Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ALA Leadership Institute

             Instructional Specialist for Library Services, Head of Liaison Services, Assistant Library Director, Art Librarian, International Documents Librarian, Special Projects Coordinator, these are a few of the titles held by this dynamic group of public, academic and school librarians,  who converged at the Eaglewood Resort outside Chicago  in August  for the four day  Inaugural Leading to the Future Leadership Institute sponsored by the American Library Association.  We were taken in hand by Maureen Sullivan, Past-President of ALA, and Kathryn Diess, Content Strategist  for ACRL/ALA and guided on an informative and exciting journey into leadership development.        
         It is difficult to describe all of the things I learned in any kind of detail, and I'll attempt that later, but what was so remarkable about this Institute was the people. Have you ever taught that class where all the kids just worked together in harmony and you were able to achieve great things?Have you ever worked with a group of people or had a group of friends where everybody's personality just fit? This Institute had all those elements. The environment was so warm, supportive and safe, which is wonderful, but for that kind of cohesion to take place nearly instantly among 40 attendees and two instructors from so many different cultures and backgrounds in such a short amount of time is something truly remarkable and unforgettable. The only way I can think to describe it is by our seating arrangement. Personally, I pick a place and stay there. Most people tend to that behavior from my observation, but everyday, people sat in different places during the sessions and at our meals.  It just seemed like we were just that interested in knowing each other. And although I felt completely intimidated by even showing up for this Institute, by Day 2 I was thinking, Yeah! These are my people! But seriously, it just fueled the environment for learning and discovery.     
  Here, in as little detail as I can manage are some of the highlights I felt like have and will transform my practice as a school librarian and school leader. 
 1. The difference between internal and external power. External power is a defined power given by an outside entity.However internal power comes from our ability to do things, our power is drawn from within and has to be developed. 
 2. Skillful Discussion-which begins by building trust, asking the right questions, listening to others and responding when necessary. We discussed several models and spent time practicing skillful discussions several times. It takes energy and time, but yields a much better outcome. 
 3. Planning-I started to write that nothing good comes from poor planning, but sometimes we do get lucky, however a little up front work is important. We began  with identifying our strengths and weaknesses, developing our own personal visions, then were able to apply the information to that vision throughout the Institute. By the end we were able to sketch out a plan for our personal leadership development.
 4. Pay It Forward-One epiphany I had at the Institute was exactly where my power and leadership come from, although I do not have defined leadership position. I am a leader of students. We all are.

All the materials and information we received have been cleared to share. Let's do it!