This year marks my 12th year as an educator. During this time, I’ve grown in countless ways and learned so much about serving and teaching others. Since leaving the classroom and moving into the library, I’ve gained a different perspective on professional growth and I’ve come to realize that you can’t wait for opportunities to be provided for you – you have to create opportunities for yourself.
As a librarian, it’s easy to feel like a lone soldier within the school building. Even though much of our position revolves around collaborating with our colleagues, we are often left out of professional learning opportunities such as PLCs and professional development experiences. I’m not implying that leaving us out is ever intentional, it’s just hard to include someone who is the only person like them in the building.
But…I’m not someone who is okay with being left out. I thrive on collegial conversations and spending time collaborating with others, whether it’s librarians or classroom teachers. This is probably why I’ve become so enamoured with Twitter and my PLN over the years! My PLN, that I’ve built through Twitter and blogs, is my go-to place for inspiration, assistance, ideas, sharing…and the list goes on and on.
While my PLN certainly fills my bucket, recently I started thinking about how sad it is that I’m not getting more of this type of collegiality from people that I’m around everyday. After a bad experience in a PLC that I attended a few times in my building, I’ve really had no face to face professional outlet other than the handful of teachers that I collaborate with regularly.
This is not okay.
So, I did this thing…
And I’m completely hesitant to write about it, because it’s new and it’s precious and I don’t want to seem like I’m promoting exclusivity or leaving people out.
But I did this thing and I think people need to hear about it and know that it’s okay to provide opportunities for yourself and others if you’re not getting what you need.
So, what did I do? I decided to start my own PLC with a handful of trusted colleagues in my building. And I didn’t ask for permission because I know that my principal is in the business of growing leaders and if she ever reads this, she won’t be upset, she’ll be proud!
This PLC is different – we don’t focus on testing, data or numbers. We don’t use our time to complain about our school, students, or what we don’t like about our jobs. We don’t simply disseminate information or tackle things that could easily be communicated in a short email.
What WE do is focus on positivity. We brag about our students, celebrate our successes, share our ideas and desires, ask each other for help, work together to solve problems and lift each other up. In the end, this is what builds camaraderie, family.
Along with another colleague, we created a list of who we’d like to invite to be a part of this thing. We thought about who we felt needed this same type of experience. I created hand written invitations, made a dinner reservation and our first “meeting” happened. We spent hours just hanging out. We laughed and talked about what each of us needs, our vision of what something like this could be. We decided to have 2 gatherings a month, one on campus and one off campus, as well as create a virtual meeting space using Google Classroom. This way we can share inspiring things any time we feel like it.
Our 1st on campus meeting happens on our last required workday, June 10th. Our agenda – in 5 minutes or less, each person will share 1 thing he/she wants to explore, learn, discover, improve on, or read over the summer. We will listen and become each other’s accountability partners. I think this is a fabulous way to end our school year – being surrounded by people who accept and appreciate you.
So I did this thing, and it’s not just mine, but it belongs to all of us. And if you’re not happy or not getting what you need, you need to do a thing too!