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Notes from the Field #2

Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to win a scholarship from the Simmons MSLA-SIG (the student interest group of the Massachusetts School Library Association) to attend the American Association of School Librarians conference in Minneapolis.  About a month ago, I attended the most recent session, held in Hartford, and I'm amazed at what a difference being in the field makes.  

As a pre-professional, you're expected to attend conferences to get a taste of what life will be like when you're in the field, and you can learn lots of things, but it is nothing quite like knowing you can go home and implement all these amazing ideas in your own space.  I'm tremendously grateful for the opportunity, and if anyone is thinking about going to Columbus in two years time, do it! It's incredible. 

As a related note, there was a strong GSLIS presence at the poster sessions and in the concurrent sessions - Dr. Zilonis and instructor Chris Swerling gave presentations on how to write grants, instructor and Ph.D candidate Deborah Lang Froggatt of BAA/FHS, graduates/students of the SLT and ITL programs Margaret Schoen, Erin Broderick, Jennifer Reed, and Jessica Lodge all presented, and even Judi Paradis, the head of the MSLA was present.  It's really wonderful to see these people who you've heard of, worked with, learned from and gone to class with doing so well and taking on leadership roles on the national stage. 

Just before Thanksgiving, I also had the opportunity to share my job search experience with current SLT students, along with Alida Hanson (Weston High) and Emily Houston (Cambridge Rindge and Latin).  We shared stories of our different experiences (I got the first and only job I applied for, Emily had to choose between two wonderful offers, and Alida had begun to lose hope), but what really stood out to me is this: how happy we all are. As Emily so eloquently put it, "I worked my tail off, and now I have my dream job. This is the dream."  It is so rare to find people who genuinely love what they are doing - to have three of us, in three different districts and schools positively brimming with joy, gratitude and disbelief that we get paid to do these incredible jobs of ours is something else.  I still can't quite believe it.  This profession is rewarding, challenging, and transforming, and I am honored to be counted amongst its members.  

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Notes from the Field #1

It's now six weeks into the school year here in Massachusetts, and I am happy to say that I love my job. It's wonderful. The community is supportive and values the library, my colleagues are welcoming and helpful, and I'm so lucky to have ended up in such a lovely place.  I'm at an especially interesting vantage point, because many of the people who were in the GSLIS program with me when I began have now entered their second and third years of teaching, and they all seem to be thriving: enjoying their jobs, contributing to their school communities, and generally being exemplars of the graduates of the Simmons GSLIS SLTP program. 

It's also six weeks into the start of the Instructional Technology Licensure program (ITL), the two-year, entirely web-based course for post-master's candidates pursuing additional licensure in instructional technology.  We've discussed learning styles, how to foster collaboration, and are now moving into our study of Web 2.0 technologies and their applications in education.  What I value about this course is that it encourages us to think critically about technology, to be adopters, but smart ones.  Our instructor, immediate past president of the American Association of School Librarians, Susan Ballard, is always willing to listen to feedback, respond to questions, and engage with us in the comment threads, which can get quite lengthy.  Apparently we have a lot to say! 

Balancing work and school is a tricky thing - I know many of my GSLIS colleagues did so throughout their time, but it's no easy feat, balancing a 7:30-4:00 job (those aren't my official hours, but that's what they work out to when all is said and done), having time for other pursuits in life and remembering to reply to comment threads, interact with and learn from my cohort, and do the assignments.  The online format has taken some getting used to, but I'm very grateful for the opportunity to further my education in a convenient manner.  If I had to juggle getting from the far suburbs to campus once or twice a week, I don't think my participation in this program would be possible. 

That's it from me for now, but I'll be posting again soon with another "dispatch from the field."

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