A New Year of Blogging

It’s been almost a year since my last post. Where have I been all this time? Well, last year was a difficult one, both personally and professionally. In addition to dealing with some serious family issues, I was also dealing with some rather debilitating school issues, and I just didn’t have the heart either to dwell on them or ignore them in blog posts.

Sumter School DistrictThis year will be different. Very different. In Sumter County, where I work, we’ve always had two school districts. This year, those two districts merged into one. We’ve had three years to prepare, but we’re all learning that you really can’t ever be fully prepared for such a sweeping change in policies, personnel, and procedures.

We have a new superintendent this year, since the former superintendents of each district have retired. In addition to all the new department heads at the district office, our school also has a new principal. (Our former principal also retired.) We have a new assistant principal, too. (Our former assistant principal was assigned to another school.) And we have a new curriculum resource teacher. (Our former CRT became our new assistant principal.)

So the name of the game this year is “Change.” Now, I’m not opposed to change; change can be not only good, but necessary in the raipdly evolving world of education. But too much change at once, particularly when the stakeholders (i.e., the teachers) have had little or no voice in the decision-making process, can be overwhelming. It can be frustating. It can be discouraging to the point that you just want to sit down and cry.

So why do I want to start blogging again now of all times, you ask?

I’ve stated before that for me, one of the most beneficial aspects of this blog has been the time spent reflecting on what I’m doing. In an earlier post titled Fighting Burnout I said,

 “Through writing this blog I’ve come to appreciate the importance of taking time to reflect on what I’m doing in my professional life and why…. I can see the benefit of including more posts here about what is working in my library, and what impact I’m having on the students I see each week. I need to remember why I became a school librarian in the first place, and resolve to keep that at the forefront of my mind…”

This year, I want this blog to be a celebration of everything good in my library, in my school, in my district, in my state, and in education in general.  I want to focus on the positive, rejoice in the successes, and share what’s working for me in my little corner of the world. 

After all, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”  (Epictetus) 

By the way, the logo you see here is actually not exactly what our new district logo looks like.  This is the original design, but it was changed at some point (I’m not sure when), and in spite of searching the district website, several of our school websites, and Google Images, I cannot find a save-able image of the new logo.  The words “UNIFIED FOR SUCCESS” have been replaced with the words “EDUCATE*EMPOWER*ENRICH” at the bottom of the circle.  Not that it really matters to any of you readers out there, but it does give you a small taste of the way things are going for us so far this year!

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Passion + Persistence = Change

In an earlier blog post I mentioned a webinar that was offered back on April 5, 2010 at the TL Virtual Cafe entitled What it Means to Be a Change Agent in Educational Technology.  When the participants were asked to share their thoughts on what makes an educator a change agent, one consistent piece of advice was to be passionate about what you believe in and be persistent in pursing it.

If it’s true that passion can drive change, and I want to effect change at my school, then I need to be asking myself these kinds of questions:  What are my teachers passionate about?  How can I help them share that passion with their students?  And for that matter, what are my students passionate about?  And how can I help them explore and share that passion with others? 

I love this quote from John Ross at his TeachLearnTech blog:

A strong leader acts like a ladder or a scaffold, one that supports and helps teachers reach new heights.

So maybe if some of my teachers are a little afraid of heights, their passion and my persistence can make them bold enough to take a risk and make a change.

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Putting Technology In Its Place

I just read two blog posts yesterday that echo some of the ideas I’ve been wrestling with lately concerning the place of technology in the classroom, and I’d like to share them here.

Background:  As my school’s Library Media Specialist and Technology Coach, I have a responsibility to provide appropriate resources to my students and teachers, and to make sure they know how to use them.  With so many useful (and free) technology tools available out there in cyberspace, I want to make sure I’m keeping up with them, using them appropriately, and sharing them with those who need them. 

However, I don’t want to become so focused on the “coolness” of technology that I lose sight of my ultimate goal, which is student learning.  I also don’t want my attitude regarding the importance of technology to become so overbearing that I alienate teachers who, for various reasons, are hesitant about using a lot of online resources or tech tools.  I need to balance my role as a cheerleader for Web 2.0 with my role as someone who assists users with what’s actually going on in the classroom.

Enter Jennifer Wagner and Joyce Valenza, two educators who are doing wonderful things with technology at their respective schools.  Continue reading

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