Monday, March 30, 2015

the tangibles

Day 30 of the Slice of Life Challenge

I've written about how much this challenge has given me, and about some of the lessons learned. What I haven't mentioned are the tangible things I've gained from reading posts from other slicers.

  • I've ordered some Red Rose tea.  The original 100-count box because THOSE are the ones the whimsies come in.  It's a thing.  Ask the Google.  
  • Both Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work by Austin Kleon are on their way to me and should arrive tomorrow.
  • A  coloring book for grown-ups, Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford will eventually be on its way to me---as soon as they are back in stock.  Who knew these were so popular?
  • Also, a 48-count box of new gel pens because clearly one needs new pretty pens when one has a gorgeous new coloring book. 
These are VERY exciting developments, friends.  Not only am I feeling like a complete winner for meeting my goal of writing & posting every day in March, as well as commenting on at least 3 other slices per day, but I've come away with some great new play pretties that will add fun & knowledge to my life!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

book club

Day 29 of the Slice of Life Challenge

My book club met today.  Sunday meetings are totally out of the ordinary.  We generally meet one Friday afternoon a month and by we I mean everyone-but-me-because-I-can't-seem-to-make-it.  I was invited to join this book club after getting the high school librarian job as the book club is mostly made up of high school teachers. I've read just about all the books even though I haven't been able to make the meetings, but I really loved this month's selection so I was overjoyed to be able to attend.

This month's book was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  Harold is an ordinary man who has lived an ordinary life.  He is newly retired and lives with his wife in the same house they've lived in for years and years. His wife Maureen is distant and angry.   When Harold receives a letter from an old friend he hasn't seen or heard from in 20 years he embarks on a quest almost without knowing it. 

I enjoyed the book so much I'm now reading the companion novel, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy and honestly, I'm loving it so much more.  Perhaps because I already know and love these characters.  Perhaps because I love a story about the small moments that make up our lives. 

I feel in some ways it is the bravest way to live your life---as one of the ordinary.  Most of us long to be seen as extraordinary in some way or another as we grow up.  When you ask kids what they would like to do when they grow up you'll get a lot of answers that show that most of us long for fame and fortune. (except my Olivia who answers that question with --I want to be me.  That's all. Just me. And I say good on ya, baby to that answer.  Oh, to have such wisdom.) And yet, that isn't in the cards for the bulk of us.  We have to find the gumption and grit to get up each morning and do our best with no adoring crowds and often no atta-boys.  When we learn that we are enough--just as we are--ordinary humans making ordinary mistakes in our ordinary lives it can actually become transcendent. It is through the mundane tasks of doing the dishes and walking the dogs that we can laugh and love and be.  It is through the ordinary that most of us become extraordinary in our own lives.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

last SOL Saturday

Day 28 of the Slice of Life challenge.

It is hard to believe that we are nearly at the end of our month-long SOL challenge.  I have enjoyed it tremendously and gained much from the experience. 

Writing is absolutely a daily habit now.  I should say, I generally wrote mostly daily before, but was not great about posting it--or sharing my writing in any way.  Actually writing is vital, of course, but the sharing is important, too.  Like my Fitbit actually tracks my steps, sharing my writing keeps me on track & holds me accountable with writing. I've played with form & style in my writing throughout the month. I've taken risks and been honest.

I have found over the years that I need a bit of a challenge to get moving and to stay the course, so I've signed up for the April Camp Nanowrimo as well as the YA Buccaneers' upcoming spring writing boot camp. I plan to slice on Tuesdays throughout the year, too.  I'm also looking forward to Kate Messner's Teachers Write virtual summer camp again.  

I have read so many amazing slices in such a wide variety of styles.  I've found new blogs to follow. There have been moments of tears as well as chuckles reading over the blog posts this month.  So much talent out there! I've learned to post comments much more regularly rather than just lurking. Comments are important!  I have been humbled and overjoyed to receive comments on most of my posts, as well.  Sometimes---if you never get comments---sometimes you think no one is out there reading what you write, or if they are reading it that it doesn't resonate with anyone.  It is a lonely feeling and can make you feel silly for sharing to begin with---and sometimes it makes you quit blogging for long bits because it seems like no one cares anyway.  I'm determined to let folks know I am reading them and their words are meaningful to me from this point on. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

countdown: a week in review

Day 27 of the Slice of Life challenge.

10 books added to the first purchase list of next year! (student & teacher requests)
  9 moments the Xerox machine had me about to throw wall-eyed hissy fits.
  8 coca-colas (I had to caffeinate HARD this week!)
  7 librarians at the meeting Thursday.
  6 awesome new Model United Nations projects to display
  5 days of Telpas testing going on upstairs.
  4 sections of fiction shelves now totally genre-fied.
  3 workshops/committee meetings after school.
  2 teenage boys crying in my office over love gone wrong.
  1 random dirty sock on the returned book cart when I walked in this morning.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

field trip

Day 26 of the Slice of Life challenge.

