Collaboration is critical as librarians, teachers, and administrators help students come back to the classroom after the pandemic

110% humidity, 100% human collaboration

Collaboration is critical as librarians, teachers, and administrators help students come back to the classroom after the pandemic

At the same session, Future Ready Librarian Spokeswoman Shannon Miller shared several inspiring stories about ways in which she collaborates with teachers, school leaders, and her community. Here’s what I learned from Shannon:

  • Transformation doesn’t happen overnight;
  • If you do a great project, share that great project with your teachers, school community, and your peers on social media;
  • Don’t be an expert. Call an expert;
  • Don’t ask for a meeting with teachers—they don’t have time. Instead, take a 3-minute walk and talk between classes;
  • Plan for meaningful collaboration for students across grade levels.

The rest of my time at the conference was spent meeting with trade publications that cover education, such as eSchool News, talking to customers on the tradeshow floor, learning about the 450 fellow companies exhibiting at the show, and sharing stories. While in-person attendance at the conference was estimated to be about half of a normal ISTE headcount, in most cases, this was the first time to reconnect with these folks, in person, since the pandemic began. 

During my meetings with the media, we discussed what educators are experiencing in the wake of the strangest two years in the industry, including:

  • How teachers are still fatigued by technology (and generally, just fatigued). We heard many say that unless a tool is already a part of everyday instruction, it may likely fall by the wayside. Teachers, we hear you! It’s not hard to understand that there is too much to do without multiple add-on tech supplements.
  • Much of the available ESSER funding has not yet been spent in districts. Again, so much to do, but help deciphering what’s available and how to apply it may be what educators need.
  • Tutoring is now more popular and in use than before the pandemic. Schools and parents are collaborating to help kids get up to speed academically.

When I spoke to teachers, librarians, and tech directors from districts around the country, and our own team in and around our booth, we shared experiences and “what’s worked” ourselves, and we also talked about ISTE. These topics seemed to come up repeatedly:

  • Zoom is great, however, ISTE was an opportunity to learn from peers and build relationships in a deeper way than zoom allows. Everyone loved finally being back in person!
  • Tracking devices and resources accurately has become a critical part of district operations; controlling overspending is a common concern in almost every realm.
  • Supply chain challenges, including book orders, remain obstacles for everyone. Someday, we all imagined with hope, perhaps things will return to normal!

This was the first national conference I attended in-person since the pandemic began. 

The entire experience reinforced the message that started the conference. There are so many challenges facing us daily that are entirely out of our control. Yet, collaboration is critical. It’s within our control. And interacting with other humans is important… even if it’s in New Orleans, in June, with 110% humidity!

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Britten Follett
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