Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Michelle Luhtala and Jennifer LaGarde are Rockstars!

So I have to say that TLA has really changed since last I was here. I did not attend TLA12 & 13. My last TLA I was a bit confounded by the lack of technology sessions. No more! This year is way different.

I was really impressed by Michelle Luhtala (@mluhtala) and Jennifer LaGarde (@jenniferlagarde). Both ladies are out-of-staters, but we won't hold that against them.

Michelle is from New Canaan HS in Connecticut. She presented three sessions today, but I was  most impressed with her session on creating a Learning Commons. This has been a topic discussion in my region for several years now. Many of my librarians are attempting pieces of it, but not a complete shift. Few of our schools have the technology access to really make it happen. And since many of those schools are rural there isn't enough internet connectivity in the schools or student homes to make this endeavor worthwhile. I did love her ideas and the suggestion to start a bit at a time. Change in chunks and your library should never look the same from one year to another. Her school has a BYOD initiative and that drives many of the activities in the library. I thought it was way clever that she has charge stations with USB ports on many tables and even circulates device chargers to students. Instead of fighting the students, you meet their needs. 

The best quote from Michelle today was that it is not "if" but "when" all schools will embrace student devices because of "Confiscation Fatigue" As the spouse of a school administrator who deals with phones all day, I thought her comment was hysterical. I don't think a day goes by that someone at his school doesn't take up a phone.

Ok, now to Jennifer LaGarde. What a funny library girl! She is a librarian-on-loan in North Carolina working for three years to visit and assess all school libraries in that state. She works with administrators, school boards, teachers, and librarians to help each other meet the needs of kids where the school library is concerned. She shared statements from administrators and suggestions for fixing that perception by shifting what the librarian does. My favorite was "Shift from teaching library skills to teaching life skills". Her example was that the Dewey Decimal System is not a life skill. And she is so right! She also suggested not punishing kids with fines and access to circulation when they have late or lost books. There was some mutterings from the group around me, but she made very valid points and gave suggestions for learning lessons to use with kids instead of punishing them for missing books.

These are two ladies who I will be adding to my PLN!! 

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