Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Year, New Goals




Writing my goals for this new year has been an interesting exercise.  While I am working to keep things measurable some of what I will do is create a welcoming and teen-friendly atmosphere while still maintaining that sense that it is a haven and a place of learning, something that is difficult to really measure in a tangible way.

There is a term in Denmark called hygge.   It is a word for which there is no easy translation, but it basically means that cozy, contented feeling you have when surrounded by a warm fire, friends, and a good book. NPR has a great little article with awesome pics to describe it HERE.  I guess, in a nutshell, hygge is what I'm trying to create.  


My 2014-2015 NHS Library Goals

1.  Prepare for Fish Camp
  • On August 15th I will stand before the incoming freshman class and introduce myself to them as the high school librarian for the very first time. Half of these kiddos I know because they are coming up from my former middle school, which is awesome.  The other half?  Well, it is first-impression time for them and I want to do the library justice.  I want to quickly and in a friendly, engaging manner let them know the library belongs to all of us, and they are wanted there.  Then I want to smile, shut up, and sit back down.  This isn't a time to drone on and on about the rules, or book fines.  This is a unique opportunity to invite them in to be a part of our library community.
2. Genre-fy the Fiction Section
  • Genre-fying the middle school fiction was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I made.  I realize not everyone out there in library land is on-board, and that is okay---but I have to say having SEEN the difference it made for my students made me a true believer.  Not only is it easier for my kids to find what they want, but it makes shelving a breeze--which means those books are getting back out into circulation much faster.  
  • My plan this time is to sticker the books throughout the year and then be able to do the ole switcheroo towards the end of the year.  I hope this plan will make for a smooth transition into a genrefied library.  
3. Update the website
  • Our district has updated the district website---we have a whole new platform to learn, etc. I hope to get some training soon!  The website aspect is so important because it is what allows our library resources to be available 24/7 365 days a year.  
4. Grasp Scheduling
  • I am in a whole new world with scheduling, y'all.  I'm coming from a one largish room library to a two story, with multiple techie rooms on the top floor library.  Each section has its own schedule of availability.  I will also have a full time aide for the first time in YEARS, and thank goodness she knows what she is doing because she will have to teach me!
5. Learn new databases
  • I am SO thankful that our state is now providing database access again!  FREE our first year--AWESOME!.  BUT...these are slightly different than the ones we have had in the past so learning these suckers is on the list.
6. Connections (via social media, etc.)
  • I am a connected librarian.  I want the library to be connected, as well.  Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Remind accounts have all been set up.  Now to market them!
7. Learn the curriculum
  • This will be a long process, not something I can fully accomplish this year.  The more in tune I am with the curricular needs of the teachers and students, the better I am able to assist.  
8. Hold one event per month
  • Whether it is a maker event, a lunch & learn, or a book club meeting, the goal this year is to host one event per month in the library.  I hope to add more than one, but am trying to set a reasonable goal for my first year.  Promoting these events and marketing the library in general are going to take time and effort. 
9. GT collaboration
  • I have been the GT campus coordinator at my middle school for many years.  I'm leaving that behind, but still want to be there for our GT kids in some way.  I have heard for years that "oh, the GT kids will be fine...they are smart and will learn regardless" which is true---but not the right thing to do.  I was a GT kid, and I have GT kids of my own.  These students deserve to also be stretched and academically challenged in ways that allow them to explore their passions and to learn to take chances without fear of failure (which is often how we learn, right?) Many GT students fall into one of two categories.  Either they don't give a rip unless they are interested, don't turn in homework but ace the tests, and are generally bored and wreaking havoc OR they are incredibly worried about their GPA to the extent that they don't want to risk lowering it by testing new theories and taking chances.  I hope to work with the coordinator and other teachers at NHS to create a passion-driven learning environment for these kids. 
10. All in all, learn the HS library
  • It is a shift, a curve, an incredibly exciting challenge.  I have a LOT to learn and will be out of my comfort zone, which is exactly where the magic happens if we let it!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Dawning of a New Age


image found at: http://home.comcast.net/~jpittman2/pacman/pacmandossier.html

This morning I received an email from a colleague of mine. It was about a blog post from The Ubiquitous Librarian regarding the recent announcement by Amazon of its new Kindle books service. While I had already heard the news about Amazon (I'm a prime member--from way before the current publishing house vs. Amazon issue) via email directly from Amazon.

Truth be told, the only surprise here is the whip-quick time it took for this to happen. It was inevitable, I think, and as The Ubiquitous Librarian mentions, some of this could mean really exciting news for readers all over the world.

Beyond the initial issue of a David and Goliath mega-store book seller situation, and the what-will-this-mean-for authors (and publishers, and everyone in the book industry), my initial thoughts run, of course, to what will this mean for libraries?

This is not a new conversation by any means.  The Kindle subscription service is merely the latest in a long line of happenings that should be causing us as to take a really good, hard look at what we do and why & how we do it.

Seriously--if you AREN'T yet having these conversations, you MUST begin.  If the conversations have started, it is TIME to put those thoughts into ACTION.  The time is NOW, folks.

"The only thing that is constant is change." 
-Heraclitus 

It is a new age, for sure.  One of the many, many reasons librarians simply MUST start thinking outside the box is that we are certainly no longer the only game in town when it comes to information and we haven't been for quite some time.  First Google, now Amazon, right?  And while WE know what we do is actually even more important in today's global world, do our patrons, our administrators, our communities and our lawmakers understand that?  

I believe our public librarians are doing a GREAT job of moving forward.  Even in my small little town we have an amazing public library.  My greatest concern is for the school librarians.  I know there are some absolutely fabulous & connected ones out there. My PLN is full of them, thank goodness.  I learn and share with them via Twitter, listen to amazing podcasts, and read great information about really cool programming on their blogs.   

We MUST up our game, both in terms of WHAT we actually do AND in promoting our libraries as forward-thinking spaces (both brick and mortar AND virtual) for information, collaboration, curation, and learning in all its forms.  

We MUST keep this in mind when planning out our goals/events/programming for the upcoming year. Do our plans tie in and give added value to the Campus Improvement Plan?  Are we assisting in meeting the goals set for our students?  Are we constantly sharpening our saw so that we can be ready to prepare our students for the future that awaits them?  Are we able to assist our teachers in their growth, as well?  

I know that these are a few of the questions that I will definitely keep in mind as I prepare for the new school year.

The cool part is that while change can be hard, and this sure is a mighty paradigm shift we are going through, if you look at this as a fantastic opportunity we can work  to expand ourselves and our libraries beyond our wildest dreams.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Easin' on down the road...


I'm working on writing out my goals for the upcoming school year.  As mentioned in another post, I'm a Twitter fanatic, but I've also been reading some fantastic professional books and listening to some great podcasts, as well. This has been a GREAT summer for self-directed professional development!

I have a meeting with two really amazing librarians I know later on this week.  We plan to get together to share the ideas we've all been brainstorming for the upcoming year.  We all grow stronger when we share with one another.

Tomorrow will be my day to dig through all my notes, look over the highlighted areas of my books, and do some deep-down pondering and dreaming about the soon-to-be-upon-us school year (I go back in less than a month, y'all--WHERE has this summer gone?) and finalize those goals.  Well, I say finalize, but really my goals are always fairly fluid. The list is simply a road map which can be altered if the scenic route looks like more fun, or if the original route is looking like it has a major roadblock.  

I'll post those goals here when I get the first draft done tomorrow.  I'm SO stinkin' excited about the possibilities this new year holds, ya'll.  I just can't wait to ease on down that road!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

It is time for Teachers Write!


Three year participant here!  Yes, I've been lucky enough to be a part of this amazing online community since the very beginning. Every year I've been challenged to stretch and grow.  I've become brave about sharing my writing.  It is always a fantastic time with fantastic folks (speaking of which---this year's lineup of guest authors is AMAZING!) and I come away inspired and filled with writing excitement.

If you would like to participate and haven't already signed up--NEVER FEAR!  It isn't too late!
Sign up HERE! And you can find more info on Kate Messner's blog post HERE.

A HUGE thank you to Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jennifer Jones Vincent, and Jo Knowles for being our fearless leaders.  I am forever indebted to you all.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Talk Nerdy to Me

Okay,
I adore this.
Thank you to my former student ToColla for posting.
That is all.

My Summer PD


As as a school librarian, I am the lone wolf on campus. Sure, the district librarians have meetings each month, but those brilliant idea bursts that happen when you serendipitously run into another teacher in the hallway are harder to come by when you only see each other once per month, and with a set agenda. This is ONE of the reasons my PLN is so incredibly vital to my continuing professional growth.

What on earth would I do without Twitter, y'all?

Yes, it is summer vacation time, and I just got back from visiting family and having a bit of down time to recharge.  Between doing dishes and hanging out with the kids I am getting some of the best professional development I've ever had.  It is a combination of things that really has my brain going--and it all started with a couple of Twitter posts.

First, I watched the keynote speech Library Girl Jennifer LeGarde gave at ISTE2014: How to Survive the Zombie Librarian Apocalypse, which not only has a fabulous title, but makes some strong points that every librarian should hear and hear again.  (go to about minute 15 to skip straight to it)  I wasn't able to attend in person, but through the magic of the Twitterverse I can now proudly say I'm a Zombie Fighter, too!

I'm participating in Todd Nesloney's (@TechNinjaTodd) Summer Learning Series (#SummerLS) this summer, too.  Each week we are given challenges to stretch us and move us forward.

This morning, while sipping my morning joe (my favorite, HEB brand San Antonio blend withSplenda and Natural Bliss vanilla creamer--yum!) I came across a tweet that intrigued me enough to seek out a blog, Technically Yours, Teamann.   The line from the post, "Being right isn't a change agent" just keeps resonating in me.  Yes!  Absolutely!

I'm still pondering, still ruminating on these things and so I say again,

What on earth would I do without Twitter, y'all? 

I'm so thankful for my PLN that is filled with folks inclined to learn, share, and grow together.  My only Twitter regret is that I've reached the point that I cannot add any more folks --the Twitterverse won't let me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A slice of summer

It is 12:16 and I'm having trouble sleeping.
I know I SHOULD be in bed asleep, really I do...
It is just that...
I give the dreaded STAAR test again tomorrow.  I'm teaching summer school this year, you see; working with my students who have not been successful in their first 2 attempts to pass this test and therefore move forward from 8th grade to 9th.

I feel anxious for them.  I feel anxious for myself (moment of truth: I feel rather like a tiger in a cage when it comes to testing. I don't function optimally in a typically chilly, closed off, weirdly quiet, anxiety-filled environment, but maybe that's just me.)

I care about these students.  I worry for them.  Some of them have stories that would break your heart, and some of them just aren't great test takers.  I have several that "don't like to read" and many whose first language is not English.  They are each filled with talents and hopes and dreams that this test cannot possibly begin to measure.

At the beginning of our time together I asked the students to read for 20-30 minutes per night--anything of their choice.  I have less than a handful who have actually done it.  Some of them want to but find it hard to fit in their schedule (babysitting 7 kids by yourself, one a baby, for example makes it rather difficult).  Some struggle so much they have just about given up.

I hope they are having less trouble getting to sleep tonight than I am.  I hope they eat something healthy and protein-packed in the morning to get them through a 4 hour exam.  I hope that they do not judge themselves totally on the outcome of this test and I hope they take it seriously enough to really give it their best.

These tests trouble me for so many reasons.  I get that there must be a measure of what is learned--but the magnitude of importance placed on these tests is beyond my comprehension.
What are we doing to our children?