Extended Your Reach @ PSLA 2016
I just wrapped up an exciting weekend with some amazing Pennsylvania librarians at the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association annual conference. This conference is always held at the “sweetest place on Earth” – Hershey, Pennsylvania. Fortunately for me, this is also the town in which I teach, so I had very little traveling to do.
I currently serve on the Board of Directors for PSLA, so my conference began with a Board Meeting. Meanwhile, other attendees had the fortune of attending a pre-conference workshop learning about the new state evaluation system and how librarians can/should be evaluated. (There is so much debate on this topic and I’m still working out my personal opinion on the issue). So often teacher-librarians are pushed into professional development offerings that target classroom teachers, we sometimes get lost in the mix. And while we most certainly ARE teachers and a lot of the information is beneficial, it’s nice to have a dedicated professional development for our unique role. Many librarians look to PSLA to fulfill that need.
Then we headed to dinner and our keynote speaker, Richard Byrne. Richard spoke on “Leading Students in a Hyper Connected World” and he was kind enough to share his presentation on his blog, FreeTech4Teachers. Nothing is better than a speaker with a sense of humor. Particularly after a long day of learning.
He really had the crowd rolling when he shared this clip from The Office.
I had followed his blog prior to see him speak, and I’m confident he just gained a few hundred more after his keynote.
Friday morning was kicked off with the Awards Breakfast. This is one of my favorite events in the entire conference because I get to see so many hard working individuals be recognized.
We also heard from Jerry Spinelli and Alan Grantz who were PA Young Readers Choice recipients in 2015. (Soo awesome!!)
The best and worst part about conferences is choosing sessions. I love the ability to choose sessions that interest me, but find it SO frustrating when so many awesome sessions are occurring at the same time. PSLA 2016 was no exception.
PSLA used this awesome tool called Sched to post the sessions online. You could create an account and make your own schedule. I love it! You can still see the schedule of events here. You can even upload session handouts straight to the app. I loved it.
I presented with some of my best friends (also colleagues) on Blended Professional Learning. You can see our slides here.
After the last session, I grabbed a bite to eat and geared up for the Unconference!
We did the Unconference “Learning Commons” style where we organized according to our interests. You can see the spreadsheet here. There was some amazing discussion on eBooks, makerspaces, coding! (Unconferences are another love/hate relationship. I want to be at EVERY table at the same time).
Along the way, librarian’s shared their “Library Wins” which was so empowering.
After the discussions, we moved to the Smackdown. During the Smackdown, librarians share their favorite tools or bring up a topic they’d like to discuss.
Saturday was an easy day with breakfast, our author keynote by Jacqueline Davies, and one final session.
The end of the conference is always bittersweet. You’re so exhausted so you’re happy, but you’re sad that you may not see some of these people for an entire YEAR! (What was life before social media?)
I am so happy to have been a part of the conference. I am also thankful that the conference ended on a Saturday giving me an entire Sunday to get re-energized for the week ahead.
As much as I love attending national conferences like ISTE, AASL, and FETC, there is so much power in your local organization. It’s like a little family. We support each other, we encourage each other, we console each other. I remember my very first time I attended PSLA – I was in my junior year as an undergrad. Since then, my family has grown tremendously with new librarians, but the old faces stay around – supporting, encouraging, and consoling. Regardless of whether they just retired or retired a decade ago – they’re love and passion for school libraries is contagious.