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Category Archives: Librarian Life

#PresentationMode

PresentationMode

Yesterday was a good day. An early morning run, then a walk with the dog. A new dress for a presentation with a group of fabulous ladies: two school library system directors, one reading specialist and professor, and two school librarians (me included). It was a day designed to discuss books and empowering our readers at every level.

With a keynote that shared how our varying perspectives of how we interpret what we read and what we seek out is usually a very conscious decision. We bring an experience to any book we read that is different from the person sitting next to us and we should be conscious of that and respect the reader. And the message of her keynote led perfectly into my presentation that went next about young adult books since I chose to focus on names: who we are as individuals and striking up a conversation simply by getting to know someone by asking their name.

I covered names of my author crushes (James L. Swanson, Caitlin Doughty, Rae Carson to name a few), fabulous names for books (The Hate U Give, Dumplin’, Puddin’), moms (Allegedly, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter), dads (The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, My Brother’s Husband), girls (The Nowhere Girls, What Girls Are Made Of), boys (The Prince and the Dressmaker, Words on Bathroom Walls), and a whole lot of series, niche student readers, and popular titles with my students. Could I have talked the whole day away? Of course, but there were wonderful conversations interspersed in my my presentation about topics and challenges presented in books, getting books in the hands of readers using their subtopics as a way to diversify their options, and why series books are magic. You can find my presentation and the booklist here.

And once I was finished, the day was just warming up because then it moved on to middle grade titles and then elementary titles. But I’m at the high school, why would I need to hear about middle grade and elementary titles? Librarians should always know what’s new, popular, and discuss-able at every level in part because librarianship means finding the right book for the right reader or the reader’s needs. It might be a teenager wanting a book to read with their cousin, it could be a teacher wanting to use a picture book in their middle school classroom, and any host of possibilities in between.

It’s no secret that readers advisory is my favorite part of librarianship so a day like yesterday was just as good as spending the day booktalking. The next opportunity to share about books to professionals will be with the effervescent Stacey Rattner, my partner-in-crime aka The Leaping Librarian, in July and our theme is #getbooked.

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Are you ready for this conversation?

AreYouReady

 

2017-02-14 15.14.12-2There is no greater purpose for me than when someone, anyone, approaches me to ask for a book recommendation. Be it a student, a faculty member, or my own mother. Multiply this love by one thousand when I’m asked to present to others about books and reading.

This week I’ll be presenting with some of my favorite people: people who love books and spread the love and their appreciation for what books can do. Specifically children. But where do you begin to organize a presentation about them? You most certainly need a thread. A theme. A focus. Because without it I’d literally be a rambling, excitable mess spewing sunshine and rainbows for the printed page and those that write them.

Sometimes the theme is a given, like the hottest books of the year (or yet to come), sometimes like in past presentations they were about books that can inspire activism or that celebrate the vibrancy of people’s life experiences. This one didn’t necessarily have a theme other than to give librarians a chance to hear about books, whether they’ll be adding them to their collection, reading them, recommending them, or sharing them with content teachers. It’s also about celebrating what books can be for us.

After mulling it over, I settled on approaching my talk of young adult books with the theme of names, as in “what’s in a name?” Fabulous titles and authors, the books of my favorite students, books for a specific type of student all inspired by the fact that in a lineup that includes covering elementary, middle school, and high school…. I’m going first! If you’ll be at the presentation on Thursday, you’ll hear more about why I’ve decided to take this approach, but until then, keep reading! And if you won’t be at the presentation, keep reading! And then read my follow up post later this week with some of the titles I shared.

 

Sweet success

Sweet Success

Our high school hosted its first author visit in 2011. I’ll never forget it both as a first for the school and a first for my librarian career. It was also Ellen Hopkins (go big or go home, right?) And it just seemed to stick. I can honestly say that it is a part of our school culture now. It’s not if we have an author visit, it is when.

Jeff Zentner was our second author visit of this school year, with our first being Nic Stone as part of a partnership with The New York State Writer’s Institute. Zentner visited this past Thursday and resoundingly captivated our student and staff attendees with his stories from music, publishing, and law. It’s one thing to write for teens and it’s another to know what kind of stories they’ll be engaged in during school visits. Zentner certainly knew our teenagers, regaling them with snapshots of cases he’s tried, a few chords on a guitar, and a no-flash-photography cover reveal for his upcoming book Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee. In return, our students shared their concerns with writing their own stories, played their music for him, and queried him on politics. He spoke Portuguese with a student, signed posters inspired by his books, and sat “between two ferns” interview-style in a conversation about leading a creative life.

