Making Plans

So I’ve basically been incoherent lately with SO MUCH going on inside my head with this upcoming move.

I really enjoyed myself these last two weeks as an elementary school librarian, having fun with my students and coworkers. As I said in my last post, there are so many things I’ll miss.

But moving forward, there is so much that I’m SO EXCITED about! I haven’t done much reading lately because my brain won’t slow down long enough for that. I’ve been working on my new library wiki and making plans. I know I have big shoes to fill — the retiring librarian is amazing and has done so much for CMS. I also know that I’ll be quite different. Where Marie is soft-spoken, composed, and has it together, I’m loud, spastic, and out there. But I hope to bring my strengths to help the CMS library continue to improve and serve students and teachers well. Here are the things I plan to throw myself into immediately:

Share my techno-love! From what I hear, many teachers are looking for new ways to infuse technology to enrich learning experiences for students. I’ll be using a wikispaces page as the library’s website and home that exploring it will show teachers and students that using tech tools is a passion of mine so they will approach me for ideas.

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Move to a digital calendar. The library operates on a completely flex schedule, which I am so totally PSYCHED about. I’ll also be in charge of scheduling checkout for the mobile labs. This is currently done on a paper calendar that gives me anxiety and causes me to hyperventilate. I haven’t decided yet how exactly I’ll do scheduling, but I know it will be different. I’m toying with using the Novell calendar that goes with our email (not a big fan, but it’s what we have), using a Google Calendar, or putting a spreadsheet on the shared drive or Google Docs. If you or anyone you know has experience with scheduling like this, feedback would be majorly appreciated.

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Categorize books by genre. I’ll be moving into a brand spankin’ new library within the next year or two, and I’m seriously toying with the idea of arranging the fiction section by genre. My first step for this is going to be to label the book using these tined label protectors from Demco:

I’ll definitely be sharing more about this in the future. I’m still hashing out the specifics, but anticipate this to be a very good thing.

I also want to move to self checkout, but that’s not something I’m going to try to tackle right away. And I know that once I get in there I’ll start making even more plans and gain a more realistic perspective on how to implement them. These are exciting days ahead, folks!

Change. And things I’ll miss.

So I haven’t blogged about my move yet. It’s been very emotional for me, even though it’s been in the works for many months. I just wasn’t ready to put it out there onto the Internet (and into reality for me, maybe?) until now. Plus I wanted it to be approved by the School Board and all that formal stuff, which went down a few hours ago.

So on January 10th (my official date) I will no longer be an elementary school librarian. I will be moving to the library at Central Middle. Middle school has always been where my heart is. It’s where I originally taught, and their librarian is now retiring. I was asked to come back and it wasn’t an easy decision for me. I know that in the long run, it’s what I want to do. But it sure is hard to leave the blood, sweat, and tears I’ve put into my library for the last few years. It’s also hard to leave the faculty and the wonderful relationships I have formed. As a librarian, it’s not easy to build working relationships and street cred from teachers, and this year I was finally feeling like I’d gotten to that place. I’m so proud of the elementary school library that has been created (not from scratch, but from a big fat mess) and the program that really TRULY fosters a love of reading. It’s going to be hard for me to let go. But I am so grateful that I’ll be walking into a much more organized library and don’t have to start at the bottom again.

So over the next few weeks and months I’ll be sharing lots of things that excite me about my new opportunities. I’m looking forward to my move to middle school, but there are lots of things that I’ll miss about my little ones. I want to take some time to reflect on the things I love about working in an elementary library. Here are a few of the things I’ll miss most:

1. Precious little smiling faces. Smiles still full of baby teeth. Smiles full of gaps from lost teeth. Smiles that are growing into the ones they will have as adults.

2. Reading beautiful picture books while I have their rapt attention. Especially when we get to that point in a story where they all gasp because they are so completely engrossed in what’s happening.

3. Their innocence. There are always a few who are losing theirs too young, which is heartbreaking. But for the most part they are still so innocent. And that innocence allows them to be so imaginative and throw themselves into whatever they’re doing.

4. Holidays. Every holiday is such an event for them. They require decorations, celebration, holiday themed stories, arts and craft projects, singing, and snacks. This includes birthdays, which are IMMENSELY important when you’ve only had 8 so far in your life.

