I am saturated with new stuff to sort, sift, synthesise and supervene after 3.5 days of formal professional development and 5 days of intense informal professional sharing and dialogue - all within a 2 week time span.
I had the opportunity to spend 2 days learning the ins and outs of the new web based library management system we will be migrating to over the July / August holidays. This has made me very excited at the possibilities for the users of our library as it allows for personalising of the individual accounts by the students, generates email alerts for overdues and reservations and allows students to track their favourite authors coming into the library. The system also allows for remote circulation, among other benefits that are common in a modern web based system.
A few days later I was able to attend a day where IB Extended Essay Co-ordinators, Secondary Teacher Librarians, and Secondary Librarians discussed the Extended essay and how the library could support this aspect of the Diploma Program. This was a good opportunity for discussion of the main issues facing the Extended Essay Candidates. Some of the main concerns were that the students did not have the required information literacy skills or understanding of the process for creating the extended essay. This prompted me to create a list of essential skills from a variety of sources that are required to produce an exemplar essay, and from there work on a skills continuum for the middle and primary years curriculum. This pre-preparation will allow extended essay candidates can focus on the essay rather than have to learn the process at the same time. This is a work in progress and a project that needs extensive collaboration with teachers, co-ordinators and teacher librarians. You can see the initial stages at the wiki http://infolitskills.pbworks.com.
The next PD experience was one that I helped to co-ordinate. It was a 2.5 hour informal forum on the Libraries role in the IB curriculum. Those who attended had a range of experience in IB schools and were able to question and share experiences and knowledge. It was a positive experience for all - not just for the information shared, but the for the opportunity to inquire, and engage in their own learning in a way that was meaningful to them. In many PD experiences there is little opportunity to truly participate in sessions. The most positive aspect for most was the opportunity to break into primary and secondary groups to discuss the issues relevent to their situations.
In the past 5 days I have had the privilege to host three dynamic teacher librarians who created their own professional development by travelling to a different country, experiencing a Battle of the Books final held in Hong Kong, visiting 11 school libraries and the Hong Kong Central library, spent half a day learning and exploring second life as a meeting space and of course, networked with people from different backgrounds in school librarianship from all over the world.
The opportunity for me to talk with these visitors about their visits and experiences, and then to talk incessantly about our jobs and how we can make the libraries we work in better learning centres into the late hours of the evening was one of the most valuable professional development experiences I have ever had. It was like the networking that occurs at large conferences - but on a much more personal scale.
Although I learned something important at all of the professional development I undertook in the past few weeks, what was reinforced is that for authentic learning to occur, the experiences have to be meaningful, involving, with opportunities for inquiry and dialogue into an area of interest. The opportunity to create our own learning experiences is also a valuable opportunity for learning. This has to be remembered when planning and teaching our units or subjects to our own students.