Differentiating for Adult Learners

School Library Connection is pleased to collaborate with ALA President Julie Todaro and her school library group Task Force to provide access to a selection of key professional development articles aligned with essential professional competencies for school librarians. We’ll be posting at least one article every work day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.

Competency 7: Professional Community for Teachers and Staff

“Professional Learners. Differentiating for Adult Learners” by Melissa P. Johnston. School Library Connection, May 2016.

This issue’s focus on differentiating to address the needs of learners got me thinking that in the case of providing professional development, we have to differentiate for our adult learners as well. In looking back at the columns from this past year, we have talked about a variety of strategies you can utilize when working with adult learners, but I was just reading a new study that finds that the attention span of the average adult has now dropped to about eight seconds (Gracey 2016). After just eight seconds, teachers are going to be chatting with their neighbor, texting, checking emails, and/or looking at their social media feeds instead of paying attention to you. So how do you hold the attention of teachers in a professional development session?

Differentiate for the Needs of Your Learners

Differentiated instruction refers to a “systematic approach to planning curriculum and instruction for academically diverse learners” (Tomlinson and Eidson, 2003, 3). Differentiated instruction is based on the assumptions that students differ in their learning styles, needs, strengths, and abilities, and that classroom activities should be adapted to meet these differences. Differentiated instruction involves giving learners a range of ways of accessing instruction and assessment; interacting and participating in the global classroom; demonstrating and expressing what they learn; and understanding and taking in information (Powell and Kusuma-Powell 2011). We all know that these are best practices when it comes to teaching our students, but why does it seem that professional development for teachers is still a “one-size fits all” experience? Continue reading “Differentiating for Adult Learners”

The Power of Yes

We’re thrilled to welcome Leslie Preddy as our new Instructional Leadership Topic Center Editor. She brings with her years of experience as a librarian and active involvement in professional organizations as well as a tireless devotion to promoting reading among children everywhere. Please join us in welcoming Leslie to the fold and read on to find out what makes Leslie so successful at what she does.

Everything wonderful to happen to me professionally is because I said yes. Yes to opportunity. Yes to chance. Yes to appropriate change. Yes to developing new skills. Yes to engaging in new experiences. Yes to new additions to my professional learning network. Embracing the role of Instructional Leadership editor for School Library Connection is an exciting event in my life that has already helped to enrich my life both personally and professionally.

Situational Awareness

The U.S. Coast Guard defines situational awareness as “the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission. More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you.”* Professionally, our team consists of school library educators, school library staff, our building staff, and the youth we serve. The mission is to prepare our youth for a future of learning, reading, and engagement within their community and throughout their lives. To get there, we can’t continue to be who we were and do what we did. We must evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our communities and profession. Sometimes that means change for the library. A few years ago I realized my students’ reading motivation and abilities were deteriorating. I seized this opportunity to lead some action research within my building where we found a way to successfully engage our students and increase their time spent reading, reading interest, and reading scores on standardized tests. We knew that being situationally aware meant sharing what we had learned with other educators: through articles, resources, a book, and many conference presentations with the school librarian and classroom teachers collaboratively presenting and sharing our successful program and process. When situationally aware, there is recognition for  change, need, or action, whether at the building, local, state, national, or international level, and putting together a team and action plan to do something about it. Continue reading “The Power of Yes”