Have you ever felt like a librarian on an island in your school? It’s great on a vacation, but not so great with your job.
Being the “only” one in your school can present its own set of problems if you don’t know where to turn. I have found that social media has been a blessing that works with my schedule. Especially Twitter! When I first created my Twitter account, I didn’t really know what to do with it, much less use a hashtag. I didn’t even know what a hashtag was. So my Twitter account just existed for about 2 years. But then I noticed a few school librarians whom I admired, were using Twitter to share library articles as well as discuss what they were doing in their library. So I spent a few months just lurking on Twitter (reading what others were posting on their feed). I also went through a few key librarians I admired and “followed” the librarians and other educational technology professionals that they followed.
Once I began following and reading their tweets, I discovered that most of their sharing took place via “chats” using certain hashtags . There were a lot of “chats” and a lot of hashtags. But the first hashtags that I noticed being used were #tlchat and #edchat. First, let me explain. A chat is a pre-arranged discussion that happens through the use of updates (called “tweets”) that include a predefined hashtag to link those tweets together in a virtual conversation. So on #tlchat (short for teacher librarian chat), the discussion was centered around school library topics. So I began “sitting in” on these chats. And the way I thought about professional development totally changed. I even finally got the courage to step out of my comfort zone and actually participate in the chats by commenting on the “thread” or conversation. The chat conversations ranged from discussing best web/device apps to teaching pedagogy to library makerspaces. You literally can discuss anything.
Hence it is important to follow those people who will contribute to your professional development and learning. I have voluntarily chosen to include in my PLN (Professional Learning Network) teacher librarians, technology professionals and school administrators. But they are there for you to ask, share and learn. In order to make learning more targeted to your specific district needs, we founded #fctlchat (Forsyth County Teacher Librarian Chat) in order for us to share issues and topics on a more local level. We anticipate having the chat up and running by the end of September and it will likely be a monthly chat (that could change based on your needs). The more topics that need to be shared, the more chats we need to have. And the best thing is…..you can participate from anywhere or anytime. Even from home in your pajamas. Plus, if you decide that you want to participate in multiple, simultaneous chats, you can use TweetDeck which is a Twitter tool for real-time tracking, organizing and engagement. But more on that later.
So what do you have planned in your library this year? What successes have you had in your teaching? What new things are you trying this year? What do you still have questions about? What struggles do you have in the library? Share them with us so we can all learn. Just tweet us using #fctlchat and tell us what you would like to discuss. You are not alone.
Photos courtesy of Yahoo images