Wednesday 11 February 2015

Phew! I made it...sort of

​I have (as you may have noticed) struggled to keep my blog up-to-date.  My first plan was to post 'regularly' which implied a few times a week.  As I struggled through semester 1, I realized that was an unrealistic expectations and began imagining a weekly post.  Ha!

So I pulled some metaphorical teeth, and despite criticism of being a 'bad friend', working through an HFA diagnosis for my 5 y/o daughter, managing my home and full time teaching role, AND completing my Library Honour’s Specialist, I was able to post once a month.

I've learned through some reflection, that that's okay.  It's not like I'm famous and have a huge fan base expecting posts (but those famous people must also do what works best for them).  I began this journey for me.  For the opportunity to reflect on my professional practice and to evaluate HOW blogging could make me a better teacher librarian, and I feel like I've seen some success with that.

Too often I find myself trying to meet the immediate needs of everyone but myself.  I want to be the best teacher.  The best mother.  The best partner. But the reality is that in order to accomplish any of those self-imposed expectations, I must first be the best me.  And I must accept that being a great teacher librarian is not a standalone role.  ALL of my other 'parts' influence my decisions and learning.

I was happy and excited to attend the 39th Annual Reading For The Love Of If Conference this week and to meet some of the amazing speakers, authors and presenters.  I was reluctant to sign up for one session though (The ADHD Mind) as I worried others would see this as selfish (my kiddo is also diagnosed ADHD).  However, by attending the session I not only helped myself and my family, I also gained several valuable strategies and perspectives that I brought back to share with staff and students.

I keep learning and understanding over and over again that to compartmentalize ME is a disservice to all those I come into contact with. I am learning to embrace the whole me - and what a journey!

Wednesday 7 January 2015


I'm baaaack!

As I resume my duties as Teacher Librarian today, I'm feeling happy.

Despite the long break (I often find open time a daunting task to fill with two small children...) I'm not exactly rested.  Our time away from work was filled with family visits, wonderful meals, driving, organizing, packing, laundry...the list goes on, as I'm sure yours does too!

However being back in the routine brings me a sense of personal joy.  As I look out over the Library Learning Commons, it's really great to see the happy, smiling faces of refreshed students with new hair cuts and big plans ahead of them.  They're still so excited to see each other and share their adventures of time away from school.  Some are diligently working, reading or studying, but all of them are smiling, and these are the happy moments that educators have to look forward to.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

What Did You Learn Today @peel21st? (#peel21st #peel21st188)

My name is Alicia and I am a proud  Teacher Librarian in a secondary school.

The reality is that despite being exhausted (‘tis the season…and apparently I agreed to participate in this blog post at 4:30 am over a month ago!) I love my job; I love that I can learn new things each day from both the amazing staff and curious students in my building.

Recently though, I've learned more about collaboration and leadership as I completed my Library Specialist and developed a PD opportunity for our staff.  I really admire and appreciate our ITRT, ; he is amazing, helpful and inspirational, and was a big part of our Library Learning Commons and #technasium this semester while we ran the Lunchtime Workshop Series to support staff learning of 21st century teaching tools.

Additionally, I’ve had the pleasure of working collaboratively with my LLC PIC (Partner In Crime),  even more this semester.  As I've mentioned before, “ we continue to refine our expertise and expand our knowledge through professional relationships and conversations with colleagues” (Partnering for Success: A Resource Handbook for Mentors, 2).  Jayne and I have built a strong working relationship; we work to balance each other and regularly promote the ever expanding program offered here  LLC ( & ).

This semester I've continued to learn from experience that “...we don’t learn to teach. Rather, we learn from our teaching” (Partnering for Success: A Resource Handbook for Mentors, 2).  This, of course, couldn't have authentic roots without collaboration, so I guess that means I’ve learned that collaboration is the core and key to my success as an educator! (281…close enough!)


Friday 5 December 2014

All That Effort

To be honest, I’m exhausted.


