My story of learning through culture is situated in bushland five kilometres out of Lismore, NSW. At nineteen years of age, I am being shown The Way along bushland paths and rocky ledges, as my lecturer Uncle Ron, shares knowledge that is positioned in the air, the ground, his mind, and stories, revealing ways of knowing that I failed to fully comprehend. I wish I could return to this moment, and experience it again today. I would give my right arm to listen to Uncle Ron and Tyson Yunkaporta share their stories with each other.Weaving our Stories is a powerful connective composition of lives lived in the past and present, and the power of story to bring these threads together as one tapestry of knowledge. I have learnt through this Inquiry that Narrative influences our lives as we develop stories that we 'live by'. Stories ground us to places, people and our position in the world. Studying a Master of Education has presented an opportunity for me to encourage a new generation of storytellers to make sense of their world, and the worlds of others.
As a classroom teacher of 20 years and now Teacher Librarian, I have delighted in the power of a good story, eyes wide as teacher and student connect through shared experiences. In the weaving of my knowledge as a mature age student, I have felt a sense of something greater than my own learning, something that has become a powerful catalyst for personally viewing the world in an entirely different way. It has become an Inquiry into Self through Story sharing. The most difficult story of my life relates to what I now understand to be a spiritual disconnection, influenced by the death of my only sibling thirteen years ago. It only seems like yesterday. My son was born a matter of days later. Loss became my external, and later, internal story.
Picture me standing in my/our library earlier this year, during an Elders gathering in the Library to share the work of The Origami Kings. A Local Yaegl Elder asks if I have ever been 'officially' welcomed to Yaegl Country. My hands were then protectively embraced within hers and then her words welcomed me to the place of her birth. In a location I have traversed in my school and work years for two decades, she welcomes me and literally grounds my soul to the land on which I stand. This moment is a cross section of story, culture, connection and place, and the transformative nature of knowledge that forms between them all. Had I not found Tyson Yunkaporta's work, and studied a degree that required high levels of self reflection, the significance of this moment of welcome may have been lost on me, and this learning.
Aunty Lenore's Welcome To Country is one of many moments of reflection in my life that have repositioned and reconnected my ways of thinking, seeing, knowing and being. Recent training in Our Ways challenged my connection to place and exposed my state of being, which was not well. This training resulted in the essential question that triggered my learning journey. I looked at the other participants, scribbling into notebooks where they belonged and to whom, and I had a blank page. Where did I truly belong? I wasn't sure. Why do I feel so lost, out of place? Through the completion of my degree I now understand the symbolism of Yunkaporta’s Story Sharing boomerang. New knowledge has come from my experiences of learning and loss. I am now positioned to understand the loss of my brother as situated at the boomerang’s curve. I have come to the end of this life learning experience, respositioned after thirteen years, to still yearn for a place of acceptance. My brother and I will always be connected through story, but now also a place: we have both briefly walked the same lands in the Clarence Valley, so the connection remains. My greatest reflection is that my internal life story (framed by grief) has been re-edited and repositioned to match the external life story, one of daily recovery and connection through place.
Despite a sense of Imposter Syndrome as a Teacher Librarian, as a human being, I realise I have always been obsessed with the stories and the sources of information that we use to tell them. I wonder about their power to transform, the stories we tell ourselves, their formation of self and their purpose in our lives. How will we weave our future stories as individuals and global communities? In a time of hyperconnected landscapes, I believe stories shared in digital landscapes such as youtube remind of us our global commonalities, more so than our differences. These are stories of the highs and lows of the human condition, and today, anyone can share. The world inquires into them all. We love to create and share stories, and as a teacher librarian, I am blessed to be surrounded by stories every day. Stories can also represent powerful and destructive narratives of the past. Yet, everyone’s story has a right to be told, and most importanty, to be listened to. My greatest learning is that stories themselves are powerful sources of information that can be re-written, edited and retold, to allow us to heal and live a life with more meaning and purpose.
A school library is a vital connection in improving student learning outcomes, as corroborated by the House Standing Committee Report on Education and Employment (2011).
Teachers, Innovators, Learners, Leaders, Collaborators: I have always viewed the Teacher Librarian role with interest, a perfect position for a 'Multipotentialite' like me. The Students Need School Libraries campaign affirms my belief that Libraries are at the heart of their school communities. Some library heart beats are strong, their teacher-librarians meeting a vital community and societal need, as they operate vital third spaces of learning between home and the classroom (Maniotes, 2005).