Daughter-the-eldest had a field trip today. 
Two buses going to the same place.
3 hours one way.
All her friends on the other bus.  
They are all together.
She is alone.

She is 12.  Middle School.  Hard years. 
Figuring out who she is. Trying to find her place, her tribe.

I picked her up just now.  
I saw her birthday twin & best friend since the age of 3 
Walking with someone else. 
They shared a seat today on the other bus
While my kid sat alone in a seat all by herself.

How was the trip? I asked when she got in the car.
Boring. she said.
I sat by myself. 
I tried to text them on the bus
None of them texted back.

She doesn't tear up
But I do.
I try not to let her see.

She tells me that yesterday morning
When she got to school 
She walked to their table 
And said hello
The other girls didn't say hello back.

It has begun, I see.
The inevitable shift that happens in middle school.
I lived it myself
I taught through it for years

But this is my kid
And she is hurting
And I want to fix it
But I can't.

She is not a dainty darling
She is larger-than-life
Brimming with brilliance
And loud-and-proud
And funny as all get-out 
And strong-willed
And courageous
Traits that are not always prized in middle school 
By friends or teachers either, if I am truthful.
I know this from experience
I was that kid, too.

It took me a long time 
to truly appreciate my gifts
instead of letting comparison steal my joy
I had hoped (foolishly, I know) she would not 
Have to live it herself
But we all do
Don't we?

Prepping for the EOY reports

Each year the librarians in my district create our EOY (end of year) reports.
We began creating this district-wide about 6 years ago.
  • we are continually revising what we do to improve
  • currently, each school fills in the document template, turns it in to the school principal and a lead librarian.  that lead librarian compiles info from all campuses into a master document, as well.
  • a one-page document of the "highlights" is also turned into each principal 
Examples of the highlights page front/back (terrible pics, sorry!)

  • a now-retired librarian created the original template and chose the particular strands to document from our state standards and guidelines document. These focus primarily on staffing and funding issues. I'm really not sure why other bits were not originally included.  
  • These are ALSO used  as our 5 year plan per our standards and guidelines in our long document.
  • as none of the programming/events were being highlighted in these documents, we have created a district library showcase each month.  Here is an example:

In an effort to keep moving forward, we looking for new innovative ways to share our EOY reports with our stakeholders.  The Texas standards and guidelines are about to be revised--the appointment of a steering committee is coming up in the next month.  With that said, we are not going to throw out the current document we use locally just yet as we really like that our EOY report is based on these standards.

Here are a few examples of great EOY reports that I'd like to share with my team.

Questions to ponder:

  1. How are we telling our story?
  2. Who is our audience?  Do different audiences need different types of reports? 
  3. Reflection is so important.  Is our current tool the best tool for this?
  4. Admin is busy role. Most want concise, data-driven information
  5. In decided what to include, should we look at the AASL guidelines more? Our district library evaluation tool? Our CIP?
  6. What is the goal for this tool?  Perhaps when the new standards are in place, some of these questions will be easier to answer.
  7. Currently the 5 year plan "required" by our standards actually only refers to "a 5-year strategy for planning, implementing, evaluating, and reporting the budget." Perhaps we should really consider 2 separate reports? Our current report does show growth over time, so that is very helpful. 
  8. Joyce Valenza summed it up so well in her article referring to Jennifer LaGarde's words:I tried  to focus on data they would actually care about. (For example, instead of bemoaning the state of my 400s or shouting about the number of times A Diary of a Wimpy Kid was checked out, I focused on student impact, the relationship between library services and academic success and how our library meets the identified needs of students at our school).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Day 25 of the Slice of Life Challenge

The weeks after spring break flash by so quickly. Its as though time has actually sped up and we are all barrelling forward ninety-to-nothing. We don't just ease into things after spring break, either...oh no!  We are all-in.  Testing, a million meetings, kids trying like anything to get their projects finished and their prom dresses ordered. Life spins very quickly. This week is spinning like mad.

I'm exhausted tonight.  We had a make a trip to Wal-Mart tonight since daughter-the-eldest has a field trip tomorrow and will need snacks. Our monthly district librarians meeting is tomorrow afternoon and we will discuss our End of Year reports.  Daughter-the-youngest brought home 2 field trip permission slips tonight. I was asked today if  I'm going to be at graduation. 

Yes, the days are spinning, spinning past and the end of the year is fast approaching.  Things won't slow down---we all know this. Hoping more sleep is in the cards for me tonight, and I can promise you awesome coffee will be going down in the library office tomorrow morning--and on a wing and a prayer I'll hold on tight 'til the end.