Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cool Connections in October 2016

We have made several exciting connections via Skype during the fall of 2016. I want to share about three connections we have made in the last few weeks. These are all special to me for different reasons, and I will share about the significance of each. What is amazing about each of these events is that they wouldn't have happened if not for the magic of social media. If you are not a connected educator, I hope these stories will convince you to start connecting (for your growth and for your learning community).

Connecting With Shannon Miller

I have previously shared that Shannon McClintock Miller inspired me to create this blog and to become a connected teacher librarian. I heard her speak at the Arkansas Association of Instructional Media Conference in 2014. Since taking up these practices that year (and learning more about Twitter through our assistant principal, Mathew Thornton), my professional life has forever changed. I've been blessed with thousands of new educator friends that have helped me improve for the students and teachers I serve.

I'm a firm believer in telling people when they inspire me. I have wanted to tell Shannon how she impacted me since 2014, but didn't have the opportunity until this year. A few weeks ago, Lynn Kleinmeyer, my teacher librarian friend from Nebraska told me she was going to arrange for me to meet Shannon via Facetime. It just so happened that Shannon was speaking at a library conference in Nebraska, and Lynn knows her! When Lynn told me this news, I was so excited that this might happen! I knew I wouldn't have long to visit with Shannon, and I started thinking through what I would share.

It was fun to visit with Shannon!
Lynn connected us on the evening of October 20th. It was so great to meet her and share the impact her "Be the Change" session had on me. It was important to me to share this because without that inspiration, I might have never connected with Lynn Kleinmeyer, Elizabeth Hutchinson, Tracey Wong,  Joyce Valenza, Jennifer LaGarde, Nikki D Robertson, Tiffany Whitehead, Richard Snyder, Karey Killian and so many other important people on my journey to learn more. I challenge you to tell the people that inspire you that they make a difference. It is a fulfilling experience. If we don't tell them, they may never know.

Connecting With Kimee Clift 

Kaitlyn shares with Kimee via Skype.
I was so excited to get a Facebook message from Kimee Clift a few weeks ago. Kimee is a K-12 teacher librarian at Sparkman Public Schools in Sparkman, Arkansas. She asked me about high school library programming to generate interest for her older learners. I asked her if she would like to Skype with Kaitlyn Price (the teacher librarian with me at Lakeside High School) and me to visit face to face for a brainstorming session. It was fun for both of us to tell Kimee about our makerspaces and other programming. Kaitlyn suggested we have a Mystery Skype with one of our social studies classes. It was a brilliant idea since our own Coach April Lawson has been looking for a class to connect with.

We connected for our first Mystery Skype with Kimee's students on Friday, October 28th. It was so exciting to see both groups of students engaged as they tried to determine their opponent's location. Afterwards, the students just visited and compared life at each school. Kimee and I would have probably never pulled this off if not for social media. The best takeaway of all is that we got to see Kimee "be the change" for her learners. The Tweet she sent after the session says it all:

Kimee's reflection after her first Mystery Skype:

"The kids absolutely loved it. They loved being able to connect with other students their age and trying to figure out where they were from. They were begging to do it again. I am excited about the connections I have made through Skype and all the possibilities it holds for myself and the students. I want them to be empowered and realize there is a whole world of learning available to them outside the normal classroom."

Coach Lawson's learners were so engaged during our Mystery Skype!

Mrs. Clift's students on our screen for Mystery Skype action.
I can't wait to see what happens next for Kimee and her learning community!

A Conference Presentation Via Skype

Laura and I visited via Skype prior to their session.
Earlier this year I connected with new North Carolina TL friends, Laura Long and Edie Crook. They asked me to make a short video sharing about how being a connected educator has changed me. Recently, Laura asked me to co-present a Saturday session with both of them via Skype at the North Carolina School Library Media Association Conference. I love telling about being a connected educator, so I jumped at the chance. Laura and I connected the day before to compare notes and visit. I was able to introduce her to several of our high school students during lunch.

On the day of the event, I connected my Microsoft Surface sound through our home stereo system and the video through our television. It was like I was at the session with Laura and Edie. It was very inspiring to learn about the things they are both doing in North Carolina. It is a day I will never forget! The connection with Laura and Edie would have never happened if I had never heard Shannon Miller speak and put those practices into action.

Laura and Edie, my new friends in North Carolina!

We can connect anywhere via Skype. These are the session attendees!
Concluding Thoughts

So in some ways, things have come full circle. I realize, now, that none of this is about us individually. It is about us connecting together and helping one another be better for our learning communities. It is about inspiring each other with our library learning stories. It is about "becoming the change" in our schools and personal learning networks. It is an exciting time to be an educator!

How the Arkansas Department of Education featured our library program in a video!

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