Working closely with teachers here in Guernsey, I heard a buzz about a conference called ResearchED. Being a librarian it was not a conference I had come across before so started to do some research. It turns out that it is a "grass routes, teacher lead organisation which started in 2013 by Tom Bennett and Helene O'Shea" and is a conference based on educational research. The talk amongst the teachers was that it was the conference to be at and after a little nudge from one of them I decided to apply to be a speaker.
I was delighted to be accepted as it not only gave me a platform to talk to teachers about the importance of school libraries but it also allowed me to attend the other sessions and hear what teachers were learning about too. It turned out that I was the only librarian amongst 108 presenters, with 1300 delegates. Yes this conference is huge! I then find out that I am speaking in the final session and my heart sinks.
The last session is always tough gig, many of the delegates start to head off home. It is only the last session after all. This is not a criticism but it would be great if more stayed. Every speaker has put a lot of effort into their talk and if there is no-one left to hear it their time has been wasted. Lucky for me I was guaranteed at least 2 at my session as my son and his fiancee were with me for the day and had agreed to record my talk so that I could have it to share with others.
I was also up against some great speakers so I felt that those who were left were unlikely to come to my session, especially as I had attended an earlier session with only 5 in the audience so I was not feeling very hopeful. She was so grateful for us being there I realised that this was likely to be me in a couple of hours. Why was I putting myself through this?
The session before mine was packed with standing room only and when she finished the room cleared. I tried not to focus on that and I got on making sure that I was able to run my Powerpoint, so was only slightly aware of who was coming and going. When I looked up I was delighted that 10 people had decided to come and hear what I had to say, including one of the delegates from Guernsey. It was lovely to see that I was being supported from home too. Not a huge number but at least I was not going to be talking to my own relatives.
They all laughed at my jokes, responded to my questions and were a really nice group of people to talk to who were genuinely interested in what I had to say. I began to realise that this was better than having a really full room with people saying that they had not really got what they had expected from the session.
I was asked some very good questions about the resources I had talked about and one asked about budgeting for the school library. I will be forever grateful to the teacher who asked me "If you could have what you wanted to run a great school library what would that be?" This allowed me to explain that a great school library
needs a qualified librarian who is head of department
who is included in curriculum meetings and is seen as part of the teaching staff rather than support staff
that information literacy needs to be embedded within the curriculum with senior leaders looking for evidence that teachers are working with the librarian and the library
a library assistant so that the librarian can get out of the library and into the classroom to support research skills
the need for a good budget that is seen as a whole school budget not a 'library' budget
a good selection of resources including both books and online
I did have to stop eventually as time was running out but I finished with a huge smile on my face.
Having the recording I am now able to share it with others who were not able to come to my session. Here is a small taster of the start, if you would like a copy of the whole recording please feel free to message me as I am not going to post it publicly until December. I have two more conferences to go this year and need all the delegates I can get :)