Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Jumping in the deep end

So I started the year with a powerful bang.  Embracing my online presence, answering Library Girl's questions, tweeting instead of just lurking, etc.  I even got a reply tweet from the Daring Librarian about my QR scavenger hunt.  I solidly karate chopped the beginning of 2014.

And then I disappeared.  Literally and virtually.  This Marbleless Librarian had an awesome collection of resources, an incredible assistant who was an even better friend, teachers that would collaborate or at least cooperate, a technology facilitator who was calm and intelligent, was flipping her instruction, friends on staff that could always be counted on, and had kids who loved to talk books and life with her.  Then I walked away at the end of January.  Professionally it was the hardest thing I had ever done.

North Carolina was getting snow when I was supposed to tell my faculty and kids.  If you are somewhere that regularly gets snow you cannot understand what a 1 inch snow can do in the south.  Everything stops.  I had delayed sharing my news because at the top of my list of things I don't do well is change.  It is painful.  Every kind look or hug sent me into tears when only 5 people knew.  I was trying to guard my heart from, well I don't know from what.  Hurt perhaps.  Turns out it was an effort in futility.  The worst is there are people, especially kids that I never got to share the news with and I know I hurt them.  Way too much hurt going around when I regularly go out of my way, even to my own detriment to not hurt others.

Don't worry - I didn't leave the profession.  This is not a political tirade.  I traded in my almost perfect job to have more time with my son by being much closer to home.  Every mother I have ever met said you will sacrifice for your child and I now get it.

After 17 years in middle school I am now in high school.  I traded my new school for a 1960s model.  A suburban population for a rural.  It is so very different.  Which brings me to why I am virtually back.  Rather than hiding and figuring this out on my own which is what I tend to do when I feel overwhelmed, I am reaching out.  Reaching out to you.  I cannot do this by myself and sometime this morning when I finally had a very cathartic cry from being overwhelmed I remembered you were right here.  Ready to help because that is what MCs do.

 The MC who retired tried to prepare me but knowing what is coming and living it are quite different. Last week at my total circulation was...5.  :(  It appears the former MC had been tired and when the common core rolled out she decided to let someone else figure out how to get teachers and students in the library.  Oh and for fun lets launch a 1:1 initiative as she retires and I arrive.  My husband caught me cursing a chromebook in my sleep last night.  I am dispelling the sexy librarian stereotype all on my own.

This afternoon I went back to Library Girl's 11 questions and had a conversation with my principal.   Here is the answer to question 8 - Turns out the 1:1 initiative is affecting his sleep too.  (maybe just not the same way) Library Girl and Doug Johnson are doing great research that should help me get a handle on those chromebooks.  My principal needs help getting all the faculty to buy in - especially the math department.  He wants the library to be the hub of the school and knows I am going to need some help.  So we are giving the media center a facelift.  Painters are coming and art and some comfy chairs.  But I need to get kids back.   Help me please.  What has worked for you?  Any epic fails I should avoid at all costs?  I can find many exemplary programs but I just need little starting pieces to make this seemingly overwhelming task start to shrink.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Spreading the word

     I am still working my way through Library Girl's 11 questions.  I have discovered that the questions where I had immediate answers also showed the areas where I am very comfortable.  Then I realized there were a few questions which were just second nature to me and that I do without conscious effort.  So here are a few more answers, some with more complex answers than others.
      #6 How will you share this data with your administrators and community? My technology facilitator just wrote the local newspapers about our 8th grade students creating ebooks as their alternative energy research projects.  The truth - I thought it was a waste of time.  But since two papers ran stories on the projects and the NCLE picked up what was happening we have received more feedback from our county administrators than ever.  (Click here to read article) We even had email from South Dakota this week.  Not bad for our simple project in North Carolina.  While I loathe begging for attention, I am going to have to solicit the media.  Having other teacher librarian's know my thoughts won't keep our jobs.  The public and the lawmakers knowing will help me stay employed and keep me doing what is best for our kids.  So 2014 may be the year of the press release.
     #3  How will you use student data to make instructional and programmatic decisions?  I have always informally gathered data from my students - asking their opinions on lessons, having a book request box, allowing them to recommend books to each other, etc.  I have listened to my teachers saying our low readers cannot access the literature their peers can and found hi-lo readers, exciting reads, audio books, and the like to add to the collection.  Now I have to make the jump to looking at testing data and looking for correlations between those who check out books or participate in library activities and test scores.  (How I loathe testing and what it has done to teaching, but I digress)  Time to prove my worth to help silence those who look for reasons to lose TLs.  Oops that accidentally answered #5 How will you connect the dots between your work and student learning?.  Hooray!
     # 7 How will you ensure your diverse population sees themselves in your space (as well as in your collection)?  I have to admit I talked to a friend about this one and she laughed at me when I didn't know what else to do.  Apparently I was overthinking this one.  My displays reflect our different cultures throughout the year.  Cultures helps encompass race, nationality, hobbies, and interests.  The collection does the same. This is one of those I do it without thinking about it too much. 
    I must be off.  My little man is wanting to check all the flashlights in the house just in case we ever get snow this winter.  Til next time...


