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Sometimes "they" actually listen!

This came in this morning's e-mail in response to a letter I sent to the editor of ALA's American Libraries (or more probably because of an eloquent posting by LM_Net's Peter Milbury):

Because you are an active blogger in the school-librarian community, the editors of American Libraries would appreciate adding your voice to the magazine's May story about media specialists who blog.
We hope this followup feature will rectify the omission of school-librarian voices from the March 2007 feature "Mattering in the Blogosphere."  
As we did in the March feature, American Libraries will compile a cross-section of responses to questions in the May 2007 print edition.  However, because I'm about to invite LM_NET subscribers to suggest questions by Monday, Mar. 26 for which they'd like to read school-librarian bloggers' replies, the actual questions will be sent to you on Tuesday, March 27, with answers to be emailed to by Thursday, March 29 at 9 p.m. Central time.  We'll also need a high-resolution color photo of you (at least 300 dpi at 4 inches wide).
Looking forward to your help in making American Libraries' coverage of this topic more inclusive.
Beverly Goldberg
senior editor
American Libraries 1907-2007
Celebrating the First Hundred Years
American Library Association
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
voice: 312-280-4217
fax:     312-440-0901
P.S.  By the way, your letter is appearing in the April 2007 American Libraries.

 Sort of redeems by faith in human nature. So, OK, LMSs - what do you want to know about school library blogs and bloggers?


Worry-free vacations

My flight to Bangkok via Tokyo leaves from Minneapolis this afternoon at 3:30. About 20 hours en route, arriving in Bangkok just before midnight on Sunday, local time. My primary reason for going to Thailand is to speak at the EARCOS Teachers' Conference. It's a great group that I also visited with last November at its administrator/technology conference.

But it's also a chance for a little R & R. My buddies Judy Freeman and Ian Jukes will be speaking there as well, and I am looking forward to meeting Jeff (Thinking Stick) Utecht for the first time. The LWW will be flying in next weekend and we will play tourist at the end of the conference, seeing the major tourist traps historical areas of Bangkok which I have not toured for 20 years. We'll probably make the day trip to the old city of Ayutthaya, too. I've always been a sucker for getting my picture taken with elephants and snakes. For the last few days we will head to Phuket for a little beach time. Last time I waspool.jpg there I visited a temple with attack monkeys. They would scamper right up your body with sharp little toe nails to snatch food practically from your mouth. Something you just don't see in Mankato everyday. What I am really envisioning is a pool side chair with my name on it and a cold beverage with a high alcohol content. I've packed some potboilers to read and plan on actually being a bum as much as my nature allows.

I believe I have most of the items checked off my guilt list:

  • long range tech plan submitted
  • staff need survey completed
  • RFP for 2007 IWB installations sent
  • applications for participation in SmartClassroom project read and forwarded
  • interviews for new student information system manager completed
  • state legislative matters for MEMO done as much as possible
  • article sent to MEMO for journal
  • article sent to Threshold magazine
  • article and column sent to LMC magazine
  • article sent to Texas Libraries journal
  • column sent to Leading & Learning journal
  • column (almost) sent to Education World
  • 2006 income tax prepared and sent in
  • presentations for EARCOS conference prepared
  • materials for Discovery Ed webinar put online
  • bags packed with snorkel remembered
  • credit card companies called to say I will be out of the country (and not to suspend my account)
  • mail stopped, papers stopped, children notified of hotels
  • haircut
  • e-mails all answered (almost)
  • hard drive backed up

I need a vacation. And enjoy your respite from the Blue Skunk for a while. I am deliberately planning not to be diligent about all things virtual. But I will post any attack monkey pictures I take.


In praise of pragmatists

Easy to do is easy to say.

Earlier this week I gave the talk  "If You Think You Can Do a Thing."  The presentation's focus is on assessing and changing teacher attitudes toward technology, arguing that attitude plays a major part in any change effort.  (I know, 'Well, duh!")

One of the points I try to make comes from Geoffrey Moore in his book, Inside the Tornado. He neatly divides people  implementing new technologies into visionaries and the pragmatists, and suggests we need to work with each group differently. He writes:

Visionaries are intuitive

Pragmatists are analytic

Visionaries support revolution

 Pragmatists support evolution

Visionaries are contrarians

Pragmatists are conformists

Visionaries break away from pack

Pragmatists stay with herd

Visionaries follow their own dictates

Pragmatists consult with colleagues

Visionaries take risks

Pragmatists manage risks

Visionaries are motivated  by opportunities

Pragmatists are motivated by problems

Visionaries seek the possible

Pragmatists pursue the probable

After years of living in denial, I am coming out of the closet here. Yes, friends and family, I must come clean. I am a PRAGMATIST.  Perhaps I was once a visionary, but having worked with real people, contended with real technologies, and been employed by real schools for the past 30 years, I am now a full-fledged pragmatist.

pragmatist.jpgAnd instead of being ashamed, I am proud! We pragmatists should hold our heads high. Sure, it's exciting to hear those exciting pointy-heads pontificate about how things "really ought to be," but putting vision into practice is where we pragmatists shine - where the vision is practical, of course.  And when it actually makes sense and if others are doing it. Of course the chance of success must be pretty good. Oh, the change must be demonstrated in other schools to have actually improved kids or teachers lives.

I would argue that making something work in th real world on a broad scale takes as much or greater genius than thinking it up in the first place.

In a recent School Library Journal article, Will Richardson uses an innovative teacher as an example of how using tags within can facilitate the collaborative problem solving process. Visionary! Very cool! But when I demonstrated to a group of teachers this week, one excitedly raised her hand and asked, "Do you mean students could store their research paper bookmarks there so they keep them even after the tech director re-images the lab?" Pragmatic! Very cool! Bless her big practical heart.

Let's hold our heads high, fellow pragmatists. We're doing good things. It just takes us a little longer.