As a long-time partner in the ASCD Whole Child Initiative, AASL exhibited at the 2022 ASCD Annual Conference: Recharge & Reconnect which was held in Chicago on March 18-21. AASL President Jennisen Lucas, AASL President-Elect Kathy Lester, former AASL Board member Laura Hicks, and AASL Executive Director Sylvia Knight Norton attended the conference and had the opportunity to speak with many attendees as they came through the exhibits.
The attendees at the conference represented a wide range of educators and leaders from both the United States and other countries. These educational leaders included superintendents, curriculum directors, building administrators, school librarians, teachers, and others. We spoke with educational leaders who did not currently have a school library but wanted to build one, administrators who wanted to strengthen their existing library and/or provide additional resources for their school librarian, and administrators who felt they had a strong school library with a dynamic school librarian. Conversations with these leaders centered on how the AASL National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries and other AASL resources support their efforts to provide equitable resources and experiences to their students. It was very powerful to have the opportunity to share, directly with school and district leaders, specific examples of how the work of certified school librarians empowers all learners to be information and media literate.
One of the highlights was having the opportunity to speak with ASCD members about the new AASL Crosswalk with the ASCD Whole Child Tenets. ASCD members were interested in hearing how school librarians support the whole child through alignment of our national standards with the Whole Child tenets of Healthy, Safe, Engaged, Supported, and Challenged. An ASCD Board member was particularly interested in the crosswalk and how this document would strengthen the partnership between AASL and ASCD.
Other conversations included speaking with representatives from the Copyright Clearance Center. They spoke with us about the essential role of school librarians in supporting copyright in their schools. We also spoke about possible opportunities to provide education on copyright to AASL members.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona spoke at the closing session which provided an opportunity to speak directly with U.S. Department of Education staff. We also were able to attend some conference sessions. Two concurrent sessions of note included a session on media literacy and a session on the ASCD legislative agenda.
Teaching Students to Decode the World: Engaging Teachers and Librarians as Partners for Media Literacy in Every Classroom
This session was led by Cyndy Scheibe, Ph.D. from Ithaca College. Cyndy spoke about the idea of constructivist media decoding (CMD) and the use of free educational resources from Project Look Sharp (www.projectlooksharp.org) to engage students in strengthening their media literacy skills. Dr. Scheibe highlighted the importance of school librarians and their collaboration with teachers to teach media literacy to all students. The resources at Project Look Sharp may be useful for AASL members to support them in this work.
Advocacy for Educators
This session was led by David Griffith, Senior Director, ASCD Government Relations Team. He spoke about ASCD’s legislative agenda which includes items around teacher retention and recruitment as well as “Supporting the development of resources for educators to use regarding digital citizenship and the responsible use of the Internet and engagement with social media.” David also spoke generally about the need for educators to advocate in support of their students and their profession. Some of the ideas for advocacy included: sending letters to lawmakers, meeting with legislators, hosting school visits, writing an op-ed or letter to the editor, and sharing information with colleagues.
AASL’s exhibit booth and attendance at the 2022 ASCD Annual Conference was made possible by the generosity of AASL member Marina “Marney” Welmers. We greatly appreciate her recognition of the importance for AASL to be able to reach out and connect with our educator colleagues in other organizations.