Other libraries, unfortunately, are in states of cardiac arrest, under staffed and underfunded (Softlink, 2016). My hope for our school library 'heart health check' is the Connected Learning Library Model, where libraries engage an entire school community within physical and online spaces, recognising, nurturing and celebrating youth identities and cultures. Connected Learning Libraries support unique learning and teaching, guide the formation of digital and informational skill sets, support emerging youth cultures, and maintain connections with evolving technological platforms, cultural resources and communities.
Thinking in terms of libraries, teacher librarians and the global influences upon our role, I pondered with a favorite tool some ideas and resources that helped to frame my inquiry into the multi faceted challenges for Future Focused Teacher Librarians. It is a resource I open regularly to refer and share with anyone who will listen. Why not book your Library Heart health Check today?
It takes a whole lot of both Miracles and Madness to become a 21st Century Teacher Librarian. There's The Miracle of the students who enter our library communities as equal citizens. The Miracle of creating inspiring and engaging library spaces that establish a sense of belonging for all. The Miracle of the gradual transformation of students into life long learners. The Miracle of the love of a story, shared on the page, in the voices and in the events that connect libraries with their community. The Miracle of the love held by Teacher Librarians in serving this community, at every academic, social and emotional level.
Then there's The Madness. Dealing with an over active 2am brain that decides perhaps designing an inquiry into how to host a chook fashion parade, or connecting a whole community using pom poms or cranes or chess might be beneficial, can be problematic to say the least. The Madness of isolation. The Madness of stereotypes. The Madness of wanting to do more, to do better, to Make A Difference. The search for Teacher Librarian and Teacher collaboration is a constant source of Madness for our profession.
I am not proud to confess The Madness, caused by constant attempts to collaborate, despite a lack of teacher buy in, attacked the heart of the role and my sense of purpose in filling it. It is my sad confession that my perception is that our profession is slowly Shushing itself, struggling to break through school based perceptions and stereotypes of the role that belong in the 20th century. Countless online forums and facebook posts in Teacher Librarian communities speak of 21st century skills and knowledge development, yet a yearning for collaboration. Thus Teachers are locked in classrooms, and Teacher Librarians are locked in libraries. How shall the two ever meet, and unlock the powerful potential of collaboration?
One would expect that such a challenge would require a hero's journey. Someone handsome, enamoured, and atop a noble steed. Today my hero arrived. Her name is Miss Enthusiasm, (a newly appointed Head Teacher of Maths). Her entrance to my office was marked by laughter, lots of jumping with excitement, a beautiful smile, rainbow snake-skin pants, and an intention to make some serious crazy in her classroom and in the library: "MISS YARN? I HAVE AN IDEA, AND I NEED YOUR HELP!"
We laughed, listened, shared, laughed again, and most importantly, met in the middle, the greatest of collaboration cyrptograms solved by the power of sheer enthusiasm. Whatever it takes, we will make it work. (Just so we are clear, I'm totally the bridesmaid to Miss Enthusiasm's bride, the Yin to Miss Enthusaism's Yang, the donkey to Miss Enthusiasm's SHREK.) I have found a colleague who embraces The Madness to a whole new level, and I'm loving it! Who knows where this collaboration will end*. (I'm super crazy excited to find out.)
*We've agreed to text at 2am when we are too excited thinking about cranes and cryptograms to sleep....
‘BLOG’ - a machination of two simple words, yet representative of a multitude of complex threads of connection between writer (Ms Yarn) and reader. New to blogging, I investigated the history of the blog, scholarly articles pertaining to blogging, interviewed friends, colleagues and students about blogs. Bogged in blogs and the inherent meanings within the practice of blogging, I find a home for my internal wonderings, an evolving series of spontaneous expressions of my instant thoughts posted for the whole world to see. Now. (As in right now).
Please understand, this was a big step. My wonderings are constant. (They keep me sleepless at night). To release these wonderings into the blogosphere could have been dire. What if I couldn’t turn them off? Or I offended? What if I made a typo? What if I don’t belong? As reader comments roll in, an unprecedented, real time, two way interaction between writer and audience began. The conversation could go on forever. Woah. Welcome Ms Yarn, to blogging, 21st century writing set amongst a participatory culture of sharing, community and collaboration, all in the pursuit of common interests.
