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Category Archives: edublogsclub

My origin story

Like Batgirl, I’m a librarian. But how did I get here? Here’s the quick and dirty version:

  • I got my Bachelor’s in English education and was teaching middle school ELA when I needed to decide what Master’s track I would take.
    • Being in New York State, it is a requirement that educators have a Master’s.
  • I knew I didn’t want to go into Special Education or specialize in reading or literacy, I also really didn’t think I wanted to work toward an administrative position.
  • But I remembered a conversation with the librarian at the school I did my student teaching at who encouraged exploring a library program.
  • So after one year teaching and a few courses into my library science program, I knew that the library was likely where I would be spending the rest of my days. Why?

I wanted to know and interact with more than just the students on my roster. When I was teaching, it was only about the kids who were with me each day and I yearned for an eagle-eye view of the school. Being in the library, I can be that eagle. I also wanted a greater impact and the reader’s advisory and programming that we do at our high school library is exactly the kind of work that keeps me getting up for work each day.

And as I’ve mentioned time and time again and the reason for this blog, reading is my expertise. Over the last few years, I have begun presenting at regional and state conferences around books and am on a national committee to decide the best graphic novels for teens. And I couldn’t be happier. This is my calling.

Librarians

 
 

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

 

Unforgettable!

Things just came together so nicely for this week’s #edublogsclub prompt about professional learning and conferences because I knew I would be away at one. Now that I’ve returned, I’m ready to impart a few pieces of wisdom, though I know more information will seep into future posts as I had an amazing time at my first American Library Association annual conference (in Chicago!)

Now that I’ve settled back for a day, here are a few suggestions when attending a conference like ALA:

  1. LegsUptheWallDefinitely bring the comfortable shoes, though I know the temptation for those like me, were to also be a bit fashion-forward. So even if you wore the *almost* comfortable shoes to match the dress, do this stretch when you get back to your room each night since you’ll be on your feet all day.
  2. 2017-06-24 10.33.54Dress the part. By nature, I’m a dress-loving, dress-wearing kind of gal. That’s not to say you can’t be comfortable, so wear what works for you, as long as it doesn’t look like you’re going to run three miles when you leave the conference hall. Dressing the part may mean being photo ready when you meet your idol (see picture) or to use as a conversation-starter when swimming in a sea of colleagues from across the country who you don’t know, but want to get to know!
  3. Know your limits. Maybe you don’t want to stand in that line or you desperately need a mental break so you skip a session, it’s okay. Part of enjoying any conference is also enjoying the break it provides from the routine. I spent time walking back and forth between sessions enjoying the weather rather than taking the shuttles. It provided the space to go into the next session ready to learn.
  4. Remember when I said you’d be swimming in a sea of colleagues that you don’t know? Get to know them! Ask questions and listen. Promote yourself and what you do. Trade tips. Some people you’ll want to exchange cards with and others were just a fun way to pass the time and restore that good ol’ fashioned energy you get from face-to-face conversation. It’s invigorating.
  5. 2017-06-26 14.31.19Indulge in local food and try to do at least one touristy thing. I was in Chicago, so that did mean that I would have to stop for some deep dish pizza. I also took at a picture at The Bean and walked along the water in that picturesque city.

Of course, the list can go on of both personal and professional suggestions related to attending conferences, but the listicle above provides a good start. You can tell I enjoyed myself, so be sure to head to any conference with a sense of adventure.

 

Sometimes the HS library world and parents don’t collide

The varied posts topics that #edublogsclub provides are great ways to sit and reflect on topics that we don’t talk much about. And this one, parents, at the high school level, is rarely talked about without the ubiquitous comments that parents are no longer invested or connected at the high school level with their students and their teachers.

Yet, we find ways to keep them connected. In our high school, parent-teacher conference day is held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break and is for K-12. This was implemented a few years back and has become a positive event at the high school. This day coupled with Open House at the beginning of the year are two times we try to really make the library shine and be welcoming.

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For Open House, usually some activities are held in the library to showcase certain activities that wouldn’t otherwise have a place and my colleague and I stand at the doors (wide open) with information to help, ready to talk, and a smile. I have had more positive interactions with parents looking like a doorman than at many other points in the school year. Whether it starts with how different the library looks since they have attended or the fact that they love that their kids come to the library, we’re always quick to share what programs we have going on and how they as parents can stay connected along with reacquainting them with the library and what we can offer to their students.

It may be difficult to engage parents at the high school level, but we try with

  • newsletters,
  • occasional physical mailings home,
  • fervent activity on our library social media,
  • invitations to be chaperones or volunteers for library-related events
  • posts to the school’s notification system, and
  • visitations to parent-orientated meetings like the school’s Coffee Klatch through our Parent Information Resource Center or PTSA meetings

Yet it all starts with being present. We try to be as visible as possible, whenever possible because we know that “just showing up is half the battle”… for both sides.

 

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2017 in edublogsclub, Miscellaneous

 

Videos help with time management

Even with two full-time librarians at a high school for 2,500 students, there are times we can’t get to every class, especially when trying to marry our schedule and the teacher’s timeline. The easiest fix is to send ourselves digitally and that might be in the form of a video tutorials, which we generally use Screencastify for, a Google extension that allows you to record using your computer’s video camera or broadcast your screen.

This was part of a lesson I gave each year to a group of students for a particular teacher:

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2017 in edublogsclub, Librarian Life, Research