Thing 8: Google Calendar

Once again, it is CPD23 to the rescue.

I work in a lrge and busy organisation. I am a subject specialist, so when timtables are being produced, I am incorportated into another department. Their individual timetables are developend and mine is fitted around these.

I work with 27 different classes and 12 different staff members. I see each Keystage 3 class, once every 4 weeks, for a lesson which is approximately 70 minutes long. Trying to share the information on which class I was planning on seeing and when was proving rather difficult . . . .when CPD23 suggested Google calendar.

I have been able to add P1&2 every Monday and then simply change the class every 4 weeks. I have been able to share this will all 12 teachers so they can see when I am seeing their students. I have been able to view the school holidays. It’s been really useful! Thanks CPD23.

Thing 7 – Professional organisations and real-life networks

Talking about On-line networks can seem theoretical. It’s sharing and disseminating information, without necessarily using the organisational skills of turning up, in the right time zone, at the correct place at the right time. Real-life networks are on-line networks with an added dimension.

I am lucky to have the option of a variety of different networks to join, librarians have always seemed proactive when it comes to recognising a potential need and setting in place measures to meet that need but my real-life, my professional networks are not simply used for more than a common profession, more a shared goal. In my case, education.

As CPD explained, real-life networks are a great way to meet new people and make friends! Working internationally means a new start every few years, in a new country. It can be a rather overwhelming experience. It has been hugely helpful for me to find networks (both online and  real-life) which cover my profession or a personal interest for example the KL Librarians Network. I find it a struggle to approach people face to face. Having a shared goal immediately gives me a conversational starter and I have benefited hugely from the experience of the people in my networks, both professionally and personally as I have been able to find out the best place to buy groceries!

Another benefit of Real life organisations is the opportunity for training and development. From volunteering for a position with the School Libraries Group committee, London and South East branch, I developed and improved my skills assisting with the sourcing of courses tailored to meet the needs our members, along with promoting, organising and running various courses but as a committee member  I also benefited from the specific skills each course delivered.

In another example I have also actively participated in Carnegie Medal Scheme for the past eight years; this is a prestigious award for children’s fiction. It is most run with your students on a face to face basis but there is interaction with other schools via an on-line network. An event I had organized in school and had invited other schools to from my real life school libraries, was reported in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) and as a result, I was invited to speak in February 2005 at a School Libraries Group event  along with Julia Eccleshare – the children’s editor of The Guardian Review and the co-editor of the Rough Guide to Teenage Literature. This introduced me to a variety of other school librarians. I benefited by learning from their experiences and their queries, questions and insights gave me food for thought when it came to running similar events.

The most prestigious project I have participated in, in terms of education, was the government initiative, introduced in London in 2005. Every secondary school in London was grouped into one of 27 ‘families’, to identify others with intakes that have similar characteristics and to investigate areas where they could usefully share practice with one another. I was named as the school link in recognition of the work I had done enabling children to learn to learn and for the reading initiatives I had introduced for KS3.   ) Through this I was invited in June of 2005 to speak to head teachers and deputy heads of the schools in the same family, to explain how they could support their staff in creating and maintaining promotional schemes of their own. As an educational seminar, I met mostly teaching staff, deputy and head teachers and I am proud that my real-life networking was flying the flag for librarian and for what is possible for the students when we are given the time and resources we need.

Obviously, moving abroad meant my real-life networking was rather more limited although I have been lucky to be offered opportunities and despite my dislike of public speaking, they have helped me develop confidence and meet others in similar situations.  The Minister of Education for Brunei, Pehin Rahman was invited to reopen my previous library ay Jerudong International School after a complete remodeling. Following this, he invited me to make a presentation to all of Brunei’s primary and secondary librarians to talk about sharing ideas and information to both promote their libraries and raise money for stock. This then introduced me to librarians in the local schools, who knew where to find stock.

