By: Guest Blogger
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the national Future Ready Schools blog on April 22, 2019. We thought this post would be the perfect follow-up to Stephanie Donofe Meeks’ post from last week about partnerships. Lia Dossin’s article recaps a Future Ready event that wouldn’t have been possible without strong partnerships.
What does it mean to become a Future Ready librarian?
On Saturday, April 13, one hundred librarians gathered in Columbus, Ohio for a one-day workshop of professional learning, networking, and sharing to help librarians become instructional leaders in their schools and districts – a critical element of success in becoming “Future Ready.”
Future Ready Schools®, led by the Alliance for Excellent Education, hosted the event in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Library Media Association. Attendees explored the critical role that Future Ready Librarians™ can play in the strategic work of schools and educational systems, providing leadership around educational technology, empowering students as creators and learners, curating content, identifying and implementing innovative instructional practices, and more.
There was also a surprise special guest in attendance: Ohio State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria. DeMaria emphasized the importance of collaboration inside and outside of schools and how critical it is to advocate for an enhanced role for librarians. But it didn’t end there. DeMaria participated in an activity exploring the Future Ready Librarians™ framework, and engaged with small groups of librarians as they took deep dives into the framework gears. Topics included collaborative space design, advocating for student privacy, creating inclusive collections, and more.
DeMaria’s presence was deeply appreciated by the librarians in attendance, many of whom took to Twitter to express their gratitude. Check out the tweets below to see their messages and one from DeMaria in response.
After a long day of hard work and sharing, participants left with strengthened library leadership skills, deepened knowledge of the FR Librarians framework, and an excitement for collaborating within their school, district and beyond.
Staying in Touch
You don’t have to wait for a workshop to get engaged with FR Librarians! Learn more about the program, read up on the FR Librarians framework, and check out dates and locations for upcoming FRS Leadership Institutes, which are open to district teams.
Wondering how to cultivate a diverse collection? Register for this upcoming FR Librarians™ webinar, Does My Collection Reflect My Community? Diversity in the School Library, on April 30 at 3:00 pm EDT. In the webinar, panelists will discuss the value of maintaining a book collection that not only reflects the school community, but also is reflective of the global community of which we all are a part.
Lia Dossin is marketing and outreach director, Future Ready Schools
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By: Stephanie Donofe Meeks
How many of you remember the Carol Burnett show, either reruns or originals? I realize I am dating myself here! Growing up, watching these comedic partnerships was one of the highlights of my family’s week. What we really watched for was Tim Conway trying to break up Harvey Korman in every sketch, and Tim was always successful. In one of the most famous sketches, Conway plays a dentist and Korman the patient. It is one of the funniest TV sketches in history, making the Korman-Conway partnership one of the most successful.
Tim Conway’s passing last week made me think about why this partnership was so successful. Good and successful partnerships involve a common vision and values and a willingness to do more and stretch to make the partnership work. Think about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. They had a common belief that personal computing was the future, and both brought a different set of skills. Jobs was a master marketer, and Wozniak was a software genius.
Successful partnerships have something called synergy — the collective is greater than the equal sum of parts alone. Even animals understand this — just look at pack behavior in wolves. In his poem, The Law for the Wolves, Rudyard Kipling wrote “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”
We are only as strong as our partnerships. When we think about the advancement of civilization, we realize nothing happens in a vacuum. People have to work together because survival depends on it. We form partnerships, though, for many reasons. For example, partnerships can be romantic, for business or recreational. Some are permanent and some only last for a project or a short time. Some are on purpose and some accidental, like the famous chocolate/peanut butter combination!
In education in Ohio, we believe so strongly in the power of partnerships, it is one of three core principles for success in Each Child, Our Future, Ohio’s strategic plan for education:
PARTNERSHIPS: Everyone, not just those in schools, shares the responsibility of preparing children for successful futures. The most important partners are parents and caregivers, who have the greatest impact on a child’s development. Other critical partners include educators, institutions of higher education, business, philanthropy, employers, libraries, social service organizations, community members, health care providers, behavioral health experts and many more. Put simply, partnerships transform the education experience.
What does this look like in practical terms? I couldn’t do my work around transformation in schools to support environments for digital learning without my extensive educational partners. I often collaborate with educational service centers and educational technology agencies to plan events. In a recent discussion with educational service center partners to plan for the Future Ready in Action conference sponsored by the Ohio Educational Service Center Association, we discussed partnerships and their impacts.
Amy Harker, the career readiness coordinator for the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio said partnerships are “important to support work, provide more opportunities for students (business and school partnerships) and create broader idea generation.”
I also worked with the curriculum director of Butler County Educational Service Center, Georgine Bowman, who said, “The power of partnerships is to provoke thinking, give multiple perspectives, and enhance learning experiences.” This is the kind of thinking that builds strategic partnerships.
Another conference I recently planned, the Schools Reimagined Reboot, was a leadership conference in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education, the Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center and WOSU Classroom. This conference was a day to be inspired, reimagine teaching and learning and look creatively and openly at finding more opportunities for students beyond traditional instructional practices.
The Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center curriculum director, Amanda Mahon, was central to planning the School Reimagined Reboot. Regarding the power of partnerships, she said, “Our organizations each bring a unique perspective, skill set and priorities to a project. In working together, we are able to capitalize on each other’s strength and bring a high-quality, holistic approach to professional learning.”
Amy Palermo, executive director for content at WOSU Classroom shares a similar belief. She said, “Partnerships build on capacity and strengthen the work and content that is delivered. They are vital for continued quality work. Ours works because of the experience and expertise we each uniquely bring to the table to build on professional learning that is impactful and meaningful to others.”
If you want to find ways to work with your community more and build partnerships, look for inspiration in the Future Ready Ohio Framework. The framework helps align perspectives of district work around a goal for personalized learning. One of the gears is specifically about Community Partnerships:
Community partnerships include the formal and informal local and global community connections, collaborative projects and relationships that advance the school’s learning goals. Digital communications, online communities, social media and digital learning environments often serve as connectors for these partnerships.
Future Ready offers targeted support for building partnerships if you are a district leader, principal, technology leader, instructional coach or librarian. However, everyone in the school can be part of making connections and developing partnerships. Here are some tips:
- Establish and foster relationships to support school culture and vision;
- Collaborate and engage all community members, including parents, local businesses, local organizations and taxpayers without children in schools;
- Develop, model and amplify the district brand through existing and new communication channels;
- Expand learning beyond the school day;
- Engage the community in developing and implementing a vision for personalized learning;
- Leverage student and community talents and resources to support desired learning outcomes;
- Provide community and parent learning events to support partnerships and increase learning and engagement opportunities for students.
The overarching idea is to reach out however you can. Use the Future Ready Framework to help you plan. Use Each Child, Our Future as your guide. As an educator, as a leader, as a community member...for each adult, our common goal remains a steadfast and unwavering belief in success for all. This achievement does indeed take a village, a village of dedicated folks who want all students to have success, because our shared futures depend on it.
Stephanie Donofe Meeks is a Digital Learning Strategist at the Ohio Department of Education, where she supports technology integration innovations and blended learning initiatives for districts and schools across the state. You can learn more about Stephanie by clicking here.
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