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Breaking stereotypes

     When last we left out hero she was working on Library Girl's questions.  So maybe hero is too strong a term but I have always wanted to use that phrase.  So I am working on my online presence and growing my virtual PLN.  So far so good.  The encouragement from library girl did help.
       Jennifer's question 8 is How will you dispel negative/outdated library stereotypes?  Number one, I don't run a quiet library except when necessary.  We talk about books sometimes quietly, sometimes with great gestures across the library.  My media center has music playing.  I leave the library.  I help find resources.  Not just books - resources.  Ebooks through NCWiseowl, websites, primary source documents, audio clips, etc.  Now I need to plan to collaborate regularly rather than letting it happen organically or by chance.  Now I need to reach back out to the teachers who haven't let me help before at least one more time.  I won't just create and deliver instruction, I will help assess.  On a much lighter note, I will buy at least one pair of shoes that are not sensible since I simply must have my glasses and the occasional cardigan.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Library Girl's 11 questions

     I should confess that I am a huge fan of Jennifer LaGarde aka Library Girl.  I met Jennifer at NCSLMA in 2012 and instantly became a groupie.  She proved why I needed Twitter in my life to learn and efficiently grab the newest and best ideas.  Then she started popping up in professional developments for NCDPI with her humorous but frank thoughts.  So it should come as no surprise that when Library Girl posts, I read.
     I already mentioned I am not making New Year's resolutions this year.  They just do not work for me.  After reading the latest from Library Girl, I know I am in good company.  I am intrigued by her 11 questions that need answers.  But as a former band director, I just cannot answer all of them at once nor probably in order.  Truthfully, I do not have an answer for some of the questions which bothers me.
     So I am starting with questions 9 and 10 - "How will you grow your PLN?" and "How will you help strengthen our profession by sharing your work beyond the walls of your school?"
     My PLN is becoming increasingly virtual.  I find myself mentioning things that bloggers say to my assistant.  Almost all of my display ideas are found on Pinterest and tweaked by my students.  I mark tweets as favorites so I can come back to them and even lurk in chats.  Yes lurk.  I admit it.  Have you ever tried to respond in real time with a 4 year old tapping on your iPad?  Perhaps those of you with creative lap dogs or cats can relate.
     My answer to both questions 9 and 10 is...  I will post rather than just read.  I will try to participate in chats and rely on my fabulous hubby to entertain our son.  I will retweet great thoughts and tweet when I post.  I will sit with new people at meetings so I may glean new ideas.  I will embrace that I may not know everything but no one does.  And maybe, just maybe, the things I know are what someone else needs to know.  I will no longer merely consume information, I will create it!
     Boy do I feel powerful right now.  Serving a cupcake to Jennifer Lagarde.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Getting ready for the new year

      So 2014 is almost here.  I have decided not to make any personal New Year's resolutions because... well because I usually last about 20 days.  Then I dive into a bag of Cheetos, sleep in rather than walk, and watch all the healthy but perishable food wilt away in my refrigerator.
      But this year is promising a grand adventure.  The librarian in me always has to plan, plan, plan so I can prepare for what is to come.  In looking over my research of the past few weeks I realized I am reading A LOT of blogs.  Many of them are award winning from other librarians and several of them written by moms who are trying to juggle work and home successfully.
      And then my lightbulb went off!  Maybe someone needs to hear my journey.  My triumphs and successes and my attempts and inevitable failures.  My thoughts and feelings with honesty and humor.
        Welcome to the Scattered thoughts of the Marble-less Librarian.