In my previous school, I was involved with promoting a school–wide information literacy scheme of work across all year levels and areas of the curriculum. I designed and refined a scheme of work for FS2 up to Year six, which aimed  to encourage students to become independent learners who exercise social responsibility in their handling of information. This scheme of work has proven highly successful and in recognition of this, I was invited as a speaker at the recent “Information Literacy Training for Trainers” conference at the Johannes Oentoro Library, Universitas Pelita Harapan and more recently I have been asked to run something similar at the Librarians’ CPD event being held at The Alice Smith School Secondary Campus, 3 Jalan Equine, Taman Equine, 43300 Sri Kembangan, Selangor, Malaysia on 5-6th October 2012.

This has been organised by Robert George rgeorge.ep@alice-smith.edu.my and  bried.jb@alice-smith.edu.my Perhaps this can be your first real-life network? I’ll look forward to seeing you there . . . .

Thing 6 – Online networks

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!

Self-Reflection.

Time is flying, school is almost at breaking up (breaking?) point and CPD is at Thing 9 – despite my pause on item 5 “Self refelction” so this seems like an ideal time to look back and reflect on what I have learnt.
Reflective practice plays a vital role in education. As Einstein said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So reflection is a time to make sure we are not repeating our failures, while accepting and congratulating ourselves on our successes.

I have recently gone through Threshold for the first time, which is an exercise (and a half) in self-reflection. For those not working in schools threshold is a benchmark you can apply to be assessed against, once you have hit the top of your pay scale, in order to justify a pay increase.

The first thing I have discovered during my time of reflections is that I need guidance when I am trying to submit an important document for the first time. I have struggled with the schools paperwork and have been concerned that I am doing too little, too much and not enough of the right things. Being a librarian rather than a teacher means my role has been shoe horned into documentation which doesn’t really fit. I have tried treating it in the same way I would a pair of ill-fitting shoes, which is along the lines of squeezing, stretching and working slowly, until it is a good fit.

The second thing which was glaringly obvious is that having started  a new job in August, I have been so busy with day to day activities and organizing stand-alone events, that I don’t get much time for self-refelection. Being aware of this, means next year, I will list and evaluate the events which I run at the time, even if it means the number of events I can plan and carry out is reduced, rather than spending several weekends and a number of late nights at school a month before threshold is due in!

The criteria I needed to fit, is below

STANDARD ONE:PROVIDING HIGH QUALITY LEARNING AND TEACHING
E1a Have an extensive knowledge and understanding of how to use and adapt a range of teaching and learning strategies.
E1b Have a knowledge and understanding of their subject/curriculum area and related pedagogy ensuring that subject and skills based learning progresses within them.
E1c Design learning sequences that effectively and consistently meet the needs of all learners
E1d Have an extensive knowledge of and well-informed understanding of the assessment requirements for the subjects/curriculum areas
E1e Use assessment effectively to monitor and evaluate students’ progress
E1f Demonstrate evidence of work towards and the impact of school wide initiative

STANDARD TWO: DEMONSTRATING YOUR COMMITMENT TO THE PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITY
ALL
E2a Take responsibility for your own professional development;
E2b Contribute to the professional development of colleagues through coaching and mentoring, demonstrating effective practice and providing advice and feedback.
E2c Make an active contribution to the policies and priorities of the school and promote collective responsibility of their implementation
E2d Collaboratively plan within lessons and across lessons and work effectively as a team member.
E2e Take a lead in planning collaboratively in order to promote effective practice
LEADERS
E2f Research and evaluate innovative curricula practice (for example in AfL and technology) and draw on research to inform their own practice and that of others
E2g Effectively use assessment information to evaluate effectiveness of teaching and learning AND/OR track progress of students
E2h Work closely with leadership teams, taking a leading role in developing, implementing and evaluating policies and practice that contribute to school improvement.

STANDARD THREE:CONTRIBUTION TO THE WIDER LIFE OF THE SCHOOL
E3a Lead and organise events and trips
E3b Leading and organising groups of students to develop skills outside the normal subject areas
E3c Develop new enrichment programmes that impact learning outside the classroom
E3d Engage students in global issues or activities either in or outside school
E3e Develop opportunities for students to become responsible citizens by making positive contributions to community service

For each (most) of the above standards, I had to give an example and then offer some self-reflection. Obviously I won’t share them all (unless you’re having trouble sleeping, then I am happy to e-mail them) but I will share a few which stood out to me.

