8 Questions with a Teacher Librarian Consultant

8 QUESTIONS is a series of interviews with teachers who have effectively transitioned their classroom skills into new and exciting careers in the field of education. We at Teach.com believe that teaching is a rigorous and diverse classroom in and of itself; the skills learned “in the trenches” can translate into an exciting portfolio of professional options. From education tech to consulting, the only “X factor” is where you want to go — our interviews hope to shine a light on the steps it takes to get there.

1. What’s your name, location and current profession?

Shannon McClintock Miller. Denver, Colorado. I am a speaker and consultant…I work with schools and organizations around the world within the school library and education fields. I am also the teacher librarian advocate for Mackin Educational Resources and a consultant with Cantata Learning, a children’s publishing company that creates books paired with wonderful music for our young learners.

2. Where did you earn your teaching certification and where did you go to school?

I went to Iowa State University Design School for 2 years. I then transferred to the University of Northern Iowa where I majored in elementary education and art education. I also received my masters in library science from UNI.

3. How long were you a teacher for?

I was the teacher librarian at Van Meter Community School in Van Meter, Iowa for 8 years.

4. What was the most rewarding part of being a classroom teacher? What about classroom teaching did you find most challenging?

The most rewarding part of being a teacher librarian…Definitely the people, the students, the teachers, the parents, and others we connected with around the world, and the community we created within the library through these very special relationships. I also loved being able to do new things everyday…I could try out anything and the kids knew they could too.

The most challenging part…Not having enough time to do everything we wanted to do. :)

5. Why did you decide to transition from classroom teaching to your current profession?

About 4 years into my job, I started presenting about what we were doing at Van Meter and the library program that we had created within our school. Along with these speaking and consulting opportunities, I also had many opportunities to collaborate with publishers, companies, School Library Journal, and others. I really enjoyed how I was able to collaborate and help others in so many places….I knew that could make a difference, just as I did at Van Meter. Also, I enjoyed the flexibility these opportunities would bring to my schedule and allow me to be there for Hagan at school even more. I was a stay at home mom when Brianna and Brady were young….until Brianna was 13, so I really missed this over the last few years with Hagan. It was time and I had the perfect opportunities in front of me to make this transition easy.

6. What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my current job is that it gives me the opportunity to spend as much time with my family as I can…I love that part best of all. I love being able to travel around the country, and even throughout the world, to help others make a difference within their libraries, school, and lives of the students they work with. Also, I love the work I am doing with Cantata Learning. I am able to use my creative side as I work on projects with them…And this week I shared that I will be writing 8 children’s books with them all about the library! This is a dream come true for me!

7. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel in your current profession?

Being able to collaborate effectively is a skill that I worked on everyday as the teacher librarian. Communication and organization are so key to this…And having a patient, open mind are as well. This definitely helped me excel within my current profession and I get to help others learn about collaboration too. Also, I learned a lot about every grade level and course in kindergarten through 12th grade. This really opened my mind to these different grade levels and subjects…It gave me the best sense of the school and curriculum as a whole.

8. What advice would you offer a current teacher who is looking to make a career change to outside of the classroom?

Oh, let’s see…I think the best advice I have would be to do something you love and that you are passionate about…always. I miss the students so much but I am constantly looking for ways to continue to work with kids. You need to continue with the things you love even within your current job in anyway that you can…This is important to your happiness and to the success in your new job.

Another thing that is very important…Try something new out while you are still in your current job. I was a consultant first while I was teaching. I then went part time at Van Meter, so I could also travel, consultant and write. This helped me with the transition when I did change careers.

Shannon, a mom of three wonderful children and fiancee of Eric Fitzgerald (who also works with school libraries as the vice president of Capstone Publishing), is a teacher librarian and technology integration specialist. She was the K-12 district teacher librarian at Van Meter Community School District for 8 years. Shannon now speaks and consults around the world on education, librarianship, technology, social media, and making a difference in education and the lives of others.

Shannon is Mackin's Teacher Librarian Advocate. She is also a teacher librarian consultant for Cantata Learning. She is part of Best Keynote Group and EduSpeakers. Shannon is the author of the award winning The Library Voice blogand enjoys writing for various blogs, journals and other forums. In 2014, she was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker. She can be reached through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin.


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