This I believe

Recently Carolyn Foote was contacted by the School Library Journal Technology Editor about an article they are including in the March 2008 edition.  Here is what they wanted (and Carolyn asked me and Joyce Valenza to chime in.)

We’d like to run something about the Educon program in the March issue. Could you give us an idea of the response? Who attended and what did the non-library audience have to say?  Also, we’d love to run a photo from the event. Do you have any Flickr images we could use?
Thanks so much.

My bridge metaphor from Educon 2.0 was about how the use of print resources are dwindling as electronic resources gain popularity. So my “This I believe…” statement centered on me being a bridge to bring my patrons back to the library by connecting them to the resources available print or electronic. I also talked about modeling the use of the tools in instructional practice so that teachers can see how students respond when we use 21st century tools, and learn side by side with students (and with me.)  I discussed that the stakeholders all need to see that we are all on a learning journey, and not everyone is at the same place in this journey, and i can act as a friend, guide, teacher, assistant, or whatever the situation calls for in my quest to bridge the gap of yesterday’s way of learning to the new horizon ahead of us.  I want to be that bridge that my learners are willing to take advantage of, and my mission is to model effective and ethical practices along the way. Being in the library gives me the perfect scenery to bring up ethical use and best practice while using or introducing new tools.  I just want to connect my learners (students, teachers, parents, stakeholders) with 21st century tools, and make them associate the use of them with learning from the library.

The SLJ Technology Editor wants more, like reactions by participants, pictures.  I am uploading the pictures I have tomorrow, and  will share reactions from participants. They had many questions, but a reoccurring one was “how do we get our librarian to do these things you do?”  All I could say was one at a time, one at a time.

I compared it to how we get teachers willing to try the new tools out, and take leaps in their instructional practice and instructional design. We share, model, encourage, invite, assist, and more.  I suggested that if their school had a librarian not necessarily up to par on 21st century tools, then be the one who approaches this person, just as I approach teachers. That bridge can be a two-way street, and it doesn’t have to originate from the library.  Plan activities or lessons where the tools (be it blogs, wikis, video, presentations, whatever) are done in the library, and invite the librarian to be a part of the implementation.  At first he or she may sit on the peripheral and be a silent observer, but engaged learning is infectious, and eventually this person will see that taking a risk and getting in this sandbox where we are learning is not so difficult after all, and we don’t have to be the expert.  Our kids certainly know this.  Eventually that paradigm shift in the old way of thinking will swing over to the new way.  Other teachers who come through the library will ask questions, either on the spot or later.  The principal will probably hear about things too, and if not, go tell this person.  Anyone in the school environment that has a vested interest in learning will want to observe and more than likely become involved. I also stressed that you will have your nay-sayers, and you’ll have your reluctant particpants. You’ll also have the “yeah but’s” and you’ll have some that just like with every other “new” thing, jump right in.

It’s just an attitude of willingness–willing to try, learn, fail, try again, and learn more. I never really learned anything until I tried and failed, and then kept trying. If I didn’t struggle then I obviously already knew it. Never stop learning. As my former (and now retired) professor Dan Barron always said—”Grow or Die.”

I had a student ask me this week a strange question.  He said, “Mrs. Nelson, you know so much about technology and computers. Why don’t you work in a job using them? I replied, but I do! He disagreed, saying I could make much more money doing something else, maybe from the business world or even technology world.  I told him my job is a calling, a desire. I teach because I want too, and being in the library also fills my need to use, handle, learn, and teach technology too. I told him I have the best job ever. He was baffled, and so I asked, “Are you glad I’m here?” He said yes. So I said, “See, I’m in the best possible place for both if us, and I like it that way.”

Carolyn, Kathy, Joyce, and others…I have some good photos of the attendees working on their metaphorical drawings of a modern library, and they are on a camera at school.  I will do my BEST to upload them to flickr tomorrow and then share.  Sorry about “sitting” on them. I’ll post again and ping you as soon as it’s done.

Picture Attribution:

NOTE: This is a picture I took while at NECC 2006 in San Diego!

Nelson, Cathy. “LASD 442.“  Online image. CNelson’s Photostream.  5 July 2006.  <http://farm1.static.flickr.com/98/212031617_edf0df2976.jpg>



One Response to “This I believe”

  1.   futura Says:

    Cathy,

    I’ve been meaning to respond to your post for days.

    I know I was standing right there next to you at the workshop, but time went by so fast, and it’s great to have a more lengthy description of your analogy.

    I also love your suggestion that teachers can be a bridge back to librarians, because I hear the concern you mentioned myself quite a bit–teachers wondering why their librarians aren’t inviting them in or why they aren’t trying to incorporate new technologies.

    Our students need us to provide good scaffolding, particularly with all that is available online. It’s important for them to know how to evaluate sites, connect with others, create with the tools available to them, and know how to dig more deeply.

    So we do need to be out there.

    Your analogy is excellent, and I also took a photograph of the “bridge” diagram from one of the groups in our session and will post it on my flickr!

    I think the fact that you, Joyce, and I presented without having all met in person is one example of how technology can help librarians bridge time and space!

    Thanks again for taking the time to really elaborate on your analogy.

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