OCM BOCES SLS Fall Conference!

Today I got to attend my very first conference, the Fall meeting of the OCM BOCES School Library System. It was a really great day, and gave my overall motivation a bit of a boost. It also gave me some perspective on where I stand in my education.

Going into the day, I wished that I had my e-portfolio prepared. If I had it ready, I would have felt more confident about networking. My goal for the day was to talk to librarians and to make contact with an elementary librarian who might take me on as an intern. To that end, I created a few business cards with my basic information, just to give people something to remember me by.

I attended four sessions: Doug Johnson’s keynote, a presentation on creating an e-portfolio lead by the Syracuse City School District’s Ed Tech team, Anthony Rotolo’s social media session, and Project Enable.

I was excited to hear (and meet!) Doug Johnson, as I discovered his writing while doing my first rapid response for 511 last year, and have followed his blog ever since. He had a lot of great points, but here’s what I took away:

  • The speed of change is our real challenge
  • We must distinguish the act of reading from the medium of books
  • Technology is moving more and more to a single device that does everything; we have to be concerned about what this means for choice, competition and freedom of information
  • Young people trust their peers more than packaged marketing materials; user reviews are a kind of peer review; applies to all sorts of information
  • The political leanings of parents might affect how their kids approach information
  • “Doomed libraries are all alike; every successful library is successful in its own way.”
  • Be visible outside of the library
  • Advocate for users
  • DIVERSIFY; make your physical space compelling enough to draw in users
  • No whining!

His speech was Lankes-esque, if more low-key.  It was great to spend some time listening to a guy who clearly understands the challenge and opportunity of this time.  We could lose libraries if we stick to what we have known and refuse to change, but if we’re brave and passionate and focus on the right things, we could instead reinvent how kids in schools are educated. 

The session on e-portfolios was not what I expected, but very helpful.  I was thinking it would be more nuts and bolts on how to actually put one together, but what we got was a list of essential components and tools for developing them.  I had vaguely thought that I should have a mission statement in my portfolio, but now I know that I need my professional philosophy in there, with measurable goals, evidence of learning, and reflection. 

This session made me think hard about this blog.  I’ve long felt that I do want a blog to be a part of my e-portfolio, but would not have given out this one because so many of the entries over the past year have been written to express frustration, disillusionment, and exhaustion.  I have far more success than this blog conveys.  However, having read Alyssa Vincent’s honest account of burnout and having felt immensely comforted by it, I think I would like to maintain this blog, weaknesses and all.  I will just strive to make more of an effort to reflect when I’m feeling positive as well. 

I also realized, when we talked about goals, that the reason my personal frustrations have crept into my professional blog is that my personal and professional goals are deeply intertwined.  Being braver, working harder and being better informed all come into play personally and professionally, and all are affected by my overall energy level and attitude.  I think that having measurable professional goals will help me to keep career stresses from feeling like my whole life is struggling.

After this session, we had a break for lunch.  I had asked Blythe Bennett for suggestions of good elementary librarians to approach, and found myself sitting next to one of them.  When we had both finished eating, I steeled myself and struck up a conversation, which ended up lasting about 20 minutes.  She was extremely cool – forward thinking and passionate, and it sounds like she has a great program.  I am hopeful that I will be able to do my second practicum with her.

I don’t have a lot to say about Rotolo’s session – it was a lot of fun, and gave me some context for the way technology and social media are changing the world and should be changing education.  Project Enable was eye-opening.  The presenters had us work through several simulations to force us to understand what students with disabilities are working with.  It emphasized the need for patience, and especially for librarians to be thoroughly informed about the students they are working with.  It was a valuable session, particularly given that I know very little about students with disabilities and am now much more aware of the areas in which I need to educate myself.

So, time to move forward.  I would like to retool this blog a bit to make it more attractive, and develop my e-portfolio.  I’m also debating whether to separate my personal and professional twitter presence.  Not so much because I say anything inappropriate as because I wouldn’t want to follow a colleague who tweeted as much non-library stuff as I do. 

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