On April 11th I was lucky enough to attend Reading Roundup with several of my RSU1 colleagues. This is one of my favorite conferences because it is all about literacy, librarianship and the relationship between authors/illustrators and their readers.
The highlight of the day for me was the keynote by author Kate Messner. Earlier in the year I hosted a Skype visit with Kate for my 3rd grade students (something she offers for free, despite her exceptionally busy schedule) and she was just magical with the kids. I was not disappointed to discover that she was magical with adults as well!
Kate spoke about her experience preparing for and then giving a TEDTalk. She was terrified to be on such a grand stage, but learned a great deal from the experience that she uses in her everyday life and that we, as educators, can use every day as well. Her main points:
Be brave, but it is also OK to be afraid. If you’re not nervous, it’s not worth doing.
Never underestimate the power of failure. What would you try if you knew that failure was impossible? What would you try? Fear of failure keeps us from trying so much.
Always ask the question “What if…?”
Kate also spoke about the ways in which standardized testing undermines all three of these points. Standardized tests, she argues, make kids pick one answer, even though we live in an increasingly multidimensional world. Additionally, standardized testing is all about getting the answer right and never about learning from failure.
The bright side, though (and the one that made the audience sigh in appreciation) is that librarians and teachers are in the perfect position to provide kids with stories, challenges, mentors, creativity and permission to learn from failing.
I attended several workshops, including “Collaboration to the Core.” This one was a bit hit or miss for me, but I did come away with some good ideas for how to work more closely with our public library partners and how to think a bit more broadly about the Common Core.
Additionally, I had the opportunity to network with librarians from all over the state of Maine! This is always one of the most rewarding and inspiring aspects of “getting away” for the day. And finally, I stood up in front the huge crowd that was Reading Roundup on behalf of the Maine Student Book Award committee (a committee that I have greatly enjoyed being on for about a year now) to announce the 2013 Maine Student Book Award winner. I was glad that Kate Messner had spoken about being afraid, because although I am generally pretty comfortable speaking in public, this was a HUGE crowd and I did indeed feel pretty nervous as I stepped up to the podium. It was a great honor, though, to present the award to Maine’s own Lynn Plourde, for her book Lost Trail: Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness.
All in all, it was an enriching and thought-provoking day!