I like to say that I “do yoga,” but in truth, the real yogis would probably scoff at my thrice-ish monthly (non)commitment to the practice. But I truly appreciate the benefits of yoga, especially in a stretch, relax, and unplug sort of way. Even though the schedule of a university faculty member doesn’t operate on school bells – or worse, those buzzers that some schools have – I’m ever harried, running between classes and meetings, and aware of the need to set aside time to become calm and centered.
However, along with my poor attendance at yoga, I’m also terrible at closing my mind to the outside world when I do make it to class. I’m often thinking of learning objectives and research papers when I’m supposed to be focused on sun salutations. But in a recent class when my mind was somewhere between yoga and the library, my inability to concentrate on one thing at a time actually led to a moment of real enlightenment, during the instructor’s meditations on the ideas of “vision” and “envisioning.”
Now, he also talked about the rootlets and leaflets of our souls extending to the earth and retreating, so I’m surprised that I wasn’t so deep into library land that I even caught this part. But I started to find some school library truths in this yoga interpretation of what it means to have vision and to envision.
(Side note and polite request to bear with me: I realize that “vision statements” setting a path for organizations are nothing new, and what follows isn’t a tight dictionary definition, but I think this perspective is still worth some consideration.)
So – vision in this context is what we see: the present, the reality, what’s before us when we look around. Rebecca’s library translation: “vision” is the status quo – the library schedule, space, collection, budget, and the skills, dispositions, and literacies of our students, teachers, and ourselves. Today.
When we ENvision, we project that which we seek, aim for, and strive to become. See where I’m going with this? Envisioning deals with what we have the ability to see, even though it might not be our reality- yet. When we envision for the school library, we see goals and accomplishments for the students and the program. We see new collaborations, new learning, and effective ways of using new tools. The reality might be no budget this year, a tough schedule, or a space that doesn’t lend easily to students working together in teams. We can envision a helpful grant, a creative approach to collaborative planning, or a proposal to move some things around in the library.
Truthfully, I was so far into the library edition of vision and envision in my head that I missed the moral of the yoga version. But as I see it, in order to strengthen our practice as teachers and librarians, we need to be intentional in our vision (by gathering evidence of how things are now) and our envisioning (by supporting our goals with benchmarks, reflections, and assessment of progress). Basically, we need to take stock of what we see in order to make the case for what we envision. To take this tale from a yoga-inspired story to a data-driven model, we can look to Ann Martin’s 2011 SLM article, “Data-Driven Leadership,” which lays out the importance of gathering and applying data to “assess, prioritize, and plan the library program” (31). To sustain a library program that is current and responsive, we need data, because “data creates a solid background to support library initiatives and confirms need” (33). Martin also reminds us that once a new idea becomes a reality, documenting progress and providing summary reports of results build credibility and lay a firm groundwork for future proposals.
From articles in the September-October SLM, here are a couple scenarios of “vision” (point A) and “envision” (point B) and some thoughts on getting from A to B. Can you add some of your own? I have to go think about going to yoga . . . Namaste.
The interpretations of the articles are my own; I encourage you to check out the works (cited in full below) in the current issue of School Library Monthly.
|Evidence & Action
(a sampling of strategies)
(what can be)
|(1)Time is limited for after-school professional development due to extended library hours & other work/personal commitments (Vaughn Branom’s article)
||Conduct needs assessment for specific professional growth areas, along with current and proposed schedule and format for PD
||Pajama PD offers (mostly) asynchronous, convenient, and targeted professional learning
|(2) High volume of information overwhelms research and limits productive inquiry (Joyce Kasman Valenza’s article)
||Observe students and teachers as they research; ask them about their strengths, needs, and frustrations when searching and using information; evaluate tools for curation
||Librarian shifts emphasis from “squirreling” to curation by example and instruction, leading students, teachers, parents to make the best use of time, tools, and information
|(3) The library is closed for the first days of the new school year; students, teachers, and principal have less than desirable perceptions of the library’s role in the school (Judi Moreillon’s article)
||Gather information about resources and services students and teachers need and/or expect from the library the first week of school; prioritize tasks for managing library
||The library is open for the first days of school, providing access and a welcoming environment to begin the year
Branom, Vaughn. “The Changing Face of Professional Development.” School Library Monthly 29, no. 1 (September-October 2012): 17-19.
Martin, Ann M. “Data-Driven Leadership.” School Library Monthly 28, no. 2 (November 2011): 31-33.
Moreillon, Judi. “Policy Challenge: Why Is the Library Closed?” School Library Monthly 29, no. 1 (September-October 2012): 27-28.
Valenza, Joyce Kasman. “Curation.” School Library Monthly 29, no. 1 (September-October 2012): 21-23.
Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yogalifestudios/7262929766/ by yogalifestudios, on Flickr. Used with a Creative CommonsAttribution 2.0 License.