Professional Development Highlights: August & September 2015


The summer is coming to an end. If you are like me, you will miss it. While I have frequently lamented the summer’s end, the beginning of the school year has always been exciting for me. It is a time to meet new people, explore divergent perspectives, and to continue the important mission of impacting the future by molding young minds.

Then there are meetings and professional development requirements right before school starts. Don’t get me wrong. I understand the need for professional development. Yet I have mixed feelings about mandatory professional development because I prefer to choose my own adventures. In a perfect world, we would only go to the professional development that we find critical to our needs.

When I write to you for the next few months, I am going to share some upcoming professional development opportunities that you might find interesting. The opportunities will not always be specifically for librarians. However, I think it is important for us to step outside of the box to learn from related professions. After all, school librarians are a diverse and creative group of people that impact entire school communities. As we encourage our stakeholders to be lifelong learners, it is essential for us to emulate the same behavior.

I don’t want to be a role model for outdated behaviors. Therefore, I enjoy learning about innovative concepts and make it a habit to attend professional development as frequently as possible. I am always willing to learn because my continuous learning cycle enables me to glean new ideas that I can share. I have found that sharing increases collaboration and builds relationships. These are two elements that are necessary for strong school library programs.

In the video embedded in this post, Tai Basurto talks about her experiences with professional development (TEDx Talks, 2013). According to Basurto, professional development allows her to connect with her students, local organizations, and teachers nationally and internationally. Her experiences have challenged her to be a problem-solver that questions and seeks to improve her teaching practices. Yet one of the most poignant things that Basurto explains is that seeking professional development is not a selfish endeavor. Instead, it is a catalyst for improving the lives of students.

What can you learn that will improve the lives of your students? Will you treat yourself to something new that you can share with your school community? These free opportunities are for the end of August and the month of September. While I have provided partial information from the websites, please click on the links to learn more details. Many of these opportunities will be archived for later viewing if you are unable to attend them during the scheduled times. Upcoming topics include teacher entrepreneurship, grant writing, STEAM programming, leadership development, Storytime Underground, volunteer management, school librarian resources, creative programming that supports diversity.

Title: Teacher Entrepreneurship Week

  • When: Evenings of August 24-27
  • Presenters: Varies but includes Steve Hargadon, Angela Maiers, Steven Anderson, and Kathy Schrock
  • Link:
  • Description: As you head back to school, be inspired by an all-star line-up of educators as they explore the many different forms of teacher entrepreneurship — from educators as content and tool creators, to active participants in education change, to actual business owners, and more.  

Title: Getting All Your Ducks in a Row: How to Plan for Grant Proposal Success

  • When: August 26, 2015
  • Presenter: Dalya Massachi
  • Link:
  • Description: As a grant professional, you should never have to worry about being unprepared for a grant proposal, grant report, or conversation with a grant maker. In this webinar we will discuss the planning you’ll need to do to make sure you’re ready to take on the world. This session is designed to give you the tools you need to get started right away, and is ideal for grant writers and fundraising managers.

Title: Promoting Creativity in Childhood – Moving from Why? to How?

  • Presenter: Erica Fortescue
  • When: September 2, 2015
  • Link:
  • Description: In this webinar for library educators and staff, based on research from fields such as neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and education, the presenter will offer practical tips for designing programs for the next generation of creative innovators. The program will also incorporate techniques to prepare young readers for the Common Core Standards.

Title: Eight Leadership Qualities That Advance the Right Choices for Young Children,

Title: STEAM Programs for Youth

  • When: September 9, 2015
  • Presenter: Amy Koester
  • Link:
  • Description: STEAM programs–those that incorporate science, technology, engineering, arts, and math–are interesting, engaging, and educational, and they appeal to a wide range of youth library customers. This webinar will explore all aspects of offering STEAM programs for preschoolers and school-age children in the library. Attendees will leave the webinar equipped to offer hands-on STEAM learning opportunities for youth, regardless of library size or budget. 

Title: Storytime Underground: A Peer-Created Community

  • When: September 15, 2015
  • Presenters: Cory Eckert, Kendra Jones, Soraya Silverman
  • Link:
  • Description: Storytime Underground is your online community to connect with peers and enhance your practice. Learn about Storytime University, where you earn digital badges for participating in professional development activities and learning new skills; learn about Guerrilla Storytime and how to host one in your area. Storytime Underground is open and free to anyone interested in storytimes and early literacy, regardless of the level of education or position held.

Title: The New Volunteer Manager’s Toolkit

  • When: September 15, 2015
  • Presenter: Jennifer Bennett
  • Link:
  • Description: New to volunteer management? Looking for a refresher on the basics? This webinar will walk you through the three primary Rs – recruitment, retention and recognition. We’ll discuss the most popular program components such as interviews, orientations, volunteer handbooks, and more. And, we’ll talk about the importance of managing risk for your program and your organization. All attendees will also receive a sample packet with examples of program documents and program assessment checklists to help you evaluate your existing program.

Title: Low-Hanging Fruit: Resources for School Librarians

  • When: September 21, 2015
  • Presenters: Idaho Commission for Libraries (speaker not specified)
  • Link:
  • Description: Info2Go! offers monthly webinars featuring experts discussing current library trends with a focus on providing a platform for sharing knowledge and getting questions answered.

Title: STEAM & Día: Offering Informal Learning with a Mind toward Diversity

  • When: September 30, 2015
  • Presenter: Amy Koester
  • Link:
  • Description: Libraries are optimal institutions to provide informal learning: we can structure programs around our own goals instead of formal curricula, and our offerings are freely available to anyone in the community. Yet it is vital that we recognize that the children who attend our programs–especially STEAM programs–are likely not all on a level playing field. Young students of color routinely score lower in math and science than their white peers due to lack of access and preparation in STEAM areas. The library can help bridge this STEAM gap with programs developed with the intent of having a positive impact on every child who participates. Attendees will leave the webinar with tools and resources to allow your STEAM programming to reach the full spectrum of your community.


TEDx Talks. (2013, November 13). Professional development – nurturing the teacher as learner: Tai Basurto at TEDxWellsStreetED. [Video File]. Retrieved from


Author: Daniella Smith

Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently the Hazel Harvey Peace Professor in Children’s Library Services at the University of North Texas.

Categories: Blog Topics, Professional Development

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2 replies

  1. Are your updates going to be sent via the Knowledge Quest newsletter or is there any other way to follow you? These highlights are amazing!

  2. This is a great mindset to have. We are lifelong learners. I am a Science teacher and I became interested in becoming a librarian to connect the library to subjects other than reading. I hope to be able to support the students by creating a love for learning and learning is in books and other information sources.

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