For about two weeks, the above line is all that I could write.  I could say it was writers block, but that would be a lie.  In fact, I’ve been continuing to work hard and have plenty of things to say and write about the experiences I’ve had lately, I just don’t have the time.


The reality is that each night I collapse into bed wishing for just a few more hours a day to complete all the things I wish I could have done.  Just a few more hours with my children.  Just a few more hours to get through all the reading I promised I could do.  Just a few more hours to reach out to friends and family that I don’t see on a regular basis.  Just a few more hours so I could find some time for me.


Instead I fall into a fitful sleep of stress and worry, often interrupted by my extra sensitive five year old who only finds night time solace in co-sleeping.




One of the best parts of working on my Library Specialist Additional Qualification this semester is that the adult learning model was honoured.  Because I could direct my learning and make it applicable to my daily professional practice, this took some of the expected stress out of the course.  Each week I was provided with clear guidelines while at the same time being respected to make selections appropriate for the learning I needed to build the program in our Library Learning Commons.


I continued through the course with a focus on 21st century teaching and learning tools, and found many resources that supported my research in this area.  The Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada 2014 Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada 2014 was by far the most informative on-line resource I accessed.  Additionally, the recently published text Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times (2014) by Eric Sheninger was highly informative as I learned more about taking on a leadership role in my school.  Through this independent learning opportunity focusing on the use of technology and leadership in my school community, I have made valuable connections with staff and admin, as well as learned more about the challenges and rewards of taking on a leadership role.


Despite the fact that I often feel like the tank is running on empty, I know that all that effort does not go unnoticed.  I am thankful for the ongoing support of my course instructor who provides positive feedback, my partner in crime who is often a listening ear, the quiet colleague who reminds me in an email that our program is awesome, and the friend who sends a text to say keep it up – you are so valuable to our school.


As educators we work in a dynamic environment filled with challenges and rewards, and despite the juggling act that is our profession, we persevere.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

What 21st Century Learning Means To Me (@peel21st #Peel21st)

When @jrichea asked me to participate in this Blog Hop discussing Learning in the 21st Century, I honestly believed that he meant it as a Tweet, and responded with the following: exhausting, exciting, overwhelming, fun, creative, challenging! 

Those few words pretty much wrap up my role as a TL!  Each day I try to bring excitement and energy to our Library Learning Commons, but the reality is that this effort is often exhausting.  Because there are so many amazing 21st century tools and experiences available as a learner (and for student learners) my team is often overwhelmed with the responsibility of delivering a fun and creative curriculum to promote the use of our LLC space.  Thankfully I am blessed with colleagues like @JayneShewman who regularly meet the challenge to collaborate and create with me to provide the best experience for us all! 

Every single day we learn something new: about curriculum, students, and ourselves!

Please 'Hop On' to see what the others have written! 

Susan Campo @susancampoJim Cash @cashjimShivonne Lewis-­‐Young @SLewisYoungGreg Pearson @vptechnodorkPhil Young @_PhilYoungJames Nunes @jameseliasnunesDonald Campbell @libramladKen Dewar Bestbefore2030Graham Whisen @grahamwhisenLynn Filliter @assessmentgeekDebbie Axiak @DebbieAxiakJonathan So @MrSoClassroomJim Blackwood @jimmyblackwoodJason Richea @jricheaTina Zita @Xna_zitaSean Broda

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Collaboration is Key!

“As teachers, we continue to refine our expertise and expand our knowledge through professional relationships and conversations with colleagues, and through applying and adapting information and strategies within the context of our own classrooms” (Partnering for Success: A Resource Handbook for Mentors, 2).

As I continue to engage in research surrounding Leadership and Technology for the purpose of my Library Specialist, I couldn’t agree more with the above statement!  When I think back over the last 10 years I have spent as an educator, I know that I couldn’t be the great teacher I am without the support and collaborations of others.  From Patrick McQuade and Janice Mason who were my first true mentors in education, to Jayne Shewman who I have the pleasure of working with each day in our LLC, and ALL those in between at conferences, professional development days, and in leadership roles, it has taken a village to raise this educator.

