This article was originally posted on the YALSAblog at http://yalsa.ala.org/blog/2015/05/26/nlld15-first-time-attendee/.
So, at some point in February, I decided that I would apply for YALSA’s travel stipend to attend #NLLD15. I was hopeful and I received the award. So, I planned my trip, contacted my state coordinator, packed my bag, and was off to Washington.
I arrived at 12:30 on Sunday at Ronald Reagan International Airport. I took Southwest and was able to get a pretty economical ticket. I found my way to the METRO station, purchased a Smart Ride Card, and hopped on the Metro toward Dupont Circle. I was on my way to the First Time Attendee Session at the ALA Washington Office.
The meeting for first time attendees was amazing. We worked on techniques for speaking with Senators and Representatives. We talked about “the ask”. I even managed to take a selfie with the presenter, Stephanie Vance.
It is that time of year where we make the decision in our professional practice to choose a new adventure. You know the one. Taking that bold leap into the abyss from classroom to concurrent session room into the conference world of presenting. You have a idea, you submit a proposal and it is accepted. Woohoo! Travel plans, hotel room, business cards, what to wear, handouts, door prizes... am I ready? Maybe...
Here are a few tips I learned along the way from other presenters to the front of the room:
ON YOUR WAY TO PRESENTING
1. Ask questions. Don't assume every conference is alike.
2. Be on top of paperwork, requests for materials, and submitting your bio. You will be more likely asked to return if you are easy to work with.
3. Be nice. No one cares if your plane was late, your phone battery dies, or if your siatica is acting up. Smile, be friendly and thank the volunteers you encounter for their time. The most important volunteer is the presider (door person) who is checking in people at the door of your session and assisting you with materials.They will also evaluate you. Were you aware?
IN YOUR SESSION
4. Speak to your audience with respect. I am likely to walk out of your session if you refer to a room of adults as boys and girls. Terms of endearment should be saved for people you know.
5. No one cares about your back story. Keep it brief. Many sessions are unsatisfying for attendees because the presenter may not manage their time well and they are unable to finish the presentation. Attendees want to know what you know now, your conclusions and solutions.
6. Provide the sound bite. Let's face it. You are presenting to a group that will go home and share what they have learned. They will post to Twitter to share with their PLN. They want to quote you. Give them something to post.
7. Give attendees an idea or ideas that they can put to good use tomorrow. Sharing a complete program is great, but ideas are more likely to be used if one can start small and build to a complete program. I may follow through with an idea if I have to wait six months to implement it.
8. Say thank you and move to the hall for questions at the end of the session. Offer your card. Set up a back channel where attendees can contact you for further questions. Just make sure you end on time. The next presenter and set of attendees would like to get into the room as soon as possible so that they may start on time.
9. Finally, take a moment to reflect on your own experience. What worked; what can you do better? Was this the conference for you? Did you enjoy presenting? What did you learn?
10. Remember to complete the followup materials for the conference planners in a timely manner. They need your input to improve the conference from year to year.
With careful planning and courtesy, your presenting experience will be a positive one. Enjoy the journey!
Stressed about your LMS evaluation? We all agree that evaluations can be uncomfortable. When we take a position as a media specialist, we do not walk into the door thinking about how we will be evaluated and what effect those evaluations will have on our programs, our funding, defining the value of our programs and well, maintaining our employment. With some research, active participation, and planning, you can develop a method to improve the evaluation process and demonstrate the value of your program.
So, it is the beginning of the year. Evaluation planning begins now.
First, become familiar with your specific job description and evaluation rubric, which may require some digging on your school district's website, a phone call or two, and asking your administrator to provide this information. It is not that this information is not available, it is just usually not stored in a readily retrievable manner. Don't be afraid to ask.
Next, don't just put your employee handbook on the shelf in your office. Read it, cover to cover. Highlight those passages that apply directly to your job role. These passages may have bearing on your conversations about your evaluation later.
Lastly, ask who will be evaluating you, when you will be evaluated, how and when, and if the evaluation rubric for your job role is the only instrument used in your evaluation. Make note of the evaluation timeline on your calendar, put it into any electronic calendars that you use and set reminders of deadlines. If you could not find a copy, now is the time to ask for a copy of the evaluation rubric.
FAME Annual Conference will take place October 21-23, 2015 and for those who have already attended FAME, we are looking forward to the time to focus on our professional practice. If you haven’t heard, FAME presents the only professional development conference specially designed for school library media specialists. But, while we know what we will receive in benefit by attending, our administrators may not. I still face the dilemma that every media specialist has when embarking on a learning expedition off-campus, "But why, are you going for three days? Isn't one day enough?" This is the resounding question as I prepare to leave my media center closed for three days, since we no longer have assistants, or other staffers willing to manage the space in our absence. The answer is yes, I need all three days and here are the best reasons I can give for my three days of attendance.