One thing I struggled with was assessment. I teach skills and follow up lessons ensure the students have understood and can implement the skills I have taught them but I do no formalized exam – unless you count the end of unit test I give in year 9, which was based on a great lesson suggestion from top Librarian Ann-Marie Tater. I test the students on what they have learnt, we swap papers, mark, write the total in red at the top of the page, and then cross out the name of the person who wrote the paper, adding our own instead. I then wander between the students high fiving those who have high marks and querying if those who didn’t get good marks, did enough revision. This leads to a discussion on how students feel about someone else getting all the praise for your work and also how their partners felt about being given praise for work they haven’t earned – however it is not a test which I record the score of, as students take it for self-reflection and to note areas where they need to revise or to clarify with me.
Instead what I used was a specific SOW (scheme of work) I had designed for two year 9 groups, who were targeted as having the potential to develop their reading and writing skills from reading more and reviewing their books. The scheme was marketed as a partnership between The Library and English and was designed to promoting reading and a love of literature.
Students were expected to read all the short listed books from the Carnegie Shortlist (provided by school), do a series of lessons designed to extend their understanding of the text and expand their enthusiasm and knowledge, discuss them with their class and then review them on the Carnegie website. In our first lesson, students first judged the books based on their cover, trailer and blurb. They were then shown the criteria to judge if a books is outstanding dependent on the Carnegie criteria. Once read, students reviewed the books online (http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/grouphomepages/index.php?GroupID=9208 ) After they had read the books, on the day the results were announce, we met for a final session and the students voted for their favorite. After this they assessed their own learning and using the sheets they had used to make their first value judgment, they wrote up what they felt they had learned from the task and how they had developed. These sheets were a way of monitoring how much they had enjoyed the project and allowing them (and me) to evaluate their progression.

Something which I am pleased I did, was to plan and led a trip to see the film adaptation of The Hunger Games. We booked out an entire cinema and I worked with the English department and additional staff members to take a group of Key Stage 3 children to see the film adaptation in the hope pupils would be inspired to extend their pleasure in private reading. Having worked at a school where a student was lost on a school trip had made me very anxious about running a trip of my own but I am so pleased I faced my demons to do this. The students loved it, parents were still talking about how it at the next parents evening weeks later where they said they felt it had ignited their child’s enthusiasm when it came to reading.

An item I was proud of was my Commitment to the Professional Learning Community. I loved being able to offer my participation in 23 Things for Professional Development 2012. I was proud to be self-motivated enough to have found a specialized area which I could complete as a self-directed course which has introduced a range of tools coincidentally just a matter of weeks before my school has headed the same way. I have enjoyed sharing with sharing with other members of my professional community and the opportunities to both interact with other librarians and technologies which have given me ideas to incorporate into my SOW (schemes of work for the non-teachers!)

All in all, this has been a busy year. I have moved to a new job, in a new country. I have met challenges like a small redecoration project which seems to have turned into a lets knock out walls project along with learning how to work in a new school but I feel I have also been rewarded for my impact with a promotion for next year – Teacher Librarian AND co-head of prefects. Now lets see if I am rewarded with cold hard cash following my threshold application . . . . .

Branded

So, I work in a school library on the international circuit. Although employers may like to encourage staff to stay longer, two year contracts are the norm and competition for jobs in good schools is high. This is why the reflection on a personal brand resonated. Especially at a time when my school is moving closer towards electronic portfolios.

I am aware enough not to befriends students on Facebook. Why would I want to? And more astonishingly, why would they want to befriend me? I am a librarian. If it wasn’t for the tropical heat, my idea of fashion would involve cardigans. I also recommend that my students tighten their security and hide or (even better) delete photos which may reflect badly on them at a later stage but I fear I may have strayed into “do what I say, not what I do” territory, which is why this is a good opportunity to take a look and find out what information is available either written by me or about me, online.

This most recent assignment has asked me to examine my personal brand, it has invited me to spend some time ego surfing and take a look at what my name represents on Google, which photographs are available, whether my professional and person identity are blended or separate   and whether I have a clear visual identity. This  assignment has given me a chance to see the me current/potential employers, parents and students see. I want to make sure this is an accurate portrayal of who I am.