5. Reading is cool. Books are fun and something to get excited about. And when they take the leap from picture books to chapter books — I love that.

I’m going to miss the teachers and administrators desperately. There are so many great things about the school that can’t even be described unless you’ve worked there. I will always be grateful for the support that I’ve had, particularly from my administration, that has helped shape my professional path. The few years that I’ve been privileged to work with 2nd and 3rd graders alongside so many amazing educators have given me experience and perspective that I will always carry with me. The transition will be bittersweet for me. I am sad to leave such a great crew, but I so look forward to the experiences to come. And I’m going to end here before I start bawling.

Thursday at LACUE

PHEW! It was a busy day at LACUE! The keynote session by Vicki Davis (aka Cool Cat Teacher) was freakin’ awesome. Here are my tweets from the keynote:

It was quite a motivational speech. We all know about the power of being positive and striving to be the change that you want to see, but she really laid it out well. Basically, YOU are the only thing that you can change. Whining and complaining don’t accomplish anything — they just foster more whining and complaining. Instead of harping on what we CAN’T do, focus on the positive and the things that we can do. We all know this to be true, but it’s so easy to lose focus and want to change EVERYTHING at once. Ain’t gonna happen. But doing what’s best for the kids and being proud of what you do can inspire others to change. So I’m now feeling inspired, thanks Vicki!! This keynote totally made me think of my great assistant principal who is always reminding me (and everyone else) of the power of being positive — so here’s to you Mr. Fountain!

My first session was Gadgets by Leslie Fisher. It was pretty much awesome and here are some links she shared that I jotted down to check out later in case you’re interested:

www.eventbrite.com – Manage event invites, guest lists, sign-in sheets

www.rockmelt.com – Social Media based web browser, still in Beta

www.tripit.com – Free planner that compiles all of your travel info

www.evernote.com – Store all of your notes in one place

www.ustream.tv – Record a stream for free

www.mozy.com – Free up to 2gigs of backup

www.istockphoto.com/lesliefisher-offer.php – use this for 15% discount

www.smugmug.com – for photo sharing

She also shared about a bajillion other things, so you should check out her resources on her website www.lesliefisher.com to learn from a pro.

Next, I went to Brian Mull’s presentation on Internet Responsibility. He shared some great points about being smart and aware when it comes to teaching students, teachers, and administrators to consider responsible Internet usage for students. See his wiki at www.brianmull.wikispaces.com. One thing I LOVE that he introduced me to is Jing. I just downloaded it and it’s pretty sweet.

Many other sessions that I will have to revisit and share about later. I’m off to a Tweet-Up and my battery is about to croak. I had to spend a lot of my blogging time taking screenshots of my resources for tomorrow’s presentation — I fear that LaCUE’s Internet access will fail me!

The Plight of the School Librarian

Librarians have it easy. I want your job. All you have to do is sit around and read books all day. It’s not like you really have to do anything in here…

It’s the stigma of the school librarian — that it’s the cushy job and that librarians really don’t do much. I think maybe the stigma is magnified in elementary schools, so correct me if I’m wrong. I know I work my butt off, I’m constantly trying to improve, I’m always willing to do what it takes. I push myself, stress myself out, make myself sick, try to do too much. I try so hard to detach myself from the stigma and prove my worth. I know all of the things I do, how hard I work, how far I go above and beyond. I’m good at what I do, like really freakin’ good. Because it’s my life and it’s what makes me happy. But every now and then (okay, more often than I’d like to admit) someone throws a little comment my way and it deflates me like a balloon.

You mean we aren’t having library ancillary this week? (We’re having the Book Fair, so no.)

Forget the fact that I nearly killed myself last week trying to get everyone’s library books traded in anticipation of Book Fair.

I just feel like it’s never enough. I try so hard to do my job, do it well, and make the teachers’ lives easier. Maybe I’m just being whiney and needy. I know I need to learn to just brush it off and get over it. But I’m not there yet and just needed to vent.

If you’ve overcome this type of frustration and have seen the light, please share your wisdom with me…

I’m, like, a celebrity these days!

