Monday, October 10, 2011

Robin Tanis - Tues. Oct. 11 to Thurs. Oct. 13, 2011

Robin Tanis is the Head Librarian at St. Pius X Catholic High School in Atlanta, GA. At St. Pius, Robin has worked to establish a collaborative partnership with teachers. She was an early pioneer in technology integration bringing computers, automation, and the Internet into the library and then the rest of the school. Robin was the original Webmaster for the school and is still responsible for keeping the Flannery O’Connor Library Website up to date. A new change that she instituted this year is a fan page for the library on Facebook.

Encouraging pleasure reading is a professional interest of Robin’s. Robin is also known for ASPIRE! - - a Summer Reading Enrichment program. She has presented her program at state and national conferences. ASPIRE! was featured in both Knowledge Quest (Sep/Oct 2003, Access to PDF document requires login) and School Library Journal (Jan. 2004). She has established a Teen Library Council to give interested students leadership opportunities. She also moderates the Anime Club.

Asking Robin to respond to the same 'kickoff' question: "What is it that people don't get about your job?"

Learn more about Robin at


  1. Allison Daniel4:33 AM

    Do you have teachers in your school who fear technology integration in the classroom? If so, how do you ease those fears? There are a few teachers in my building who want nothing to do with technology and don't want to learn anything new. I have a hard time understanding this, but would like suggestions for how to ease their fears. Is collaboration the best way to show these types of teachers that you are there to support them? Thanks!

  2. Response to the kickoff question:
    I think the thing that people understand the least about our profession is that we are teachers. Granted we don't have a regular class schedule and we don't grade papers, but we are responsible for integrating information skills into extended research and projects. We also teach the teachers through in-services and one on one collaborations.

  3. Hi Allison, yes we do have a few veteran teachers who are very resistant. Fortunately we have a technology initiative here where teachers must submit proof of using some sort of technology per semester. We do go to them and work with them. I think the one on one approach is the best. We do have a once a year half day in-service that offers different tech topics. This generally works well for giving teachers new ideas. At least it gets them thinking. For example last year I presented some easy Web 2.0 tools with some good results.

  4. Anonymous10:30 AM

    Dear Robin,

    I've been reading about the ASPIRE program and I would love to know what precipitated the creation of the program, and if it's still going strong?

    Thank you!
    Casey O'Leary

  5. Robin,

    Can you give me some ideas about how I can collaborate with reluctant teachers?

    Also can you share some collaboration projects that have been successful?

    Heather L.

  6. Casey, the goal of ASPIRE was to promote reading for pleasure as opposed to school reading. It worked very well for about 6 years. In the seventh year I took an informal poll and found that the readership had dropped off to about 50%. At that point I decided it was too much work to administer the program when only half of the students are reading the book. Our English dept. Continues to cram their curriculum into the summer. Students must read and annotate (gag) 3 books. There is also summer math. I can't get English to see the light. So I dropped the program. Many schools however are still doing their version of the program. That's great to see. It's a simple idea and works beautifully when everyone buys in.

  7. Hi Robin! My question is somewhat similar to posts before me, but I am just wondering if you can give me some tips or strategies as far as getting our administration and teachers on board with new technologies. For example, I am completely frustrated that currently we are teaching our students how to type on Word 2003 while the 2007 and 2010 versions are out. Then, for another example, two years ago my principal had the opportunity to purchase a classroom set of ipod touches. I went to conferences on how to use them, reported back to him, etc. All the while he told me it was going to be up to me to make the final decision as to whether or not to purchase them. Of course, I said YES! However, without telling me he decided to purchase netbooks instead saying that they could do everything that the ipod touch could do. Ahh! I was so frustrated with this (as you can tell!) Anyway, to wrap up...what do you suggest I do (as I am only 1 person and only 1 of a few on board with this) to encourage more up-to-date uses of technology?

  8. Heather, honestly nothing really comes to mind. We've always had a strong library program here. Teachers just come to us. In high school it's mostly about integrating all those information literacy skills into their research. We create pathfinders to support their research. We also talk about ethical use of information when needed. I just sent out a link to all my teachers for Joyce Valenza's 50 ways to leave your report. You can find it on her blog at the School Library Journal Web site. I got some positive comments for that. We are always looking for new ideas.

  9. Allison Daniel6:01 PM

    For the half day in-services you mentioned, do you always present the topics or do you have teachers or even people from outside of your school present?
    Thanks for the information!

  10. Robin,

    Thank you so much for sharing that link. I love the new ideas and am excited to share it with my teachers.

    Thanks again!

  11. Kimberly, do you have a library or technology board where you can work on building advocacy for newer technologies? I don't know what age group you work with but if they are old enough to have smart phones, you could work on a project with a teacher to use them on a small project. Then publish to the web and show tour principal. Perhaps next time you go to a conferencenyou could getnyour principal to go with you. When all else fails use what you got ton the best of your capabilities

  12. Allison, we have done both.. I'm working on this years program now. I like to ask teachers what they want to learn about so I can make them practical. I get a few ideas that way and then we brainstorm with the technology committee. I get teachers to present. I also do something. It's difficult to be the coordinator and a presenter. I was not going to do both this year but I feel like I have to do something with our ebook collection. I really need to do more marketing and educating with what we have now which is a lot with more coming. I am very careful when I am getting outside presenters. They have to be top notch.

  13. Has anyone looked at my Facebook library fan page? Comments?

  14. Hi Robin! It's so funny that I asked my technology question to you and your response fit so well with what is actually happening as we speak at our school! We are in the process of forming a technology committee to help get everyone more informed of newer technologies. I agree with you that we should use what we have to the best of our ability, but I know we falter at that. Finally, we are in a middle school and as I was interviewing our head media specialist this morning for another class assignment, she mentioned that she has been in dialogue with the superintendent about allowing the use of smart phones in the classroom! I think we're finally on the right track! Thanks for your advice! :)