Initial celebrations from a simple ‘welcome’ post quickly transitioned to heart stopping terror as I begin to hone in on my individual posts. Is the truth of my blog transitory, based on my perceptions of the day’s events, or is this just the best bits? Does anyone want to know this? Am I writing a diary here or a log, or both? The physicality of my blog is a further conundrum- the reader moves backward, while I have written forwards? Meaning the reader knows the end of a reflective process before I do as a writer? Woah! This blogging stuff is collective and messy. Nobody to check my work. No approval needed. Am I officially ‘A Writer’ here? Am I qualified? Do I need a journalism degree? See what I mean by a ‘multitude of complex threads’? Passion, participation and personality is paramount in the world of blog writing.
Hands down, I’ve got the passion for my position as a Teacher Librarian, however how do I get the passion across to the reader? What will make a reader stop by again, maybe hang around a little, perhaps post a comment? Does this even matter? It would appear Personality reigns supreme in the blogosphere. Personality that enters through the Author’s Voice appears to create the atmosphere of a blog, and as such, I reveal emotions, frustrations and opinions within my experiences with a humerous tone, in an attempt to engage with the reader. As a form of new media, blogging offers a level of connection that supersedes generational, geographical, economical and cultural divides, offering an important insight for both readers and writers. For educators wanting to participate in the culture of teens, to really know what the average teen thinks, the inroad is to find a few teen blogs and subscribe. (Teens have their own wonderings too).
There are benefits beyond following the blogs of others. How cathartic to be able to use blogging as a personal tool to journal my experience as a Teacher Librarian. The world is a connected place for sharing experiences online. Really, Star Trek totally had this blogging thing down. “Captains Log. Star date 2106…” As a ‘log’, my daily experiences are constructed, ordered and tidy to represent a story of my Teacher Librarian life. Yet, in writing about myself, this log references a diary- however this is no private matter. The whole world is invited into my day’s experiences- even my colleagues. (‘Soz’ My Naysayer). At least the experiences I choose to write about.
In this way, blog writing about the youth I work with, their interests, passions, activities and plans allows a deeper level of thinking for all into the myriad of cultures our teens represent, above and beyond the stereotype. Furthermore, my blogging experience has introduced the practice of intention into my workplace. My eyes, mind, hand and heart are now gleaned to capture the next post, with writing becoming a new and cathartic part of my day. I consider that to blog is to merely reflect on a moment, a day, a thought, an experience, a mindset. How deep this reflection goes is a decision for the writer. The selection process is indeed daunting: what to write? What will be valued more – a one sentence link v’s an outpouring that sends the reader to sleep?
I found myself falling in and out of intention: intention to write for myself. To write for the audience. To write for the task. Caught up in the anxiety of blogging for self v’s blogging for an assessment. A strongly held desire to be authentic as a Teacher Librarian representing my real experiences to a real world audience, v’s a realistically authentic university student experience, seeking to tick the boxes in order to fulfil the requirements of the task. This would be good for the blog! This is what is required for the task! The selection of two blogs for assessment was crippling, to say the least.
My concluding thoughts are that that blogging is an act of giving. As a blogger, I offer my time, my energy, and my worldview. Finally, at 43 years of age, I am ‘A Writer’. My wonderings have a home. This is my entry into a world that offers agency to those who were previously silenced or held back by the Gate Keepers of writing: The publishing company; the classroom teacher, the Editor; The Librarian. Blog writing is messy, however it is collective, honest and allows any voice to be heard. That’s powerful stuff for engaging with tomorrow’s youth in the creation of authentic texts, which perhaps once began with wonderings.
Ms Yarn has never slept better…a reprieve from the night time madness of an over active mind.
You know it, I know it, every child, author, parent and hopefully person on the planet knows it.
Get ready, because on the 16th of October a powerful media campaign, designed to reposition school libraries and the teacher librarian role will be released.
Key Campaign points are:
Find out more here
Need your stereotypes busted about 21st Century libraries and the Teacher Librarian role?
Then DEFINITELY visit here!