So I wanted to write this beautiful, elaborate post about Banned Books Week (which is this week, YAY!), talk about #SpeakLoudly, share about the challenged books I’ve been reading, and RAVE about StorySnoops and the awesome interview they did of your favorite Mighty Little Librarian. Life has been getting in the way, though, and I’ve been busy with the duties of a bridesmaid all weekend. Look for the post described above later this week. In the meantime, go read my incredibly fabulous interview with the Snoops!

I <3 Banned Books!

Banned book week is coming up…Holla!

I love to read banned books to see what all the fuss is about. Then I get worked up, because I know that 99 times out of 100, the person trying to ban the book did not read it in its entirety. I read about this challenge and really want to participate. Grad school is kicking my butt once again, but I’ve decided that this is something I really want to do, even if I can’t commit to reading very many books.

Head on over to Steph Su Reads to find out more about the Ban This! Challenge. I’m committing to read 3 banned/challenged books. I found a really great list of banned/challenged book by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. I’m lovin’ this list because it tells about the challenge or banning related to each book on the list. So I found a few books that sound intriguing and plan to pick them up at the public library this morning. Also, I recently read and wrote about Forever and The Golden Compass here. Those are both books that have gotten some people all riled up.

And of course, I can’t have a post about banned books without throwing in a shameless self-promotion about my upcoming interview with the UH-MAZING Story Snoops. I’ve been raving about this fabulous site, and apparently they love me back because they wanted to interview me for a blog series they’re doing for banned book week. They’re also featuring Judy Blume and Meg Cabot. So yeah, saying that I’m PUMPED is the understatement of the millennium. You’ll hear about this again (and again and again), you can bet on that!

So what’s your favorite banned/challenged book? I really want to know 🙂  If I haven’t read it, I’ll have to put it on my list!

Stop the madness!

I feel like I’ve been sucked up into a tornado or something. The past few weeks have been CRAZY. Last week was my first official week back to work. It was also my first week of the fall semester for grad school. My week consisted of work, homework, sleep, repeat. It’s going to be tough finding a balance this year and it’s something I’m really going to have to work at. I’m determined to keep up with my blog — that’s a priority for me. It’s going to be a struggle to keep up with my social media addiction (I didn’t even sign on to Twitter until half an hour ago!!) and I’m pretty sure something’s going to give. My only plan at this point is to take my vitamins, so I’ll let y’all know how that works out 🙂

I was pretty much a magician (with a lot of AWESOME help) and got textbooks passed out in two days. There are still some textbook issues to be resolved, but you know how that goes. Today was my first day to see classes and all went well. My plan is to post my lesson descriptions on Thursdays, so we’ll see how that works out. I figure I’m going to have to set some type of schedule for blogging.

I have three books for my YA self-challenge that I haven’t posted about yet. My descriptions shall be brief. Here goes:

Right before I went back to work, I wanted to read some high-controversy books. “The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman was the first one I read. I took this book on our trip to North Carolina. My sister-in-law saw me reading it and said that her mother-in-law sent her an email a while back saying to boycott this book and it’s movie because it was anti-Christian. My opinion after reading it? It’s a FANTASY book. So many people flip out over the Sci-Fi and fantasy genres. I personally love them. And I’m a Christian. I just don’t feel like everything I read ties in directly and overwhelmingly to my personal faith. But to each their own. I thought it was a good book, but I’m not rushing out to devour the next in the series or anything.

So for a different type of controversy, I re-read Judy Blume’s “Forever.” Judy Blume is my hero. She does an unbelievable job of portraying teen love and sex in a novel that can clear up misconceptions and stress the realities of sex without being preachy. This book is timeless, and teen girls will forever pass this book around in secret, because it’s that great. And yes, I did use the word “forever” on purpose.

“Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins was my gift to myself for surviving the first week of school. I inhaled this book this weekend. I know I’ve said it several times before, but the Hunger Games series is unbelievable and you must read it. The writing and the world she creates is Harry Potter-level good. Blows that vamp stuff out of the water. But that’s just my humble opinion. Read it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Back in Business!

