Monday, 23 January 2017

Advocacy for school librarians - Training and Personal Learning Networks PLN

Helping teachers set up their own Personal Learning Network (PLN)

As a librarian I am never sure what I am going to be asked to do next. My own skill set is broad and this being the case I am able to do many things which includes training. Recently, after a conversation with a teacher about Personal Learning Neworks (PLN) I realised that my own skills in setting up my  PLN enabled me to support this teacher and potentially support him to train other teachers in his school.  Is this an important part of my job? Absolutely, teaching and sharing my own best practice,  enabling and inspiring teachers to find the information they need themselves is essential. If  I can work alongside teachers to enhance their learning it allows me to talk to them about their students learning too. Raising my profile and skills set helps me to raise awareness for the school library. I can't be in every classroom but I can teach and up skill the teachers which is very definitely my role.


My own personal learning journey. 

It started in 2009,  I had qualified as a librarian in 2003 and after chartering in 2008 it was time to take responsibility for my own development and learning rather than having to do it because I was studying. My own reading, at the time, started and stopped with the CILIP Update magazine but I needed more and really had no idea where to look.

My decision to use social media for personal learning was for two main reasons. Firstly, I had children who were wanting to use Facebook and twitter and at the time I felt that I did not know enough about these resources. Rather than saying no you can't because they scare me, I realised it would be better to find out about social media and how it worked. Secondly, I was aware of the potential for using social media for more than following your favourite pop star and was interested in finding out if I could use them for work. I was particularly keen to know enough about social media so that I would be able to talk to students about it.

In the beginning I decided to use Facebook for friends and family and twitter for work only. This has changed overtime and my Facebook has expanded to special interest groups to share knowledge too. Twitter has enabled me to learn more and connect with people around the world that I would never have been able to otherwise. Some of the most exciting things that I have done in the last year has been because of Twitter. Trips to Toulouse to present about using school libraries across the curriculum, talking to librarians in Arkansas via Google Hangouts and  requests for articles all have come from my PLN on twitter.

So how did I start? I set up an account, worked out how to follow a few librarians and teachers and then I lurked. I read the threads that came through and have to admit that not much of it made any sense. Hashtags and @ and bad English was what it seemed to be all about. I was not sure how this would help me but then I became aware that some of the people I followed were sharing articles that were very useful and because of this I began to read more.  The idea that other professional have read something and thinks it is worth sharing is very powerful. I then became braver and began to retweet and share articles that I found interesting. Finally I took the plunge and sent out my first tweet. It makes me smile when I read it now as I can't stand anyone who writes about that they are about to do.  I do think there may have been a little sarcasm in my first tweet. I had to start somewhere and this was what I chose to write:-


I used the discover twitter to find this. I admit I did get a little distracted by putting in some of my twitter friends in and laughing at their first tweets. Nearly all are as bad as mine :)

I slowly  began to understand how powerful this tool was. I began focusing on the group of librarians and teachers I was following and started making decisions about unfollowing those who were tweeting rubbish. I did not have time to waste so my focus has always been quality. If someone is not useful to my goal I unfollow. This leaves me with a quality group of people who I have learnt so much from. They share their best practice with me, answer questions that I could not answer myself and through this I began to grow in confidence. It gives me a place to share my ideas and enables me to learn about new teaching practices and help me grow as a professional. My PLN is essential to my role as a librarian which enables me to learn and discover more every day.

Where can I start?

If you are looking where to start here are a few suggestions from my social media friends.

PLN on Pinterest

Twitter tools

Twitter for teachers

Education chats on twitter

Educational hashtags