Thursday, November 21, 2013

AASL Opening Session

At the end of last week and part of last weekend I attended the 2013 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conference.  This was the first time I'd ever been to AASL.  Like ALA, it moves location each year, and since this time it was conveniently located in Hartford, Connecticut, and since my library would pay for my registration, there was no reason not to go!  I enjoyed being at a conference where all the sessions focused specifically on school libraries, and to be able to meet and talk to so many other school librarians.

The open was Thursday evening, and after lots of announcements we were greeted by the mayor of Hartford, who told us all how much he valued school librarians and how important we were.  It was kind of hard to take him seriously, however, considering how few schools in Connecticut have school librarians at all.

The opening speaker was Tony Wagner.  Tony Wagner had spoken at my school last year, and I was unimpressed.  He has lots of large ideas and few concrete ways on how to execute those ideas, so I wasn't super excited.  Tony Wagner proceeded to give the exact same speech he'd given at my school.  The exact.  Same.  Speech.  No changes.  Nothing specifically that applied to librarians, you know, the people he was talking to.  He gave his same canned speech, all about the importance of critical thinking and how curriculum is all about test prep and shouldn't be.  And I don't disagree with those things.  Not at all.  Lots of cheering and clapping for what Wagner was saying.  But we're not administrators.  We don't get to decided if the schools we work on take tests or not.  We don't get too say what classroom teachers focus on.  There were lots of places where he could have made specific library connections, but he didn't.  That would have involved rewriting his speech.  So yeah.  That was a disappointment.

So, well played Tony Wagner.  You're traveling the country making tons of money and using the same speech over and over and everyone things you're the voice of the future.  Well play indeed.

That evening I went to an independent school library mixer.  There are so many people at these conferences it's sometimes hard to make connections.  At a mixer such as this it's much smaller and easier to talk to people.  All the librarians in their 20s and 30s managed to find each other, and then we talked about things like how much we loved The Baby-Sitter's Club books.

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