Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
By Peter Murgatroyd
The annual Learning@School Conference run by CORE Education was held in Hamilton 26-27 January. With a focus on integrating new technologies to empower learning and transform leadership, the Conference, while targeting school leaders, principals, teachers, and ICT and technology advisers, is an excellent professional learning opportunity for school librarians and one that I would encourage colleagues to consider in 2013.
With more than 1500 delegates, inspiring and challenging keynote speakers from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, dozens of breakout sessions and workshops, a state-of-the-art conference venue with ultra-fast wireless access enabling a myriad of parallel conversations happening via social networks, Learning@School 2012 (#lats12) was both invigorating and exhausting.
Participation in the Conference was an invaluable opportunity to look at schools through the lens of teachers and school leaders to better understand their challenges in the face of what Mark Treadwell described as a perfect storm of change that is causing educators globally to rethink what education for today’s students should involve.
The themes of the Conference were:
There were a number of common threads that ran through all of the keynote addresses. Ideas and glimpses of new ways of thinking not just about the impacts of far reaching changes in technology but arguably more critically about changes in the way that students are learning and interacting with the world, deconstructing how we think about our learning environments, our relationships with our students and the notion of what it is to be a learner, a teacher, a librarian.
Common threads included:
It struck me how closely the conversations reflected the dominant ideas and values at the forefront of transformational thinking about twenty first century libraries. There is much to be gained in engaging in conversations with our teaching colleagues to explore new models of collaboration and new ways that the library can support new and emerging teaching paradigms. There is a great deal we can learn from one another.
Conferences such as these often pose more questions than answers. Indeed Christian Long challenged delegates to embrace the notion that there are no clear answers and that all that we can really do is to foster a culture that encourages divergent thinking and an ability to test ideas in messier and messier ways.
Participation at Learning@School was also an invaluable opportunity to engage with our teaching colleagues on new ways of thinking about libraries and literacy. Five separate workshops and presentations were facilitated by National Library Services to Schools staff and there was a vibrant presence in the Exhibitors hall promoting EPIC, Any Questions and Curriculum Services.
It continues to be vitally important that librarians are visible and engaged in the wider education debates that are shaping our schools, that we articulate our visions and ideas, and that we seek to understand the key trends in education that are likely to impact on the work of New Zealand teachers and schools in 2012 and beyond.
by Lisa O
The Bi-annual conference of the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa was hosted at St. Cuthbert’s college in Auckland 17-20 July. Fiona Mackie and the rest of the organising committee did a spectacular job in organising the programme, the speakers and the Fabulous Keynote presenters. The venue and especially the marvellous library at St. Cuthbert’s were great too.
So it was a particular thrill to see them and to get to speak with them about our shared passion: school library excellence! It was great to meet so many school librarians from around New Zealand whose names I knew from the listserv and elsewhere but had never met in the “real world”, as well as colleagues from around NZ who I’ve known over the years in different places.
If I were to try to summarise the “buzz” I’d say:
School librarians in New Zealand are energised and excited by the opportunities they currently face and most agree with Joyce Valenza that: “this is the most exciting time ever to be a librarian”.
All are also keenly aware that it is a time for action and that we must all be working as “smart” as we can, focussing on the work that underpins educational and literacy achievement; that we need to plan our work, collect our evidence and advocate intelligently for our libraries.
There were four themes or strands for this conference: Practical ideas for school library staff; information and strategies to make life in the library easier and more effective; motivation and management; and innovation, futures, and advocacy.
There were many excellent workshops and choosing which to go to was sometimes difficult. There were workshops on:
Plenty of delegates were using Twitter throughout the conference to broadcast both the speakers sage words as well as the many links, sites, tools and apps. If you missed it simply search twitter for #slanza11. Post conference the conversation about school libraries in NZ is continuing with hashtag #slanza and also throught Miriam Tuohy's keepstream. If you haven’t already got one, now is a good time to get your twitter account so you can follow the great sharing and the super leads from lots of library luminaries.
One of the things I heard often throughout the conference from the keynotes, local speakers and in conversations around the place was about the need for all of us to show leadership – in our own schools, regionally and nationally. Each of us needs to ensure our libraries are contributing to our collective bottom line – supporting learning and literacy for students in New Zealand. We also need to show and tell what we are doing and how we are impacting on achievement.
A sub-theme or corollary to that sentiment was also echoing around the halls. If there are any people working in school libraries who are simply warming a seat; failing to have a positive impact on the students in their schools; not engaged with students and learning, then its time they moved on and handed the reins to others who are up for the challenge of being a Fabulous, effective agent for student learning and literacy.
There was a tremendous amount of excellent content and you can easily access it all as the presenters as always in the library community have published their presentations, lists of links. Judy and Joyce have shared and made accessible for others to use great volumes of useful tools.
Take a look, incorporate some new ideas, think in new ways. Support and lead your students in all their learning.
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