I have always requested my name is used in full, in a professional capacity. When I (finally) charter, I want everything to match for easy submission. As a result, I thought I would use my full name for my search.

The first two results are links to Bev Humphreys international collaborative writing project, the Write Path   It’s a project I have taken part in and the work my students produced, made me exceptionally proud. I am delighted to have that as my first link and I would be over the moon if people found out about the project and joined via me!

Not so happily, I have discovered I am being advertised on a free online dating site. While I am flattered they have listed me as a year younger than my actual age,  other details easily identify the person in question as me.  I was concerned about this for a number of reasons, invasion of privacy is just one but another is that I am happily engaged and not in the market for a dating site. Luckily the fiancé in question has nothing to worry about. I knew nothing about it, having found out about it, there doesn’t appear to be a queue of men waiting to meet me and even if there had been, they would have been waiting in the wrong place as I have been listed in a previous country of residence.  A little more fishing on the site in questions dug up a report that numerous profiles for the site in question have been created without people’s consent.  Apparently the site in question has used several Facebook applications to automatically gather Facebook users’ personal information. I have managed to remove the basic details which were there (not too easy as I have never purposefully set up the profile so didn’t have a password) unfortunately the Google link which now leads to a dead end, remains.

There are a couple of links to newsletter articles written for my previous school. Again, this is fine and is a good demonstration of my professional capacity although not all articles I have written appeared under this moniker.  The first article I had written for my previous school appeared under a shortened version of my name in order to make me sound more user friendly. This wasn’t my idea or my suggestion and was given to me as a fait accompli.  I did suggest that as my name was my name, it may be more useful to use that however it transpired our senior leadership had used valuable discussion time on deciding how approachable my name made me sound and made a decision which didn’t include me as a person, just me as a name.

One thing I have changed recently and in light of a suggested in the recommended reading attached to this item, is my Facebook privacy settings.  This is now reflected in the fact none of my contact details etc. appeared in my search. If you look hard enough and had names of my Facebook friends, you will still find me but for now, I am accessible  enough and my potential employers/students really do not need to see me at pictures of music festivals. That would sadly disillusion them as they appear to be under the impression I sleep under the desk in the library.

In reference to photographs, one very small Facebook profile pic. Three lines down, looking respectable, with fiancé in tow – bizarrely it links to someone elses page but it is pretty obvious that it’s not me.

On the whole I am pretty happy with my online profile. It’s respectable and professional, although I would like to add more. It lucky there is a development opportunity coming up at work but more about that at a later date!

Talking the talk

Some subjects lend themselves to libraries and library literacy easily but others don’t.

Some subjects are simply better taught in the classroom. This doesn’t mean you can’t still be a valuable resource. It just means you need to widen your boundaries and learn how to share with people who don’t yet know what you can offer.

Instead of trying to persuade departments to come to me, which isn’t always feasible with my timetabling and our space restraints, I stay in touch with by e-mail, sending a variety of links, which make great, fun starters.

One of their sites which has been really, really helpful for me, has been the School of Fail  its sometimes saucy language means I could never recommend it directly to students but it has been great an enabling me to provide quips, quirks and sensible information in a fun format, which staff can share with students.

Using this, SLN  (an e-mail network group of nearly 500 school librarians, where we share ideas, ask for help, talk about the latest promotional ideas for our libraries and share good practice) and a quick check through the press, I have been able to send our maths department screen drops of real mathematical theories used in the Avengers , a collection of movie clips in which Maths appears, a link to a see Kjartan Poskitt entertain pupils with maths tricks, crack them up with jokes about mathematical formula and engage pupils with complex algebra, streamed live over the internet (or to download if they couldn’t view the live streaming) , the earliest concept of maths homework (dated at least 2300 B.C.E., in ancient Mesopotamia) and a make-up application how-to video from 1936 applying  geometry to the art of applying make-up.

I am aware that the maths department may not physically come into the library but I am also aware from the positive feedback I receive, that they still value us and if the department won’t come to the library . . . . . .