I was impressed with comments that Paula Yohe, Director Of Technology/Library Media Center for Dillon School District in South Carolina made on LM_Net in response to Sharon Grimes's post about AASL's new 21st Century Standards. I asked Paula if she would develop her comments into a "guest" blog entry and to my delight, I received this in yesterday's e-mail. Thanks, Paula! - Doug
It seems that those who wrote the new standards think that the old ones were already done -- I am still arguing with some folks about what should be being done with the old standards.
In my personal opinion -- the new standards from AASL and from ISTE give an easy out for not using them at all. No specifics. And why do I say that?
Let's take the ISTE Standards http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/For_Students/NETS_S.htm, then the profiles http://www.iste.org/inhouse/nets/cnets/students/pdf/NETS-S_Student_Profiles.pdf
Now what do they mean? What technology tools should they use?
I call these squishy --
If you are trying to use these to explain to people who don't have a clue, they would have no idea how to proceed or what to do.
Now look at the old ones http://www.iste.org/inhouse/nets/cnets/students/s_stands.html Then the performance indicators http://www.iste.org/inhouse/nets/cnets/students/s_profile-k2.html.
I agree the old standards needed to be updated -- but they were more specific.
I know that we need to integrate -- and make technology a more useful tool for students. But still alot of people who make the decisions do not see the use of the tools since alot don't use them but the kids do.
Now take the AASL Standards
Try explaining this one: Display emotional resilience by persisting in information searching despite challenges. Can most adults do this? And just how do you teach this and how does it fit in to other areas?
Demonstrate flexibility in the use of resources by adapting information strategies to each specific resource and by seeking additional resources when clear conclusions cannot be drawn. And just what resources do they mean?
Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.
I guess one of the questions we have to ask is who are these written for? Librarians? Administrators?
Reality is most media specialists can't "make" these standards, or any other standards, be adopted.
Any standards have to be easily understood and written so that the people who will use them understand what they are supposed to do and what they mean.
There are too many standards. If funding or test scores are not tied to any standards -- in most cases they will fall by the wayside.
Now go to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/index.php Then look at the Framework.
In my personal opinion these are clear and concise, give specific examples - and show how these are integrated into various subject areas
Look at these http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=33
I could go on -- but I was trying to answer explain what I meant by "squishy."
While I agree visionary is key, you have to have a base to hold up visionary. I don't seem to find a solid base in the new material.
With all due respect -- visionary is wonderful -- however - reality is – they have to be concrete -- for the majority of end users and there has to be a reason to use them – and normally that means tied to testing and/or funding or you won't get most supt., administrators, principals or teachers to use them
I do not mean to sound negative -- but I am at the district office now -- and also am on several committees at the State level. By the time you do the “have to do” there aren’t even enough hours in the day to do all of the “have to do” let alone something like the AASL Standards that at best aren’t even clear to my fellow media specialists.
And unfortunately I have found this to be the case -- there are too many other things that do have concrete measures and consequences for using – and this is not just for these standards -- but for any other standards that are not tested or does not have funding tied to it. I personally can’t keep up with how many there are.
Someone on LM_NET wrote that media specialists should sit down and discuss these standards with administrators and formulate a plan. While the idea of sitting down with an administrator in a constructive atmosphere sounds wonderful – in reality in the vast majority of cases -- it isn't going to happen.
Does that sound negative -- perhaps so. But unfortunately you sometimes have to accept reality.
Now before someone sees that I am the Director of Technology and dismisses me as an ivory tower person.
I started working in school libraries in the 5th grade as a volunteer, the jr. high library, my part-time high school job was the in the public library, and my college job was in the college library in cataloging. I then spent 23 years as a building level media specialist and moved to the district office so that I could fight more for media specialists and the importance of their role, but I have learned some hard lessons --
And unfortunately this discussion on standards is based on those lessons.
1. Building level administrators -- have too much to do. They are dealing with problems that the majority of faculty members have no idea about – meetings, phones calls, irate parents, upset teachers, budgets, broken equipment, upset teachers, test scores, new mandates from the federal government or state, test scores, attendance issues, discipline issues, special education students, lunch problems, bus problems, etc. Believe me -- go in and tell them you want to discuss these new standards -- then if they read them – do you actually think they will make sense to them? That is not an insult to the building administrator – since so many of my fellow media specialists have indicated as much on LM_NET.
But a statement of fact -- any standards should be written so that anyone can understand what they mean – and what they are supposed to do... And I just don't think that is the case with these standards. If they did sit down and read them... The principal then will say -- are they tested? – is there any funding tied to this? Enough said --
2. District level administrators.
You can use pretty much the same list as above – but make it more global -- then add lawyers, NCLB reports, a whole variety of other paperwork that will make your head spin, and more.
Folks this is not to be negative or defeatist – but we have to accept reality and then try to move from there --
Take the standards and make them more readable for the end user. Find the standards that are being tested and see how you can fit these standards into them.
There are just too many standards out there – ISTE standards, Math standards, English standards, the list seems to go on -- and I think if I read one more set of "standards" I will scream. There are just too many things for everyone to do.
One question I always ask media specialists when I talk to them --
If a principal could only have one position – a technology coach, literacy coach, or a librarian -- which would your principal pick?
If it isn't the librarian -- find out why -- do you support teachers -- are you a leader in technology? What are you doing to promote literacy and get kids to read?
If you are the stumbling block -- you will be gone. Stop and think the next time you get angry that "your" standards are not being used - or when you won't let kids check out books because they owe a fine – (do you realize that's why some people have put in classroom libraries –they think the media specialists don't want kids to read -- they are too worried about fines) or I don't have time to help that teacher with that computer -- they should know how to use it...
If you want change -- sometimes you have to change.
My former principal used to say to me "Their perception is their reality and it is your job to change their reality." And he did not mean it in a negative fashion. He meant that everyone has a different opinion of their reality and if you want change – you have to change their reality. They sure aren’t going to do it on their own.
I have used that premise for everything I do -- Think about it and as we hash these standards -- keep this thought in mind.
Do you want to create life-long lovers of libraries? or Do you want library haters?
Food for thought……
I am sure Paula would enjoy reactions to this post!