Monday, 29 May 2017

Librarians and a teacher presenting at the British Isles Google Summit rocking Edtech and collaboration

Last weekend Angela Etheredge, Stony Evans and myself presented at the British Isles Google Summit held in Guernsey. Two librarians and a teacher working together. Why is this worth blogging about?

This was primarily a teachers event, it was about how to use all things Google from Docs to slides and Forms to Classroom so where did a school librarian fit into this? I have been using Google tools for a while now and personally wanted to know more about Google classroom.  More importantly though it was important for me, as a librarian, to attend this teachers conference as it would help me highlight the teaching side of my role. I have written about this in previous posts.

After applying for a place a  few weeks later I recieved an email from Lucy Witham arrived saying that there was only one local speaker signed up and if you felt you had something to share then you should apply for a speakers place. I realised once again that I had a chance to talk to teachers about what school librarians do so I decided to apply. Deciding what I would share was easy.

Which Google product have I used within a classroom setting in collaboration with a teacher?

This was easy! A year ago I helped Angela Etheredge, a teacher at St Annes in Alderney, connect her students via Google hangouts with students in Arkansas. We played mystery hangout with their students and were amazed at the impact that it had on everyone. I also had something else up my sleeve. About 6 months ago, Stony Evan, the librarian in Arkansas, asked me if I would be willing to join him via hangout at a conference he was presenting. I agreed and I joined his session to talk about our collaboration via hangout, so it was time for him to return the favour.  I submitted my idea and was accepted.

How did Angela join in?

At this point it was just Stony and myself until I went to run the inset training at St Anne's. During the day I shared a little about the hangout with Arkansas with all the teachers and as I talked Angela joined in.  I realised that to have a teacher join me in my session at the Google Summit would practically demonstrate how important and necessary teacher librarian collaboration is. So we had our team.

Creating our presentation.

As Stony was in Arkansas, Angela was in Alderney and I was in Guernsey there was no way we were going to be able to sit in the same room and talk about our presentation so we decided to create a Google Slide and work on it collaboratively, we also talked by Google hangout too. I did not realise it at the time but by using a shared Google slide and hangout we were actually doing what they were going to tell us about at the conference.

At the conference

We were not presenting until Saturday afternoon due to the time difference between Arkansas and the UK so we were not able to get this out of the way quickly. After sitting through some brilliant workshops by Ben Rouse, Matt Smith, Bogdan Copil and Jon Neale I was beginning to worry that our presentation was so different that it may not be good enough. Every other workshop was full of ideas and we were planning to share only one. Angela was very calm which helped but I still wasn't sure. I wanted to check out the technical side of our presentation but was unable to do this until just before our slot and that worried me too.

Our session

Time for worrying was over. A quick connection to Stony was tested and we were ready to go. We had a small group of teachers and I would have been happy to present to them but as we started talking more arrived which was great.  The presentation can be found here.

After all my worrying our presentation went really well with one attendee tweeting that it was the best session of the day! Funnily enough I had not realised that as we started Anglea got really worried when she saw who was arriving.  They were IT specialists from the College of Further Education and she did not think that we could show them something that they did not already know. However, that was not the case and our icing on the cake was our demonstration of how easy it was to connect with Stony in America. Having him in the room with us really went down well. People liked the practical application of our session, admitting that we were novices at this but were prepared to try it inspired our attendees to try it themselves.  By giving a clear demonstration of how it worked for us, even though we were clearly not experts, was well received.

Angela and I were on such a high after our session. It worked! We demonstrated something that not everyone is using and we were also able to show how the collaboration between the librarian and the teacher can lead to greater student learning. One local teacher came up and said he was really jealous  of us, when we asked why he said, because we had been brave enough to put ourselves forward to present and he wished he had taken the opportunity too.

Why is it important that you put yourself forward? 

In order for schools and teachers to understand what librarians do we must  talk to them about it. Whether that is in the school staff room or presenting at a teacher training day or even being brave enough to present at a conference. Unless we talk and demonstrate how we can support student learning, some teachers and schools will never know what they are missing out on.

Finally, one teacher asked me how we could help him to connect his students. If this is all we achieved that day this was enough. Helping one teacher to understand the impact that working with the school library can have on his students then we did a good job. You never know where this may lead. 

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