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An invaluable learning adventure
posted by: Tamia | February 19, 2020, 10:19 PM   

Our guest blog today is by Ami Ware, who won an AAE Foundation Teacher Scholarship.


Finding meaningful, professional development can often be difficult for educators. Luckily, for librarians and others who are passionate about sharing a love of reading and books, there are a few amazing opportunities every year to meet with like minded individuals, authors, illustrators, and industry leaders who continue to shine a light on the importance of library programs nationwide. One such event is the Texas Library Association annual conference that takes place annually in various major cities throughout Texas in March. This year, attendees will meet in Houston to share and learn ways to ensure the future success of their library programs while also meeting with vendors, experiencing new technology tools, and hearing from award winning authors like Lois Lowry and Jason Reynolds.



Attending the TLA conference is the highlight of the year for many librarians, not just in Texas but across the country. While the event is targeted primarily to current librarians in all fields, educators in every career phase from pre-service and retired teachers to high ranking administrators can attend the sessions and will find engaging programs to aid their understanding of the importance of libraries and just what librarians do all day.


Based on my singular past experience when I was a first-year librarian, it is still difficult to fully grasp the extent of the opportunities to conference participants. Most of the sessions are taught by peers who have been in the trenches for various lengths of time. Some have witnessed first hand the transition from a traditional library, complete with card catalogs, to the future ready library of today with makerspaces and ample technology. Many have stepped out of their comfort zone and started coding and robotics clubs, built bookmobiles from the ground up, and written thousands of dollars worth of grants for their library programs. They willingly share all of their tips and tricks as well as their successes and heartbreaks providing inspiration and motivation for everyone listening.


The featured speakers and author panels are, without a doubt, a favorite for many attendees, including myself. Where else can you engage with authors and discuss everything from their writing motivations and influencing factors to their writing process and perseverance when being published still felt like a fleeting dream. These sessions allow librarians to return to their campuses and share with students and staff a book that may speak directly to their current situation; a book that might alter a path, provide a laugh in a dark time, or give them the courage to keep going for one more day.


Ultimately, this time spent with each other is an invaluable learning adventure. Anyone who attends and participates with an open mind, will walk away changed. Their library program and patrons will be better because of this experience.


AAE Foundation Teacher Scholarships and Classroom Grants provide thousands of dollars each year to educators across the country. These funds provide educators with the ability to attend high quality professional development or implement new and exciting professional development they otherwise might not have been able to. Scholarships and Grants are awarded twice yearly. The next deadline is March 1, 2020. Find more information on our AAEF Teacher Scholarship & Classroom Grant website.

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