So Monday was the first day that I was able to get back into the library! I haven’t been able to go in the building since the last day of school. The new roof, new AC and new ceiling/lighting are in and fabulous. Here’s what I walked into at about 12:30 on Monday:

I let myself hyperventilate for a few minutes. Then my mom arrived and started cracking the whip. Honestly, I would be pretty much useless without my mom. She had a crew of our friends come in to help and we were able to get so much accomplished on that first day. All of the library books were outside in the hall:

My AMAZING Scholastic Book Fairs rep hooked me up and let me borrow some cases for moving out and storing books over the summer. This really was a life-saver. I cannot imagine how things would have gone if we hadn’t been able to use these cases. We got down to business and got everything unloaded from the cases in about 4 or 5 hours! By the time we left the library at about 6:30, this was the way things looked:

Pretty amazing, right?? We got everything else moved back in yesterday. Everything is put away except for the STUFF with problems that I have to deal with in one way or another. And I haven’t touched my desk yet. I’m very happy with what’s been accomplished and it wouldn’t have happened without my amazing volunteers!

I think we might actually be ready for the start of school next Wednesday…wow!

The Kid-Tech Conundrum

My hubby and I just got home (about 10 minutes ago) from a trip to North Carolina to visit his sister and her family. I got to love on my beautiful nieces and enjoy the amazing scenery of NC.

I couldn’t resist sharing a picture of myself with these two little cuties!

So the beautiful 4 year old is very inquisitive and quite brilliant (I’m completely unbiased, of course). She saw me snapping some pictures with my iPhone and she wanted to give it a shot. She caught on immediately and proceeded to take about 100 pictures. Then she wanted to know what else the phone could do, so I showed her how to navigate it and showed her how to find the few games I have. She was completely hooked and played on it until the battery ran down. That night, I sent out a tweet asking for game suggestions for kids. I got some great responses (how did I function before my PLN and Twitter??) and downloaded several. Being the fun aunt, I was able to spoil her and let her have lots of Fruit Ninja game time. And I was completely and utterly amazed at the speed with which she picked up on mastering iPhone use. The love that she quickly formed for the iPhone really got me thinking…

I completely believe in finding a healthy balance with technology and your life. Do I actually put this into practice? Not really. Technology is one of my passions and I let it have more than its fair share of my waking hours. However, I (usually) know when to stop, unplug, and spend time with loved ones and doing non-techie things that I love. All in all, it’s my responsibility as an adult to be a good steward of my time and manage my technology usage accordingly. I’m not a parent, so at this point in my life I have influence with my students and their tech usage but I am not wholly responsible for a child. Just a few days ago on the plane ride to NC, I was behind parents who brought their two children on a flight with no form of entertainment. My immediate thought was, “If I have a child, we will have an iPad for times such as this.” It’s so much fun to see what kids can do with technology, so how could giving them an iPad NOT be a good thing? After seeing how absorbed my niece became with the iPhone, though, I’m having to think about this in a different way.

First, how do we help our own kids (or help other parents help their own kids) learn to be balanced in the amount of tech time they have? We all know kids who are obsessed with/addicted to video games, the internet, texting, etc. Everything else in life becomes secondary. Obviously, allotting certain amounts of time for tech use and time for non-tech activities is a must. But how do you get them to see the importance of unplugging and enjoying other activities?

Second, how do we as educators teach technology within a context of balance? Is it one of our responsibilities? Is it something we can/should realistically incorporate into our lessons and activities?

This is something that I really haven’t given much thought to before, but I can see it becoming a major issue as time goes on and technology imbeds itself into our lives even more. So what are your thoughts on this? Please share!

AND tomorrow I should be able to get back into my library after nearly 3 months of renovations. If you have any shelf elves or magic library dust, please overnight that to me — I’ll need all the help I can get with a week to move back into the library before school starts!

Call for help!

I’m working on a project for this school year that I’m so excited about. This is one of the first steps in trying to get my district to open up some resources that are currently blocked. I’m looking for a second grade and a third grade teacher to partner with one of my teachers for the year. These teachers will have their students post about class activities and things they are learning on a blog several times a week. They will be able to read the blog of their partner class to make comparisons and connections. The classes will also have a Skype session once a month so the two classes can have a video conference discussion.

My school is located in Louisiana, and I’d like to find partner classes in northern US states or Canada. If you are interested or know someone who would be please contact me by leaving a comment with your info or emailing me at librariantiff at gmail dot com.