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EdTech Update





Today's realization



Do you have a library supervisor?

This e-mail came as part of a conversation that followed the guest blog post of Gary Hartzell:

I work for Dr. Barry Bishop whom you may know.  I’m in the Spring Branch Independent School District in Houston.  It’s a mixed district – half of it is very wealthy -George Bush Senior - lives in that part and half is Hispanic, ESL, Title I etc. etc.  I work in one of the Title I schools and would not have it any other way.

Dr. B, we call him is a true visionary – I know it is an overused words these day but he truly is. He knows exactly what a 21st century library will look like & is determined to provide it to our students.  At the last Texas Library Association meeting it was apparent that we were head and shoulders above the other districts in Texas when it came to using Web 2.0 tools.  He battles our IT department daily to open the filters – we have Facebook, Twitter and MySpace and I think we’re about to get YouTube.

He’s always pushing us (well me at least!) outside of our comfort zone.  He gives us just enough nudges and then all of a sudden we can’t remember when we weren’t doing whatever it was that we didn’t want to do in the first place.   He’s introduced Video Streaming, e-books & databases.  When he first came to the district we had just moved to an online catalog on dumb terminals.  The libraries now bristle with computers and technology.  He designed the Library Media Services web page and took us step by step into the Internet.

When things don’t go well (like the year we lost our processing and ordering department due to budget cuts) he always comes up with solutions and provides the leadership we need to carry on.

When we lost our processing dept. he arranged for review lessons in cataloging (I hadn’t cataloged since library school) & found and introduced us to Marc Magician.

He demands a top notch performance from his librarians – and is equally demanding of himself.   He’s always open to comments and questions – in fact he knows that sometimes I won’t do as he asks but that I always have a good reason for bucking the tide.  I buck the tide often!

On top of all that he is a genuinely nice and honest individual. 

Thanks so much!

Guusje Moore

Wow. How many school librarians today have the services of a library supervisor? Even one (like yours truly) whose job is about 90% technology and 10% library service*? And how many of us are fortunate to work for person who exhibit's Guuje's boss's characteristics? (I have. See What makes a good boss?) Guusje's letter made me feel very guilty for not being a better department head for our librarians. We lost ground last year with budget cuts in both personnel and materials.

Guusje and her fellow Spring Branch librarians sound pretty lucky to have an advocate and leader for their department. But my questions would be how do school librarians that don't have this district-level support still have district-level influence?

Share your success stories...

Oh, and a letter like the one above says as much about the character of the writer as it does the subject. Any chance you want to move to Minnesota, Ms Moore?

* I was actually hired in 1991 as the district AV supervisor as my parking spot sign still reflects...



A fresh start

...let there be spaces in your togetherness
                                                  - Kahlil Gibran

For many teachers and students, today is the first day back to school after a long summer break. It's a week of clean rooms and polished floors, new instructional materials and techniques, unspoiled notebooks and sharp pencils, and, well, new starts on relationshops with our students and our colleagues. One can almost smell the optimism -  a feeling that this will, indeed, be a better year than last.

Our country's long summer break, I was taught, has its roots in our historically agricultural economy. The majority of kids attending school in the U.S. until about 100 years ago were farm kids. And farm kids were expected to help during the summer months on the farm.

And as a farm kid growing up in the 50s and 60s, this was still sort of true. I did "walk beans" and help put up hay in the summer, along with my regular year-round chores that mostly involved some sort of animal waste removal (which served as good experience for so many future tasks.)

There are, as far as I can tell, no agriculture-related reasons to keep the kids home in the summer anymore. Technology has largely replaced manual labor. Genetically modified soy beans don't need to be walked and hay is now stored in huge round bales, not small square ones, and not loaded on racks and stored in mows.

We've all read and experienced the loss of skills some kids experience as a result of not being in school for a couple months. I have argued for year-round schools before.

But I am beginning to think that the long summers are on balance good things. That an extened break is needed for everyone, students and staff alike, to gain some perspective, get a little bored, do a different kind of work, play a little more seriously, and begin to miss each other.

What would happen if each year everyone was required to take a 12 week hiatus from their jobs, their marriages, their parents/children, their churches, their social networks, and their hobbies? Wouldn't we all come back to these relationships with blank notebooks and sharp pencils and optimism and even renewed appreciation?

Welcome back, everyone. May this be your best school year EVER!

Photo of round hay bales Lake Jefferson, MN, 2003.