What happens when you enjoy your work?

Ella Morris takes a picture of her mum Glenda's library graduating class of 2011.

It’s true, not everyone has the opportunity to enjoy their job – I mean, totally enjoy it even with it’s ups and downs.  It also takes a deal of meandering through life (sometimes) to finally find a slot that seems to work!  I have always admired the leaders and innovators amongst us the most, and knew that if there was some way to capture an element of their ‘magic’, I would be happy.  The capacity to ask the hard questions and then be ready to deal with the (sometimes unexpected ) answers is a rare trait. Always things are tempered by ‘other’ considerations ….. yes, more like excuses if you ask me ;-)

I’ve worked in quite a number of schools, and supported even more of them in my school district role.   We need to clone Stephen Heppell – a genuine leader and innovator if ever there was one!

So if  you believe in certain things – how do you fit that with the practicalities of the workplace you find yourself in?   My students are grappling with that very question, from various angles, depending on the course they are immersed in at CSU.  Whether its embarking on ways to integrate digital citizenship into mainstream learning, or new programs in their local library, or probject-based learning to liberate the classroom and the kids  from curriculum atrophy – there is no simple solution. There could be of course – but it takes a powerhouse like Stephen to shift things in one fell swoop.

So given all the constraints that schools can impose on us,  I am delighted with my newfound workplace.  Here is why:-

  • I am trusted 100% to do my work, and expected to find better ways to nurture the learning of my students.
  • I am working online (because all the students are studying online) and I can therefore explore better ways to help our students be part of the global connections that is learning today.
  • I work with a most wonderful team of educators in the Faculty who come from all over the world, and who are based in Wagga and also all over the world!
  • I am able to do magical things in person – such as taking a fantastic group of students on a 4-day tour of major libraries and facilities in Canberra. Who knew the National Library was so fantastic??!
  • I am able to work flexibily – which generally means I work more!
  • I am able to go out and work with schools and institutions, do workshops, write or present things.
  • I am able to work with current and future leaders in our schools and community  – these graduate and post-graduate students are responsible for shaping the learning and library services  in our schools and community – right now and in the future.
  • I am inspired by my interactions – because I see and hear so many voices, ideas, challenges and victories from so many different schools and so many different library settings in schools and in other sectors. What my students say and comment on in the forums is just amazing!  They really ARE thinking hard about the value of libraries and how they can/should adapt as we march further into a digital world.

Have I taken to this like a duck to water?  I thinks so!

That’s why it was an honour and delight to travel back to CSU  Wagga Wagga to attend and celebrate the graduation of this year’s students in various degrees up to PhD in the School of  Library and Information Studies. The sheer joy was spinetingling. The pride of the families who came along was bursting over the crowd like a huge sunburst as they observed from the balcony seating above the graduates.  As I keep learning more about how to do my job at CSU, the picture of these students will be before me – until the next graduation ceremony.

Congratulations to all our graduates!

The community will lead – from Stephen Heppell

The opportunity to hear Stephen Heppell again in a recent Keynote session was a winner for me (albeit via video)! He has long been a leader of learning, inspiring innovators the world over (including my own Director Greg Whitby) to move forward in response to the urgent needs of 21st century learning. I have had the pleasure of seeing Stephen ‘live’ for a conference Keynote for the International Association of School Librarianship in HongKong back in 2005. A rare treat for those of us from Australia.

Stephen mentions his mobile phone in this Scottish keynote. I remember spending a pleasant evening at the same IASL conference dinner with him….. and I remember a guy full of fun, and down-to-earth enthusiasm. Stephen used his mobile phone to help me do quick calculations during a fund raising auction at the conference dinner, and generally spent heaps of time talking with us about what he can do and what he will be able to do in the future with his phone! I love listening to Stephen :-)

Ewan McIntosh alerted us to the keynotes for the Scottish Learning Festival which have been made available now in a version that will play on your video iPod or MP4 player.

It’s a great way to revisit the rich resource that each keynote address provides. You can right-click (or ctrl-click on a Mac) each of the links below to download these to your computer, and drag them to your iPod or into iTunes:Three of them are of particular interest to me:

but I want to focus on the last one for now.

Stephen Heppell explores the consequences of technology and change and reiterates that learning will get better and better, with a transparency in understanding, and with downsizing of schools and schooling. He talks of small schools at the end of each road addressing the personalized learning of students – genuinely responding to what I heard about ‘individuation’ from Yoram Harpaz.

He explains that the future is ‘massively about teamwork’ and collaboration. It is about stuff that is free, and people reporting, and huge amounts of real-time data helping us make judgments about what we should do and what we shouldn’t do. He asks ‘where are we with real-time data’? What are we doing with our mobile phones? etc. What we need is to allow pupil-centric approaches to learning to take over – technology empowering this all the way.

For Stephen ‘identity’ and ‘time’ are critical. Real time use of technology is extraordinary and evolving in amazing ways. In this context, doing the job of teaching is spectacularly complex and getting harder every day.One thing that is clear is that Stephen has moved well beyond the notion of system schooling, redesigning schooling, top-down structure etc. He talks about a learning world built from the bottom up.We’re a long way off from what we need – or are we?

Let Stephen explain.

Photo: School Bell