Surfacing

The last few weeks have been a wonderfully exhausting roller coaster ride since returning to work on July 27; we now are starting our third full week of the 2010-11 academic year with the students, and I am pretty sure this is the most intense start to the school year at The Unquiet Library as I’ve had several teachers interested in piloting wikis and blogs as tools for teaching and learning with our students; these grassroots collaborative efforts are the direct result of my work with Susan Lester and our Media 21 students in 2009-10. While I have anticipated some challenges for the upcoming year, I’ve returned with a sense of great expectations and optimism in spite of some unknowns and uncertainties.

As I recover from the physical and mental fatigue of teaching all seven periods with no break for the first six of the ten school days of this year (a happy dilemma), I’m hoping to articulate the observations, celebrations, worries, and hopes that have weighed on my mind for the last month.  Over the next week or so, I hope to compose some mini blog posts on the following topics:

  • How our principal, Dr. Bob Eddy, has stepped up to fill the void in Tammy’s absence (Tammy is our beloved clerk we lost to district wide budget cuts) as well as what Tammy is now doing in our learning community at Creekview
  • Celebrations
  • The ups and downs of introducing inquiry based learning and cloud computing tools for learning, aka “turbulence”
  • How do we deal with pushback from students who don’t want to be engaged or who are threatened by the disruption of their “sit and get” learning style that has worked for them in the past?
  • Student and faculty guest bloggers for The Unquiet Library blog and the importance of participation
  • Update on our eReader test/pilot program
  • Media 21:  The Next Generation
  • I want my research life:  fumbling my way to qualitative research/ethnography, also known as trying to do scholarly work without being formally attached to a graduate program or university faculty
  • Collaboration and crowdsourcing with peers near and far
  • The Balancing Act
  • Choosing the Tools for Teaching and Learning and Student Choice
  • Students as Leaders and Teachers
  • What Does It Mean to Be a Linchpin or Musings on School Librarianship
  • Sources of Insight

Stay tuned for the next week or two as I try to articulate some thoughtful and reflective comments on these topics/themes and more.

What issues are weighing heavily in your heart and mind on the eve of this school year?

9 comments

  1. Buffy reading this I am actually feeling a little better. I have been worried about some of the changes that are coming to our library media center this year. We also lost some of our colleagues to budget cuts; and I too struggle with students who aren’t engaged and staff members who think research is spelled G-O-O-G-L-E and/or view the library as a place that you come to get a book and that is it. I’ve made some connections to several teachers who want to collaborate and instead of focusing on what isn’t happening I’m going to work on what is going right and make it better and then slowly backtrack to areas that aren’t working. I’m realizing that I may not have the perfect scenario but what I have is good and there is plenty to spring from to get even better! The situation is not at all hopeless (although educational funding issues are always in the background)and that it is much better to take small steps that work towards improvement than to succumb to frustration.

    1. Debra:

      I love your outlook! You are so right–we have to focus on what we have and build it up from that!

      I will email you Monday to reschedule Skype time–I needed this weekend to get caught up on a ton of loose ends that needed tying up. Looking forward to brainstorming together!

      Buffy

  2. Glad the first few weeks have gone well. I feel the same way this year – so many things I want to do and so little time!

    I can’t wait to see your presentation at COMO (I am also presenting and just noticed you are a keynote speaker – YAY!!)

    1. Kathy:

      Thank you so much! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find a way to create more hours in the day?

      Thank you for the kind words re: COMO! What day/time are you presenting? I’d love to catch to your session!

      Buffy

  3. How do we deal with pushback from students who don’t want to be engaged or who are threatened by the disruption of their “sit and get” learning style that has worked for them in the past?

    I am really interested to see what you have to say on this, largely because I often was (am) one of those students. Not that I don’t (didn’t) want to be engaged in learning — I spent most of my junior high and high school career desperately craving it, and completely frustrated that it was so seldom on offer — but that I find attempts at engagement generally push me way out of my comfort zone temperamentally (and not in a useful way). I’m very much the kind of learner who wants to see examples and reflect from the sidelines before I get my hands dirty; I need to have some level of understanding before I’m comfortable doing anything else (and certainly as a high schooler I could be totally freakout uncomfortable if forced to participate before — in lieu of — having that baseline of understanding). And as an introvert, I find that “engagement”, in practice, often means “assuming everyone is an extrovert and learns by talking about things”, whereas (depending on what kind of people I have access to) I often learn more productively on my own (and in fact can’t learn while talking).

    (There’s a really, really good, internet classic, essay on the care and feeding of introverts at the Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/2696/)

    Anyway. I’m not saying you do any of this. But I am interested in seeing how student-engagement models deal with temperamental differences in, e.g., preference for think-then-act vs. act-then-think, or introversion vs. extroversion (or temperamental differences in general). A lot of my personal experience with that sort of pedagogy is that it implicitly assumes some sort of temperament I don’t have, and I’m interested in reflections on those ideas.

    1. Andromeda:

      As always, you have given me rich food for thought! I know I have a lot to think about and to learn re: that question I posted.

      The students with whom I initially saw some pushback were more resisting to a new way of learning because was in contrast to the way they had always learned, the game they had learned to play with spitting back answers and mastering objective tests. I actually saw this as early as 2002-2003 with a group of juniors I taught—most loved the participatory model of learning I used, but some outright said, “Why don’t you just tell us what you want us to know and give a test?”

      However, I am sure there are those who may feel ill at ease (or at least initially?) with a more engaged, student driven model of learning because of the factors you identified. We did have some students who were definitely a little more introverted or needed time to find their comfort zone, and I felt like we actually did a good job of supporting those students as they definitely blossomed and had space to grow in their own time/way.

      I truly appreciate your insight and perspective on these questions—there is so much we have to learn, and I am looking forward to exploring these questions with you and our PLN!

      Buffy :-)

  4. Oh, and I’m also totally interested in how you carve out a research life :). One of the things that drove me out of teaching was that there was such a research-practice disconnect and I didn’t see any way to bridge that in my own life, since anything like that would have to be ON TOP OF my already more-than-full-time job keeping up with the instructional demands. I imagine it helps that you seem to need about half the sleep that I do ;), but I am curious how you manage. (And curious how we can work toward a system that is more supportive of teachers doing that in the first place…)

    1. Andromeda

      I have done the research in the past while a classroom teacher and even as a librarian, but that was before 2006. During those times, I was doing it for graduate school, but somehow managed to successfully weave and marry together the two (research life and classroom life). I’m hoping to find that balance again—I think once I get my research questions more clearly defined along with my research framework, I will be good to go.

      I think I’ll be ready to talk more about these challenges after Labor Day—I need a little more time to get my ducks in a row!

      I love your question of how do we create a system that supports and encourages teachers doing this kind of work—I know there are pockets of those kinds of schools, but I don’t think they are commonplace. Excellent question for us to explore!

      Thank you for pushing my thinking, and I hope to expand some of these musings in some upcoming blog posts in the next few weeks!

      Buffy

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