How do you squeeze an ISTE experience into a blog entry? What do you focus on? Themes, sessions, educational companies, trends, sponsors, exhibitors, keynotes? How do you encapsulate almost a week long opportunity to connect and learn face to face with close 20,000 participants and exhibitors, and even student presenters, representing 73 countries?
For me, it is the people. Sharing the joys of teaching with Facebook and Twitter friends is an opportunity that technology cannot replace. Whether giving one another quick high fives in the Exhibition Hall, hanging in a Playground, sitting on a panel together, grabbing a bite and a cup of coffee, socializing at an after party, or sharing a room together attending conferences help us to rejuvenate our spirits so that we can be active participants in the global community of educators.
Having been to my fourth ISTE, I’m not a newbie so I have learned to make reservations early, pack lightly, and plan for a flexible schedule. But I’m not yet a veteran. I know the names of “big” people, am friends with a few of them, and become a nervous teenage fan when I meet most of the others. Almost a decade ago, my former district’s teacher trainer mentioned ISTE to me. He knew I loved learning about new technologies, even though we had only a few computers in our library. And so I went, and I discovered that there was a world of professional development beyond my classroom, my school, my district, and even my entire state. I went because I had been invited to the table, and I accepted the invitation.
At my very first ISTE in Philadelphia in 2011, I saw Kathy Schrock. And I was star-struck! I say saw, because I was too shy to actually introduce myself to THE Kathy Schrock. Years earlier, I had stumbled on Kathy’s Schrockguide on DiscoveryEducation.com while I was still a 7th grade English teacher. When I needed to find a website to teach my students how to write a research paper, cite their sources, and avoid plagiarism I didn’t use Google. As the saying goes, I went to a librarian, “the original search engine.” I went to Kathy. Kathy Schrock is a name that educators from fields other than library science recognize. Kathy Schrock was at ISTE because she understood that being a librarian means helping readers to navigate text, whether print or digital. She is a teacher librarian.
What stood out for me this year at ISTE were not the new and not-so-new “Kathy Schrock,” librarians like Shannon Miller, Joyce Valenza, Nikki Robertson, Gwyneth Jones, Jennifer LaGarde, Laura Fleming, Sherry Gick, Elissa Malespina, Colleen Graves, Diana Rendina, Andy Plemmons, Heather Lister, Jennifer Lussier, Michelle Colte (I could go on and on and on and...). What stood out for me were my library colleagues who were attending their first or second ISTE. Not just Facebook or Twitter friends. They were librarians who teach on Long Island with me who made the plane trip from New York to Denver. They came because they wanted “a seat at the table.” Whether encouraged by a supervisor or motivated by their own desire to learn and connect, these friends discovered a world beyond their bookstacks.
A librarian cannot be categorized by just one Dewey call number. You see, a librarian has many roles, the most important of which is to be a researcher. We research ways to support our administrators, our teachers, and our students. We leave no stone unturned. Even if we aren’t the curriculum expert, we know how to find the information. But what brings us to conferences? We need human connections. We want to see for ourselves what we can bring back to our schools. We want to want to make new friends.
Seeing my local colleagues experience ISTE for the first time made me realize that as long as there are librarians who are “invited to the table” or “pull up a chair” themselves, libraries will always be the center of learning. Our strength is our appreciation of all subject areas, and how learning is interconnected. As Lady Bird Johnson once said, ““Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.” Attending conferences such as ISTE, helps us to connect with educators whom we might not meet normally. It helps to branch out and to learn about trends in other subject areas. And it helps others to realize the importance of well-funded library programs staffed by certified librarians, no matter what title we have.
My local colleagues, the inspiration for this blog post...
Kristina A. Holzweiss
Ed Tech School Librarian
Bunhead With Duct Tape
PRAISE FOR "HACKING SCHOOL LIBRARIES"
"Hacking School Libraries is the practical book that I have been waiting for a teacher-librarian to publish! This is the book I will be recommending to school librarians who want constructive and attainable suggestions on how to not only transform their library space, but also their library practices and in turn, their school. The stories and ideas from Stony, Kristina, and other respected colleagues in the school library world spotlight tried-and-true practices that have transformed school library programs across the nation."
"I really like the quick reading style and the focus banners for each hack. This is a very useful guide for new school library professionals or those thirsting for easy, practical, and inexpensive ideas to revitalize their school libraries. My highest praise is that it's written by practitioners FOR practitioners."
The book is clear and understandable and helps put their "hacks" into perspective by introducing a problem and possible solution. I especially like the "What you can do tomorrow" section and even though I am not a new librarian, I plan to incorporate some of these ideas tomorrow!
"WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK IS THAT IT BREAKS EVERYTHING DOWN INTO MANAGEABLE SECTIONS. IN THOSE SECTIONS YOU ARE GIVEN SUGGESTIONS FOR WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY! SUCH AN IMPORTANT RESOURCE ESPECIALLY AS MEDIA SPECIALISTS ARE ALWAYS STRUGGLING TO STAY RELEVANT. THIS BOOK REALLY HELPS!" - CATHY CASTELLI
"THANK YOU! THANK YOU FOR SEEING INTO WHAT WE ARE AND OUR MISSION! WELL WRITTEN AND GREAT IDEAS THAT SUPPORT OUR STUDENTS! I LOVE THIS RESOURCE!" - CAROL EVERHART CRITCHER
"THIS BOOK IS INVITING, WELL-ORGANIZED, AND CONTATINS IDEAS THAT ARE EASY TO IMPLEMENT. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE? FROM THE SKETCHNOTE-LIKE ICONS ON THE COVER TO THE CLEAR TABLE OF CONTENTS, THIS INFORMATION IS ON THE RIGHT track for school librarians. no offense to phd candidates, but i'd rather read something that gives me quick usable ideas i can use right now than someone's research dissertation on learning commons model. i have students to help, teachers to collaborate with, and a million other things I am juggling and trying to keep in the air at the same time. - CHARITY S. HARBECK, School Library Media Coordinator/Digital Literacy Coach at Franklinton High School in Franklinton, NC
PRAISE FOR KRISTINA'S WORK
"I am super excited to learn about both high tech and low tech ways to promote literature.
I feel that over the years, I lost myself and my students with the primary focus always being on research. I want to go back to book talks and making library enjoyable (again).
Thank you for your inspiration!"
- Cara Lauber, library media specialist
"Kristina is a librarian's librarian!"
- Ali Schilpp, 2018 SLJ School Librarian of the Year
"Kristina is an engaging guest speaker who offers rich and varied approaches for participants to take part in and contribute. My graduate students leave the classroom feeling motivated, excited and ready to put their learning into practice in their own classrooms."
Dr. Karen Megay-Nespoli, Director of the Literacy and Cognition Graduate Program,
St. Joseph’s College, Patchogue
"i have followed kristina holzweiss on social media for many years. she's always on the cutting edge of the newest tools and activities in education. she was one of the first school librarians i saw who had her students using flipgrid, breakout edu, bloxels, and so many other great resources. i am awestruck by her ingenuity and her passion for helping students and educators thrive. i also appreciate her ideas for empathy and diversity." - tonya fletcher