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NJASL takeaway #1 Do they skip into your library?

I made many new friends at the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) Fall Conference this week and I will be jenlatimersharing some highlights and featuring emerging leaders.

One of those leaders is Jennifer Latimer of Clinton Elementary School Library in Maplewood, NJ, who blogs as Anywhere Librarian and tweets as @jenlatimer.

I reconnected with Jennifer when she accepted the Jean E. Harris Award for a Progressive School Library Media Program.

The award is presented to a New Jersey school librarian who has demonstrated innovative ideas to enhance the life-long learning skills of students.

I was particularly moved by Jennifer’s acceptance speech. Her simple words eloquently captured the essence and the joy of our work and our ability to encourage play.

Can you imagine spending 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 180 days a year in a place that you didn’t love?

For many kids this is school and I would like to challenge you that the same goes for us as educators.  The library can and should be about playful learning.  I love my career and am thrilled every time a child skips into the library.  There is a joyful hum of learning and we are not a quiet place.  The library is not a place of reading, it is and has always been a place of learning.  That learning can come from books, but it can also come from the internet and exploration.  I love what I do and thank everyone who supports me from my awesome Principal to my teachers, parents and the students.

Are you wondering what it means to have playful learning in the library and what it means to be progressive?  If not, why not?  I love going to work for the following reasons:

  • We create learning experiences that are relevant and memorable.  Last year the app developers from San Francisco based Kodable came to our school and met with Kindergarten students.  Five and six year olds got to teach programmers about coding and show off their skills.
  • Storytelling comes alive through stop motion animation.  Students create Lego stop motion animation films based on the fundamentals of classroom learning and share their creations with the school community.
  • I am encouraged to be a life long learner by participating in professional development and STEAM committees, partnering with my local Maplewood Memorial Library and being a teacher of teachers.

Play and learning is key for students and it starts with me.

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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