Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Guest Post: On My Mind

Addressing a statewide group of media specialists, my former principal said, I have two simple wishes for my school--that when the students wake up in the morning they want to go to school, and when the staff wakes up in the morning they want to go to school. * He also talked about the importance of technology, staff development, and media specialists partnering in the school and beyond. Scott Hannon wanted the media center to be a place where kids wanted to be, where things were happening; joked that something was wrong if it was too quiet. I was fortunate to work with him; I miss middle school as I hear about exciting possibilities for today’s media specialists and for our students.

And, something is on my mind. Why are so many people still entering the field because they love books? One administrator told me she would not hire that person. I love books, too. That is not enough for today’s media specialist. Why do I read comments such as, I didn’t know technology and advocacy were part of my job. Do you mean I have to learn how to use all of this technology?

A soon-to-be media specialist now teaching third grade knew the teachers she worked with did not know how to access electronic books for their iPads. She knew the current media specialist would not help. She saw this as an opportunity to provide staff-development sessions; she recognized that staff development is always an important role.

Why, moving towards our third decade of Internet access in the schools are so many media centers lacking enough technology for even one class to do 21st century research? Why are there concerns about giving up shelving for more technology? Why are so many educators, including media specialists, not aware of the wealth of free database resources provided to their schools by their states? Why are still discussions about when to close for inventory? Technology has long made that unnecessary. A university professor said it well. I've visited many media centers; the thing teachers dislike the most is when the media center is closed at the end of the year for inventory.

The other day I caught a bit of a public radio discussion about accessing information. A panelist shared a discussion between two children. A boy said, I go to our school library and they only let me check one book out. His friend replied Why don’t you just steal? Why do people who want students to read put up barriers? It saddened me to hear this public dialog from non-educators. Perhaps the public airing will do some good. It saddens me that after many years of profound change in our careers I still hear about media centers that are unwelcoming and underutilized. It’s a wonderful opportunity for a new media specialist to make change.

When I discussed plans with Scott he often said, Do what’s best for kids. Along those lines, a few lost books are the cost of doing business. Teach responsibility, but fight problems that are worth fighting.

A few other nuggets of wisdom from administrators and other educators have stuck with me for years:
1. If people see you doing clerical tasks that's what they will think your job is. (Yes, some of it needs to be done; some does not.)
2. It's all about relationships.
3. We want a media specialist to help us with technology. We can take care of the literature.
4. Just do it; that’s why we hired you.
5. You can have any kind media program you -- or you and principal -- want to have!

Now nearing retirement as the district Superintendent, Dr. Hannon said,  It’s just a pleasure coming to work every day . . . and trying to do good things for all of the students in the district. **

I hope that all media specialists love going to work every day, are good things, and making your media center a place where kids – and teachers -- want to be.

* Dr. Scott Hannon, Minnesota Educational Media Organization Conference, October 1996
**Winona Daily News, July 12, 2013)
Winona Area Public Schools begins search for new leader
Winona Daily News, July 12, 2013

Guest Blogger Info
Mary Alice Anderson, Online Instructor, School of Education
University of Wisconsin - Stout
Internet@ Schools NEW Media Center Columns


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