Last year, a book impacted my life, my library program, and found its way into so many conversations with students, teachers, and librarians. “Expect the Miraculous” came to be our mantra in the Barrow Media Center thanks to Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo. It was all thanks to p. 130-131.
This summer, as I sat down to develop our library program goals for the 2014-2015 school year, that mantra of expecting the miraculous everyday was still a big part of my thinking. However, this summer I carried so much more with me as I reflected on goals.
I had my experiences and conversations with the #Wandoo5 at Evanced Games in Indianapolis.
I had the moonshot thinking and action plan of the Google Teacher Academy and becoming a Google Certified Teacher.
I had the Invent to Learn Workshop with Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager.
I had numerous experiences at the ISTE 2014 conference including a zombie fighting keynote from Jennifer LaGarde, empowering talks from George Couros and Todd Nesloney, and inspiring keynotes from Ashley Judd and Kevin Carroll about the importance of each child’s story and the importance of play.
The more I reflected on my summer professional learning experiences the more I realized that I wanted this year’s goals to be different. In the past, I’ve made big goals about developing the participatory culture in our library, but I’ve also made specific goals about the collection. While the collection is important, it is not my primary focus for the library program. I was reminded of a question in Jennifer LaGarde’s keynote about the Dewey decimal system and her answer of “who cares”. Who cares if I have specific goals about the library collection? What cares if the 300’s have the recommended number of books? Who cares what the average age of the biographies is? The heart of the program isn’t the physical collection. The heart of the program is the students, the teachers, the families, and the community. The heart of the program is the opportunities that they have through the library. Now, I’m not saying that I’m abandoning the collection or that I don’t have goals about the collection. It’s just that my primary goals of the library aren’t about the collection.
I want goals that I can carry with me into every collaborative meeting that I attend. I want goals that I can put up on the walls of the library and add tangible evidence throughout the year of how they are impacting the students, teachers, and families in our school. I want goals that support our school and district goals as well as reflect what is being talked about on a global level.
This week, I will share these goals with our faculty during pre-planning, but they’ve already faced their first test. During our first day of pre-planning our principal set the stage for our year. I must say that it was one of the most inspiring opening days that I’ve ever been a part of because it wasn’t filled with duties and responsibilities, mandates, and daunting changes. Of course, all of those things will be present this year, but our principal chose to focus on how we can value each child’s story, how we can add to and enhance that story by what we offer at school, and how we can develop a vision and mission for our school that represents what we truly believe in education. As I listened and as I talked with other teachers, I was already carrying my goals with me, and I must say that I felt really good about the 4 goals that I’ve chosen.
These are the goals that are based on the themes that consistently surfaced in all of my reading, professional learning, conversations, and reflections.
Goal 1: To provide students, teachers, and families opportunities to dream, tinker, create, and share
I chose these verbs carefully because I think that the order matters. So often, we feel the time crunch in education and I think we often jump to having students make something with so many detailed requirements that they don’t have time to dream about what they hope they could make or have time to mess around, fail, and learn from those failures. As I plan projects with teachers this year, I want to intentionally plan spaces for students to pause and wonder and have time to explore before they actually create a final product that is shared with an authentic audience. I want us to think carefully about how we “show our work” just as Austin Kleon outlines in his books. He says, “If your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.” I’ll be thinking carefully about how we give students opportunities to create and also how they share their process as well as their final product.
Within this goal, I have subgoals about the number of large-scale projects I will do with each grade level, the development of our library makerspace, the collaborative relationships with our community makerspace and tech startup, and embedded digital citizenship.
Goal 2: To engage in global thinking and global collaboration
I can’t even count the number of times that global thinking and collaboration came up this summer. I feel like so many people around the world are primed and ready for this endeavor during the upcoming year. Last year, our library was more connected than it has ever been through authors, guest speakers, reading events, and peer feedback through Skype and Google Hangouts. Even though we felt connected, most of our work was projects or single connections. I would love to see global thinking and collaboration become more evident in what we do through long-term collaborative relationships around the globe and authentic questions and projects that matter to the world. Within this goal are the many networks that I will be a part of this year including GlobalTL, Connected Classroom, Skype in the Classroom, and my Twitter PLN. I’m inspired by the work of Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano and will look at her work as we plan this year.
As teachers and I plan this year, we will ask ourselves how we are being global thinkers and how we are connecting our students beyond the walls of our school.
