I love the AASL conference. It is always packed with great ideas, inspiring sessions, and generous vendors. I love the hum in the air as thousands of school librarians gather together and spend a few days talking about the career they love. I love to watch people greet friends they only see every two years and make connections with new friends.
Before each conference, I put a lot of thought into my strategy – which sessions will I attend? Will I focus on one theme or try to gather ideas from as many topics as possible? This year I took the shotgun approach – I went in a variety of directions, gathering ideas from here and there. After a few sessions, it hit me that although I was not focusing on a theme one was emerging. I kept hearing about the importance of student voice.
In one session, the presenter talked about her challenge with getting teachers to read emails sent from her. She shared her frustration when learning that some teachers had an email folder with her name on it where they would simply drag her emails to keep them out of their Inbox. She made a simple change and had students create quick tutorials about various tech tools. When she emailed these tutorials – done in student voice – teachers read the emails and watch the tutorials!
In a session about copyright, intellectual freedom, and privacy, we broke into smaller groups to discuss issues related to the topics. One discussion group focused on privacy and social media. We talked about the importance of including student voice in social media policies. What tools are the students using? What instruction is needed? Is there a difference between students’ personal use of social media and schools’ instructional use of social media? As adults, we cannot address these questions without listening to the students. We need to hear and reflect their voice in our policies.
An elementary school librarian presented great ideas for reaching our youngest learners in the library. She encouraged us to listen to the questions the students were asking and be flexible so our library lessons could build on their interests. There might be times when their questions lead to fabulous inquiry projects. She suggested we should, “Embrace opportunities to learn from the students.” Embrace the student voice of our youngest learners.
How do you include student voice in your library program? Does your library space reflect student voice? Are your lessons designed to celebrate student voice? We need to relax our adult expectations and be flexible enough to allow our students to shine.
**You can access many resources through AASL eCollab: http://www.ala.org/aasl/ecollab There are many free resources available for everyone on eCollab, but if you are a member of AASL you will have access to more resources.
Image from Pixabay.