Five Ways to Make This School Year Your Best Yet

As our school libraries come back to life for another year of personalized learning for each and every one of our students, I wanted to share five ways that you can transform your professional life this school year. You will see that a few of these have deadlines creeping up soon, but I assure you that there is something for EVERY educator in this list.

  1. ALA’s committee volunteer form is available online from August 1 to November 3. There are hundreds of opportunities to serve and all you have to is follow this link! See this informative press release for a specific list of vacancies to assist you in completing the form. School library voices are needed and heeded on every ALA committee and ALA Council. Increasing AASL involvement in ALA is the thrust of my presidential initiative, and completing this form is a fantastic first step. Read more about my initiative in my recent blog post.
  2. The application form for the 2018 ALA Emerging Leaders program is open through August 31. Being a 2010 Emerging Leader transformed my involvement in ALA and AASL. Check out a previous blog post of mine if you’d like to know more about my experience with the program. If you are in your first five years as a library professional or paraprofessional, please read more about Emerging Leaders and start the application process today!
  3. Could you use up to $25,000 to design computer science programs with and for your students? I thought so! Check out Phase III of the Libraries Ready to Code Initiative generously sponsored by Google. Unveiled during ALA Annual 2017 in Chicago, Phase III grant applications are being accepted until August 31. Start your application today right here. This would be a perfect opportunity to involve a variety of community partners on a project that could transform your library’s impact far beyond the walls of your school.
  4. August is the perfect month for planning…specifically strategic relationship planning. Each time I started to work in a new school library, I created a list of people I wanted to target for collaboration and library instruction opportunities. Of course, every first year my list included every single adult in the school. If that seems too daunting or if you are a veteran in your building, think of two to three people you would like to see use the school library in new and exciting ways. Then, go about making that happen with strategic planning. I encourage all types of tactics to make these connections, including attending after-school sports, tutoring, book clubs, and even finding ways to make the carpool line the best duty assignment. Your impact and success as a school librarian is built on relationships, and thinking strategically on how to grow them can pay off for years to come!
  5. Do you know the best time to visit the lovely oasis otherwise known as Phoenix, Arizona? I do! It’s November 9-11 for our 2017 National Conference and Exhibition. Early-bird registration ends August 17, so start your journey to our new National School Library Standards today by visiting Once we all get to Phoenix, I hope you will stop me when you see me so that we can meet and share with one another about the great things we are learning alongside 2,000+ of our school library and administrator colleagues!

See, these five things will change your professional life! Don’t forget to follow AASL on social media to stay current with the numerous ways our phenomenal volunteers and staff are working each day to empower leaders to transform teaching and learning.


Author: Steven Yates

Steven Yates is an assistant professor and coordinator of the school library media certification program at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama. He earned a doctor of philosophy in instructional leadership with an emphasis in instructional technology in 2017.

Categories: Community, Presidential Musings

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