With Inquiry Learning all the buzz, it can be difficult to advocate for your own skill set. Hopefully this little infographic will help. Shove it under your Principal's nose, or in the middle of your staffroom lunch table :)
As a passionate Teacher Librarian, it really does help to know that you are MAD. Who wouldn't want to be called MAD by their peers? It's such a compliment. I'm yet to meet a Teacher Librarian who hasn't proudly announced they are MAD either........it's why we turn up to work every day:
Making A Difference!
Scan is a peer refereed online journal offering articles about quality learning, teaching ideas, research and emerging trends within the NSW Department of Education, Australia. 'From Shush to Engagement: Revitalising your School Library' documents my two year plan to engage our whole community in Project Based Learning activities and events. My greatest learning has been that your school community will be your greatest asset. Reach out to your students, teachers, and student organisations such as the SRC to join you in the journey of madness. It's where miracles are found.
It's also nice to know that my family and friends are right: I am officially MAD!
With the school holidays coming up, maintaining a connection with students over the school break is a priority. Social Media is a wonderful tool for this. Moreover, anything that encourages student creativity and the production of digital artifacts is what get Miss Yarn's heart beating with excitement. So here's the challenge I have presented to my students for this break:
The competition is to find your pet asleep, and then decorate their surroundings. A post on instagram with the hashtag #mhspetpic allows our creativity to be shared.
(So much love and fur!)
I can't wait to see what the students come up with. Stay tuned for the results.
Two years of practice as a secondary school Teacher Librarian have confirmed what many Teacher Librarians have known and experienced for some time: many of us find ourselves isolated, on islands. Previous Miracle and Madness posts reflect upon the multifaceted causes for the isolation that many educators experience. Within my personal context, islands form due to limited understandings in regard to the transformation of the Teacher Librarian role, coupled with barriers caused by time restraints, inflexible timetables and a lack of teacher preparedness to collaborate. The Island Model is a familiar mode of operation for 21st Century Teacher Librarians, often arising not through individual choice. It's easy to empathise with the isolation, and its consequences. To become bogged down in it. To blame the island alone for a lack of collaboration with your colleagues. After all, you have tried to connect with your peers, all excited at your Pupil Free Day which is usually when the tide recedes, and collaborative plans are mutually set. Within a matter of weeks, battled by waves of teacher fatigue, the seas rise, and the islands appear again. How do we all leave our islands of isolation? There is a way: Professional Learning Networks.
My previous post on the online community Ravelry powerfully reinforced Connected Learning as a pedagogical approach where 'learners have a web of relationships and organisations that support their learning, beyond the formal educational pipeline' in a networked world. From this approach, my personal journey became to understand, access, develop and reflect upon the Professional Learning Networks that support my learning as part of the Queensland University of Technology subject Connected Learning. Whilst online learning communities come together for a shared purpose, my Professional Learning Network relies on my ability to dive into an informational landscape the equivalent of the East Australian Current, in order to interact with, and be supported by a diverse, worldwide network of learning. #lifejacketon
Let’s take a moment to ponder that interaction. Perhaps you have landed on the Miracles and Madness Blog, via a share, a tweet, or a follow. Miracles and Madness is a digital artifact of my creation, initially the result of a university assessment, before it transformed into something much more. You are currently reading my words, shared online within the Miracles and Madness Community, in an open forum for the world to see. It may only be your first visit, or perhaps you visit often. This thought would have once terrified me, given I once felt I had nothing of value to share. The Miracles and Madness website is currently one node of my Professional Learning Network, and possibly, it might now become one of yours. You might only lurk, leaving no written evidence of your dropping by, or perhaps you will feel driven to comment and share your thoughts. Perhaps you might drop by again in the future. This interaction may be fleeting, or it may connect you to another node in your ever-developing Personal Learning Network. Similarly, your visit to my website will become a part of my Professional Learning Network in the form of an online interaction. This ‘catch and release’ of interaction will continue, at your choosing, for this is your personal learning network journey. As it is mine. Your digital footprints are here now, recorded as a visit in my weekly website statistics, which will disappear, and be replaced by others, just like footprints left behind on the shoreline.