Goal 3: To empower student voice
When I thought about this goal, I was reminded of many stories shared by George Couros at ISTE including the story of a little boy who made a video where he overjoyed by getting one “like” on a social media post. I was reminded of Todd Nesloney sharing about his math fair and how he asked students to “wow” him by showing their math knowledge. Students did more that “wow” him. They shared their passions in life, involved their families, and were empowered. I was reminded of how we all want to be heard and feel like we’ve made a difference. As I plan with teachers this year, I want to ask how we are empowering each student by allowing them to share their passions and feel that their voice is heard. In the library, I will continue to explore this as well by giving students opportunity to document our year, make decisions about library resources, share their passions through contests and displays, pass on their expertise through co-teaching experiences, and listening closely for opportunities I don’t even know about.
Goal 4: To support the reading habits and curiosities of students, teachers, and families
It’s no secret that the more you read the better reader you become. You of course need to have the skills and strategies to accompany that time commitment. You also need access to reading that matters to you. This year I want to be more intentional about supporting reading curiosities to match students, teachers, and families to the kinds of stories and information they are looking for. I also want to be more intentional about documenting that commitment to reading. Our library is not the only source of reading materials, so I want to continue to build a collaborative relationship with the public library, local bookstores, and other community resources to all work together toward a common goal.
This year, we will explore an Evanced tool called Wandoo Reader. This tool will give students a portal for documenting their reading lives through tracking book titles and minutes read. Along the way, there will be challenges issued to students, and within Wandoo Reader, they will earn pieces to a robot that they will customize. I hope that this tool will offer a level of engagement for tracking reading as well as encourage students to spend more time reading in multiple ways from multiple locations.
Our planning will begin this week and I look forward to carrying these goals with me, trying them out, and see what miraculous things happen this school year.
What are YOUR library goals? I invite you to think about them in new ways and share.
I’m so impressed with the goals, Mr. Plemmons, especially in #3 when you added, “… and listening closely for opportunities I don’t even know about.” You’re a remarkable educator.
This is such an inspiring blog post. As a Paraproffessional (who has been doing this for almost 10 years and who is also working hard to reach the goal of being a “real” librarian) I always start my year with goals- usually one “big picture” or very public one and then multiple discrete ones.
I agree with you that the collection shouldn’t be a big goal, or even a public goal, but it is still a very important part of my library program. I think that how big a goal it is or how public you make it depends on where a library is in it’s life cycle, how long the staff person has been there, and also what sort of budget one is working with. For me, going into my 3rd year at my current school, which had many years of no staff, no funding and generally no love, my collection development goals are still very much present, always morphing, and always “there” and they are a key way in which I “sell” myself and my program to both my administrators and staff, and they are a way in which I have gained respect, buy in by reluctant teachers and library usage by a bigger and bigger number of my co-workers each year. My library operates solely with private funding, and having very clear collection development goals have allowed me to make use of private donations and grants. Getting to know my library collection intimately, and being able to identify the pressing needs has been so important to my job these first few years- I hope that in the next few years I will be able to sustain the level of funding so that I am no longer hyper-focused on what we need to have fully functioning collection and I can move on to more of a focus of sustaining the collection.
Thank you so much for this thoughtful reflection. It sounds like you have a great plan for your school community. I don’t regret having public goals about my library collection because they have certainly gotten it to where it is today. This year the collection will of course continue to be a focus, but I my public goals and main focus will be on the goals I’ve listed. Best wishes in your new year and working toward becoming a librarian.
I loved reading this…Thanks for sharing! I followed a link on twitter and walked away inspired and ready to check out Wandoo Reader!
I’m so glad that you found it to be helpful. Best wishes to a new school year! I’m really excited about Wandoo Reader. I love that we will have a consistent, engaging tool for tracking amount of time spent reading.
Thank you for your inspiration and for being a leader in our field! I’m so thankful for you taking the time to share your knowledge and vision…you have challenged me to think differently. Keep it coming!
I’m so happy that this has pushed your thinking. So far this year, I’ve loved how I really feel like these are goals that I carry with me in every decision I make.
[…] My library goals for this year really are proving to be something that I carry with me wherever I go. To me, this means that they really are goals that matter. In the past, I can’t recall writing goals that I could recite with memory or goals that I could connect to so many experiences throughout the school year. […]