The Sting of Rejection

I’ve been struggling with the idea of writing this post. I don’t want to come across as a complainer…I am incredibly blessed to have a career I love, and I feel that my hard work and commitment to my profession has paid off tremendously in the past few years. We all go through slumps at some point, and I feel like I’ve been having one these past few months. As I reflect on what it feels like to not have the success that I’m always striving for, I think about what it feels like for our students. When you try so hard, give something everything you’ve got, and then come up short, it’s hard to stay positive.

Often as educators, we don’t put ourselves out there and apply for grants/awards/etc. because we might not get it. And when you don’t, it stinks! It hurts! It’s upsetting!

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This year, we submitted our entry for the Follett Challenge and worked our tails off to promote our entry. We were so close! If we had been just a few spots higher in the voting, we would have won something. But we didn’t. I gave it my all, but that wasn’t enough in this case. We put together a great video and it was great publicity for our library program, but that doesn’t help with the sting of not winning. This was our second time entering the Follett Challenge.

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My best friend (who is also an ELA teacher at my school) and I wrote a Fund for Teachers grant this year. For almost two months, we stayed after school for 30-60 minutes most days of the week to research and write our grant. We put so much time, effort, and energy into writing this and were so pleased with what we submitted. We wrote this grant because we got an email about the seven submissions that were funded from our state the previous year, and they were seeking more entries from our area. We were very hopeful and anxiously awaited the email that would let us know if we were funded. Alaina and I travel together every summer and were excited about the opportunity to travel and put together an awesome cross-curricular unit with the help of this grant. We didn’t make other travel plans for this summer, because we knew if we got the grant we wouldn’t be taking another trip. When we got this rejection letter and found out that only two projects were funded from our state, we were heartbroken.

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Last year, I was selected as one of ISTE’s 2014 Emerging Leaders…an incredible honor. I thought I would apply one last time (this was my third year applying) for the Outstanding Young Educator award. I’ve been very involved with the Librarians Network with ISTE for years. Our group is large and very active, so I really wanted to see a librarian recognized for one of ISTE’s big awards. Even when you aren’t surprised or devastated by a rejection, it still doesn’t feel great.

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This one stings the most! Two years ago in Hartford at AASL, was part of four awesome, packed out presentations. It was overwhelming to do so many presentations at a big conference, so I only submitted one proposal for AASL in Columbus. I thought it was a great session proposal and it included some of my library friends that I love and respect the most in our TL community. I’m so disappointed that I won’t be presenting in Columbus this fall. AASL is my absolute favorite conference and speaking is one of my favorite things to do (especially with a group of other awesome library leaders), and I’m beyond bummed that it won’t be happening this year.

I think it’s important to be thoughtful and reflective at a time when pushing on and dusting yourself off just doesn’t feel so easy. At times like this, do I feel like I want to back off a bit and quit trying so hard? You bet I do. But what kind of example does that set for my students? How many of them feel like this all the time? They try so hard, put in their best effort, but they still fall short. How can we encourage those students to keep trying? So while I’ve experienced this feeling of not quite making it several times in the past few months, I’m trying to use it to gain some perspective. Relate this experience to my students so I can better connect with and encourage them. And most importantly…I’m going to keep trying and putting myself out there because that’s what I want them to do.

 

Think before you post!

Last week in the library, we did an activity that fostered a lot of great discussion and serious thoughts about posting on social media. Students honestly don’t put much thought into the things they post — and it’s scary how quick and easy it is to post something, and how difficult it is to recover from something harmful to your reputation and online presence. I work very hard to serve as a positive digital role model for my students (and coworkers, for that matter). I’m very transparent with everyone about how active I am online through social media and this blog. Sharing about the positives that come from my professional online presence and how it impacts my life is a big part of who I am and what I do. For most of my students, I may be the first POSITIVE digital role model that they have…because I see some of the things their parents are posting online on toxic Facebook groups within our community.

Some of the ideas for this activity came from the Common Sense Media lesson called Private Today, Public Tomorrow. We started with some discussion on what happens when we post things online. I used these slides to guide the activity:

Students were broken into groups and each group was given an article about the consequences of using social media in a harmful way. You could either have students access these articles online or print them. I decided to print copies, and I formatted them so they wouldn’t look wonky. Here’s the PDF:

Here are links to the articles:

Pittsburg High School students suspended for inappropriate comments on Instagram

Recruit Yuri Wright expelled for Tweets

Students arrested, expelled for making violent Twitter threats

They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets

Social Media Shocker: Twitter and Facebook Can Cost You a Scholarship or Admissions Offer

Texas teen tweets herself out of pizzeria job

High School Coaches Back UGA’s Social Media Scrutiny

Concord coach invites Twitter to ‘burn down’ RFRA-supporting pizzeria

Students read these articles, discussed them, then came up with questions that people should ask themselves before posting on social media. Depending on the amount of time I had with the class, they might make decision trees or a list of questions. Here are some of their products:

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We ended with a whole class discussion. It was really interesting to see where the discussion went with each of the different classes. We talked about what they read in the articles (some were shocked that these were TRUE stories) and they shared their group’s questions (or decision tree). Lots of discussion was had about how “appropriate” is a subjective word. This is one of those lessons that will be referenced regularly, especially since a number of administrators popped in during these discussions.

I did this activity with all of my 7th and 8th grade students — 24 times total in four days! I plan to do it earlier in the year next year with the incoming 7th grade students. This activity would be very relevant to high school students, as well!

Battle of the Books

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Today we hosted the first Battle of the Books at CMS! I’m beyond pleased with the way the event turned out and know this is going to become a favorite tradition at our school. I have to give a HUGE shout out to Sherry Gick who has been talking about her Battle of the Books for years, which inspired me to bring this awesome idea to CMS. Sherry and Megan Scott gave an ISTE Librarians Network Webinar on the Battle of the Books, which I recommend watching if you’re considering hosting this at your school.

I started advertising for this event back in November. Students could get together teams of up to 10 students for the competition, then find a teacher to serve as their sponsor. I used funds from our book fair to purchase sets of the 10 titles for each team. A total of 13 teams signed up for the competition and they received their books in early December. Many of our team sponsors set up Schoology groups for their team members to discuss the books on the list. Students traded the books with team members to read. Some teams were very ambitious and tried to get as many students on their team to read as many books as possible — there were a number of students who read all 10 titles! Other teams assigned team members to be an expert on two or three titles. The winning team actually met after school several times to discuss the books and come up with their strategy…and clearly it paid off!

Teams received this list with information and guidelines about a month before the competition:

Each team was allowed one computer for responding to the Kahoot and Socrative questions. I told them up front that if any monitoring teachers saw them with other windows/tabs open OR they had any of the books in sight, they would be disqualified from that round. We didn’t have any problems.

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Rounds 1 and 4 were Kahoot rounds — 20 multiple choice questions where speed and accuracy helped them earn points. Points were awarded based on final ranking after the round. The team in first place got 10 points, all the way on down to just one point. You can check out the Round 1 Kahoot here. The Kahoot rounds were so much fun and brought a lot of energy to the competition.

Rounds 2 and 5 were Socrative rounds — short answer questions with a 90 second time limit to answer. I had this set up with 20 questions for each round. After round two took FOREVER and the students got a little restless, I cut down the questions for round five to just 10 questions. We had some issues with groups getting kicked out of the Socrative room, so I’m not sure that this is what we would use next time. However, it was nice to be able to check the short answer questions after they were populated in the spreadsheet, so there was some benefit to using Socrative. These were my questions for Round 2:

Round 3 was a puzzle. Teams had to match the title, author, and main character(s) from each of the 10 books in 5 minutes. We cut out each piece individually and put them in an envelope. Each team received an envelope, paper grid, and glue stick. Teams earned a point for every title/author/main character that was matched correctly.

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I can’t express my excitement enough over the success of our Battle of the Books! With the help of my awesome administration and super supportive coworkers, things went even better than I hoped. Next year, I plan to move this event to the fall semester and maybe host the battle after school. I’ve already heard talk of recruiting and strategizing for next year’s teams. In the words of a student who sent me a message on Schoology after the battle…It was EPIC!

Librarians as PD Leaders

As librarians, I believe it is essential that we view ourselves as leaders in our schools. We all know the best leaders lead by example (not with a do as I say, not as I do attitude). Not only must we be digital role models for our students, showing them what strong digital footprints and a positive online presence looks like, but we must also do the same for our fellow teachers as well. One of my favorite things to do in the library is to promote technology through professional development for my teachers. This isn’t necessarily a role that was expected of me as the librarian, but it is one that I’ve created and developed for myself because I felt it was so important.

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When I took my current position as middle school librarian, one of my first PD offerings was a Library Tech Petting Zoo. I share this PD idea often, because for me it really helped to set the tone for myself as a leader and collaborator in my school. Numerous collaborative technology projects were born from this fun and informal professional development, and it helped me to lay the ground work for some great relationships with my new coworkers.

I’m also a strong believer in embedded professional development. Library visits are a great time to introduce teachers to new tech tools and ideas, because they get to see them in action as I facilitate students in using those tools to enhance their learning. I like to think of this as scaffolding for teachers — they may not feel brave enough to try something new on their own, but with the support of the librarian they are often willing to try a new tool or idea that they’ll later use with students in their classroom. I’ve done this with numerous tools, such as KidBlog, Google Forms, PicMonkey, and Kahoot (which has been a big hit this year!). Using video to create tutorials for teachers and students is another great way to encourage the use of new web tools and resources. I love using the Flipped Classroom model with students and teachers for PD. Creating video tutorials, such as this one about PicMonkey, is an easy way to demonstrate new tools:

TwitterBootCamp

The 2014-2015 school year has been a great one for PD at CMS. This fall, I offered several sessions of a Twitter Boot Camp for my teachers. I did short, 30-minute sessions that gave teachers time to get their feet wet with Twitter. We talked about the basics — hashtags, general Tweets vs. Tweeting to specific people, following people to build a PLN, and Twitter chats. My goal was to introduce teachers to the wealth of information that’s constantly being shared by educators on Twitter without completely overwhelming them. Even though it’s been several months since these Boot Camp sessions, I had a teacher come into the library just this week to thank me and tell me that she’s been getting some great resources and making connections on Twitter. As the only Spanish teacher in the building, the idea of creating her own Professional Learning Community online really resonated with her. #WINNING!

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Another huge PD win this year at CMS has been EdCamp. Back in 2011, I worked with some awesome New Orleans educators to help host the first EdCamp in Louisiana. One of my goals for 2014 was to host an EdCamp in Baton Rouge. With the help of my principal and some great CMS teachers, we hosted EdCamp Baton Rouge at the end of September. This was the first EdCamp for all of my CMS folks, including my administrators, so they were unsure of what to expect. Thankfully, some of my NOLA friends came up Baton Rouge to support us and our event. It was a great day of learning; many of my coworkers said it was the best professional development they’d ever experienced.

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My principal liked the EdCamp model so much that we recently used it to host a mini-EdCamp on our February teacher-only PD day. Our teachers loved the opportunity to take ownership of their learning and participate in facilitated discussions on topics that were relevant and timely for them. After the rave reviews of this PD model, I know that we will host more of these events on school and district PD days. I’m also looking forward to an even bigger turn out for our 2015 EdCamp Baton Rouge that we will host again in the fall.

In the last several years, I’ve taken my love for PD and sharing beyond the walls of my school. I love to learn and share with other educators, evangelizing about the use of technology in education and the constantly evolving roles of libraries. I’ve been honored to speak at a number of state library and technology conferences, sharing the importance of librarians being technology leaders and role models in their schools.

One presentation that I think is worth revisiting that’s relevant to this topic is the TL Virtual Cafe webinar that the fabulous Tamara Cox and I presented on PD with a Twist. I’ve also presented on this topic several times at conferences, because I think it’s so important for librarians to be professional development leaders in their schools.

Another presentation that I’ve done several times and plan to share with my teachers this spring is on Tech Tools:

An important part of my job is to stay on top of current tools and resources available to teachers and share those resources with the teachers who need them. With the stresses that my teachers are facing with curriculum changes and new assessments, I feel like making their life a little easier by sifting through tech resources and sharing just the best tools with them is so important.

(All of my past presentations, links, and resources can be found on my presentation wiki.)

Is the position of school librarian viewed as a leadership role in your school? What are some creative ways that you’re stepping up your game as a leader and offering great PD and resources to your teachers?

Follett Challenge 2015

Okay dear readers, I need your help and support! The Central Middle School library has once again entered the Follett Challenge, and we need you to VOTE! Please follow this link to view our video entry and cast a vote for our submission.

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As I know is true with all of the 114 entries into this year’s Follett Challenge, we put a lot of work into this entry and really want to see it win! This was an especially reflective process for me, because we entered the Follett Challenge in 2011. Thinking back to that entry 4 years ago and comparing it to this year’s entry, I realize how much our library program has grown! Our reading promotion, genrefication, self check-out, and makerspace have really transformed our library, and I’m so proud of how far we’ve come. So help us celebrate our progress by voting for our entry in the Follett Challenge!

Bookmark Design Contest

Last year, I designed bookmarks for my students at the beginning of the year. This year, I wanted to give my students the chance to design our bookmarks. A bookmark design contest was a great way to get students involved at the start of the school year!

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I invited students to submit their digital images or drawings for the contest. It was so exciting to have over 40 submissions for the contest, and even more exciting to see the awesome talent at our school on display!

You can check out the submissions on our CMS Flickr page here. I’m so proud of all of the submissions and the hard work that went into creating them!

I had our administrators pick the top 15. Those were posted on Schoology, our school’s LMS, and students were able to vote for their favorite. The three bookmarks that received the most votes were the ones I had printed!

The students have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new bookmarks, and they arrived this afternoon!! I’m so excited to put them out tomorrow, and especially excited to call in the winners and present them with a stack of their very own bookmarks in print!

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Back to School…I’m HAPPY!

It’s that time…school supplies are everywhere, parents are dancing, teachers are getting anxious because it’s time for Back to School!

Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier to go back to school. I just have a really good feeling about this year! Don’t get me wrong, last year was GREAT! Probably the greatest of my career so far. But there are some very exciting things on the horizon for this year. Some things that I’ve been trying to set into motion for YEARS are finally becoming reality. And I am beyond blessed to be at an absolutely amazing school with incredible teachers, students, and top notch administration.

Check out our CMS “Happy” video from the end of last school year. When you have such great coworkers, how could you not be excited to go back to school?!

What are some of the things happening this year that I’m so happy about? Number one on my list…social media! I have been a social media and PLN evangelist for years now, and I’m very excited to announce that this year our school is taking the plunge into social media! My school is finally developing the presence I’ve been dreaming about! Parents, community members, and other educators will be able to find us this year on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube! I’m very excited that we are taking advantage of social media to share, promote, and publicize the amazing things that are happening at CMS!

I’m also planning to do a year long Twitter PD course for our teachers. Once a month, after school in a 30 minute mini-session, we are going to meet together and I am going to help my teachers learn how educators can use Twitter to build their PLN! Hopefully by having short sessions on a regular basis, I’ll be able to help them “get” Twitter and learn to use it to really enrich and expand their professional learning. My teachers know that I am such a Twitter advocate that many of them are curious as to what it’s all about and how it can help them, so I am very hopeful that this is going to be a great PD experience for all of us! I will definitely be posting more about this as we get started!

And there’s still more to be happy about, folks! CMS will be hosting the first EdCamp Baton Rouge on September 27th!

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We are reaching out to all educators in the Baton Rouge area (and beyond!) to attend this event. I am excited for this opportunity for our teachers to really shine as leaders…and we get to show off our beautiful new school, as well! More information is available on our #EdCampBR website, Facebook page, and our Eventbrite registration! And if you’ve never attended an EdCamp, you should look for one in your area!

Every year, I try to pick a major focus for myself/the library throughout the year. This year, my major goal is to do more to support and collaborate with my teachers. I especially want to reach out to my non-ELA teachers, get their classes in the library, and get library resources in their classrooms more. Also, the Twitter PD and EdCamp are going to work really well for this goal.

What’s your goal for this year? What are you looking forward to the most?

ISTE, Road Trip, & PLN Love

This has been quite a summer, full of fun, travel, and friends. As I reflect on the past two months, I realize how blessed I am to have made so many wonderful memories during the summer of 2014!

This is the third year that my BFF Alaina and I have attended ISTE together, then taken a trip after the conference. This year’s adventure was a three week road trip that took us 4200 miles!

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We started in Atlanta for #ISTE2014. This was my 5th ISTE conference, and it didn’t disappoint. The annual conference is a chance for me to reconnect and spend quality time with my PLN, which I NEED in order to get myself ready for a new school year. This year’s conference was extra special — this was my year that I’ve served as President of ISTE’s Librarians Network and I was recognized as one of ISTE’s Emerging Leaders.

All of our Librarians Network (formerly SIGLIB; even more formerly SIGMS) events were absolutely AMAZING! I was so stoked to finally meet the FABULOUS Jennifer LaGarde face to face at our Networking Fair. Jennifer also gave one of the BEST keynotes I’ve ever witnessed at our Librarians Network Breakfast. Seriously — Jennifer never ceases to blow my mind, and I am honored to call her a friend!

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The Digital Age Library Playground has been one of my favorite events since my very first ISTE. It’s actually how I first got involved with the awesome librarians group at ISTE many years ago, so it holds a special place in my heart. This year’s event was no exception — so much great sharing and networking went on at the playground. I shared PicMonkey, which I use obsessively for photo editing and graphic design. (I’m so glad my awesome friend Nikki Robertson snapped and posted this picture of me at the playground! Thanks Nikki!!)

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Later that day, I was recognized at the ISTE Awards Luncheon as one of the ISTE members under the age of 35 to be recognized as an Emerging Leader. I’m so incredibly honored to now be part of this elite group of ISTE Emerging Leaders!

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They also recognized the award winners at the middle keynote, so I was very excited to see myself on the HUGE screen!

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I had a blast moderating our Librarians Network Forum: Marketing Your Library, which featured Michelle Cooper, Elissa Malespina, and Nikki D. Robertson. We had a packed house, and these ladies shared the amazing things they’ve done in their libraries.

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Our final network event of the conference was the Librarians Network Annual Breakfast and Keynote. Before Jennifer’s awesome Zombie Librarian Keynote, we took some time to recognize the accomplishments of our network and the great leadership team that I have had the privilege of working with for the past few years. I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to lead and work with such amazing librarians from all around the world…it’s definitely been one of those “get back more than you give” situations for me, and I look forward to staying involved and plugged in with this awesome group! Shout-outs to Donna Macdonald (new President!), Sherry Gick (new President Elect!), Jenn Hanson (Communications Chair extraordinaire!), and Elissa Malespina (Professional Development Chair!) — such a great team!

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After the breakfast, Alaina and I jumped in the car and hit the road…and the whirlwind began! We visited my family in North Carolina en route to Washington DC. We also made a pit stop at the Poe Museum in Richmond, VA.

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We hit the ground running when we got to DC, seeing and doing as much as humanly possible in the two days we spent there!

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We were lucky enough to spend the morning of July 4th in DC, witnessing the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the National Archives. So of course we dressed up!

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We spent the rest of the 4th with our awesome friends Matthew & Aimee Winner (and their precious son Jonah, too!). I love that so many educators who started as strangers, then became members of my PLN, and I now consider them to be dear friends! This trip was full of visits with library and teacher friends, which made it super special.

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From Baltimore, we headed to New York to pick up my mom for a few fun days in the city. We saw the sights (including a Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour), saw some shows (Les Miserables and Bullets Over Broadway), and saw some friends!

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Our friends Rose Luna and Margaux DelGuidice took us for a wonderful stroll along The High Line.

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Also while in NYC, we met up with Elissa Malespina and her family for a yummy dinner at Trattoria Tercolori.

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From NYC, we headed to our second presidential library stop in Hyde Park, NY to the FDR Presidential Library & Museum. (We also visited the Carter Library in Atlanta, which is my least favorite of the eight we’ve visited so far.) I definitely recommend visiting the home and museum in Hyde Park, it was a great stop! One of my favorite features was the little rooms set up where you could listen to fireside chats.

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From Hyde Park, we headed to Newport, RI. This was probably my favorite stop of the trip! I am ready to start planning a trip back to New England, and spending several days in Newport, for sure. We visited The Breakers, one of the Newport Mansions.

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Our next stop after Newport was Boston! At this point, we were in untraveled territory for me…and I do love a city! One of the highlights of this trip was visiting with Jenn Hanson and watching a Red Socks game from Bleacher Bar…what a cool experience!

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And of course we visited the JFK Presidential Library & Museum, too. From Boston, we took the beautiful scenic drive down Highway 1 to Portland. This was EXCELLENT road trip driving, folks!

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We arrived in Portland in time for another one of the highlights of our trip…a lobstering excursion! Our cruise with Lucky Catch was so much fun. Not only did we get to see the beautiful coast from the water, but we got to participate in the whole lobstering experience!

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From Portland, we headed up to Canada! We visited Montreal, which was very…French!

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We also spent a night in Toronto, then we visited Niagara Falls! WOW!

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In order to find our way home, we had to start covering some serious ground, with a few fun stops along the way. Of course we visited the Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids (and another Oval Office replica photo, because we must)!

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We drove through Indiana and made our way to Kentucky…of course we stopped at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

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And our final stop was to visit the recently relocated CMS teacher Alex Young at her new home in Nashville! Of course we had to see the Country Music Hall of Fame (and Flat Fountain was happy to be there as well, of course).

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And there you have it! 21 days on the road, 4200 miles (EXACTLY!), and countless memories. What stands out to me the most about this trip is the number of educator friends that we met up with and stayed with…so much PLN love!

Now it’s time to get in gear for the new school year. So much to do in so little time…but it was worth being on the road and living the summer life!

#ISTE2014

In just one month, educators from all over the world will flock to Atlanta for this year’s International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference!

This year will mark my fifth consecutive ISTE conference. My first ISTE conference was 2010 in Denver, and it was a life-changing moments for me. It was my first big conference, and it was there that I really came to understand the power of having a PLN and making face-to-face connections with people that inspire me all year long.

Now, ISTE is the conference that I look forward to the most each year. It’s not only a chance to make new connections and learn new things, but also to reconnect with the people who I now consider to be dear friends in addition to the professional inspiration they constantly provide.

This year’s conference will be extra special for a few reasons. This conference will mark the end of my year as SIGMS/SIGLIB/ISTE Librarians Network President. Our group has gone through some crazy rebranding/name changing with ISTE this past year, but we’re still the same awesome group of library leaders that are pushing to see technology used in engaging and innovative ways in our schools. After getting so much from the organization (and the Librarians Network in particular), I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to give back by serving in a leadership role. It’s been an amazing experience to work with an awesome leadership team (THANKS Maureen, Jenn, Donna, and Elissa — you are all so great)! This year’s conference will also be extra special because I’ll be recognized as one of ISTE’s 2014 Class of Emerging Leaders. It’s such an honor to be selected along with the others in this amazing group of young educators who are working hard to make a difference in their communities.

There are tons of great posts full of conference travel tips (one of my favorites is this one from my amazing mentor Gwyneth Jones and another great friend, Nicholas Provenzano, just shared his list here). Here are my tips for a great ISTE conference:

  1. Hang out and make connections. This is what the conference is all about, for me! Sure, there’s lots of great information in the MANY sessions that take place during the conference, but I think the most valuable connections and learning take place through conversations and meeting new people. Great ways to do this include volunteering (even if it’s your first conference, get involved and VOLUNTEER!), visiting the lounges, and attending events/parties. And make sure you have some business cards handy for when you meet new folks!
  2. Use the #ISTE2014 hashtag. Apparently the official hashtag is #ISTE2014 and not #ISTE14 this year. If you are attending the conference, you MUST take advantage of the power of Twitter before, during, and after the conference. And if you’re not able to attend the conference this year, following the hashtag will give you a wealth of resources so you can still learn from afar!
  3. Take in the city. I always make a point to do some fun sight seeing when attending a conference. There will come a point where your brain is completely overloaded, so plan something fun that will help you recharge your battery! This year in Atlanta, I’m super excited to visit the World of Coca-Cola and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum (I absolutely LOVE a presidential library!).
  4. Don’t forget to eat. I always thought this was dumb when I saw it on conference planning lists…but then I realized that I never make time to eat at conferences because I just get so BUSY! Plan some lunch and dinner dates with friends at the conference. Grab something to eat and drink anytime you have the opportunity. Bring snacks. And water. This is just as important as wearing comfortable shoes and not forgetting your extra battery charger!
  5. Check out all of our awesome events with the ISTE Librarians Network! See and save the graphic below so you won’t miss any of these great chances to connect with awesome librarians and build your PLN!

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And don’t forget…there’s still time to volunteer for the Digital Age Library Playground…sign up for a spot here!

The Incredible 2013-2014 Year!

***Disclaimer: I feel kind of uncomfortable writing this post. It feels a bit braggey to write about all of the great things that happened this year. I’m having a bit of trouble processing the fact that all of these things actually did happen this year. I have so much to be thankful for!!!

This year, I’ve had to pinch myself so many times to make sure the things that were happening were actually real! It’s been such a significant year for me professionally, full of so many AMAZING experiences that I will never forget! All of these crazy, incredible things happened during the 2013-2014 school year:

I gave my first keynote at ISLMA! I was a bundle of nerves and excitement leading up to giving my first ever keynote presentation back in November, but once it was go time, I had so much fun! Since I gave my very first presentation at LACUE in 2010, I knew that presenting was something I loved and wanted to pursue. The fact that I had the opportunity to keynote at a state school library conference just a few years later was humbling (and a little scary!), but AMAZING! I had an absolute blast sharing with and learning from the amazing school librarians in Illinois, and they will always hold a special place in my heart for giving me such an incredible opportunity!

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And that was just the start of November. I also got to attend and present a number of sessions at AASL in Hartford with some of the school librarians I admire and respect the most! Just a few days after that, I received the news that I had been anxiously awaiting for months…I became a National Board Certified Teacher! YAY for November 2013!

I was lucky enough to spend my 29th birthday with some absolutely amazing educators in Missouri as a featured speaker at the METC conference. If you’re interested in seeing the video of my Power Up Your PLN presentation from METC, you can check it out here (although I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it…weird!). I had so much fun sharing and learning with the awesome educators at this FABULOUS conference!

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In March, I was announced as one of Library Journal’s 2014 Movers & Shakers. Seriously, that happened to ME!!! I knew about it several months in advance (keeping that secret was hard!), and even attended ALA Midwinter for the Movers & Shakers photo shoot (shout out to Michael Pilla who took some great photos of us!). The fact that Joyce Valenza (my ultimate school librarian hero and role model) nominated me for this makes it even more unreal! This is so special to me, and something that I will always treasure.

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I’ve always been proud of the fact that I’m an ISTE girl. When the decision comes to go ISTE or ALA (and that happens every year because those two conferences are always at the same time), I always opt for ISTE. I see myself as an educator first and a librarian second, so I’m always going to take advantage of the chance to connect and network with other tech savvy educators. I’ve also been serving on the leadership team for ISTE’s SIGMS/SIGLIB/Librarians Network (I’m not even going to get into the name changing right now…) for several years now, and I’m currently finishing up my year as President of our group. This is why it’s such an amazing honor to be selected as one of ISTE’s 2014 Emerging Leaders! And just when I didn’t think I could get any more excited about attending the ISTE conference in Atlanta this summer! Here’s the video that was part of my application for this award:

And finally, in local news…I was featured on the news last night! Because just one more surreal experience is what I needed to finish off this school year 🙂

One of our local stations, WBRZ, does a segment called “2 Make a Difference” where anchor Sylvia Weatherspoon shares stories of people who are making a difference in our community. I’m so honored to have been selected to be featured on this great segment! This piece really makes me realize how lucky I am to work in such a great school, where I am supported and respected, with INCREDIBLE students who inspire me every day! And I would absolutely not be where I am today without the constant support, encouragement, and inspiration from my PLN. An extra special THANK YOU to my awesome friend and mentor Gwyneth Jones, for getting together an awesome group of students to Hangout with my kiddos during the recording of this segment!

I know if I went back and counted the adjectives and exclamation marks in this post, it would be excessive…but I can’t think of any other way to describe all of these crazy, humbling, exciting honors that I have experienced this year. Thank you to all of my family, friends, coworkers, members of my PLN, and readers who have supported me in this career that I love so much…I would not be experiencing this success without you!