“Read what gives you delight – at least most of the time – and do so without shame.” This is a quote from an enlightening book entitled The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs (2011, p. 23). I highly recommend reading this short book as it will inspire you to make reading without distraction a daily priority.
I am an avid reader. I learned to read early and have been devouring books since then. I love to read fiction (especially a good series!) for leisure and entertainment and informational books for my own learning and growth. These two passions – reading and learning, are ultimately what led me to the school library. I would assume that most school librarians have a similar story and desire to cultivate that passion in their students.
I try to read one informational book per month that is related to a professional topic. Over the past few years I’ve been exploring the concept of multiple literacies and looking at what those outside of the school library field have to say about the various literacies that are taught in the K-12 learning environment. Over the next several months I plan to read the following:
- Navigating Media Literacy: A Pedagogical Tour of Disneyland by Vanessa E. Greenwood
- A Brief History of the Book: From Tablet to Tablet by Steven K. Galbraith
- Reader, Come Home by Maryanne Wolf
- The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World by Adam Gazzaley and Larry D. Rosen
- Disciplinary Literacy Inquiry & Instruction by Jacy Ippolito, Christina L. Dobbs, and Megin Charner-Laird
Finding time to read, especially for professional purposes, is a challenge for most educators (myself included!). The schedule is jam packed with managing the classroom/library, lesson planning, assessment, meetings, and “other duties as assigned.” On top of that, educators are often assigned professional reading by their professors (if enrolled in a graduate program) or administrators. So, when might you find time and motivation to explore your own professional learning interests?
First, I suggest identifying a topic that sounds interesting and one in which you want to grow your knowledge. Second, select a book. Ask your colleagues for recommendations, browse through books reviews (such as those provided by School Library Journal or School Library Connection), or browse publisher’s sites (like Libraries Unlimited, American Library Association, or Rowman & Littlefield). Third, set a goal – by what date would you like to finish reading the book? Fourth, determine how much time and during what period you will spend each day/week meeting your goal. For example, you might decide to read while you eat lunch, sit in waiting rooms or the school pick-up lane, or wait for an event to begin. Carry the book with you (or download the ebook version) – you never know when you’ll have a few minutes to read. Those minutes quickly add up! Also, carry a pencil and/or a small notebook with you to take notes. I like to either annotate the book (if I own it), or jot down ideas I would like to explore later in the notebook. Finally, determine how you will share what you’ve learned. Consider meeting with a colleague over coffee to discuss your learning. This has two benefits – first, you will be more likely to put your new knowledge into practice, and second, you might help another learn and apply something new.
I will likely blog about what I’ve learned from the books I’ve listed above and how their ideas might impact the school library. Feel free to post your professional reading goals and/or suggestions in the comments below. Let’s enjoy learning together this year!
Jacobs, Alan. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. New York: 2011 Oxford University Press, 2011.
Author: Melanie Lewis Croft
Melanie Lewis Croft is an assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of West Georgia and program coordinator for its fully online School Library Media Program. Dr. Croft has worked with all grade levels and subject areas across a variety of learning environments in public, private, urban, and rural school systems. She served the K-12 field of education for 17 years as a state-certified elementary level classroom teacher, secondary level library media specialist, and district administrator of technology, library services, and curriculum. Since 2014, Dr. Croft has worked at the university level as both a faculty member and program coordinator of two graduate education programs in school library media. She currently serves AASL as a member of the School Library Research Editorial Board and contributor to the Knowledge Quest Blog.
Categories: Professional Development