Creating a personal learning network is important for teachers-librarians, and using available information and communication technologies makes it easier than ever. Teacher-librarians are usually in a unique position in their schools so though they can share and learn from colleagues, they often have unique challenges that only other teacher-librarians would understand. Though I don’t have a teaching position yet, there are a few things I have in place right now that will help create learning opportunities for myself when I eventually get my own library.
1. LM-NET: In a previous course, I was required to subscribe to the Library Media Network. LM-NET is an international network of teacher-librarians in which members can pose questions, share ideas and offer support to each other. The site’s archives can also be searched by date or particular topic. Though I am not participating within the network right now, I still receive emails about current posts and I often glance through the topics finding helpful information that I bookmark for future reference.
2. My courses: I have found many useful blogs and websites by educators through the courses I have taken for my Teacher-Librarian’s Diploma. I use Evernote to help keep them organized. I have a teacher-librarian resources notebook in which I add links to online resources that I find helpful. As well, I have most of my coursework organized in separate notebooks. When I am finished my diploma, I will go through these notebooks and better organize the resources by topic. I find Evernote to be a great organization tool, as it is available on whatever device or computer I may be using at the moment.
3. When I had a temporary contract in a high school library a couple of years ago, I was automatically added to our district’s teacher-librarian email list. This was very helpful if I needed help or advice and gave me the ability to keep in the loop about what other teacher-librarians were doing in the district. I know that once I have my own library, I will have this built-in network if I need it.
Those are a few things I have started, but I know I need to do more, especially in terms of social media. I have resisted using social media because until recently I hadn’t really seen it as a potential professional resource. I have used Diigo in the past, (Diigo: A Bookmarking Tool), but didn’t take advantage of its social aspect. I am on Facebook and, more recently, Twitter but do not utilize them. One problem I think is that I do not have a mobile device I carry with me all the time and often social media works best on these devices. So right now I am forced to use my computer at home on which I do not like, with a family and kids, to take the time to wade through all the information coming at me. However, knowing now how social media can be invaluable in helping to establish a personal learning network, I will definitely try to utilize these resources in the future.
In this age of cutbacks, it is important for teacher-librarians to reinvent themselves to keep their school libraries relevant for 21st Century learning. Right now, our education system is working under a 150 year old model (Richardson, 2012) so educators need to go outside the curriculum learning resources to find ways to teach the digital natives in our classrooms. Creating a personal learning network of educators, both local and international, can offer new ideas in collaboration, sharing and teaching to help make teacher-librarians an indispensable part of their schools.
Richardson, W. (2012) Why school? How education must change when learning and information are everywhere. Ebook. Kindle Version. http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00998J5YQ
Bucky, C. (2008) PLN 1. Flickr. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/cobannon/2983755525/