Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Well, students arrive tomorrow...

And while I have many ideas floating around in my head...and on various papers in various piles on my desk, I officially have NO plans down! YIKES! Luckily I have my morning free (after speaker set up/tear down) to finally sit down & organize my thoughts, papers & desk! (Luckily I HAVE been keeping up on my twitter feeds & delicious account is organized. Now if I could only find time to follow the many wonderful blogs I have bookmarked...I know I should do RSS, but am afraid I will be overwhelmed)
Have been VERY busy the last 5 work days (meetings 2 days)...but mostly becoming familiar with and displaying the collection and doing things for others. Tomorrow I will be the furthest thing from teacher's minds (unless there are technology mishaps) so it will be my time to focus on what I need to do for STUDENTS. (I sure need a day to focus on MY files, too...)
My husband's school began reading the book, Teach to Your Strengths (Gallup) at their PLC last week & encouraged me to go buy it (so I could take the strength test...). I read the intro & the first 2 paragraphs of the first chapter & I am already fired up! It already reminded me what a great teacher I am. LOVE IT! Will share more as time progresses.
So the kiddos are in bed at a more reasonable time for an early wake up call tomorrow...wait, that's me, too...better go...night!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Well...I'm BACK...AGAIN!

OMG--WHAT happened to summer??!! OK, I remember...a trip w/ DH; summer library; library workshop/grad class; baseball, baseball, baseball; a solo trip; OH...AND I GOT A FULL-TIME MEDIA POSITION! (wait, we are now School Librarians) AND my DH got a full-time media, er, school librarian position also! We are both SO SO excited. So needless to say I have let this entirely fall to the wayside (aren't I supposed to have MORE time in the summer--HA!) I have spent several days this summer researching websites & reorganizing my delicious account--and honestly could easily spend another day or two doing more. But summer is getting away from me and suddenly I have SO much to wrap up at home before the school year starts--in NINE days!!!
I have spent one day at my new media center--actually half a day--and it is BEAUTIFUL! A wall of windows opening to the courtyard, a lovely open room. I am officially on a one year only contract, and while there are some things I would really like to change I certainly don't feel I can make any major changes until I know the position is permanent (keep your fingers crossed!) So I am pondering what small changes I can make that will make me feel like I have put my touch on it, while keeping it manageable to put back the way I found things should it come to that.
I am responsible for Kindergarten 50 minutes/day and small reading support groups 60 minutes/day. So I have a nice chunk of the day to meet with classes for checkout and groups. AND I have a paraprofessional--lovely! DH has NO daily groups and a paraprofessional. We are both realizing how VERY lucky we are. More & more school librarians are being pulled into the specialist rotation to cover plan time. I understand this seems like a smart move to administrators and teachers, but many of these school librarians (MOST) seem to be doing this without a paraprofessional. YES, we are TEACHERS first--but we are also managers of the collection. So if we are in the specials rotation full-time, we may as well go back to classroom--it would be less work! (RIGHT...like I'd go back to the classroom) Really our position is being taken advantage of--we are being asked to be responsible for more than specialists/classroom teacher with no compensation. It is an advocacy battle we must fight EVERYDAY.
WOW--I'm hooked on the caps today! lol. Well...I have my final project due this week for my grad class & I have decided we are having a garage sale this week. I think I am NUTS!

Monday, May 31, 2010


Yep, between the end of the year & baseball...I'm surprised I am even finding time to sleep! But it is a glorious Memorial Day with NOTHING on the agenda--yippee!
I was just catching up on my TWITTER feeds and stumbled upon an article about a private high school in Massachusetts that has decided to all but entirely eliminated their media center. I remember hearing about this last fall. This is an update and the principal is raving about the success--the media is now a gathering area for faculty & students full of digital resources. That's wonderful--but I'm just wondering why it is necessary to do this entirely void of books (in the physical form)? I view it as a form of censorship.
Don't get me wrong. I am a strong proponent of ebooks replacing textbooks--save money, trees & a lot of students' backs, not to mention real-time information. And I spend a good deal of my time researching online, as do my students. But books complement their research--I would hate to say, "Nope, sorry, you MUST find everything online."
The most frightening conclusion that too many administrators might be making is the idea that if books are becoming obsolete, then so are media specialists. Yet when I entered this program 2 years ago, I was struck by how what we do in the media is more applicable to real life than much of what is occurring in classrooms, particularly with the inane focus on test scores these days. Our students are getting more & more of their information from the web, and it is our job to teach them to evaluate, synthesize & use that information wisely. (not currently on our tests...) THAT is preparing students for REAL life--so how valuable are we?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Life takes over again!

Gee whiz! You would think the end of the school year would leave me MORE time to attend to this blog. Not so much! In one building we are painting & the schedule has changed hourly! Luckily I realized some time ago that flexibility is essential in this position. I believe that I have always been a fairly flexible person, but even more so now. Painters in your space requires some packing & moving of things away from wall...but it also requires some rescheduling of groups. Fun, fun, fun!
Luckily there are only 9 days of school left (and SO much to get done...). We have the public libraries presentations on summer library. (I will have summer library for 3 hours/week in each of my buildings) Both buildings have carnivals this evening. One building has a school-wide picnic next week, while the other has a field day. I am hosting author Helen Lester next week--I am VERY excited about this! And I am pleased to say that her visit is partially being funded by a grant that I applied for--my first grant application ever!
Well, just wanted to pop in..back to my journey another day...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some thoughts

In an effort to not be so autobiographical...I will reflect periodically to break up "the facts, m'am."
I have always loved information. It is truly bizarre that I did not fall into this career earlier. But perhaps in the digital age, the information portion is even more consuming than ever. I just read a paper expressing the need for librarians is greater than ever before--yet we are seeing more cuts in our career than ever before in history. The current circulating myth is that librarians and libraries are virtually obsolete. Yet study after study, from years ago to the present, show that strong school libraries & reading are one of the strongest indicators to student achievement. How strange that in an age where the test scores are EVERYTHING many districts have completely disregarded that conclusion. We need to let the public know that the stereotypical librarian that we remember from our childhoods IS obsolete--BUT there is a current trend toward a new vision of libraries and librarians.

First of all, libraries are no longer private collections that only the librarian knows how to navigate. We educate our students on using an online catalog, and on the Dewey Decimal system so that they can find resources independently. We encourage noise and even a bit of chaos--learning chaos! It's pretty tough for my media to be TOO loud!
Second, media specialists are not a solo entity. Collaboration is key. We want to help students achieve as much as the classroom teacher, so it makes sense for us to work together to do so. Intertwining what we do in the media with what is occurring in the classroom will really make the learning that is happening sink even further into their brains. I became a teacher because I love to help students learn--I am STILL a teacher.
Third, digital resources has changed EVERYTHING. We now have immediate access to "the" answer. UNFORTUNATELY students think that Google is the end all. Don't get me wrong, Google is a fantastic resource WHEN students are taught thoughtful evaluation. No one is teaching students how to look at the information they find, how to effectively use it, and how to be the most innovative in their presentations. Classroom teachers are overwhelmed by scripted curriculums and the pressures of getting test results. Website evaluation doesn't hit their radar--it's not in the curriculum, and it isn't tested. Therefore, it is ESSENTIAL that media specialists attend to this 21st Century Skill if our students are truly going to be prepared for the future.
There is a belief that books are all but obsolete. To some extent, perhaps. (doubt Barnes & Noble thinks so...) But what a disservice to the young children of the world it would be to deprive them of cuddling with a parent in bed pouring over a favorite picture book. I just found several lists of the favorite 100 children's novels of all time as well as the 100 favorite picture books. A few tears appeared as I viewed the animoto of the covers of these books--many were beloved favorites from my childhood, and have been shared with my own children and students.
Does it make sense to have all textbooks in digital format. Absolutely. This would save school districts and college students loads of money. And in many academic specialties, the access to real-time current information is so appropriate. But reading for pleasure involves visual and tactile experiences--it is sad to think of that being lost for the youth of the future.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

WOW! Life takes over!

