When Laura Deisley, Director of 21st Century Learning for The Lovett School in Atlanta, said the word, I knew what she meant. It’s a word I hear often from people I’ve grown to know and respect. They describe it as being open to possibilities, being connected enough to take advantage of those opportunities.

Indeed, my own connection to Powerful Learning Practice happened because Laura sat down next to me in a session at the first Educon, when I was trying to put my head around these shifts in teaching and learning I was seeing. I pushed a piece of paper toward her and said something like, “So I’m hearing something about professional development plan that Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum Beach are putting together. Know anything?”And of course she did, having already begun participating in the program, giving it glowing remarks.

We’ve kept up since then, seeing each other at conferences and online. I’ve followed her work from outside consultant to Lovett’s in-house strategic coordinator with interest.

She explained some of her journey to me recently.”I have always found good teaching so inspiring,” she said. I became curious about what a successful progressive teacher looks like.” Attending ISTE and the first Edubloggercon was life-changing for  her, she said. “I met Sheryl, who walked up to me and said, ‘who are you and where do you blog?'” Laura remembers, laughing. “I said, ‘I don’t have one’ and she said, ‘You should!'” By the end of the next week, Laura was starting to write, and Sheryl was one of her first commenters, she said.

Later, as a parent facilitating a group of parents and educators to explore what was happening online, she found herself drawn to doing more. “I realized during that year that my heart was in what all this meant for education. I left my job (as a strategic planner with digital media) and decided to figure it out,” she said. And out of her PLP experience, where she realized “it is up to the individual as to what they get out of it,” she, too, became in invested in her own learning. Her desire to glean as much as she could from the expert voices of the time, such as Darrren Kuropatwa and David Jakes, has helped her continue on this journey. The path has taken her to this time and place, where she and a group of dedicated folks are trying to re-imagine what libraries of the future will be.designstart

Beginning as a request from her own librarian, the discussions have evolved to a summit planned for early September.”We’re not the first ones, but we will research best practices, try to envision the potential of the library as redefining itself, a catalyst for the education community,” Laura said.

A year in the planning, the team envisioned an innovation approach where people could come together in groups, examine an issue, and work in those teams to prototype a model of the library of the future. Working with Christian Long, a former PLPer himself, and now founder of BePlayful, Laura has pulled together folks with a design background who will use innovative, creative thinking to be the “wedge” that brings the ideas and plan together. “In Re-imagine: Ed, we are looking for people with a certain mindset, curious learners to make sure we have that design team that includes parents, students, librarians, anyone who cares about the future of learning,” she said, referring to how the initial group will expand to the fall summit.

They will offer hands-on sessions, mini-TED type talks, “facilitated so the design process is honored,” she said. They hope teams continue to work with an innovative lens.

“Unless libraries can redefine themselves,” she said, “the value is gone. But we believe libraries can be the catalyst for change. There is a tremendous opportunity for the library to be the model community for the whole educational community.”

Truly 21st century based, she said, this plan reflects what we all believe about learning.

A journey does indeed begin with one step.

image credit: by theunquietlibrarian

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Susan Carter Morgan

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