Professional Learning Networks rely on our ability to overcome our own self-doubt, and harness technology in order to make real world connections. Lupton, M., Oddone, K. & Dreamson, N. (in press 2018), assert that both our digital fluency and developing digital identity will impact on our ability to create valued connections within our learning networks. I believed I had nothing to say that was of importance for a world wide audience. My Miracles and Madness website was password protected, viewed as existing to meet outcomes established for a university assessment. I was too afraid to operate In the Wild, for fear of judgement and ridicule. As such, despite my best intentions, my initial, overwhelming map represented a network of information across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc, however my interactions with learners within these platforms were minimal, and certainly not personal, or professional in nature. Initially, I also thought creating a Facebook page, Twitter Account and other platforms where I merely 'shared' digital artifacts (not of my creation), and nothing of my own opinions or knowledge about these links, was enough to create interactions with others. At the time of its construction, and presentation to my Google+ Community Connected Learners, I was proud of my re-evaluated first map, as it represented a shift in personal understanding in regard to the importance of interaction in growing my Personal Learning Network.
From this initial reflection, developing confidence to share and therefore interact online was an incredible challenge. At this point in my journey I lacked confidence to leave my own personal communities and enter the professional communities of others. I felt as though it wasn’t my right to be in these spaces, anchored to the shore by my ‘not-yet-qualified’ Teacher Librarian status. To share, like and follow within familiar personal social media platforms on Facebook, surrounded by friends and family as followers was all within my realm of comfort. However to engage with professional communities via Twitter was the gamechanger. What was appropriate to share? Was my knowledge enough, my idea, thought or feelings worthy of sharing? Where did my tweet go? What if I tweeted something ridiculous? On reflection, this was further evidence of struggling with my digital identity, stuck in a technical approach (Oddone, 2018). Failing to makes waves within Twitter, let alone understand the importance of the flowing stream of information before me, (all in minimal characters) was a blow to my confidence. A highlight was discovering a SCIS Facebook post- of me !
Twitter became a catalyst for a questioning of my digital literacy skills, in addition to confronting fears connected to revealing my personal identity online. Who is https://twitter.com/GoodchildEdward and why is he, a stranger, following me? (SHOCK! HORROR! What will my mum think: “Now Miss Yarn, how many times have I told you the internet is a very dangerous place to hang out. Don’t talk to strangers, especially Edward Goodchild, on TWITTER!”). Edward Goodchild aside, limited responses on Twitter, and a lone visit per week to my website led to technical 'Lurking' in other communities. If I did summon the courage to post, and was then in turn met with ‘crickets’ (no responses), the blow to my ego was almost fatal. In addition to the pressure of a 2000-word reflection looming, I was desperate to represent myself authenticity. Was I really In the Wild? The internal struggle for authenticity meant I could no longer hold back what I perceived to be my ‘personal’ voice. I began creating quality content for a future Miracles and Madness audience, placing my focus on being assessed as a university student, a secondary intention. I believe this moment was transformational in terms of constructing a new identity, from Linear Linker to become a Pioneering Change Agent (Oddone, 2018). Sometimes we have to just let go of fear, even if only to hold our heads above the water, as we remind ourselves how to swim.
In following on with my renewed intention, reading Kirra Baker Doyles’ (2017) work on Transformative Teachers, I recognised an approach, not only in my professional life, but in my personal life as well. I recognised that I construct personal and professional knowledge by constantly placing myself in challenging contexts, to deliberately force personal growth and change. From my childhood, I have viewed every aspect in my life as a journey in learning, and therefore an opportunity for personal reflection. It was at this point, Kirra Baker Doyle’s assertion that everyone grows at their own pace resonated. Richardson & Mancabelli's (2011) passion-based learning became my every minute of the day mantra: I love learning. I can learn about anything, anywhere, anytime, from anyone. I constantly looked for opportunities to discuss learning online and at work, to make connections that benefited my learning, believing that this in turn benefited the students in my care. Still partially stuck on my island, I continued to search and lurk, finding further opportunities for interaction with members of the Connected Communities G+ group. We were feeling the same, all presenting at different stages within developing our identities’ skills and confidence. Despite the isolation, the challenges and the occasional tear, I still felt deeply that I had something to say. I just wasn't sure how.
