End of an Era

Today has been quite an emotional day. Yes, it was the last day of school and watching some of my favorite 8th grade students get on the bus for the last time was more than a little sad for me. That alone would honestly be enough for me to have to handle. The end of this year, though, means so much more.

It’s the end of an era for Central Middle School. Next year we will experience lots of changes as we move into a brand new building and gain new leadership. Although these are exciting times for CMS, today is a day for me to be sad and reflect on the past.

Let me rewind a little bit. Our middle school has been around for quite some time. So many people from our community have walked its halls as students and have memories from their time at CMS (or before when the building was CHS). Myself included — I dug up my old yearbooks when I got home this afternoon. I figured since I was already a crying mess, I might as well roll with it. So here’s a little taste of Tiff the middle school student:

My 6th grade yearbook photo:

7th grade ad with my BFF, who I met in middle school and still love dearly many years later:

Photo from 8th grade yearbook:

While I was a student at CMS, I was a student library worker during both 7th and 8th grade. They let me out of PE — what can I say, I never was very athletic. But it’s unbelievable to have memories of my library, of the many hours I spent shelving books there as a student, and then to come into the position of being the librarian there myself. It’s not an experience that many people get to have, and I’m so grateful that I was able to spend a year and a half in that old library.

As you can imagine, quite a few of the teachers and staff members from my time as a student are now my coworkers. One of them is even my boss. During my time as a student, Mr. Cashio was the AP of Discipline. Years later, he became the principal of CMS. He hired me for my first teaching position straight out of college in 2007. Then he hired me back as the librarian when their librarian retired last January. I’m so thankful that I’ve had the chance to work for such a great man. Only under a leader like Mr. Cashio can a faculty be as close as family. Earlier this spring, he announced that he would be retiring at the end of this year. He will be missed, but we wish him many many relaxing and joyful years of retirement.

Mr. Cashio during my time as a CMS student:

These past few weeks have been stressful and hectic. The current library is packed and ready to go. The library at the new school is almost ready. Lots has been accomplished, lots of work lies ahead. We have a beautiful building we are moving into and we have amazing new leadership that will help our school continue to excel and grow. There’s so much to look forward to for next school year and beyond. But today, I’m taking the time to let myself sit with some memories and be thankful for what we’ve all been blessed with these past years at CMS.

 Old CMS Library in all it’s glory (after I got in and decorated!):

Old CMS Library, all packed up:

New CMS Library, ready to move in:

End of Year Library Report (and GRADUATION!)

There’s a whole lot of CRAZY going on right now in my work life. Typically, I like to keep the library open as long as possible, I always make exceptions for kids who need just one more book (LOTS of exceptions, okay…), and some form of an inventory happens. Not this year, though. I’m now in the process of hunting down books students still have checked out. Next week I will be doing a thorough inventory, cleaning up the records in Destiny, and getting the collection in pristine order. The following week, the cases will be delivered that I will use to pack up the collection for the move. The idea of doing all of this is overwhelming and makes me anxious, but I know it will be wonderful to have a solid inventory and clean records. And it will be a beautiful thing when everything is settled in at the new school.

Oh yeah, and on top of the move, our principal is retiring and we’re currently on the roller coaster ride that is the process of having our new principal selected. I’m not going to get into all of that, let’s just say it isn’t helping my current level of anxiety at all. I do want whoever is selected to be our new leader to really “get” what I’m all about and what our library aims to do. So I made a super extra special End of the Year Library Report that they will get a nice copy of to peruse at their leisure. Check it out:

I put it together in Comic Life, my FAVORITE program to use when designing posters, fliers, handouts, etc. And I messed around in Photoshop for a while and created those nifty graphics for circulation stats and library visits. This was such a great way for me to reflect on this year. There are always times where I think, “Have I really done anything productive this year??” Looking back on this year with this report, the answer is, “UM YEA!” I really feel like a lot was accomplished especially with introducing our gaming and going nontraditional in both fiction and nonfiction shelving! We’re going to go ahead and label this year a success.

AND speaking of SUCCESS — Yesterday I graduated from Northwestern State University of Louisiana with my Master’s degree in Educational Technology Leadership with a 4.0 GPA! Being able to share the day with my friend and CMS ELA teacher made it even sweeter.


Lamenting over Layout

The school year is winding down quickly — tomorrow I go back from spring break for two weeks of state testing/chaos, then just two more weeks of circulation before I have to shut the library down to get the library packed up and ready for the move. Since I’ve yet to do a complete inventory and both fiction and non fiction need to be cleaned up in the system, May is going to be a busy month. Especially since I’ve been told that everything needs to be DONE and ready to go by the last day of school.

After looking at the calendar and realizing how quickly this was going to come at me, I decided I needed to move past the denial phase and start really planning! So today I’ve been playing around with how I want to lay things out in the new space, which is VERY different from the rectangular box where the library currently lives.

Since fiction and non fiction are all now broken down by genre/category, I think this gives me some interesting options for arrangement. Below is my first draft of the new library layout. Feedback would definitely be appreciated!!

I like the idea of being able to put relevant fiction and not fiction categories near each other. For example, sports fiction and non fiction can be next door neighbors! I’m also thinking that having Sci-Fi/Fantasy and NF Science, Supernatural, and Mythology in the same area. The same for Historical Fiction and NF History and War.

See full size on Flickr here.

I think this layout puts high-interest sections in the more flexible/larger spaces. I’m going to have LOADS of extra shelf space (worried that it may look empty, but I can’t really control that…). I also have some furniture that’s been ordered that won’t be functional/relevant such as newspaper racks, dictionary stand, atlas stand, too much magazine space. Once I get all of the tables and chairs, I’ll have to figure out a way to arrange it so I can also add in some lounge seating (which wasn’t included with district funds).

The center shelving will be 48” tall and have adjustable shelves (up to 4 shelves per section). Shelving around the walls will be 42” (lots of windows taking up wall space) and those will have two shelves per section with wood dividers. Rectangular tables will be up front, along with my projector station. Round tables will be in the back area near the rear doors, which will open into the courtyard.

SO, if you have any thoughts, ideas, or comments after glancing over this layout and reading this post, I would REALLY appreciate some feedback!!

PS: Thanks to everyone who responded about newspaper subscriptions in their library! I haven’t had a subscription since I’ve been in this library and don’t see the point in spending funds on it, yet when my plans came in there were fancy sections for me to hang newspapers. It looks like a lot of you have canceled your subscriptions in the past few years or plan to in the very near future.


CC license http://flic.kr/p/5TaViY

I don’t know about the rest of you, but where I come from things right now are crazy. The picture above pretty much sums up how I’m feeling, as are many of my fellow teachers.

The value-added model that’s working so well everywhere else (ha!) is coming down the pipe to us here, while Jindal is pushing his “education reform” bill through to essentially do away with teacher tenure and open up a voucher program for private, parochial, and charter schools. Not that those schools will be held to the same standards of public schools, of course.

At my school, we are getting ready for our high-stakes test. In just a few months, we’ll be moving into a new school. A number of changes have been proposed in our district for the next school year, including doing away with the block schedule to move to a 7 period day. We’re going to be getting our first year’s transitional curriculum to move us to Common Core. Our principal is retiring, so we’ll be experiencing a major leadership change as well.

It seems like every day is something else. Morale is terribly low. I’m hoping that at some point in the near future, we’ll be seeing things in a positive light. Until then, I’m going to write some grad school reflections (THAT is a light at the end of the tunnel that I can definitely see!!) and reread The Hunger Games.

CMS Library Tour

So my darling friend Tamara Cox, the Eliterate Librarian, posted a fun video tour of her library and challenged the rest of us to do the same.

You all should know by now that I love to make a video, so I was ready to jump on the wagon and get mine out there.


It’s so overwhelming to think about how much I’ve done in just over a year since I moved into this position. There’s nothing like middle school and I adore the crazy, drama-filled, brilliant, talented children that I get to work with each day.

I got an amazing compliment this week when a teacher came in to tell me what one of our 8th grade boys (the one that was recently voted “Most Athletic” in the class favorites yearbook poll) said about the library. He told his teacher: “You know how some restaurants have signs and stuff that say ‘World’s Greatest Hamburger” or “World’s Greatest Pizza”? Our library needs a sign that says “World’s Greatest Library.”

Good to know that I’m doing something right, especially on those days where it’s an absolute zoo in here and I feel like I might very well have lost my mind 🙂

Holiday Happiness

I’m writing this post on the plane ride home from a fabulous week in St. Lucia. My family and I spent the Christmas holiday soaking up sunshine and relaxing on the beautiful beaches of the island. I spent the week unplugged — almost completely, just a few email and Facebook checks on the painfully slow, way overpriced resort wifi. I could usually be found laid back in a hammock on the beach reading on my Nook with a fantastic fruity beverage in hand. I had lots of time to read, reflect and relax.

Island life is so different from what I’m used to… it’s so laid back and stress free. That really puts things into perspective! I generally spend a lot of time fretting over things that I have no control over. I want so badly for my school and district to move forward. Technology is so relevant to our students and we are doing them such a disservice when we let our own fear and apprehension hold us back from giving them the best learning opportunities. I get so worked up over slow progress (and often what feels like NO progress) that I often let it overshadow other things, more current and pressing things. In the new year, I’m going to try to focus on balance. Crazy, right?

I’m not going to call it a resolution or anything, I’m just going to make a more conscious effort towards balance. I know that I need to spend more time reading. My husband would scoff at that I’m sure, but I feel like I need to make even more of an effort so that I can make the best possible book recommendations to my students. I recently read “The Book Whisperer” by Donalyn Miller, an EXCELLENT book that really made me think about what I’m doing to instill a life-long love for reading in students. I can’t do my job if I’m not doing everything I can to stay on top of what books are new and relevant to my students lives. There’s nothing like the feeling of satisfaction that you get when a student comes to you after reading a book you recommended and let know know what an impact it had on them. I need to be doing what I can to help all of my students find the books that can make that difference for them.

