Today I did a session at our annual principal’s conference on social networking. Since the vast majority of tools like MySpace, Facebook, and even professional networks like Classroom 2.0 are blocked, I took the stance that we as educators must educate ourselves and our parents, especially in light of how issues stemming directly from student online interaction seems to find its way into our classrooms, guidance offices, right up to the administrators desks. I’ve presented at the conference several years, but usually in the morning. I was taken aback by the “ghost-town” feeling I had for my 2PM afternoon session. I had roughly fifteen participants. One lady assured me that my topic was popular and relevant, but after lunch folks attending this conference seem to find to “other” things to do. Factor in that it is the next to last day, and well, the lure of the beach was calling too. But honestly, when I attend conferences, I go to 90% of the offerings, and many times you can find me near the front row if I can get to a session early enough. Does this make me an uber-geek? Even in my session today, only one participant sat near the front. This was a new experience for me.
Don’t Preach to the Choir
My attendees seemed generally complimentary, and even one of the conference directors greeted me warmly by name when I arrived. But today I was a wee bit disappointed. Our SC State Department of Education library liaison (Martha Alewine) encourages us to get out and speak at different conferences besides our own. She suggests if we are to gain respect in the field, we must stop “preaching to the choir” (presenting to ourselves at our own conference) and branch out and spread our message about information literacy, ICT, and standards-based collaboratively taught engaged learning by presenting at other conferences. What better way to market what you as the teacher librarian have to offer the school and its curriculum? We must help the teacher population see that we can address standards and impact student achievement.
Spread our Message, Support our Colleagues
I generally try to present at our state edtech conference (SCEdTech), the middle school conference (if I remember to do the proposal), and this one. There are not very many “techy” sessions at this conference, as my friend Dennis Richards has noted before, and from his post here, this goes all the way up to the national level. I really like SCASA’s SLI, as I strongly feel administrators are the ones who MOST misunderstand what should be happening in a library, particularly a 21st Century Library. They are also in a position to “from the top down” help us become more of a collaborating and contributing partner for student learning. In years past, I’ve had wonderful reception and positive feedback from my sessions. My session today was later than I’d ever had before, 2PM. I never expected such a low turnout. It was quite frankly a little disheartening.
I Solemnly Promise…
I promise to all future presenters who draw an afternoon or late presentation I will strive to attend if I’m at the conference. Been there, done that. I know what if feels like now to present to an empty room. I’d have liked to have been out on the beach today too. I especially thank the ones who came.