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!
Who to follow: