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Category Archives: Blogging

Reclaiming Conversation

In January 2017, I read Sherry Turkle’s 2015 book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age and I find myself referencing it frequently in my own conversations with others. So I wanted to share it in the context of this week’s #edublogsclub challenge prompt around digital citizenship. My stance aligns similarly to Turkle’s in that she isn’t anti-technology, she’s pro-conversation.

ReclaimingConversationYes, we need to have digital citizenship lessons, but we have forgotten to continue the lessons on personal citizenship because of and ignorant of our digital lives. We believe we know people because we are connected with them on social media. We believe we are better than or worse than people because of what we see on their feeds. We compare ourselves to Photoshopped images in advertising. We reserve the right to demean others either because we are behind a screen or because we think it is our right. Turkle shares a few stories that I can only compare to why teenagers are less likely to get their drivers license. We have scared them with advertisements, statistics, and more. And the same thing is true in real life. We have scared teenagers into speaking less because they see what happens when people say the wrong thing. The instant screenshot or video immortalizes a misstep. For whatever reason, Turkle’s example of a teenage boy who ignored a phone call from a college recruiter so he could email him instead later was explained by the boy as a fear of saying the wrong thing over the phone. He shared that a phone conversation is too quick for him to think about what he wants to say and the fear of saying the wrong thing drives him to email instead because he can think as he types.

How many of us have seen or engaged in inflammatory Twitter conversations? How many have posted a rant on Facebook? We know things can get out of hand quickly but it’s coupled with the positive use of social media as demonstrated in the Middle East and North Africa during Arab Spring in which youth were protesting their governments and convening for the cause. In this case, the instant spread of information was beneficial.

So it’s the quickness of the digital age that means that we must still empower everyone’s voice outside of their digital presence and how they are IRL. How should we prepare to ask the right question to the customer service representative over the phone? How can people guide conversations deeper when most everyone wants a shallow conversation they can maneuver in and out of because what’s on the their phone is more important?

These are the gems that Turkle shares and truly made me think about how I am and how I want to raise my kids and how I want to teach my students. I want to reflect on Turkle’s lens through Thoreau’s thoughts on the subject in which he said his cabin had three chairs: one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.

We need to remember how to be by ourselves and know ourselves before we know others, we also need friendship, the real kind not the followers kind, and we also need to know how to interact in groups. Turkle’s book was for me the kind of book that comes at the right time and has left an impact on me. While the last third of the book was recycled lessons, the first two thirds of the book provided enough material to think on that I must have used an entire pad of Post-its. It should give anyone thinking about digital citizenship thinking not only about the digital side, but also the personal side.

 
 

A guest’s thoughts

As part of the #edublogsclub year-long challenge about blogging on education, this week’s suggestion was featuring a guest blogger. Today, I welcome my colleague Stacey Rattner to share her thoughts. You can find her leaping on her own blog and follow her powerhouse presence on Twitter

Yesterday I went to the city with a good friend of mine, his rising high school junior son, Tim, and my rising sophomore daughter, Tari. Joe and I have been taking this trip together for many years.

RattnerImage

Our kids consider themselves “cousins.” Now they are also good friends.  The conversations have moved from forced to whispers in the back.  An eclectic genre of music has always been an integral part of the trips:  Lady Gaga, Sia, Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Justin Timberlake, Chance…

We make lifetime memories:  Top of the Rock in the rain while it was a blizzard back home, getting rush tickets to “School of Rock” and it being the night Stevie Nicks shows up, insisting on going to the top of the Freedom Tower on the cloudiest day on record, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, making t-shirts at the Museum of the City of New York…We have delicious food memories, too:  dim sum in Chinatown, Big Gay Ice Cream in the West Village, Chocolate Works on the Upper West Side, matzo ball soup at Bubby’s in DUMBO and Meatpacking District…

Now our focus is moving from exposure to culture to opportunity.  Last February we crashed an information session and tour of NYU.  Yesterday we attempted to check out Hunter College but alas a Friday afternoon in July was not the ideal time to do that.  We are thinking and talking more about college and it’s becoming the focus of our trips.

The weekend traffic wasn’t what bothered us last night but rather the reality of the cost of college as I became curious and turned to my phone for answers. While Tim and Tari were working the music among their soft spoken conversations in the back, I researched a few schools.

“Check out Hamilton,” Joe asked.  I never got that far as I discovered a gem on their website,  actual essays written by students who were accepted into the school.  Wow.  I was planning to just read one aloud but ended up reading them all. Joe Pucci’s hit a nerve so much that I ended up sending him a tweet and following him.

Think of a life changing event, add some dialogue, vivid descriptions and get it down on paper.  Is being raised by two dads in a small town enough?  Or a Jewpanese girl who goes to summer camp every year to escape the same small town?  Doubt it.  Whatever our kids end up writing, I look forward to it moving me enough to grab the Kleenex, shift in my britches from being a tad uncomfortable and finally, to take out the phone to tweet a “bravo.”

What would I write about today if I was 16?  I can’t say but I can tell you about the fateful little girl’s birthday party I attended nearly 11 years ago while still out on maternity leave for my son.  “I’d really like to go back to school to be a 4th grade teacher, “ I exclaimed to no one in particular.  

“You should become a school librarian,” a woman I didn’t know responded in between bites of salad.

“A school librarian? Why?”

“It looks like the best job in the building and plus, there are jobs,” the third grade teacher said.

“Really?  Hmmm…tell me more.”

Two days later I attended a prospective graduate student fair at SUNY-Albany and sought out the library science program.  Couple of months later, I enrolled in my first class.  After nine years in a job my husband thought I would be in forever I left to become a school librarian.  I have never looked back and owe it all to my very good friend, Val.

 
 

Reflecting on blogging

In January, I took on the challenge along with other seasoned and new education bloggers through Edublogs as a way to expound on my day job. For the most part, my posts kept true to libraries and books somehow. I’ve realized that while an occasional post about a non-library topic is refreshing, it’s not what I want my blog to focus on.

Therefore, my reflection is also a bit of a mid-point resolution to keep focused on libraries and books for each post because…

I like books. A lot. So I want to blog about liking books. A lot.

LoveBooksSoMuch

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Blogging, edublogsclub, Librarian Life

 

Routines

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a policies and procedures type girl. There’s a reason that I’m a ISTJ also known as the duty fulfiller. So it won’t surprise anyone that I have routines. Not only to make me sane, but to make our household run smoothly, and work manageable. Here’s a basic outline of a typical day:2017-06-02 07.56.25

Clearly this isn’t everything and it shouldn’t be because life is isn’t always organized, but it sure makes it easier. In a separate post about my love of folders, I share an image with Martha Stewart’s quote that “life is too complicated not to be orderly.” This perhaps was my personality from birth and why I became a librarian. It’s also why I have baskets and bins around my home andboards on Pinterest that I continually re-organize. I’m also lucky enough to have married a man who also believes in organization, tidiness, and schedules. He was also born with it and probably why he joined the military and is self-employed: an intrinsic motivation for order and a get-it-done attitude that comes with it.

Likewise, it’s also why we have policies and procedures for everything in our HS library. Students know what to expect. My favorite line is “Miss, I know X, but…” to which my reply is “Yes, you know X, so…” Because we see between 20-60 kids or more each period, nine periods a day, plus before and after school, routines make it more manageable. Then, we can focus on the students and staff.

Maybe that’s why I find routines comforting and necessary. They allow me to take the thinking off of certain items and be able to really ponder the more important aspects of life. Routines are the opposite of making my life mundane, they enrich it by allowing me to focus on what matters.

 

 

 

The art of the booktalk

This post originally appeared on the Books Blog for the Times Union

The art of the booktalk. When a friend asks you about the book you’re reading or you’re sharing a recent fabulous read, how do you approach it? Do you ask a question? Perhaps have a pre-planned teaser or maybe you’d rather share an overview. Sometimes I’m so blinded by the emotion of absolutely loving a book that I clutch the book to my chest and whisper I love this book and then just hope that someone will take my word for it. Luckily I’ve got some street cred with this approach.

2017-03-30 15.40.02-1But, I was thinking about the art of the booktalk after spending two days in classrooms talking to tenth graders about choosing a classic book to read for their fourth quarter project. I had a lot of ground to cover and not all of the books I had read. Yet that is nothing new because I booktalk frequently on topics that I may only know slightly and I am a firm believer that you can booktalk a book you haven’t read. I organized the books into categories that helped channel the number that I was talking about and then prepared my cheat sheet (things like publication date, title characters, main ideas, themes or topics, or a relevant current topic that paired nicely). And while this is necessary, I generally don’t use it as much as occasionally reference it since Benjamin Franklin put it best when he said

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

It’s there if I need it, but the preparation solidifies my approach and then I don’t actually need it. Especially when I capitalize on others in the room who may have loved one of the books and ask them to share. When I talk about a book I may ask a hypothetical question or have a one-liner that intrigues someone, saying little more. And I learn from others. I facilitate a book group of local school librarians and everyone has a slightly different approach, all valuable in their own way. There are some I could listen to all day myself, admiring their vocabulary and word choice. I aspire to be better after each delivery and rework it until I hit booktalk gold. We only get better with practice.

So not only am I constantly honing my booktalking skills based on my audience, I also realized I have a lot of classic literature to read (or reread to refresh my memory). Maybe I can make this a monthly post to review a classic book as a way to kickstart this exploration. Which would you start with?

 

I’m booked

There’s work that includes the regular stuff and the presentations both for students and upcoming ones for colleagues and other professionals. Then there’s home stuff that includes my kids’ birthday and a very large home renovation project. So while there are days when I must stare longingly at the books sitting on my end table or diligently tote around my Nook waiting fora  spare few minute that never comes to read, I am busy when I can be reading. Mainly graphic novels and mainly because I’m excited to be part of the American Library Association’s Young Adult Library Services Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens committee.

While we’ve done nothing more than exchange emails, they’re already a pretty awesome group and I’m already diving deep into graphic novels of every shape and size. So, I want as many recommendations as possible. What are you loving, what are you liking? What new ones are you anticipating for 2017?

I’ll listen, maybe not to the lady at the grocery store talking about her cat, but I will listen to anyone who has suggestions about their favorite new releases. Otherwise, I’m booked!

readersbeadvised

 

Collecting as I go

quincyadams

Boy do I wish I knew then what I know now. When you’re fifteen and starting your first job, it’s hard to have the wherewithal to understand the criticism and compliments that a boss doles out. But certainly once you get it, however long that takes, this recognition is a vital step in your own development as a boss. I’m appreciative to have recognized this fairly early and as a high school student actually submitted an article to our local newspaper recognizing my fantastic first boss.

So, over the years I’ve been collecting and reflecting on the qualities in leaders that I’ve worked with and under as well as successes I’ve had as a leader.

  • Be someone who listens: Now this is a quality I am working on because I get so excited about a topic that I ramble… fast and I’m not actively hearing the other person.Slow down and be in the moment.
  • Be someone who makes a decision: I have had and still do have bosses that cannot make a decision. Rather, they want others to do it for them. One of the most respected administrators I’ve worked with took it one step further. Regardless of what her decision was, you knew that she had listened first and then made the best decision she knew how to make. And you felt fine with whatever it was because you knew that she heard you. And she took the responsibility for making the decision.
  • Be someone who is personable, but still keeps some distance: Being personable is necessary. Knowing about family, friends, interests, skills, and hobbies is important, but as a leader or talking with a leader also does not mean that we need to meet for drinks after work or that I need to hear about your recent family crisis in detail.
  • Be someone who inspires: Like the John Quincy Adams quote, I want to feel empowered. I want to be better because and for them. Educators talk about this regarding students: “it’s not filling a the bucket, but lighting a fire.” Educators should remember this around our colleagues too. I need all ten fingers and toes, plus some to count my colleagues who inspire me.
    • Additionally, be someone who compliments: Tell them that they inspire you. I am a firm believer in compliments. I like getting them and I love giving them. I try to compliment a colleague, mentor, or boss as often as possible.
  • Be someone who believes: I will never forget 2010 when I walked in to my administrator’s office to tell her about an opportunity that another librarian had presented about hosting an author visit (it would be a first for me and the building). Plus I was a big fan of this author’s work and so were our students. I didn’t say more than a few words and her response was “yes, whatever it is, yes.” She saw my passion and excitement and knew that I would see it through. It started by believing in someone or something.
  • Be someone who dresses the part: This doesn’t mean spending two hours getting ready in the morning nor does it mean having thousand-dollar suits, it means dressing how you want to be addressed.

Leadership is a work in progress, but if every experience is an opportunity to learn, then we are all better for it. It’s multi-faceted. It’s never perfect. But it’s a start.