(Please feel free to use this post as evidence when negotiating your attendance.)
1. Media Specialists live and work in a bubble, the media center. The conversations and contact we have happens when someone walks into the door of our media center, on the phone or email, or on the rare occasion that we break from tradition and exit the door into the mysterious world of the school outside the media center. If you are lucky, you have a district that provides a regularly meeting PLC for media specialists, (I do in Osceola County) but this may only be once a month or once a quarter. We know we simply can't learn everything we need to know in those few stolen moments for a couple of hours 3 or 4 times a year. We need more opportunities to be exposed to learn the best practices of other professionals working in this field.
On Wednesday of FAME Annual Conference, thought leaders will provide intensive 2-4 hour paid workshops to engage media specialists in better library practice.
2. Media Specialists are called upon to be literacy leaders in their schools and communities. How do we make this experience “new” every year? What new ideas, programs, products, apps, concepts that are out there that I have not heard about yet? The sessions on literacy at FAME offer the ideas that I need to continue to be a leader in my school.
Media Specialists are often asked to fix a technology usage problem after an implementation in the classroom has been attempted without the assistance of the media specialist and a failure has occurred. It is at this point that we are consulted for a strategy that will repair the breakdown in learning and a strategy for restarting the learning so that the instruction may move forward.
Sometimes you just to have to find a teacher who is willing to be open to the possibilities of alternative spaces for instruction. This week in the media center, differentiated instruction with biology classes. The media center offers the "space" and resources needed for successful differentiation
Hi-tech and lo-tech options for student instruction. Self-guided web-based tutorials, paper-based review, collaborative processing, and one on one time with the teacher. In this scenario, the media specialist serves as a resource and an assistant for troubleshooting that does not take time from the teacher's instruction.
100% engagement and better still, the teacher nor the library media specialist are working harder than the students.
This month I received the opportunity through a stipend from YALSA to attend National Library Legislative Day in May. Below are my thoughts on advocating for school libraries.
As a member from Florida, I am keenly aware that we are fighting a battle of words for the programs that contribute to the better education of our students. In Florida, there is minimal mention of library programs in statute. Title XLVIII, Chapter 1006.28 which describes the duties of the school board, states each district must provide some type of media program, whether it is provided through a school media center or a public center or a circulating library. In other words, our students may not have access to a media center or a certified media specialist in their school. We must fight to eliminate the “temporary parking zone” sign at the “intersection of inquiry and information.” The only way to solve this problem is to make sure that we “show up” and educate our lawmakers about the benefits our students receive from quality media programs with certified library media specialists (tech-savvy information navigators) and offer suggestions as to how lawmakers can through legislation insure equal educational services for all students. I hope to lend my voice and my face to the personal conversation that will lead to success for our children. I hope to show my students and my colleagues that change begins with conversation and the willingness to go the distance for the future. I hope to learn what we need to do and say to make what we provide more transparent to lawmakers so that they will have the information to make informed choices about funding our programs.
We must fight to eliminate the “temporary parking zone” sign
No longer does my friend need to leave work to check on a beloved pet. She just calls the iCPooch in her home to see the pet and talk to the pet and to dispense a treat, too.
Almost any item known to man may be purchased in "Just One Click". My medication and Friday night's takeout are automatically paid for and delivered to my door.
IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!
Here are the best reasons I can give for a media specialist to attend all 4 days of FETC. (Please feel free to use this post as evidence when negotiating your attendance.)
Best Practices of nationally recognized programs
I know it can be a hurtle to leaving your building to go to a conference. We think we can't get away because so much will not be completed without us. But, how can we improve if we don't focus on our own professional learning? I remind myself every year that my attendance matters not only to me but also to those who will benefit from my learning. Here are ten reasons why you should make this leap:
1. Finding Motivation. What can I say? From the moment I enter the door to the opening keynote speaker until the end where I stumble back to my car, I am excited and cannot wait to learn. The banter, the conversations, the signs, the booths, the displays, the learning all energize me.
5 rolls of paper (40.00) + 4 audio visual carts (no cost, set for surplus) + boxes (free from deliveries) + cellophane (10.00) + 2 rolls packing tape (6.00) = $56.00 for a castle of reading.
Assistant Professor & Director of Library and Instructional Design