I know, the title is heresy for teachers and librarians in many a setting, but this video on innovation and the conditions that promote innovation recently came my way and it made me think about what we do to support and promote innovation in our building. It got me thinking a lot about presentations that each of the four librarians in our department have been doing at our faculty meetings each month.
As a classroom teacher in a public elementary school, I HATED faculty meetings with a passion! ‘Twas the 1990s and consensus decision making was the prevailing management fad in the district where I worked. We met. And met. And met. And met … In June, we were meeting and discussing the same issues we had started talking about in September. The consensus model as it was implemented in my building assured the fact that innovation moved at the pace of those who wanted to innovate the least. Basically, we were an inert faculty.
A new relationship took me to a new life in Los Angeles where I found out that my newly minted MLIS in school librarianship was not much in demand in the public school districts of Southern California. Thus, began my current run as a middle school librarian at an independent school. Boy is life different in an independent school. The management style here is fairly “top down” which I have found is wonderful in my particular setting. We rarely meet as a full faculty. Though minions like myself are often asked our opinions and for feedback, most school-wide decision making takes place at the department chairperson and faculty academic committee level so minions like myself don’t have to attend a lot of meetings.
Recently, however, our head of campus asked the Department of Library and Information Technology to give short 10-15 minute presentation on information topics at our monthly faculty meetings. It has been GREAT! Don’t get me wrong, presenting to our faculty is a terrifying experience. Our faculty don’t like to meet; our faculty are all extremely smart; and our faculty do not suffer fools lightly! We basically have to find a way to come up with a 10 minute TED talk and hit it out of the park once each month. I have to say, though, that it is better PR than we could have ever hoped for. Smart teachers who were highly successful students tend to think that they “know” how to search and how to leverage information effectively. Well … Sometimes you don’t know, what you don’t know. Our faculty meeting talks give us a chance to teach our teachers. The response has been very positive and it is wonderful to have teachers catch us in the halls or in the cafeteria to chat about information and projects.