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Professional Growth and Learning

By Librarian's Role, Professional Development, Professional Learning One Comment

What is Professional Growth?

Growth and learning are essential facets of professional life. As I begin, reflecting on my personal, professional experience, I realize the only thing constant thing in my professional life is the desire to learn and grow so that I can continue to support the school community. I am grateful to the many people in my professional life, the professional development opportunities I have received to grow, learn and give back to the educational community.

Professional development is not collecting all the certificates to show and prove your growth. Yes, credentials are essential at initial points of your career. Certificates of courses are an incentive and motivation to continue to learn. Certificates do prove a point. As you begin to think and practise your craft of teaching, you understand that learning is an intrinsic part of professional life, where pursuing current practices, updated pedagogical approaches are the only essential aspect of growth.

CC-BY-SA-4.0 Redaksjonelt: Åse Elin Langeland

What do Librarians Learn?

As an elementary and secondary school librarian, I aimed to learn all about new literature that is available, for all children and literature for teenagers. Understanding their interests is important and giving them voice and choice, instead of downing students with what I thought was suitable for children.

Soon, I realized, librarians not only need to know about literature but understand how technology and technology were impacting the learning. Teachers and librarians are learning about information and media literacy, learning how to evaluate sources and teach students how to evaluate news and media. To stay relevant, learning and evolving is a process, and one cannot hold on to the laurels of the past.

Learning can be anything of your interest. I have dabbled in learning new tech tools to deliver and support teaching and learning. Tech tools should merely be the bells and whistles instead should be used to add meaning and value to the teaching, as taught by my teacher, Bernajean Porter.

Recently, I took a course on best practices for online teaching and learning; next, I learned how to create an online newspaper with my students. I took a course on writing blog posts while learning new strategies and techniques in writing. I read philosophy. I took short courses in teaching EAL (English as another language), and now I am taking a short study-course in understanding how one can support the high abilities students.

Are these related to my Library? Is this going to help me in the Library and Information Sciences? Working in a school as a librarian, I believe, it is essential to learn about the strategies and tools that teachers are using in their classes so that librarians can continue to be relevant in the changing needs of the educational landscape. Follow the Liferarian Blog to learn more

Where can Librarians Learn?

Liferarian Association is hosting a Virtual Conference with presenters who are practising librarians in various International Schools, being abreast with new technologies and pedagogies of teaching and learning, they too are active learners. Teaching and sharing is another facet of professional development when individuals hone their skills, deepen their understanding as they share with others.

Join the tribe and learn from this virtual conference on the 21st of November 2020. it is free, hosted by the Liferarian Association. This conference will include more than 20 presentations, author presentations and meet with some book distributors. Registrations will open on the 7th of November, 2020

I love what Gandhi said, ” Live as if you were to die tomorrow, Learn as if you were to live forever.”

What is PLC?

By Professional Learning One Comment

Professional Learning Community/Cluster is a group of people who meet regularly to share their experiences, learning, expertise and work collaboratively to improve their teaching craft and inturn impact student learning. This is a form of professional development in Education.

According to Edusource, professional development is like a one single shot workshop/s based on the expertise of one individual delivering in the session. It is often target-based and means to address or share one concept/idea or philosophy to a broad audience.

While in Professional Learning Community/Clusters, the group gets together with a purpose to learn from each other, share ideas, have follow-up sessions and implement coaching strategies. It is said, when you teach someone something or explain someone how to do it, you embed your learning deep within you. According to Kruse, Louis, and Bryk (1995) Formulation of the Professional Community must include several characteristics for it to be successful.

Characteristics of the professional community are:

  1. Reflective focus: A specific goal, intention or purpose
  2. Collective focus on student learning: The target objective is to provide enhanced learning opportunities for students.
  3. Collaboration: No ONE person is perfect, knowing this and keeping an open mind, viewing ideas from different perspectives can be enriching.
  4. Shared values and norms: Individuals come from different backgrounds and value systems; creating a shared model, helps keep the focus on the task and objective. (NOT about self and egos)
  5. Structured time to meet and discuss:  Fixed time brings commitment and dedication to achieve the goals on time.
  6. Interdependence: Knowing that many hands make light work, and many minds make work simple helps in bringing out a product that is rich and with depth.
  7. Educator empowerment: PLC brings about a change in the educator’s mindset leading to natural professional growth for the individual.

Most importantly, the professional learning community must include the following:

  1. Trust and respect
  2. Supportive leadership
  3. Openness to self- improvement (Growth Mindset)

Steps to a PLC 

  • Create a team
  • Start a collaborative culture of trust and respect by creating essential norms and agreements so that everyone is contributing to the task
  • Start with defining the task or objective
  • Decide and explain how things will be executed
  • Set SMART goals – Specific goals, Measureable goals, Assignable, Relevant and Time-bound goals
  • Consider including outsiders to comment, reflect with the team to add perspective.

All this takes time, patience and courage to sustain this process. 

For us, Librarians, it is very crucial to keep in touch with the changing roles in Education. Most schools have only one Librarian. Therefore it becomes very essential for the Librarian to create a professional learning network, where he/she can build on their skills, knowledge and craftsmanship.

Advantages of a Professional Learning Community

According to Dr. Jennifer Serviss, in her article with ISTE shares the benefits of PLCs.

  1. PLCs make educators better teachers
  2. PLCs build authentic relationships between each member of the team
  3. PLCs help educators stay current with new trends in research, pedagogy and tools
  4. PLCs help educators become thinkers by reflective ideas and conversations

If you are interested in starting or participating in a professional learning community, reach out to me, and we can work together and learn together.