And you say, “Duh?” Well I might retort, “No, I mean in an exotic, train-wreck, but beautiful sort of way.” And hopefully you don’t want to punch me.
Fresh off a full day in-service with a group of 40ish K-12 of them I am feeling inadequate, exhausted, and slightly scared of their power in a school. Typically my group supports them on the technology aspects of their job within our district. By definition we are there to fill gaps in their knowledge of new or existing technologies. In the short tenure of my years on this job I have seen the person filling these roles shift from “librarian” to “media specialist.” Some of these shifts have been seismic, some of these shifts are still evolving. But I have always challenged ever Media Specialists, where I can, to move closer to the latter.
After a day such as today I am humbled again to remember all the things which they do expertly without my support. I facilitated one web ex training for those working in our high schools about a research tool which they use. Aside from evoking strong memories of college papers the entire product is foreign to me. It is interesting how when the content is removed you are able to see the processes folks go through; I saw astute questioning, some judgements, and attention to detail which I would have otherwise missed had I been engrossed in the subject matter. By the end of the session I think I have one of them talked into being a subject matter expert (SME) for me and we could a module together for our learning management system (LMS). If I had the prejudice knowing about the product I might not have that connection with one of those SMEs and without my fascination at a product they must find utilitarian this module might not be enough of an outlier for Media Specialists to request it.
This monthly congregation has some interesting social norms. Typically these follow the lines of the grade levels which each Media Specialist supports. The High School folks make (relatively) risqué jokes – as much as you care to imagine the school librarian of you youth saying anything like that. The Elementary folks are scattered and frequently lost in the directions, but ever so willing to help each other. And the Middle School Media Specialists are just right, I mean just like their kids as well. But nothing can derail a discussion faster than an impromptu book review in this group. And, I do not know about cataloguing, but apparently the myriad of ways to do this are a source of eternal fascination to this group. Don’t tell them, but I’d pay money to watch them get all twisted up about how they are going to sign any piece of equipment out – not one of them seems to do it the same way.
The one thing that never fails to unite them is a perceived common enemy. I fear we are that enemy sometimes. We have no place in their chain of command, but somehow I always feel like they are extra carefully around my group. Nothing can bring together the group like the perception that we are going to make them look bad. I wish they could have a workshop to try and show us all the daily minutia they slog through to just get kids reading, researching, interacting with content in new ways. I wish there was a way to even their perceived imbalance of power between out two groups; I really do admire what they do – especially the stuff about which I know nothing.