Today marked the return of life with my Media 21 students as we began the next “unofficial” phase of our work together. I have created a new class Google Site for our spring project, and one of the first housekeeping tasks we needed to tackle this afternoon was adding the RSS for our class agenda to our iGoogle pages. I wanted to review with the students how to manually add a RSS feed to an iGoogle page, but when the students clicked on “add”, nearly every student was unable to get the “add” to actually work for unknown reasons. In my head, a few choice thoughts ran through my mind, but outwardly, I was very calm as I said, “Hang on for just about 90 seconds everyone while I add some code for an “add to Google” button.”
The students watched as I grabbed our Google Site class agenda RSS feed and created the “add to Google” button code for the agenda page and then embedded that code. We then used the button to add the feed to our iGoogle pages and moved on to building our new learning portfolio Google Sites for this semester. It was not until after class that Susan Lester, my co-teacher, came over and shared what one of the students said to her while I was adding the code on the fly. While I was hastily adding the code and semi-talking the kids through what I was doing, Brooke leaned over and said to Susan:
You know what I really like about Ms. Hamilton? She never lets anything stop her!
My initial reaction was laughter and the thought, “That is so cute!” Within just a few seconds, though, I was nearly moved to tears as the enormity of what this student had said sunk in. I realized how much of an impression my persistence and patience in using technology with the students had made on some of these young impressionable minds. More than ever, I feel a tremendous responsibility to model the very behaviors and attitudes I want to engender in our students.
Although we sometimes feel teens may not really be listening to what we say, they most definitely are paying attention to our actions and what we do. If my modeling of problem-solving skills and perseverance on a regular basis leaves any kind of lasting positive impression on the students with whom I work, then I feel I will have accomplished something meaningful.
I also wonder if there is a lesson to be learned for us as librarians in our efforts to stop the financial bleeding and decimation of our profession—will the decision makers and legislators be moved more by our words or by evidence of our actions? How can we better convey the “actions” of what we do short of having them come shadow us for a week or so?
More questions than answers exist right now, I think, about the challenges our profession faces, but these words from Brooke have strengthened my resolve to keep fighting for school libraries and highly qualified librarians for every school and every student. Her words have also reinforced my faith in the efforts I am making with my library program and the Media 21 project—the work we do in our libraries and with our students is ultimately the front line of what we are fighting to Our students are looking to us and counting on our leadership in our schools. Although our fates may be hanging in the balance, let us model tenacity, fearlessness, and a bold risk-taking for our students so that they may come to see learning is ultimately a process and not just an outcome.