Professional development is not simple for school librarians. Most of the time, what your school and district offer have only a tangential relationship to what you need - and want – to learn. In order to grow professionally, you must take responsibility for it yourself. So where do you get it?
I am just back from the American Library Association’s Annual Conference, held this year in Las Vegas (and I admit that I hope they don’t go back there any time soon). Conferences are one of the best sources for my professional development because not only do I learn from the programs and the vendor exhibits, I also network with colleagues from across the country. Despite Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and the other social networks, these personal conversations alert me to new ideas and the people who are putting them into action. I know not everyone can afford the cost –or the time—to attend national conferences so other sources are needed.
Everyone is now on summer vacation – no matter whether your school year ends in May or June so it’s the perfect time to focus on your personal learning. Are you reading any books from ALA editions, ABC-CLIO, ASCD, Capstone Professional or other publishers of professional literature? You may have had little or no time to read professional journals during the school year now is a good time to catch up. (Don’t forget to take a closer look at School Librarian’s Workshop. There are PD articles every month.)
What areas do you want to strengthen? Do you want to be more pro-active working with teachers on Common Core? Need to learn more on how the library can support STEM in the school? Check for webinars – most are free.
If you are a member of Linkedin (I am), look for groups related to schools and school libraries. AASL has one and there is one for International School Librarians and for School Librarians. You can start a discussion on a topic of interest to you and get feedback. Find leaders to follow on Twitter and join some of the weekly chats.
Currently I am facilitating Being Indispensable: A School Librarian’s Guide to Proving Your Value and Keeping Your Job, a course I wrote for ALA Editions based on my book. Judging from participants’ posts on the discussion boards they are developing new skills and perspectives for learning how to promote their programs and being visible and vital to various stakeholders. I was told there is now a waiting list for the next time I give the course. (If you are interested, contact Dan Freeman firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Summer will be over all too soon. Share what you are doing for your professional development, and if you haven’t started yet, there is no time like the present. Remember – you are a lifelong learner too!