10 weeks since my last post??!! NO WAY! I swear I just posted! I have been busy busy busy both in my medias and at home. Baseball season started the end of March but I am not entirely sure why I was so crazy the 6 weeks before that. OH WELL, I am here now!
Back to the beginnings...once that HUGE order was placed, I could focus on what my responsibilities were and figuring out how to get it all in each day.
One of my biggest frustrations was technology. I would create a lesson plan for the lab only to have sites crash, computers not work, etc. I learned VERY quickly to have a Plan B (and C...and D...sometimes even E & F!) Computing services was out several times getting every computer up & running. But we got there!
We have a new checkout system/card catalog in our district this year so one of my first undertakings was to teach every student and adult in each building to use that system as well as make sure they knew where to locate the resources they were seeking on the shelves. Once everyone was relatively independent in finding resources using the card catalog and the Dewey Decimal system, that gave me more time to assist students in areas other than simply resource locating.
Additionally, the district had just added several digital online resources. Teachers and students alike tend to default to Google when researching, and these new online resources are a more efficient method to drive research. I presented an overview of all the online resources to each staff, while I presented them one at a time to classes as they were appropriate for their research needs. Our new writing curriculum is research-driven in third and fourth quarters at all grade levels, so I wanted each class to be prepared BEFORE moving into the research project. Students and teachers alike were very excited with the new resources and they are used daily in each media.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Insanity sets in...

OF COURSE I was very excited to be an actual librarian. BUT nearly 20 years of experience brought the realization of how much I DON'T know! The excitement of a newbie with the clarity of experience. I had to come into not one, but two buildings. Luckily I knew the staff and routine of one building already, so that did simplify things a bit. LPS implemented a new checkout system this last fall, so it was nice that I didn't have to learn the old one, but could just jump in with the new one (which was not without tweaks...a thorn in my side for many months. I learned very quickly to always have a Plan B...and C...and D--maybe even Plan E!!) August was spent making each media my own and trying to figure out all that was required of me in this new position. I was exhilarated and overwhelmed. Then after ONE official week, I got the call--I had $20K in orders to place for each building--and they were due in ONE WEEK--WHAT??!!?? I knew that Title I schools were all getting a cut of stimulus monies to pump up their library. Originally we were told $10K for nonfiction; I figured I'd get my feet under me before I tackled that huge task. GUESS NOT! The wonderful feds gave us $20K for both fiction & nonfiction (plus $5K for EXCITE) BUT pushed that deadline up. WOW!? We were given subs for the next Friday, and our orders were to be DONE by 4PM that day. I cleared my schedule in both buildings (except those that covered teachers' plan times) and spent nearly every waking moment of the next week pouring over catalogs. I got that order in about 3:45PM that Friday...What a start!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Graduate school...and a job!

We began our graduate journey Winter of 2008. Digital Learning...discovered wikis, blogs & podcasts. Summer brought Young Adult Literature--all we did for 3 weeks was read & write! (at least I could read at the pool!) Fall was loony with 2 courses...Methods & Reference Resources. But it was necessary to ensure we had enough credits to get a provisional endorsement the summer of 2009--so we could begin applying for positions! Spring brought Cataloging; it was so peaceful to only have one class!
Spring & summer brought a whirwind of openings, applications and interviews. Unfortunately several positions being cut to less than half-time didn't make things any easier for us. I was offered a position at 2 buildings--Saratoga Elementary and Brownell Elementary where I had been for the last 8 years. My husband did not get a position, so it was a bit bittersweet for me. But in retrospect, we realized we didn't "sell" ourselves enough to prospective principals--sheer ignorance on that one! Needless to say another year has made us more knowledgable on that one!

A first year...half over...

I am starting this blog to document my growth as a librarian. (I prefer media specialist, but that always seems to require further explanation..."Librarian", so why fight it?) This is my first year in a library--well, two--and what a ride it has been!
First, a little history about me. I have been an elementary teacher for 20 years in Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Nebraska. I have taught in a number of buildings and have taught every grade, in addition to PE, Music, Computer, Art, Science & Gifted (phew!) With the increasing emphasis on tests, I was looking for a more creative outlet for my talents, while still being able to work with children. Our district was looking to increase the pool for media specialists as many reach retirement age. So my husband and I decided to begin our graduate journey at the University of Omaha, led by the amazing Dr. Rebecca Pasco. With three very active preteens/teens and two full-time jobs, it is a challenge, but one that is truly a joy. I am astounded how so many of my professional moves feel like a "just right" fit--once again, this is such a good fit.
Next, a summary of my graduate journey and where I am today.