This month the BACC co-bloggers will share snippets of our research in school librarianship and preservice school librarian education. One of our goals is to provide practicing school librarians (SLs) with research-based evidence for how they prioritize their teaching and other professional activities. Another is to spotlight how the co-bloggers prepare preservice SLs for their future leadership roles in their school libraries.
SLs must make a commitment to lifelong learning. The changing educational environments in which we work require it. Whether we lead by integrating new resources, tools, or instructional strategies into our teaching or respond proactively to new required curriculum initiatives, effective SLs are called to be leaders in change and to model continuous learning for students and faculty alike.
In order to stay at the forefront, many SLs are making a regular practice of engaging in online professional development (PD). Webinars and social media groups for networking and learning are growing resources, particularly for librarians who serve in districts without district-level supervisors who organize PD for their cadre of professionals. Twitter chat groups are one such venue for self-regulated PD.
In the last academic year, I had the opportunity and pleasure of studying a Texas-focused school librarian Twitter group. The #txlchat meets on Tuesday evenings from 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. CT during the school year. The chat founders, @sharongullett, @_MichelleCooper, and @EdneyLib, and selected core group members actively supported my research by participating in virtual interviews regarding the importance of this PD and networking venue in their professional lives. Twenty-five #txlchat participants completed an online survey and shared their experiences of learning and connecting with this group of job-alike colleagues.
Thanks to the founders’ commitment to archiving the weekly #txlchats on a Weebly site, I had access to data from forty-five chats—from the very first chat in April 2013 through February 24th, 2015 (the last chat included in my study).
This is just a glimpse of what I learned. During the period of my study, 111 Texas librarians and 121 librarians, authors, and others from out of state participated in the chats. It was not surprising that the most frequent chat topic during the period of my study was technology. Thirteen of the 45 chats I reviewed (29%) focused on using technology tools in the library program. Connecting on Skype, being a “connected” librarian, and social media marketing were among the chat topics with the greatest number of participants, tweets, and retweets.
I learned that #txlchat members have a strong sense of belonging. The founders and core group members who rotate moderator responsibilities are committed to making sure all participants’ voices are heard and valued. Everyone involved expressed pride in their participation–both in learning from others and from sharing their knowledge and expertise with the group. My complete study report will appear in the next issue of School Libraries Worldwide. See citation below.
As you consider how you will access PD opportunities in the coming school year, I hope you will consider Twitter as a possible venue. Everyone is invited to participate on Tuesday, September 1st in the first #txlchat of the 2015-2016 school year. Check it out on Twitter at #txlchat.
Coming soon: Moreillon, Judi. “#schoollibrarians Tweet for Professional Development: A Netnographic Case Study of #txlchat.” School Libraries Worldwide 34.3 (2015).
#txlchat logo used with permission