By Miracle, I stumbled across a Facebook Community searching the keywords ‘library’ and ‘future’: Future Ready Librarians. It was within this community that I came to understand the concept of the ‘power of the room’ and User Generated Learning in practice. Here, within minutes of my small introductory Facebook post came immediate support. The room welcomed me. A post on the QUT G+ community for Connected Learning shared my excitement at a personal level. It was exhilarating to read threads of commentary and discussion in Future Ready Librarians that developed over days, between members of the group. Ready to leave my lurking at the shoreline, I began to explore, intelligently commenting and responding to the posts of others. I was so excited by the level of interaction in the Future Focused Librarian group I began checking my phone notifications more often than my teenage daughter, (which is a Miracle...and possibly Madness). I spent lunchtimes laughing aloud, instead of sitting alone, as I scrolled through the hilarity of shared weeded book covers, valued green screen setup advice, inspiring maker spaces, recommended youth reads, and example after example of community collaboration in practice. I felt connected to the beautiful faces of students, all over the world, connected within their libraries. In this moment I saw our library community reflected back, with senior students nodding off, colourful displays, and special events. I consoled and supported members who were upset and needed to vent, connected by the mutual interaction. The ideas and information presented within this group fed my mind, heart and soul. The Wierarchy had set me free. #removelifejacket
This community of learners was large, diverse, generating so much content across Facebook, Twitter, and in person, sharing knowledge about their experiences through digital content. The informational currents that extended from this group into other platforms were incredibly strong. I explored them all. After a week, I felt brave and supported enough to finally add my own digital artifact to the stream using my Miracles and Madness Facebook page, based on requests by members who were seeking ways to increase collaboration with their school staff. In a moment of Madness I decided to share a blog post: ‘That’s one small step for man..’. Within moments the notifications on my phone began pinging..and pinging….and pinging. I learned that sharing links from my blog to this group brought the great ocean currents straight to me. My developing sense of belonging and agency within the third space has been the greatest area of my personal growth. This post has now been viewed by a facebook audience of 3,500 people. Following on with posts made using new digital tools such as Adobe Spark, and shared in the community, my Miracles and Madness website statistics increased by over %1000 in a week. It has been fascinating to view the weekly statistics, and the way in which the interactions are represented as data, ebbing and flowing like the tide. Sometimes the waves generated are big and overwhelming, and other days they are small. I am no longer afraid, managing all the waves with a new more confident mindset: I do have something to share, and there is so much to learn!
Lupton, M., Oddone, K. & Dreamson, N. (in press 2018) identify a shifting scale of interaction within Professional Learning Network participants. This is evident from a glance at my second Personalised Learning Network map, as I minimised my connections to building Miracles and Madness, moving from low interaction to high interaction within selected communities, in addition to higher levels of coherence. I gained confidence in my own digital abilities to create and share resources, in addition to sharing my creativity and personality, because my content was no longer locked away behind password protected pages. Through my Professional Learning Network interactions and the affordances of a rapidly changing social and digital world, I have discovered new oceans, both broad and deep in their ability to host ever changing learning networks. Thus, my digital identity has evolved to present my personal and professional identity openly and honestly, informing and inspiring my daily practice as a Teacher Librarian. I am no longer alone, because I am surrounded by a world-wide community of learners who now form my Professional Learning Network.
Kay Oddone (2018) correctly posits that the interaction of Professional and Personal Learning Networks can lead to powerful experiences of learning, because they are uniquely ours, based on our own contexts, learning style, needs, goals and personal preferences. In stepping off our own sandy, secluded personal islands, the question for every individual Teacher Librarian remains: Once we summon the courage to step off, do we stay in the shallows, or do we go deep to explore an exciting new world of connection and collaboration? We all have the ability to travel in the slipstream of the world’s informational currents, however it is our autonomy in our interactions with others that forms our Professional Learning Networks along the way. My island still exists. However rather than a place of isolation, my island has become a place of brief solitude, because I have chosen to go deep in my exploratory interactions with others, presenting and representing my authentic self. There are times when a brief break on the island is now needed.
The future development of my Professional Learning Network is based on an intention to focus on quality not quantity interactions, maintain and strengthen connections within my learning networks, and to call on my network in times of future need for both professional and personal inspiration and support. From diving deep and exploring, I have not only made discoveries for myself, but now perceive my role as being to connect with other learners to find their unique voice, and share it, in a worldwide conversation. A once hesitant departure off the Island of Isolation and into the depths of the ocean of Professional Learning Networks began with a learning theory, and resulted in a transformative, connected mindset. I have come to evaluate and consider that my professional identity, personal identity and digital identity are one and the same, offering powerful world wide learning connections through establishing and representing my personal voice. My island remains as deserted as the password protected web pages that anchored me to the shoreline, a reflection of the last tenet of an insecure, internal voice that so incorrectly suggested, “But what if you have nothing important to say?’