I also need to make a conscious effort to balance my schedule. I so struggle with this, but I need to find a way to be be consistent when it comes to making circulation dates, digital citizenship lessons, research activities, and cross-curricular projects happen regularly. Not sure how I’m going to make it happen (can I add some more time to my day, or maybe clone myself?), but I’m going to try. I also want to add more variety into programs — involving reading, technology, art, and culture. I’m thinking about doing some lunchtime and/or after school workshops. Coming back from the holidays, I’m thinking that a “How to Use Overdrive” to help new ereader owners learn how to take advantage of the access to Overdrive that we have from our public library…teachers AND students welcome!

2011 has been such a great year for me. This time last year I was gearing up for my mid-year move to the middle school. I’m definitely settled and in my element now, many changes and much success have found a home at the CMS library. More change is on the calendar for 2012…this summer we will be moving to our new school! So much to look forward to and so much to be thankful for…I’m loving life!

Holy Bananas UPDATE!

Gosh, I’ve been busy. So much to update!

First, I spent the beginning of last week at LACUE, our state technology conference. Good times! I really enjoy presenting — I mean I get to be the center of attention, I get to spread my ideas, I get to try to be clever and witty to see if I can get a few laughs.

Really, though, it was a successful presentation. My session was called “Favorite FREE Tech Tools,” and my links and resources can be found on my presentation wiki.

I’m hoping to do more presenting in the future and I also would love to do multiple presentations at LACUE 2012.

I came back from the conference on December 1st which was an exciting day — our FIRST ever author visit at the CMS library! Louisiana author Diana Rowland came for an after school meet-and-greet, where she talked about her writing process and publication. Diana is good people! The students loved her! After, my ELA friend and I took her out for dinner and we had a blast. Such a great day!

This is Diana’s most recent novel. Isn’t the cover insane?! Despite the fact that I was a bit hesitant about diving into this zombie novel, I really LOVED it! Even though the novel is definitely a high school level, a few of my more mature readers have gobbled it up like a jar of brains (hehe, I couldn’t resist!).

I’m so glad that we were able to introduce this amazing author to our students, particularly those that have an interest in writing!



We had a slamming TL Virtual Cafe Library World Smackdown on Monday which ROCKED! If you missed it, you can check out the archive here.

And now, the best for last…I’m nominated for an Edublog Award in the “Best use of audio/video/podcast” category!! I’m so excited and so HONORED to be included in the rockstar crowd that is the Edublog Award nominees! And I’m not going to lie or be all full of fluff…of course I want to win! If you haven’t before, please check out the MightyLittleLibrarian’s YouTube Channel. If you like it and are so inclined, VOTE FOR ME! 🙂

I will admit, though, that there are some friends of mine that are MUCH more deserving that I am of an Edublog Award. The Daring Librarian is SO VERY deserving of so many categories, including “Best Library/Librarian Blog” and “Best Educational Wiki.” AND it’s time that we get out there and vote to give Joyce Valenza the “Lifetime Achievement” award for everything she’s done for our profession!

So there ya go, my friends! It’s been a great week!

AASL11 Reflection

My first AASL conference experience was amazing! I’m on my way home after four days of learning and connecting. My mind is full of ideas that I’m ready to take back to my teachers and students; my heart is full of love for the amazing tribe that I am blessed to be part of and the relationships that have grown within our amazing Geek Tribe!

I was able to spend lots of time with teacher-librarians that I follow (okay, stalk?) and it’s just so fulfilling to be able to spend face-to-face time with the people who support me directly and indirectly as a school library professional. I mean, lunch with my the FABULOUS ladies that are Gwyneth Jones, Joyce Valenza, Shannon Miller, Cathy Jo Nelson, Brenda Anderson, Andrea Christman, Kyra Kreinbrook, Carolyn Starkey, Jennifer Nortrup, and others — YES, that actually happened!!

I think the conference really had a laid back, comfortable feel for me. A time for great conversations, sessions with wonderful new ideas, and just hangin’ with my peeps, yo. From beginning to end it was BEYOND amazing!

I’m so thankful that I was able to receive the Bound to Stay Bound travel grant that allowed me to travel to Minneapolis for AASL. Plus I got to meet a super cool new friend — thanks Autumn for being a great roomie! I also have oodles and oodles of love for my mentor (what what!) Gwyneth Jones who really looked out for me and introduced me around throughout the whole event. Between Gwyneth and Joyce, I definitely felt the love and appreciate their generous, giving spirits! Honestly, I’m one lucky girl!

Some of the ideas that I’m excited to try at CMS that I learned about in great sessions:

  • 23 Things (although I won’t be doing quite so many “things”)
  • Bookmark Contest
  • Reading Lunch (not sure how to work this in against the xbox, but I’m going to try!)
  • Battle of the Books
  • More partnerships with our local public library
  • Branding for next year when we move into the new school

Those are some of the ideas that I’m most excited about. I also can’t wait to get home and start sifting through the resources, recorded sessions, and all that good stuff on the AASL Virtual Conference page.

Here’s a little Animoto video with a few of the photos from this weekend! I can’t wait for everyone to put up all of their photos on Flickr to relive the fun! 🙂

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.