Who Selects Conference Sessions?
As co-chairs of the conference sessions committee, we (Ann Marie Pipkin and Judi Paradis) spent many hours working to ensure that there is something for everyone in Columbus. Ann Marie Pipkin has been active in AASL for almost 25 years serving on committees and enjoying new adventures. Many of the friends that she’s made over the years in AASL are still active, also. Judi Paradis has served on the AASL Affiliate Assembly for the past six years, and enjoyed this new opportunity to work on a national conference–a nice progression from helping to plan conferences for the Massachusetts School Library Association. We loved having a front row seat on what is going on not only in programming, but also in the overall conference planning. Now that we’ve worked with an amazing committee to select the conference sessions (and became friends!), we’d like to share some thoughts about choosing wisely as you look at available sessions.
We thought a lot about how our profession constantly evolves as we selected specific sessions. Many of us started our careers convincing our teachers to stop calling the library a media center, and we’re now asking them to call it a learning commons. Our evolutionary mission asks us to discover the best new technologies, the go-to experts, and the cutting edge practices that will help us ensure that our school libraries provide optimum learning opportunities for our students. We thought about each session proposed, and about how they would work together to provide a spectrum of comprehensive choices. You should plan to look carefully at offerings before you arrive, and reflect upon what sessions will challenge you to broaden your views and improve your practice–whether you are a librarian, an administrator, or another educator interested in utilizing your library program well. Look at the sessions designed to introduce new technologies, those that feature experts in our field, and those that will push you to reach out to every student, and embrace great teaching strategies.
Choose the Sessions That Are Right for You!
We’re aware that each of our paths through the sessions will differ! Ann Marie wants to attend programs and activities that will benefit her in her volunteer work and expand her personal learning networks. At the closing session on Saturday, she is especially looking forward to Eszter Hargittai’s keynote because of her interest in technology. She’s also sure to visit with the vendors that she has known throughout the years to make her conference memorable.
Judi wants to ensure that she selects sessions that are applicable to her K-5 students, as well as sessions that will address the diversity she sees each day in a school with a large ELL and SPED population. She also wants to get ideas to help her school embrace a new 1:1 initiative, to ramp up her use of guided inquiry teaching, and to finally get around to setting up a robust makerspace.
Your evolutionary path is going to be different from ours. You might be a high school librarian looking to use social media to push the boundaries of your school, or an urban librarian looking for resources designed to engage students with significant learning challenges. Our aim is to guarantee that librarians covering any grade level, in any setting, and with a range of support would find useful sessions. We thought hard about trends we’re seeing and the ongoing need to keep our practice grounded in solid principles of good teaching and good librarianship. Wherever you are right now, AASL conference sessions are designed to meet you there and inspire you to get to the next level. It is our hope that you will have fun, meet with friends, experience new ideas and grow, grow, grow.