Yesterday I attended a conference. Not unusual for me as I attend many conferences annually. From national conferences as the American Library Association (Annual/MidWinter) to local events such as the Long Island Tech Summit. I typically attend library and tech related conferences exclusively, as it never truly occurred to me to attend a conference in another content area.
Yesterday I attended NYSABE (New York State Association of Bilingual Educators). NYSABE represents educators, parents, members of community-based organizations, private agencies, and institutions of higher education as well as advocates involved in the education of English language learners/bilingual students in New York State. As school librarians, we serve ALL students in our schools.
I routinely collaborate with teachers of English as a New Language (ENL) and specifically with our district Coordinator of ENL and World Languages, Claudia Osorio. We work together on literacy initiatives, information literacy and research projects and, in particular, the use of makerspaces with English Language Learners (ELLs). Claudia and I submitted a proposal to NYSABE which was accepted so off I was to my first non-library/tech related conference and my first non-library/tech presentation to boot!
The presentation went smoothly and it was interesting to view it through the lens of others. The questions and concerns were similar yet different from my previous presentations. I was warmly welcomed by my bilingual colleagues, yet still an oddity. I believe I was the only school librarian in attendance. Throughout the day, I had an opportunity to learn more about ELLs and the challenges they (and their teachers) face. I met with vendors rich in the materials I need for my multilingual book collection. I attended a timely presentation by members of the ACLU who discussed what to do if stopped by immigration officers. I even learned a few new phrases in Spanish. Overall, I the experience amazed me. I didn’t realize what I had been missing because I hadn’t yet experienced it.
I highly recommend getting out of your zone and continue your professional education through out of content area conferences. The mutual benefits abound. While representing librarians in a bid to advocate for productive collaborative partnerships, I was learning about policy, strategies and standards in another field. This will deepen my ability to assist and develop above par programs for all my students.