Magazine article Internet@Schools

Take Courage!

Magazine article Internet@Schools

Take Courage!

Article excerpt

You Can Cope With the Times

SEVERAL years ago, I was in London heading up a group of travel study students. A high point of this trip was a day in Stratford-upon-Avon. Passing through an industrial area, I was gazing out the train window when I saw an old brick building that had two words painted on the side in huge letters: TAKE COURAGE. In my mind I made up a scenario where the sign had been put up during World War II to encourage troops traveling by rail. After all, there are reminders of the war everywhere you turn in England.

Well, I was wrong. Turns out it was an ad for a brand of beer called Courage! But I still like the sentiment and wonder if it has affected other travelers. The reason for this little anecdote is to lead into the topic of this column, which is positive responses to today's hard times in schools and libraries. Many of us have to build up courage in order to get by from day to day with jobs and budgets in peril. We need all the tools we can gather for getting through hard times. Some of these include staying connected, getting involved with activism, nurturing a curious mind, remembering our love of the children, and keeping our sense of humor.

In my previous column, I talked about some practical steps educators can take to help cope with shrinking budgets. This time I want to broaden the topic and talk about how we can use the internet to mitigate negativity resulting from any type of hard times. There are five areas in which I think we can boost our spirits and improve our situations by using technology:

* Connectivity

* Activism/advocacy

* Continuing learning

* Remembering the children

* Maintaining a sense of humor

These factors are interrelated, and separately and in concert they can contribute to getting through our current hard times with positive attitudes and maybe even some positive results.

STAY CONNECTED

Back when I first started my career as a librarian, I heard and then experienced the fact that, unless there are multiple librarians per school campus, librarians are likely to find themselves feeling alone at times. My relationship with fellow teachers was a bit different once I was the one who doled out equipment and scheduled library access. My position required me to sometimes say "no" to requests when items or spaces were already obligated. There was a subtle barrier between me and my classroom-teacher friends. I began to feel I had no peer in my building, no one who knew all that I did, no one who shared my concerns.

Thus coming across LM_NET back in the mid-1980s was a welcome discovery. It became a mainstay of my professional life. I enjoyed answering other people's questions and got great responses to my own. This group plus an active group of district librarians kept me feeling supported and gave me a place to ask questions and share concerns and successes. Texas librarians also have their own message board, TLC or Texas Library Connection, which has been around since the 1990s. Finally, I joined EDTECH back in the 1990s, where I found another group of helpful colleagues from the world of educational technology. These three groups are composed of wonderfully generous professionals who love to help others and share ideas. It is impossible to quantify how much they have meant to so many members over the years.

Furthermore, these days there are a plethora of other options for educators. We have wikis, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and many other great resources. I know that my Twitter use is 100% for professional use, and a great deal of my Facebook communication is work-related as well.

There has been some discussion about whether "old" listservs will run their course in the face of newer environments. Count me in as one who does noi think this is the case. I believe all these resources are different and fulfill different needs. Twitter is great for sharing links. Facebook shines when you want to share visuals, whether they are photographs, videos, or websites. …

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