Well, friends. It's the end of July. I can't believe how fast this summer flew by. It seems like just yesterday we were all thrown into the midst of a pandemic with only uncertainties to guide us through a new era of digital learning. Maybe technology wasn't your strong suit. Or maybe you wanted to pursue different applications but weren't sure where to begin. It's like this pandemic provided some learning opportunities that we might have not pursued otherwise. I used my summer to build my skills and take on learning opportunities that will guide how I shift my programming and lessons for a more digital-inclusive library—to ensure that it's implemented with fidelity and not simply because I "earned a badge". I also participated in and created some PD opportunities and I'm honored to say that RGV Library Squad hosted our very first RGV LibCamp this summer! We really tried to provide an open opportunity for librarians seeking some guidance on how they can implement new practices for the 2020-2021 school year. Along with an amazing virtual conference, I presented multiple times--RGV LibCamp, TxASL, TCEA, and NTX Lib Camp--and even had some amazing interviews with some AMAZING people such as Charlene Martoni (Feminist Librarian aka my new friend!) and Alfonso Mendoza (My EdTech Life). I even represented the Rio Grande Valley in ALA's Virtual Tour with ALA President Julius Jefferson! OH! & let me not forget-I have a YouTube channel now! Exciting!
This summer really led to some meaningful opportunities and I am eternally thankful for a profession that allows me to flourish in so many areas of education. Learning never stops. Teaching never stops. I wanted to hone my skills, so I also pursued different micro-credentials. Mainly, yes, because I'm a hyper-nerd and I love learning, but because I really want to advocate for my position and promote my services as a library media leader. As an educator, I like to lead by example and learn as much as I can. If I encourage my students to do this—to seek knowledge, to question, to participate in thoughtful discussion—then I must do the same. So, where did that lead me this summer? I am now a Certified Google Trainer, MIE Trainer, MIE Expert, Newsela Educator, Kami Educator, a Flipgrid Level 2 Expert, and I am pursuing my Newsela Trainer credentials. Yes, these courses take time and preparation, but it's totally worth it. I can't think of a better profession that integrates the use of technology to its fullest capacity. That love of learning doesn't just stop there, though. Lispy Librarian and I kicked off a live show called "Tech It Over" in hopes of centering discussions around women in technology roles. Will conversations get serious? Definitely. Will we have fun doing it? FOR SURE! I consider myself very lucky to have her by my side for this project and what I know will be an amazing journey together! Okay, but, why do any of it? Why go for it? Because—I know what I want my library and profession to reflect: a welcoming, inclusive, innovative, and engaging environment (both physically and virtually). How I begin to prepare for the incoming school year is definitely going to be different and a challenge, but I am 100% positive that my training and experience have prepared me for this moment. Thankfully, I am part of an amazing network of librarians that encourage each other daily. (Shoutout to my new friends Amanda Hunt, Deb Zeman, Jessica Fitzpatrick, and Kaitlyn Carpenter! Make sure to follow them!) If you find yourself feeling unsure of yourself, reach out! Engage with other librarians that share the same vision and that build each other up. This isn't a competition. We're not here to see "who wins the virtual library award". These are uncertain times and we should join forces to ensure the success of our communities whether we’re from the same region or not. Isn't that why we're educators? So, I leave you with this: Pursue opportunities that you feel will make you a better librarian, educator, leader, and colleague. Encourage librarians to join you in a planning session if you're feeling overwhelmed about where to begin planning for the incoming school year. Create checklists or calendars and take it ONE task at a time. Lastly, remind yourself that you're doing the best that you can with the situation at hand. We're not perfect and neither is this current state of education--but together we can provide each other with a support system to make our year less daunting. Also, by all means, never hesitate to reach out to me if you need some advice, encouragement, or a funny meme to get you through the day 😂. I'm always an email, tweet, or Instagram message away. I may not always have the answer(s), but I can always connect you with someone who might. This may be my last blog post for a while since I'm going to begin work and school soon, but don't forget--Be brave, be resourceful, & continue to advocate for meaningful change.
I've officially transferred some of my video tutorials to my YouTube channel! Please visit and subscribe by clicking on the banner above. I recently became a Google for Education Certified Trainer, so this is where I'll be posting some Q's GSuite Tips videos. I'm excited to finally join this platform! Below are some of the videos I have on my channel and I hope you can visit the page and subscribe. Check it out!
Karina Quilantan-Garza (aka Q./Cue) is a middle school library media specialist in the Rio Grande Valley. She is an award winning blogger, social media enthusiast, book reviewer, and technology lover.