Professional Learning and Development Series for School Library Staff
I love learning. I love professional development (confession: I might also be slightly addicted to professional development). I love learning new things. Challenge me, throw me something new to puzzle over or research and I am happy. I love attending conferences, watching webinars, collaborating in Twitter chats, listening to podcasts, searching Pinterest, reading articles and more. If it is new, inspiring, or helpful, I want to know all about it.
I believe, whether you are a head of library, teacher librarian, library technician, library aide or other, you should be learning and up-skilling constantly. There is always something we can learn, something new we can try. I find that learning is what keeps me excited about working in a school library. But sometimes it can be hard to find professional development or learning opportunities specifically for school librarians. It’s also hard to find the time. We in school libraries are so busy, when do we actually have the time to sit and read or watch? I’m going to share my top favourite resources for finding professional development for school library staff and share some tips on how I fit them all into my schedule.
ACCESS Articles – June 2020
I have been extremely fortunate to be able to contribute two articles to the ASLA ACCESS June edition 2020.
Both articles wouldn’t be possible without the contribution from all the wonderful library teams around Australia who shared their experiences in their roles and during COVID-19.
Running Online Book Clubs for Students
COVID-19 might have made online book clubs necessary for the past few weeks, but I have always allowed our school students to connect online. During COVID social isolation and schooling from home, our book clubs connected online and via video chats.
Online book clubs for students might look completely different depending on what platforms are available to each school and how each book club operates. I share here what worked for our school library and students and some of the things I learnt.
At my school library, we have weekly book clubs that are divided by age group. For the past few years now I have been running a Year 6-12 book club that meets weekly to talk about what they are reading and writing, take a look a new books, argue about cliff hangers vs edge grippers (a term we made up, we believe), hold unofficial book launches and generally have lots of fun each week. I also run a weekly Year 3-4 book club and we do similar things, but also read aloud from a picture book or novel and colour in or do bookish craft. Our awesome library technician runs the Year 1-2 group and I was also recently approached by a group of students wanting to create a new Year 5-6 group. For more book club ideas check out this post.
When COVID hit and schools were closed, I turned to online measures to keep our readers connected.
An Online Platform
Our school uses SchoolBox as an online learning management system. When that was launched I asked leadership for a Book Club group page for my Year 6-12 book club. Since then, we’ve been chatting, holding quizzes, sharing book-related Pinterest boards, giving book recommendations, sharing our writing and taking polls to determine everything from our favourite genres to preferred reading locations. Having an online area for the members to connect has allowed those not so vocal in meetings to have their say. It’s also added an element of fun to the group with quizzes, videos and polls. Members who can’t always join the lunchtime weekly session can stay apprised of group news.
School Libraries During COVID-19
COVID-19 has, very quickly, changed our world. It seemed to come out of nowhere (though some dystopian writers might say they predicted this years ago) and within a matter of weeks and months, life as we know it has been altered. For many, the impact has been far greater reaching than a change in civil liberties. It’s a heart breaking situation for many.
Within schools, it has sparked quick change. A big drop in attending student numbers. The move to online learning. A very quick learning curve for many as they navigate new technologies and new pedagogies.