff member would send me a list of questions and ask for my responses, which required me to share stories about my library and the use of music and Cantata books. Then they would write up the stories and ask for any revisions to make it match what I wanted it to say. I have been so excited to have a platform to share with more administrators and educators about the innovative things happening in libraries today!
My articles are listed below.
I have been very fortunate to have made some wonderful connections along my path. In whatever way you are comfortable making professional connections, I highly encourage you to take a chance and reach out to others along the way. So many librarians that are doing amazing things are blogging, tweeting, and posting to add to the conversation. Add your voice and be a part of growing our profession, while showing the public and those in administration the amazing things that are happening in our Texas libraries! If you don’t tell your story, who will?
Karyn was an elementary librarian in Spring Branch ISD (Houston, TX) when she started making noise in her library, and is now a middle school librarian in Katy, TX.
“Music sets the tone for young learners” (The Edvocate, Feb. 2, 2017)
“Three visions for truly inclusive education” (GettingSmart.com, Feb. 1, 2017)
“Educators: the lessons we learned in 2016” (eSchool News, Jan. 5, 2017)
“Use music to teach reading to ELLs” (Smartbrief.com, Jan. 3, 2017)