Building Common Ground • Education Profession

Stay on top of events, news and trends in education, in your school and in the discipline of education as part of a way to build common ground. Be relevant, be a lifelong learner. In this lesson, we'll talk about professional organizations, both for libraries and education. Personal or professional learning networks or PLNs, and teachers in graduate programs, including another special resource.

When we think about professional organizations, you may know the obvious, so your state school library organization, as well as AASL, which is the National Professional Organization for School Libraries and Librarians. Don't let your professional involvement stop there, though. Consider state and national conferences as a way to keep up with what's going on in education. You might consider ISTE, the technology conference; ASCD, which is for leadership and education; or a special area like the National Council of Teachers of English. Attend if you can, a national conference, where it's the yearly conference or sometimes a smaller symposia, and look for scholarships for first-time attendees.

Some conferences like the AASL National Conference for instance, the school library one, provide materials directly with the conference registration to demonstrate to your school leaders why you should attend, and the benefits that you will bring back to your students and teachers. But if you can't attend, don't worry, you can still participate, and this is an important way to stay connected. Find out when the conferences are and follow the tweets. Get the conference hashtag from the conference website. Typically, it's the organization's acronym and the year, and then follow the tweets of the people participating in the conference for speakers, resources, and important topics.

So speaking of Twitter, be sure to build your PLN, your personal or your professional learning network, as part of your connection to education at large. The author Jark, in an article by Stranick, emphasizes that the personal learning network is a combination of seeking, sense-making and sharing. And I like that way they illustrate the PLN, because some people tend to dismiss something like Twitter as something that's just for fun or entertainment. But today, to be a school librarian and not be tuned in to the professional discourse that's happening on Twitter, is to miss a big piece of the learning process for school librarians.

Here's a quote from Shannon Miller. She describes Twitter and hashtags, saying, "I love how using hashtags, not only brings tweets and conversation together, it also brings me together with a group of people that are very similar and motivating to one another." So when you think about your PLN, work to build this network of contacts, colleagues, authors, technology experts, librarians, leaders, and learners. Spend some time each day, or even every few days, a couple of times a week, as you progress through your career and you work to craft this very intentional and professional and interesting digital footprint and network. Sometimes, when I teach graduate students, they're reluctant to have that digital footprint out there. And I think that this is a mistake. It's really important to show that you know how to use technology responsibly, professionally, and in innovative ways to further your professional growth.

You can start by just reading some tweets, share, use buttons on news-worthy articles that you read. So when you see a good article about education, there are often national education articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post. Those are great places to start. Use the tweet feature and share that out with your followers. You can use list features directly in Twitter or Twitter apps to maximize the functionality, so that you could have a list that pays attention to teaching math or working on technology, or teaching primary grades, looking at picture books. You can pull together and curate your lists of tweets. Use the social media tools in curation sites like Listly, Learnist, or Paperly to follow other Twitter users and social media curators, and then contribute with your collections.

You can use an analytical tool like SumAll, S-U-M-A-L-L, to track the reach of your tweets. And this would be a great way to document your participation professionally as part of your professional evaluation. You might also look for monthly or weekly tweet-ups with librarians and teachers. And when you attend in person or virtual workshops, share your Twitter handle and follow the speakers and fellow attendees, and you'll find that typically they'll follow you back. Find out who they follow, follow them and you can continue to build that network.

One other way that's a nice connection between the professional discipline of education and your role as a school librarian, might be one that surprises you, but it was a great connection I made when I was a school librarian. And that was helping my teachers who were themselves graduate students, find professional resources for their work. Often times, their work had to connect to what they were doing in the classroom. So ultimately, I was still in my capacity of instructional partner, but I was also serving as information specialist and leader. I was surprised in some instances to find out that my colleagues didn't necessarily know the difference between a practitioner article and a peer-reviewed journal, and I helped them to sort out some of these differences, craft good search strategies, and show them some of the professional resources within the state databases. And I've included for you with this lesson, a sample introducing teachers to these reference databases and some instructions for using them.

So by connecting with your teacher's professional growth, with your professional learning network, and organizations both for libraries and education, you have some good strategies for staying on top of trends in education and in the discipline of teaching and learning.

MLA Citation Morris, Rebecca J. "Building Common Ground: Education Profession ." School Library Connection, September 2015,

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Entry ID: 1980855

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