I'm super excited to be here at the Georgia Library Media Association's Summer Institute 2018! The first day has been full of excitement as I was honored as the recipient of the GLMA Intellectual Freedom of Information Award. What an honor. I received this award for the work I've done this year in educating my literacy committee and administration on the best practices concerning leveling and labeling of books within a library media program. Being nominated by Deana Cicero and then being selected as the recipient of the award has been such a blessing to me. And this award is heavy! It is a beautiful glass sculpture (a flame...very appropriate I think) and I think I just might have to display it on my mantel at home for a bit.
My morning was filled with a little volunteering, as I worked alongside Wendy Smith (pictured below) at the registration table. I laughed a lot with Wendy...she is so much fun! I really love working check-in because I get to meet so many smiling faces! Repeat attendees are filled with excitement as they approach the table and I also love the nervous anticipation of those who are first-timers. Volunteering at your favorite conference is so satisfying and such a great way to make new friends and grow your PLN.
After a lively lunch, I headed into my first presentation of the conference. Of course I chose to share my favorite tech tool (can you guess?) with a packed room! I'm so thankful to my tribe who took photos during the session and shared their learning on Twitter! I feel like the time just flew by and I hope that everyone walked away with a new tool in their toolbox.
After such a busy morning, I attended a session with Karen Burton Garner from Grayson on utilizing tech centers in media center. Karen had a few technology issues, but like any media specialist, handled it with grace and charm. We laughed a bit and with a little help from her friends, Karen was up and running in no time! Can you just imagine how much help someone gets in a room full of librarians?! It is awesome to watch. Later in the day, Keith Osburn and Shauntice Wheeler of the GaDOE shared some information about how our Georgia media specialists will be evaluated in the coming year. We aren't implementing SLEI just yet in our State, but we are well on our way to getting more attention in terms of a quality, meaningful, and reflective evaluation....which we deserve, right?!
The evening of the first full day of the conference was spent at dinner with friends and then getting a good night's sleep in my luxurious room. The Crowne Plaza at Peachtree City has undergone some beautiful refurbishments and I was fortunate enough to get a room with a king bed overlooking the beautiful lake. With the spa packages left in my room and the sound of a splashing fountain outside my window, I slept like a baby! It was a lovely respite during a busy conference. Just look at the sunrise on Tuesday morning from my room window!
The next morning was a bit emotional for me as I headed into my second and last presentation of the conference. My presentation was titled "Leaping from High School to Elementary" and I planned to share my successes (to give other ES folks a chance to get some ideas) and also to share my failures. Now anyone who really knows me knows that I just don't like to talk about failing. I'm pretty much a glass-half-full kinda girl! But my dear friend and colleague, GeAnne Bolhuis told me that my story had value and that it was important for me to share my year in an honest and open way. Of course, she was right. I had a small group of attendees for this early 8:30am session, but it was the perfect group. I had three people come up to me afterward and tell me they were in similar situations in their schools and that hearing my struggles (with the push for lexiled libraries, leveled book labeling, etc.) helped them reflect on their own. One sweet colleague even shared this tweet....
This was such a rewarding experience. Telling our story isn't always easy. It isn't always pretty. And feedback like Martha's means so much to me. That morning session was very cathartic! I now feel that I can walk away from The Happy Library with a full heart and a sense of completion. Someone in the session asked me...."so what's next for The Happy Librarian?" I had to respond...."I don't know, but I'm excited to find out!" So folks, you will just have to stay tuned as they say to find out. I'm sure I'll post a little something here and certainly on Twitter once I know where I'm landing in the coming months. And if you aren't following Martha on Twitter, do so! She is one of the founders of our #GaLibChat on Twitter and is an up-and-coming in Georgia's library world! She was also just recognized at the conference as the 2018 Coastal GA Library Media Specialist of the Year, so congrats to her on that accomplishment!
