My PD Reading Challenge

Infograph courtesy: Social Media Max on Flickr cc

One of my NY resolutions was to take time to read the PD books I’ve purchased over the past couple of years. I started on my Professional Reading Challenge during the summer holidays. I have six books lined up.

Guy Kawasaki’s book, “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions” is essentially a business motivational book but even from the blurb I could see the practical applications for the school library service. (The above link will take you to a video speech he made about “Enchantment”).
The inside jacket blurb starts:

Enchantment, as defined by bestselling business guru, Guy Kawasaki, is not about manipulating people. It transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers and the undecided into the loyal.

Now I’m not worried about people feeling hostile towards our school library, I’m concerned with something much more insidious – apathy and ignorance to what we do and how we can help the school to become a much better learning community. I’m passionate about what I do; I work hard to build trust and offer a stellar service but I really want to go the next step towards empowering others and so I’m looking for some guidance. I hope there is much to reflect on and put into practice here.
I’m also looking for practices to take my leadership skills to the next level. This book promises to help one bring about change in other people and I am particularly interested in effecting change when it comes to assisting teachers to use ICT and feel comfortable in changing the way they teach.

Professionally Engaged

Photo courtesy: ganesha.isis on Flickr cc

I love being part of the TL professional community; knowing there are hundreds of TLs out there sharing, watching each others backs, advising and growing better together – it is such a buzz! I also enjoy writing so am pleased when I can combine the two. Writing opportunities have been coming in at a comfortably steady pace this year.

This term I’ve had three writing tasks on the bubble.

1/ Finding out and experimenting with digital fiction has been a focus for me this entire year. I’ve been blogging about it as I go (more to come in next post) and Pat Pledger of Pledger Consulting contacted me about the possibility of contributing to an upcoming publication. The book is a collection of practical ideas for TLs – things they can apply now to their services and programs. I’ve contributed a chapter explaining about Digital and Online Fiction, how to use it, why try it and many links to examples suitable for high school classes.

2/ FYI is a magazine published by SLAV (School Library Association of Victoria). They approached me about contributing to the next issue (Term 1, 2012). The theme for the upcoming issue is: Learning Communities so I wrote an article about the PLEs (Personal Learning Environments) I’ve been developing for the Year 9’s at the high school. We are about to launch this with them in a couple of weeks. Very exciting, more to come in a post and of course the article.

3/ I am also a freelance writer of teaching notes for HarperCollins Publishing. My latest assignment – writing teaching notes for an upcoming picture book entitled “Fearless in Love” — a story about one very lovable dog. Writing for picture books allow me to revel in all the fun I used to have with my students in a past primary school library job. Fun! You can find some of the other Teaching Notes I’ve written by clicking on the Teaching Notes tab at the top of this blog.

Diving into Digital Fiction: Locating and Selecting – Part 1

Photo courtesy: metro centric on flickrcc

Photo courtesy: metro centric on flickrcc

The official facebook page of Inanimate Alice is a great place to start exploring other transmedia storytelling. It’s most recent entry featured an article from the Globe and Mail and it mentioned a digital short story that fits the bill for my Year 8 class.

J.R.Carpenter explains about her work CityFish on Facebook:

CityFish is a hybrid word, title of a hybrid work, tale of a hybrid creature. Part classical parable, part children’s picture book, CityFish is a web-based intertextual hypermedia transmutation of Aesop’s Town Mouse Country Mouse fable.

It reminded me a little of another site (not trans media) that I ran across several years ago. It still exists and after reviewing it again I’ve decided to include it on the list. On its front page the author describes it as:

a show of hands is an electronic narrative. The story customizes itself around your reading, using an adaptive hypertext system

Students will need to register in order to use a show of hands effectively and this is one of the considerations I need to take into account when selecting resources for this group. The others are:

  • does anything need to be downloaded
  • will the site be blocked at school
  • will the student have a handheld device to use the resource (some I’d like to investigate are for iPhone/iPod)

One of the transmedia stories I didn’t choose to include was Azrael’s Stop. It looks and reads beautifully but because it was delivered on Twitter and because it is effectively an ‘event’ that is over, there didn’t seem to be much point. Still worth a look to understand what is possible.

Teacher Librarians vs. Learning Leaders: a rose by any other name …

A Rose by Any Other Name by Alaskan Dude from flickr Creative Commons

A Rose by Any Other Name by Alaskan Dude from flickr Creative Commons

The people over at the Teacher Librarian lobby group’s website, The Hub, recently reported on the DEEWR’s poor showing at the Canberra House Standing Committee on Education and Training’s “Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in Australian Schools”‘.

I sent in a reply to the web article regarding some of the issues mentioned in the hearing that day and thought I’d add it below as things have arisen that I’m in the process of investigating now while I visit Canada for the next few weeks.

I wrote:

I think it’s interesting to see the numbers that are tossed about when it comes to TLs needed and the idea of shortages. There is only a shortage of TLs if schools will actually have TLs in their libraries. Most schools aren’t even looking to fill TL positions; they opt for untrained teachers, techs, librarians etc. or no one in the library.

I’m over in Canada at the moment on a holiday to my home province (Saskatchewan). In a small fit of nostalgia I went to my old high school (2000+) and met with the principal who is a slight acquaintance from the old days. I asked if I could have a look at the library and maybe talk to the TL as I was just finishing up my TL studies and she waved her hand and blithely said, “Sure go ahead, but we don’t have Teacher Librarians anymore. We got rid of them, we now use technicians and Learning Leaders, who are much better”. So a bit of an eye-opener for me that they are opting to neatly side-step TLs with yet another option that I’d never even heard of (I’m searching online to find out more about Learning Leaders today). I was interested to see when I went into the library that it looked identical to when I attended school there 30+ years ago – perhaps the library is being neatly side-stepped too, though I did see students studying (couldn’t spot any techs or LL’s). I think this antiquated stereotype of TLs and school libraries and the ignorance in the rest of the teaching profession to what we do (as also evidenced in the responses from DEEWR during the above inquiry hearing) is causing real damage to our profession worldwide. I am really keeping my fingers crossed that something positive comes out of all the hard work being put into this inquiry and that Australia may possibly lead the way in turning the tide.

So what is this Learning Leader position they have in Canada/Saskatchewan/my old school and how does it differ from what TL’s do? I’m in the process of finding out!

TLs, Leadership and Moral Purpose

One of our prescribed reading texts for ETL504 (Teacher librarians as leaders) is Michael Fullan’s Leading in a Culture of Change — and what a pleasure it is to read this ‘personal action guide and workbook’. He is insightful in every direction. This book is a powerful tool.

The second chapter is about moral purpose, firstly of the individual (in our case, the TL) and secondly of the organization (in our case, the library and the school).

One of the points that stuck with me in this chapter is what Sober and Wilson (as cited in Fullan, 2004, p.13) called ‘motivational pluralism’. This is the notion that ‘all effective people are driven by self-centered as well as unselfish motives’ (p.13). And as Fullan says, “It’s OK.”

Could this be one of the reasons TLs do not speak out for themselves and their profession more often? Are we not OK with the combination of motives? Are we afraid people will judge us as speaking from the self-centred motive instead of the altruistic one? I think there may be something there. I’ve certainly seen that as truth for teachers. It is difficult to ask for release time when people/media and even sometimes administration are so quick to misconstrue it as wanting to be paid for time without the kids.

I was also struck with the idea of leaders helping to support others’ sense of moral purpose.

For me leadership is about creating a sense of purpose and direction. … [There is a] need to enthuse staff and encourage a belief in the difference their organisation is making … We can do a lot by making heroes of the people who deliver. It’s important to make people feel part of a success story. That what they want to be (Sir Michael Bichard as cited in Fullan, 2004, p. 17).

While that quote might come across as a little patronising, it is recognising others efforts to help better things that’s important. We often are so busy trying to change, improve and move forward that we forget we are not alone. Recognition is so simple and yet so powerful.

So now on to some of the reflective questions at the end of the chapter.

Q. What is your moral purpose in your work?

A. Wondering and learning make us better people. Information is a step towards knowledge which is a stepping stone to wisdom. Information is power. It is the power to choose, the power to make better decisions, the power for personal growth. I am passionate about other peoples’ rights to wonder and learn.

Q. How would you explain this to your friends, customers or clients, and community?

A. Funny. It never occurred to me to explain this, was I hoping it would just show by my actions? Well, I guess I would explain it just as I have above and continue to convey it by my actions. Perhaps it needs to be part of my personal mission statement too.

Q. How do you think other perceive you in terms of moral purpose? Does this differ in your private life and your work life? If so, how?

A. Being perceived as having high moral purpose is more important to me than I would have guessed upon examination of this topic. I have very high expectations of myself and see this profession as one of the most important jobs. Dare I say it is almost a calling — but I don’t want people to think I’m a zealot .

I don’t think it differs in my private life. My kids think I’m an annoying librarian when I get home too. =)

Q. How well do you think you measure up as a leader in terms of moral purpose?

A. Getting stronger everyday. Getting better at communicating this.

I am always so glad of books that include these pauses for reflection. And I’m becoming more dependent on my blog as a repository for these. With this course of study, I feel like I read til my head is full and I can then come here, download my thoughts and am ready to fill ‘er up again. =)

flickr photo:

Fullan, M., & Ballew, A. (2004). Moral Purpose. In Leading in a culture of change: Personal action guide and workbook (pp. 11-33). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.