Job hunting, book sales and the 3Ts Conference!

As always, life moves itself along.  I’ve been working on my resume and portfolio pretty intensely for a couple of weeks, and I’m finally feeling like it’s acceptable.  The portfolio will be a work in progress for some time, and I will probably switch to a different web service, but it’s at least up where I can point people to it and add my work.

I’m having nightmares about job hunting.  I know it’s just a manifestation of how nervous I am, but the dreams are pretty extreme.  A few nights ago I dreamed that I was chased by a T-Rex (not sure why my brain assigned that particular metaphor) and last night I literally dreamed an entire job interview.

Mike had some good advice for me though.  He said, “You didn’t go to grad school just to get a job.  You went to school to make a difference.”  So there’s no point in stressing about a position until I get to the interview stage where I can determine whether the school is the sort of place where I can meet my goal.  I like that.  I’m sure I will continue to stress, but it gives me a mental place to step back to and realize that no one job is the end-all-be-all of my career.

The book sale is coming up fast.  I spent several hours working on it yesterday.  We figure we need about 5000 books gathered, and I estimate at this point we have about 3500.  Between that and the school project that’s due on April 1st, I should have my hands full.

I attended the Transliteracy, Technology and Teaching Conference at SUNY Albany last Friday, which was good but not nearly as mind-blowing as I’d hoped.  What I got the most from was actually using the time between sessions to chat with a few classmates who went.  They are both a year behind me in the program, and it was really nice to get their perspective and share mine.

The best session I went to was presented by two academic librarians who identified criminal justice students as the part of their population most in need of remedial research support.  They developed a collaboration with a professor, and embedded information literacy instruction into two of four sections of one of his classes.  The first semester they did it, pre and post testing showed no improvement in student performance.  The presenters went on to explain that they looked at all the factors that affected the lessons – lack of time, lack of computers, a classroom that was not conducive to small group work, and no grading based on IL skills – and worked with the professor to address them.  Student performance improved significantly in the second semester.

I spoke with one of the presenters after the session and asked whether there was any reluctance on the part of the professor to repeat the experience when it clearly didn’t work at first.  She explained that they had developed a sound instructional plan from the beginning, and that it was expected that it would take a few semesters to have an impact.  This was a really strong lesson for me.  Given how little time classroom teachers have, I could imagine that they might abandon a collaboration if they see it as using class time without benefitting students immediately.  Going into it together from the start, with the expectation that it will be a process of refining, with the end product being a really effective lesson that can be used for a long time – this should have been obvious to me, but seeing it in action showed me how powerful it is.  I think librarians and teachers are so panicked sometimes by the mandate to collaborate that they don’t practice it in its strongest sense.

A few of the other sessions were helpful, including one on cloud-based apps and one on digital storytelling, but they were not revolutionary.  I was a bit disappointed that no one addressed digital security or the suitability of apps for classroom use (ie what is the site’s privacy policy, do students need email addresses to sign up, how can the teacher manage student work?).  I’d like to dig deeper into those issues, especially since Storybird was such a great example of a teacher-friendly app.

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