I attended many great sessions at this conference, but one that I must give a little shout-out to is the STEAMing up your Library! presentation by Kathy Schmidt. Kathy is a dynamic librarian who has been on the forefront of the maker movement in our libraries. She is a member of ISTE and you will find her at almost every big conference related to technology, so if you ever get the chance to hear her share her ideas, do it! She's also on Twitter so follow her HERE! Kathy shared her experiences in a STEAM certified middle school, Coleman Middle School in Gwinnett County...the first middle school to receive the designation in the State. I got lots of ideas from Kathy and she is just FUN to listen to and laugh with!
There is so much more I could share about this wonderful conference that supports our profession, but I feel that it would be lost on readers. Sometimes you just have to be there. So, if you were there, thanks. If you weren't, then ask yourself why not. Any school librarian deserves a conference like this one. There is no other conference in our State that directly supports, encourages, and advocates for the work of the school library media specialist like this one. And at 180 attendees this year, we are growing! Learn more about GLMA and the Summer Institute HERE. I hope you will consider taking two days out of your summer next year to attend. And bring your tribe with you!
After being on the road for two weeks, I'm finally home. And I've taken a day or two to reflect on what has transpired over the last two weeks. The first week of June, I was traveling with my family for some rest and relaxation in a delightful place called Santa Rosa Beach. For anyone familiar with 30-A, you might know that it is off the beaten path and the most delightful stretch of beach! We rented a beautiful two-story beach house with my parents and the trip was amazing. We even had a secret garden by which to access our little piece of sand. It was heavenly.
Fast-forward to the end of the beach vacation and my hubby dropped me off at my folks house to spent one night before I headed down to Peachtree City to participate in the professional development highlight of the year for all Georgia librarians......Summer Institute. If you've never been, I wonder why? It is low-key and jammed full of sessions taught by and for school library media specialists. The keynote was delivered by Audrey Church, President of the American Association of School Librarians and our closing keynote was the phenomenal storytelling of author Carmen Agra Deedy...the Library Dragon did make an appearance.
After three days of Summer Institute, I took a one-day break (again at my parent's home) and then drove to Grantville to participate in Summer Camp for Media Specialists with Andy Plemmons of Expect the Miraculous fame. If you have never met Andy, heard Andy, or read Andy's blog....get to it! He is such an inspiration for media specialists!
I cannot summarize the wealth of information I learned or the inspiration I received over the last week of professional development, but I can share a few take-aways that I think are going to end up driving my work over the course of the next school year.
Advocacy was the focus of Audrey Church's keynote at Summer Institute. Advocacy is at the heart of Carmen Agra Deedy's love of libraries, books, and the heart of stories. Andy shared a quote that bears repeating.
"If your work isn't online, then it doesn't exist!" --Austin Kleon
And he is right. I want to be sure that I am advocating for my library, my school, and my students. And I can't wait for someone else to do it. Thus...the blog. It will be a big part of the coming year. Not just as a diary or reflection piece, but as a voice. My voice. And I want to be sure that someone hears it.
Support the Reader.
There were so many wonderful sessions I attended at Summer Institute. I wish I could re-cap all of them here, but I can't. If you ever get the chance to meet or hear from the following people, do it. They were the best of the best, in my opinion, at Summer Institute.
The final take-away is really the biggest and most challenging one. Andy is a genius at this. He works tirelessly to give students a voice in the library. He shared with us the famous Barrow Peace Prize project that empowers students to speak and share their work with the world. He shared the story of his student budget committee that gets a portion of his library budget each year to make book selections, survey other students, sift through data, and eventually spend $1500+ on books for the media center. I'm not sure if I will do the same projects that Andy shared, but I will strive to give my students a voice in our library. I want them to be members, not just visitors. I even have a little "theme" in the works that I will share in a later post. The key is.....give students a voice.
I know this was long, but I just had to share my thoughts. It can be overwhelming to get SO much information and SO much inspiration all at once. I have enough ideas to keep me going for another three years, at least! But I hope that in summarizing and reflecting, I will find just what I need for The Happy Library. Until next time...
Who to follow: