Week 5, and Thing 6, which in reality is six weeks after I made a belated start on CPD23. I had started with the usual self-flagellation about how I was struggling to make time for this but having checked the dates, I feel quite reassured. I’m not too far behind.
It is hard to make the time for professional development but the real advantage of cpd23 is that I am finding the tools I am using are gradually helping me in my role and saving me time!
As you may have guessed, this is a frantic time at work. It is the end of term so loose ends are being tied and preparations being put into place for next year. I have just finished applying for threshold (results by the end of the week) and as you can see from the three examples given in the self-reflective post below, which was a time consuming exercise. In addition I have unofficially started my new role as co-head of prefects and we are putting together our first official event for teachers’ day. I have started a huge library project, adding genre stickers to all of our KS3 books, and all of this with a staff member down. Get well soon is all I can say!
With this happening, I did need to ask myself why should I network, do I really have the time?
I looked the first suggestion of LinkedIn. One of the first things which struck me was that this is similar to the e-portfolio which we are encouraging the students to use. As our school first started to promote e-portfolios for the students, they also encouraged staff to sign up, with the caveat that several of our new staff had been employed in part on their obvious IT skills, as they had applied using on-line portfolios and had been able to use these to demonstrate they were IT proficient, comfortable with developing technology and could also use videos and photographs to demonstrate their ability.
I was interested but the program my school was using was one I wasn’t comfortable with. It was clunky and I spent time working on several different versions, only to find I was unable to save them and the format was designed for students, not adults. LinkedIn is a much more user friendly version of this and while I am not looking for jobs, I am finding the ability to story my updated CV a useful tool. No I am not looking for work but I am looking for professional contacts who could help inspire me and encourage professional development. I am also pleased at the number of contacts I have with teaching staff I have worked with. They are not necessarily friends and it may not be appropriate to have them on my Facebook account but LinkedIn is a perfect halfway ground.
Followed by Facebook. Facebook is an online network which I use regularly. I live overseas and have used it casually, to keep in touch with friends and family or to share photographs etc. CPD23 has been an education in using it professionally. Working in a school I need to make sure I am keeping my public persona professional and CPD23, specifically the personal branding exercise has been a good reminder of this but it has also introduced me to organisations and institutions. Not only have I been able to “friend” these, receive updates and then use them to create lesson plans, or information updates, I have been able to utalise the ability to create ‘pages’, with multiple owner.
I asked my students make a page for their prefect role. I have used a “dummy” account for this which has my school e-mail and no other information. This has been discussed this with the students, with the explanation that I am sure they have no interest in seeing my dull holiday snaps. They have in return promised to make sure their profiles are secure as I really don’t want to see photographs of them out partying. They have created the page, made sure access is restricted to the 50 students and two staff members, then we have been able to share photographs of our camp trip, pass on information, set up events, send urgent requests for meetings etc. This page, in fact this network has been a great success. I can send a message first thing in the morning about an urgent meeting and with the childrens adaptability, ownership of smart phones and the good old-fashioned gossip grapevine; I can have 50 eager students waiting to meet me by break.
This has been successful enough for the MUN group in school to also set up a page.
Out of the other options, not all have been suitable, LISNPN is an online network for new professionals in the library and information sector. As I reflected whilst adding my LinkedIn profile, I have now been a School Librarian since 1998. That’s 14 years! By no stretch of the imagination could that be called new!
The Librarians as Teachers network is one I am going to be exploring far more thoroughly. I have added the Blog to my RSS feed (Google reader) but sadly have received no updates. At a first glance the forums look very supportive and with lots of useful tips. I have already shred the link with my local Librarian group and am looking forward to exploring in more depth.
CILIP communities is a group I am already familiar with. Although the focus is not on school libraries, it has been a useful tool in the past for a number of reasons, from job hunting to the Carnegie Shadowing scheme. I am looking forward to rediscovering it.
My students recently filled out a questionnaire which gave a broad overview of the time they were spending on social networking. The results of this questionnaire were raised during our recent INSET. It was useful to be able to highlight the number of advantages for students being familiar with this kind of online networking, specifically the points mentioned by CPD, being better known, in your fields of interest and expertise, being better connected, with people whom you might otherwise never actually get to meet and being better equipped, gaining knowledge and information from others.
In response to the question I asked myself, “why should I network, do I really have the time?” the answer would be a yes. Using these tools has allowed me to access and pass on information, without spending a day physically chasing around classrooms and in response to staff concern over whether students should network, do they really have the time” yes again. The sooner they are familiar with this way of working, the sooner they can use it to access the information they need.
Perhaps the students and I (with a little help from our online communities) can help persuade some of our more traditional staff that online networking is less about Keeping up with the Kardashians and more about engaging in conversations and sharing information and staying up to date with the trends and ideas in your subject areas!