Saturday, October 24, 2015

Librarian or concierge? Does it matter?

Do you ever think about how you fill your school day?  There are days, more than I like, when I feel like the library concierge rather than the school librarian. "Room for two more on computers? Sure, send them down."  "Can we use your space for testing .... class project .... videotaping ..... even painting projects!"  Fill in your own image here.  Sometimes it makes me grumpy, feeling underutilized and without value.  But then I think about it and realize,  these things demonstrate many things about myself and my library space.
The first one, and most important to me, students love to be in my space.  If a class has more students than computers in lab, I know students are chanting, I can go to the library, me too!  I know because these same students find ways to be here throughout the day.  You know the ones, you have them too, they are in several times for several periods daily.  Just yesterday I had a student come in from our satellite school, the Innovative Learning Space and say would you email my teacher and let him know I am sending the morning here studying instead of there?  I do so much better here.  And she did!  What a complement, that this space does give a student confidence and comfort, that this is where they choose to spend their time when they get to choose?  How many of you have those students who stop by your desk everyday just to check in?  I was out sick for two days recently and when I got back I had a young man go out of his way to come in and ask if I felt better.  This was not a student I would say is a regular, but it was one I speak to whenever I see him.  The climate we create is important, it impacts our school and our students.  You never know when one small act of kindness will create a huge impact.
The second thing about my space, teachers know I will be open and accommodating (even if I really don't feel that way!).  I want a filled, busy, productive space. And who knows, maybe if you are nice sharing your space the next time they will share their students, or their project, or, dare I hope, collaborate?  We are different that classroom teachers.  Yes, the media center is our classroom but it is also a community space and so we must juggle both aspects.  Confession, I never could juggle, but in this case I am moving as fast as I can, because I do want this to be "the" place that everyone wants to be in.
One last comment, when I was told that my space would be used  again for testing, the principal said, "Liz, you know I wouldn't take your space if I could help it, it is the heart of the school. But, in the same token, for the kids that have to come in and take this test, they couldn't be in a spot that makes them feel more comfortable and welcomed.  And that is a great way to feel if you are already uncomfortable about the whole testing thing."
So, okay, I am adding concierge in my list of "other duties as assigned."  And I will do it with a smile, and a, "Hi _____, how can I make your life better today?"  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Please repeat after me ...

Here is my pledge for this school year.  I will read and repeat this out loud whenever needed throughout the year be be sure my space is always the best place for teaching and learning and I can possibly be.

Like it or not, the school year is upon us.  It is up to us to make it what it is.  It can be an awesome time or a complete drag.  I don’t know about you, but my plan is to create a space that students fight to get into.  That means it will look inviting, with comfortable seating, zones for different kind of learning, even pleasing music.  I just received some new bean bag chairs that I know will be moved all over the library as students find the “just right” spot to work.  They will sit their with what ever device supports their leaning, their own or one of my laptops or ipads.  They will relax into working with the background music that will be playing on the sound system I put in.  They will cluster around the charging centers I have in several sections of the library.  Some will even hang over the circulation desk enjoying the conversation that often occurs there when my assistant and I get together! I will be sure there are books and resources that reflect what students want and need. 

I will be sure that my attitude is always one of interest enthusiasm and openness so that any student will feel as though they can ask for help or even conversation. I will always remember that the child in front of me may need a supportive adult much more than the correct answer and that this time in the library will be the bright spot in an otherwise every bad day.  I will approach my faculty with collegial pleasure and find tools and resources that will make their teaching more enriching and engaging for students.  In return, they will easily approach me to ask for collaborative teaching opportunities and even play in the media center.

In short, I will make sure that this is the worst best school year ever!  I hope that you feel the same way, too.

Try and make sure you find the joy in every single day.
Happily yours,

Monday, August 10, 2015

It’s back! Cathy Mere’s annual 10 on the 10th picture book blogs.  This year I am doing a shameless plug, by using books that can be found in my book I co-wrote with Dr. Christina Dorr, “Linking Picture Book Biographies with National Content Standards: 200+ Lives to Explore”, which will be published this fall by Libraries Unlimited.
 All of the books I have chosen are 2014 publications, with the exception of 2 with 2015 copyrights.  They are all picture book biographies about women, those who followed their passions and didn't let gender bias or other issues keep them from their goal.

Taking Flight by Michaela DePrince & Elaine DePrince

Sally Ride: Life on a Mission by Sue Macy

3  Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America

The Scraps Book: Notes From a Colorful Life

Stand There! She Shouted: The Invincible Photographer Julia Margaret Cameron


6 Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prevot(2015)
   How I Discovered Poetry (Marilyn Nelson)
         Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens (2015)

Florence Nightingale by Demi

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (2015)

II   I loved that each of these women, in following their passion, also found their joy.  I consciously search for joy in my life everyday!!

     Enjoy these books and all the rest suggested today!!


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Serendipity! And proms ...

Here is a wonderful case of serendipity; next Thursday is Celebrate Teen Literature Day. A day during National Library Week (April 16, 2015), that is aimed at raising awareness among the general public that young adult literature is a vibrant, growing genre with much to offer today's teens.  Where's the funny coincidence?  I chose that day last fall to have my annual Battle of the Books in my school library with my teenagers (you know, readers of YA literature?!)  I'm not sure if the stars were aligning or I was psychically in tune with ALA or YALSA but there you have it, a great event for teen readers on Teen Literature Day!!   It even goes a little farther with the teen part, I have a committee made up of, you guessed it, teens, who actually make the book selections thus continuing to demonstrate that the YA genres have a strong interest in my small part of the world.  The students who have been reading the 9 books that were chosen for this year have seemed very excited about the choices, so this promises to be an awesome day for YA lit.

More YA lit fun; Speed Dating in the library.  If you work in any way with high school students, then you know that prom season is upon us.  This makes for a great opportunity to talk dating and books.  You can talk about how you want to help them find the perfect date, make all sorts of sly comments, and get everyone excited about this fun time.  I was "matching" my students in the library this week, really for an English assignment, but where's the fun it that, and I had one student tell me he was actually going to take his book to the prom, we'll see, I will be
chaperoning and that will be definitely be a picture worthy coupe if it really happens.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

I have been thinking about this phrase, which we all learning in elementary school - reduce, reuse, and recycle and how it should apply to school libraries today.

Image result for quote about good attitudeReduce- the attitude, you know, the "but I've always done it this way" or "its my library".  We need to Remind ourselves that ours is not a regular classroom, we really do belong to our community of teachers and learners and must open our doors widely and cheerful (even if it is for testing!)

Reuse - there are lots of things we have stockpiled in our libraries that we can get rid of.  Why not use it to create a Makerspace activity? Take a look here for ideas:

Image result for conversationsRecycle - or check it out!  Just about anything in our spaces can be checked out if there is a need.  My advocacy thought is that if an item is checked out, someone needs to bring it back and that can begin a conversation that could lead to more use of the media center.

What can you do with 3 R's to improve your library media center/learning commons?  Try something new!