This post originally appeared in the Texas Association of School Librarians (TASL) Talks blog and is written by Round Rock High School Librarian Christina Taylor. Connect with Ms. Taylor on Twitter and learn more about her work on her website.
Librarians have always been at the forefront of information technology, even if we haven’t always had that reputation. Be it in tablets, scrolls, codices, microforms, or databases, we’ve always gone where the information is in order to find answers. Unfortunately, as mere access to information has taken center stage, school libraries run the risk of becoming a Starbucks-without-the-coffee. However, access is not learning. There’s a profound difference between simply finding information and building transferable skills that can be applied to an unfamiliar problem in a foreign context.
To cultivate life-long learners in this dynamic world, students’ skills must be honed, maintained, and broadened continually. The Google Education Trainer (GET) certification aids in this pursuit, and I have found it a worthwhile endorsement of technology leadership and a natural accompaniment to the library’s role in information technology.
As a GET, I function as teacher, collaborator, presenter, and community liaison on my campus, in my school district, and beyond.
On my home campus, my GET certification makes it possible for me to share expertise on many levels, ranging from the individual student to the faculty at large. It has opened the door to allow me to teach lessons that impart important content to students while modeling to their teacher a student-driven, technology-enhanced lesson that allows for differentiation. Also, one step removed from the front of the class, I collaborate behind the scenes with teachers, suggesting ideas and assisting them with their own projects to integrate technology into lessons. And, I’m called on to conduct campus professional development from time to time, sharing ideas and expertise to whole departments or more at a time.
My district is growing by leaps and bounds, creating more and more opportunities to influence thought about the role of the school library and how it can support students and fellow educators. I’ve used skills sharpened and sustained by my GET certification in presenting at the secondary librarians’ monthly workshops, serving as a lead learner at trainings for one of the district’s technology initiatives, and conducting sessions at the summer professional development conference as well as at the district’s Google Summit. Furthermore, as the district strives to prepare students for future careers, being a GET has paired well with opportunities for extending the influence of modern school librarianship. This summer, I had an externship with Roy H. Williams Marketing where I job shadowed the Operations Manager to gain a better understanding of how the firm runs its day-to-day operations. With an eye toward increasing the company’s productivity and streamlining its workflow with free web-based tools, I developed a lesson that integrates my learning into teaching and hope to collaborate with a marketing teacher to implement it.
Even beyond the structure of a district, being a GET opens up platforms for spreading a new way of thinking about the practice of a school librarian’s art and science. I’ve presented at TLA & TCEA about new and useful tools and workshopped with attendees in the Google Teaching Theater about how to use and apply them. When Google’s Texas Roadshows pulled into town, I was invited to that as well. I was even asked by JoeZoo to present local professional development if anyone is interested.
As one of the heads of my library, taking a leadership role in technology in the broader campus community has served to enhance instruction directly and indirectly, as well as raise the profile of the library’s other programs. Across the district at large, my ability to contribute to professional development of others and to take a more active role in collaboration with my peers has come in no small part due to the skills and insight that the granting of this certification have nurtured. And in representing the excellence of my school district on the broader educational stage, my focus more often than not is on sharing the results and best practices I’ve developed while working with these technologies.