Lupton, M., Oddone, K. & Dreamson, N. (in press 2018). In R. Bridgstock & N. Tippett (Eds.), Higher Education and the Future of Graduate Employability: A Connectedness Learning Approach. London, UK: Edward Elgar.
Images: Author's own. Visit: Brooms Head NSW
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Chess. You heard me. Free stylin' on a Friday in the Library at lunchtime is now considered cool. In the words of Ice Cube, "Check 'yo self before you wreck 'yo self". Imagine a whole area of boys, and recently girls, playing chess whilst listening to Rap (Radio Edit on please boys) pumping on the big screen. Silence? What silence? How can the spectators hold their breaths, cheer or suggest moves in silence! Forget Fortnite, this is the original game of strategy!
How this chess community developed really is a miracle. It started with six boys, who came in one day and collected a board. Then it grew to 14, then 25. What could Miss Yarn do, other than find more boards of course? Fancy boards. Sleek, stylish wooden boards. The boys wanted to be "PLAYERZ!" (Geeky chess player stereotype BUSTED!). Then came requests for club shirts. "Sure, if you design them?" Then a chess and pizza night. "Sure, but you'll have to plan the event, and help out. The rest of the school might want to come, maybe you can teach them how to play!"
A little push here and a nudge there, whilst maintaining the group's own sense of independence ...and suddenly Miss Yarn is in a car with school team representatives, driving to our first NSW Regional Chess Competition. (Listening to Tupac, Biggie Smalls and Drake all the way....not radio edit). A highlight of course, is Miss Yarn's sleek rendition of Ice Ice Baby. Thank goodness she spent so much time memorising the lyrics in the 1990's as a teen, clearly this was her moment.
More music and conversations on the way home, after a short stop at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Celebrating victories and losses and our undefeated player, we are collectively obsessed with chess in equal measure. Girls in the team? Sounds great! A GIANT CHESS SET? "We can only ask boys, it would be good to teach the whole school to play!"
The following day, in a moment of madness, Miss Yarn books a meeting with her Principal, and with knees knocking presents her case for the expenditure. Will it be measured by Naplan? No. She begs for a miracle.
Guess what arrived today....
It's nice to know that you work at a school where community, connections and learning go hand in hand. Now Miss Yarn's biggest problem is what to do about a big game that goes longer than a lunch break, and a queue..a really, really big queue.
Library Miracles and Madness grew out of a quote that was said to me by a staff member at our school. She walked in, looked around, and stated
"This place is crazy- mad in fact, and I love it".
"We have miracles too, and I love it".
Miracles and Madness are at the heart of Library Spaces. We occupy a unique part of a student's day:
The student that needs information, in a hurry.
The student looking for a book...with a blue cover..
The student who needs to print.
The student who wants to talk about Philosophy, and have an adult engage in conversation that isn't rushed, or real.
The student looking for their crew, who are into Anime, Cos Play, or Minecraft.
The student looking for a band aid, a rubber band, a piece of string to tie his pants up.
The student who needs an extra set of eyes to view their draft.
The student who needs a place to laugh, and sometimes a quiet place to cry.
The student who wants to play cards, board games and chess.
The student who wants to film, make, create and share.
The student who wants to share his knowledge of the Walmart Yodel Kid, and is surprised when I know about him "Yes! Mason, which remixes are your fave?"
Having stepped out of the classroom and into the Teacher Librarian role, there are moments where I reflect on the Miracles and Madness that students present in their requests. Why survive being a little crazy, when you can THRIVE on being a little crazy! As the Teacher Librarian role evolves, adapts and change, we must be prepared to go deep in the craziness of it all, to embrace the tsunami of change, and support our school community through it.
How many folks have been told their idea was crazy, and then gone on to achieve the unthinkable? Craziness is about letting go, thinking outside the box and challenging existing thinking in ways that are new. Out of Madness, Miracles will appear. I guarantee it.