Monday, June 24, 2013

End of the Year Checklist and Reflections, Part I

The end of the year brings lots of stress before we actually get to experience the ultimate relief of summer.  For me the stress is not so much with keeping children engaged in lessons as it is to catch up on the "last minute" duties that will get the library in perfect shape for next year.  I need to run overdues, do inventory (usually a three week job) complete all forms as required by the administration, plan and attend staff development sessions to name a few.  Then I have the end of school social obligations: concerts, awards assemblies, fifth grade promotions, and our volunteer breakfast.  It is enough to make a librarian's head spin.

Added to this are a plethora of reflections that, with the exception of my annual report, are not required but are important to the growth and health of our library program. 

The first of these reflections was written by Steven Anderson in Blogging About the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom. In this blog he poses what he considers the most essential questions from the Principals Technology Leadership Assessment.  They follow:

To what extent do you compare and align your school technology plan with other plans such as your school improvement plan?

 I think this is a very simple question to answer. As required by the state, our technology plan is a component of our school  improvement plan.  Each item in the tech plan must align with and support a curriculum goal.  I am very proud that before our our plans were combined, our tech plans have always reflected our curricular goals.  

To what extent do you promote participation of your school’s stakeholders in the technology planning process of your school or district?  

While I no longer write the technology plan I am consulted frequently by our technology integration specialist.  I know she also works closely with our academic coach and with the county technology visionaries.  I would imagine that, like me, the other teachers are consulted, if only in regard to the number of work orders they submit.  

To what extent did you disseminate or model best practices in learning and teaching with technology to faculty and staff?  My approach has been to model acceptable use (and best use) of technology every chance I get.  For awhile I set up early morning sessions, but after a certain point attendance dropped off.  An effective technique to get the teachers to effectively use the resources our library provides is to  teach federated database searching to the students.  They, in turn, will model it for the teachers, When I asked a third grade teacher to bring her class to the library to finish their research projects, she was amazed at the children's use of OneSearch and the quality sources it was searching. She remarked that all teachers need training on this,, but agreed that all of our staff development time was monopolized by agendas set outside of our school.  Hopefully, with her backing, some changes will be made in our staff development schedule.

Two examples of marketing directly to teachers were very successful.  Classes used the library to take the Statewide Writing Assessment.  As the students were working I was able to describe the new Nexus 7 tablets that were bought out of library funds and to describe the audio and ebook apps I had installed.  At that time I set forth my vision for helping poorer readers enjoy texts on their level.  I proposed units of study to my fourth grade teachers, who agreed to act on the collaboration.
Another important "point of sale" was my end of year planning collaboration with the fourth grade team.  We planned at least PBL units that will incorporate higher level thinking skills and targeted uses of all types of technologies.  I showed the teachers how to set up their Destiny Quest accounts, how to create lists, do federated searches and create citation and bibliography lists.  After that, I briefly showed them Google Apps, referencing my class lesson site and collaborative editing of documents.  This was the most successful collaboration I have had since I worked on my National Board certification.

To what extent do you include the effective use of technology as a criterion for assessing the performance of faculty? 

Technology integration is required by the Office of Educational Performance Audits and is a component of our lesson plans.  However, this requirement lacks teeth except for the time our school is actually being audited.  The teachers' unions, one of which I am a member, have worked to minimize the actual requirements for lesson plans.  Therefore it remains at the discretion of the professional how much data is inserted into our plans.  I suspect teachers with fewer than five years experience are held more firmly to this requirement than tenured teachers no longer required to undergo annual performance reviews.  Since I believe in full professionalism (except when it comes to attire) my lesson plans include links to applicable technology.

To what extent do you participate in professional development activities meant to improve and expand your use of technology? 

In short?  All the time.  I mainly make use of webinars and Twitter feeds to gather information on technology and learning trends, but lately I have been incorporating RSS feeds from EbscoHost in my news feed.  Because others may not have the time to sift through the feeds, I post regularly to my Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as emailing appropriate people.  Recently I began a for WV Library Media Specialists.  In less than a week I have 13 subscribers.  Not too shabby

So what does all this mean for library services to my young patrons?   

So far, this is telling me what I am doing right.  It does not tell me how to improve.  That is where reflection comes in.  In the next few posts I will look at other checklists and develop a short-term and long-term plan to improve services.

Anderson, Steven. "Blogging About The Web 2.0 Connected Classroom." : 5 Leadership Questions To Finish (And Start) The School Year With. Web. 24 June 2013.

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