I was invited to be a member of #Wandoo5 with Evanced Solutions: a Teacher-Librarian Think Tank.
The idea of a Wandoo Think Tank had been percolating with Rob Cullin, President and co-founder of Evanced, since the Banishing Boredom tour with Wandoo Planet began in the spring. The Think Tank would be a way for the leaders & staff of Evanced to pick the brains of school librarians, not only about their products, but about the roles of school libraries, librarians, reading, and teaching in the future. I was thrilled when Rob said he wanted to have this Think Tank in Indy at Evanced and bring some of my most favorite TL friends in from across the country. (Pinch me! I was included in this!)
Lindsey Hill (or should I say THE Lindsey Hill, in honor of her newly updated Twitter handle...), the Reading Engagement Innovator for Evanced (& former elementary teacher) acted as our hostess and guide, meeting us all at the airport (it was like a family reunion!) and helping us get checked into our hotel. We enjoyed a casual evening out in Indianapolis filled with friends, food, and amazing conversations about everything under the sun. Dinner with Rob and his wife Kimberly gave us all the opportunity to extend our conversations into the realms of public libraries, library design, and beyond.
The next morning, we all met at Evanced for a well organized day with the leadership and staff. After a few fun pictures (& breakfast, of course), our day together began.
My friends are much more prolific in their writing and reflections, so please be sure and read posts about our time together from Matthew and Shawna. (I feel certain Andy and Shannon will also add their thoughts about Wandoo 5 in the near future.)
Many thoughts were also shared on Twitter (which brought us together in the first place!). Read the stream here:#wandoo5 Tweets
My main take-aways from this day together:
- Evanced is a company that values the voice of others. Their products which are marketed to public libraries and now school libraries and student readers became even more meaningful to me after spending time talking with their leaders and hearing their thoughts. It certainly makes sense to illicit the input of the users, but I venture to say that many companies don't take this valuable step. Evanced is all about children...readers...and doing what's best for them. That's something I can embrace whole-heartedly! Wandoo Planet, in beta, encouraged the banishment of boredom for readers. After seeing what is up and coming, the ideas that are being implemented and tweaked, I know that Wandoo Planet will become something amazing for my students and yours. I look forward to seeing what else Evanced has planned in the future.
- My voice is important! This is a difficult concept for me to grasp. I have so many amazing TL friends who constantly inspire me, it's often quite easy to not speak out because I feel my voice isn't of value. How many of our students feel this way? One of my goals in the library is to make sure our space is welcoming and that every student finds a place there. I value the voice of my students and ask for their input daily. It's truly their library and not mine. The moment I begin to make decisions for ME and not them is when I lose my effectiveness and vision. I need to remember that my voice is just as important in the library world and be sure to speak out and share ideas. It was an amazing feeling to have others listen to me that day and to even write down or tweet my thoughts. I need to remember that feeling and be sure to extend it to my students as I listen to their thoughts and ideas AND put them into action.
- Our why is pivotal. Knowing what keeps us going and pushing onward in our schools and libraries, embracing new ideas, trying new things, branching out, connecting, and doing more is crucial. We ALL need to identify our why and check our actions with it regularly. Many times, as educators, we want to do it all and try every new thing, but if it truly doesn't connect to our why and enhance our mission, it may become counter productive. Do our students have a why? As educators, it's up to us to help them discover their passions and motivations.
- Work isn't work when you're doing what you love. Spaces should be flexible, colorful, and encourage collaboration and creativity. Sure, I knew this about LIBRARIES, but I'd never been in an office that took this seriously! Evanced Solutions modeled everything I'd like to have in my library spaces for productive, hands on explorations and learning.
- Everything is better with friends. Finding my tribe in the past several years has been life changing for me, both professionally and personally. I want to do everything I can as an educator to help my students find their tribes as well. Whether it's a space in the library or a library sponsored activity or club, helping others connect with ideas and each other is a worthy and important part of what we do.
I'm going to quote my genius pal, Matthew Winner, to close: "I guess what I'm trying to say is, the takeaways I experienced at the Wandoo Planet think tank were takeaways I could put immediately into practice in my own library program. It was an incredible day, and I'm a better person for taking part in it."
Yes indeed. It WAS an incredible day that I will continue to reflect upon and I feel honored to have been a part of it.
Thank you Lindsey, Rob, and Mark for your hospitality and your wisdom!