If you’re a regular reader, you know that each month we like to feature the story of one of our fantastic members on this blog. We feel it’s important to recognize all the amazing things educators are doing in the field, and our members are doing some pretty unbelievable things. This month, we’re fixing the spotlight on Becky Calzada, a Library Services Coordinator in Leander ISD. Read on to learn how Becky supports librarians on a daily basis, what she thinks about the evolution of the school library, and her best tech tips.
Loving the Libraries of Leander
Becky has spent more than 30 years in education. Of those years, 20 were spent in Leander ISD, and 17 were spent working in libraries. She has served in her current position as Library Services Coordinator for seven years. So what does she actually do each day in her role? Quite a lot! As Becky explains: “An average day for me includes supporting librarians via email, phone, or in person. There are also district level meetings I attend where I work with Teaching and Learning, Technology Services, or Facilities Departments on things like curriculum, literacy, technology integration, hardware purchase input, library design, and library furnishings. I also work with librarians on district-level purchases of digital resources, our library system, and book purchases. I’m a district representative on the LEEF Board, our district education foundation, where I coordinate literacy projects and volunteer with fundraising events that provide funding for our district; so I’m also coordinating book donation pick-ups or book requests for campuses. Every day is different and very busy!”
The Evolution of What a Library Can Be
Becky really enjoys working in libraries partly because she gets to be on the forefront of innovation. In her nearly two decades of working in libraries, she’s seen them transform from having two desktop computers to teeming with technology. What a library can do for students goes far beyond books. Today’s school library can be an active learning environment full of opportunities for sparking young creators and problem solvers. Becky shares what the Leander library is like these days: “Now our elementary libraries have a mix of 25 laptops with students in ALL grade levels creating, writing code, Skyping with authors, taking advantage of makerspace opportunities, and more. Our secondary campuses have gone 1:1, and librarians support with deployment, tech support, and many also have student-led tech support help desks in the library. Librarians do all this along with direct instruction on information literacy, research instruction, and digital resources. Working with librarians to stay future ready and impact student achievement by connecting what we do to our Leander ISD vision and goals is truly an amazing privilege.”
Becky is proud of what her district has accomplished so far, and they have no plans to rest on their laurels. She is always excited to support new initiatives. Leander ISD is currently taking stock of technology hardware in their elementary schools. They want to survey all teachers and librarians to see what people are actually using and what needs they still have. This will better inform future buying choices. They are also using two-years of BrightBytes data to help inform a new digital citizenship component. “We want our students and teachers to be empowered to navigate responsibly, ethically, and safely online, and this data tool will allow us to see if our work is having an impact.”
Finding Your Flock
When asked her best advice for someone starting out in her role, Becky encouraged developing a strong PLN. There is nothing as empowering as educators working together and sharing ideas and solutions to shared problems. Becky also has a favorite resource for online network building. “My go-to is Twitter; it has been a game-changer in my practice because it’s allowed me to learn and connect with other librarians, tech leaders, administrators, and authors. I follow conference hashtags to glean learning from afar too because I can’t attend every conference.”
Becky also serves as a a co-moderator for #TXLChat, a weekly Tuesday chat to connect librarians across the state. She uses the LIB-SIG part of the TCEA Community to post chat questions and further connect with a PLN of dedicated librarians. Although all educators can benefit from uniting with peers, Becky stressed the particular importance for librarians. “Librarians are typically singletons on a campus and it is easy to fall into the trap of being siloed. Virtual collaboration is possible via a PLN and has allowed me to learn about new innovations, leadership tips, tech tools, library furniture, book titles, and even library hacks. What a powerful opportunity!”
Becky’s Go-To Tech Tool
We asked Becky for her favorite tech tool right now. “I would have to say that FlipGrid is the newest tool I’ve tried and used. I’ve been invited by others to share innovations as a librarian, define what a future ready librarian is, and use it as a way to introduce myself to others. It’s a tool that be used in so many creative ways and I’m excited to use it, as well as see how others leverage its use.” If you’d like to join Becky in flipping over Flipgrid, you’ll be happy to hear it’s now free for educators to use!
Thanks for joining us in another monthly member spotlight! We hope you got some valuable tips and ideas from Becky’s journey and from the exciting steps she’s taking to keep the libraries of Leander ISD on the cutting edge. To learn about other innovative educators transforming teaching and learning, you can read some of our previous member spotlight posts here, here, and here. Do you know a TCEA member who needs to be in the spotlight? You can always email me your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.