I feel blessed to now be working in the role of Teacher Librarian for the Peel District School Board and experiencing the true support of an administration team. I have been given an opportunity to expand my collaborative role within our school and to continue building exceptional professional relationships with my colleagues.  Because of this, I have had several positive experiences just this semester building curriculum, learning new strategies, and creating professional development opportunities designed specifically for our staff.

One of the most positive experiences to date has been working together with our family of schools’ ITRT Samir, and our school principal Mr. Kamel to organize and facilitate a lunchtime series of workshops aimed at using our new technasium space and meeting the specific technology needs of the learners in our school.  Through meetings and emails, we were able to collaborate successfully to prepare and present our very first workshop that focused on iPad applications for classroom use. Through some of the trouble shooting, mini-video creation, and experimenting with verbal feedback features we were all able to learn, which will be directly transferred into our teaching.  As I have continued to experience, “...we don’t learn to teach. Rather, we learn from our teaching” (Partnering for Success: A Resource Handbook for Mentors, 2).

All of my experience would suggest that avoiding collaboration is a disservice to students.  Perhaps it is due to fear of criticism or something else completely that I don’t understand, but those teachers who avoid collaborative opportunities create themselves as islands (withouth wifi!). Instead, I have learned that understanding my areas for improvement, and then learning from other teachers who have experience, is always the best path.

Finally, I think this clip Obvious to You, Amazing to Others (shared by @gcouros at the #eloGTA in May 2014) demonstrates the exact WHY of collaboration.  You may not see how great your ideas are until someone else points them out to you - so collaborate and find out!

Thursday 23 October 2014

iPads and Twitter and Blogs...O my!

There is no question - using technology can be super intimidating!  That being said, I know I’m not alone in this perspective.

As I move through the researches and discovery portion of my Library Additional Qualification Specialist course, I am regularly amazed (and seriously overwhelmed!) at how many amazing resources are available out there.  Despite the fact that I've been in the role of full time Teacher Librarian for four years, I feel like a rookie on a regular basis.

Thus far, I have been focusing my research for my Part III AQ on a broad scale on using technology as a teacher and how it can improve my professional practice as a teacher librarian. Our LLC now has a half set of iPads that we’ve begun to prepare programs for, and I have been actively involved in using Twitter to promote the Streetsville Library Learning Commons.  On a smaller scale, I've been searching for articles that highlight blogging as a specific tool and the positive and challenging perspectives of this.  

After some preliminary reading of sources like Treasure Mountain (, blogs by George Couros ( and Tina Zita (, and other print texts, I decided that putting it directly into my regular practice would be best, thus began this blog.

I automatically became more reflective.

Arguably, writing for this purpose and with an audience in mind, I automatically became more reflective.  At the same time though, I've found the experience thus far to be very empowering as well.  To see that other people (well over 100) have read what I have to say gives me a sense of ownership over my professional practice. 

In addition, it’s amazing how writing a blog almost immediately resulted in an introspective thought process.  I had to create a series of basic questions or self-checks (some of the exact things I would ask of students engaging in this process) like: Who might read my blog? How has the information I've shared guided my current practice? What are some of the similarities or differences that I notice with other educational bloggers? What have I learned since my last post?  How have I demonstrated my learning in my teaching practice?  How's my grammar?!?

I tend to take a significant amount of time (several hours) writing and drafting, then edit my work carefully before posting.  This is because I know that what I've written will be read by the general public, but more importantly by my colleagues and peers.  The same can be said for student writers participating in this process.

I truly believe that student and teacher blogging can develop deeper reflection, and overall better thinking and writing.

I hope that this process will result in a collaborate effort with a teacher in my building; someone interested in taking a risk and trying something new to foster student writing and reflection.  Despite the technology intimidation factor, I truly believe that student and teacher blogging can develop deeper reflection, and overall better writing and thinking.

Stay tuned!