Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mission [Statement] Impossible

Usually conferences leave me feeling revitalized and invigorated. Today? Not so much. I left this afternoon appreciating just how much I have left to learn. I might excel in some areas of being a librarian, but in others? Ouch.

We’ll save the most painful realizations for another post. Today, I’m just going to focus on why I hate mission statements:

  • They’re always really dense
  • Who the heck bothers to ever read them?
  • They’re a dumping ground for jargon and edu-speak

Needless to say, developing a mission statement for my library program was never a high priority. I probably would have continued to avoid it had I not attended today’s session. It took a fair amount of mental arm-twisting, but ultimately we came up with one.

It was a team effort – contributors included myself, an elementary librarian, and our district’s technology director. Our goal was two-fold: write the shortest mission statement possible and make it understandable for elementary AND secondary students.

Here’s what we came up with:

Learners discover, create, inquire, and think critically through shared learning experiences supported by curriculum, teachers, and tools to produce and communicate new knowledge.

This particular product is a blend of ideas expressed in other mission statements. It’s our own work --- but heavily influenced by others -- especially David Loertscher's work on the library as learning commons.

Even though we’ve finally got a mission statement, I was still kind of confused as to why I actually need one.

I dug around a little bit, and I think I might have a few ideas. According to an article by Allison Zmuda "its purpose is to cause student learning as defined by a set of goals" (School Library Media Activities Monthly / Sept 2007).

I'm thinking that mission statements should help drive your library program. Like -- if it's not part of your mission, then why the heck are you doing it?

So . . . the point (or at least one point) of a mission statement is to guide your own practice.

It's only sitting here writing this that the lightbulbs are FINALLY going off. Today's conference was about the library as a learning commons - kind of a new idea. Soo --- at last, the WHY behind today:

We played around with mission statements until they reflected the learning commons philosophy. These new statement can then GUIDE our program as we seek to DEVELOP a learning commons model in our own schools.

DUHHH!!! It would have helped if I'd made that connection 8 hours ago. Feeling SUPER dense right now.

At least I can kind of admit that I might sort of like mission statements (at least I can see the point).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kindle Update

Phew, can you tell things got crazy again? I'm squeezing this in between an administrator's observation and a lesson on web site evaluation.

Now that it's been a few weeks, I thought I'd update you on our Kindles. The covers arrived - yippee - and now I can swaddle our precious cargo in an extra layer or two. Students have admitted to dropping uncovered Kindles - but it doesn't appear to hurt them -- at least after the first few tumbles. Hopefully, with these fancy leather jackets from Amazon, they'll stay in great shape!

At $35.00 each, the covers aren't cheap. After looking at a bunch of different options, I think these were my best bet. For one, I wanted to purchase the covers in a range of colors -- these particular ones come in seven different choices: red, pink, orange, green, blue, brown, and black.

If you remember, I named each Kindle by color in my circulation system -- so it was important that the "Red Kindle" actually had a red cover. I also wanted something that covered the Kindle the whole time -- not just a case to carry it around in. The Kindle clips easily into this case, and stays firmly in place. An elastic band wraps around the cover to hold it open and closed, making it easy to hold the Kindle while reading.

Next time: Amazon surprises me. Stay tuned!