I took notes on inspiring messages he shared, teared up watching our students show off their sound recording studio and music, and smiled from ear to ear at another successful author event when I sipped my tea after the day was done in the darkness of my living room viewing pictures taken by our school’s communications staff.

Days before the visit, an art teacher shared a few images on her social media account with a group of students touring an art museum on a field trip. She quoted her colleague who said “this is why I became an art teacher” as she watched her students enjoying themselves at the museum. I had commented that we all need days like these. And not more than two days later, that day was again knocking at my door because nothing can beat the connection that students make with authors: it could be from reading their books. It could be the motivational messages imparted by them. It could be validating our teenagers’ struggles. Zentner’s words struck a chord when he mentioned that Toni Morrison was 39 when she published her first book, and she is a pillar in the literary world– writing knows no age. Readers want mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Everyone has a story to share.

Are author visits stressful? Absolutely. No matter how many we do, they’re still nerve-wracking. Are they worth it? Every last moment spent on them because I get to talk to the students for days and years after the visit about what we learned from their visit. I still reference Jason Reynolds’ message from his with us two years ago. Plus, I feel more connected to my colleague as we support each other in our efforts to build the best library program we can for our school because they deserve it.

As I close, I’ll share several of my favorite pictures courtesy of our communications person, Jake. And, a picture of a sweet treat I made to celebrate the sweet success of the visit.

 
 

Being a librarian

Being a librarian

What does it mean to be a librarian?

I’ve written about why I like the title, what my favorite parts of my job are, and activities that I’m involved in and in the last week, it’s been a perfect blend of all of the reasons that I love what I do.

  • I spent four days at the American Library Association Midwinter conference in Denver, Colorado (more to come on that!)
  • Took a picture with one of my favorite 11th grade students holding the first three volumes of a graphic novel that he loved and that made our Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top 10 list- in part because of his love for it.
  • I finished up the last day of 10th grade visits to the library for stations around social justice topics for their third quarter project.
  • We hosted a librarian from a local private school for an hour to share and talk collaboratively with all of us leaving better off than we were.
  • I spent a teacher’s lunch strategizing a new way to address a class that needs major modifications to be successful and brainstormed an amazing idea to address their curricular needs while saving the sanity of the teacher and making the learning engaging for the students.
  • Advising for our Anime Club every Friday afternoon.
  • Meeting our newly appointed principal for our monthly gathering to advocate for our program.
  • Talking with teachers and students who have big ideas to highlight our student community with positive acts and events hosted in the library.
  • Facilitating a book group of middle and high school librarians who get together over snacks and share their recent reads
  • Starting and continuing to lead several professional development opportunities.
    • And asked to do another in May!
  • I’m reading- flush with spring 2018 (and some summer and fall 2018) advanced reader copies from authors whose amazingness is unrivaled and going through them like a bag of Sour Patch Kids.
  • I’m going in to this coming week’s winter break with a few tea or dinner dates with librarians who make me appreciate the collegiality of our profession and inspire me to be better.

Love2Some of these will get their own posts, but like I said to the teacher today when I was dropping off some books for her to peruse in preparation for our new adventure, “you made my librarian heart full today, thank you!”

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2018 in Librarian Life

 

My cup runneth over (feeling the pride)

Filling my cup

Three times a year, I spend the day outside of the library doing a non-librarian task that is meaningful to me personally and to our school’s community. I’m the faculty adviser for the school’s blood drives.

2016-10-20 09.46.32As a large city school district, we have the ability to host three drives a year: October, January, and May and collect about 100 units per drive which is amazingly powerful. A smattering of staff, but the majority of these units are donated by upperclassmen looking to help our community.

In my eight years of overseeing the drives, I have never had to ask students to step up to be the student volunteers nor have we ever had a lack of enthusiasm from staff and administration in supporting the drives. Everyone rallies to help whether it’s the PE department giving up their space for the day, teachers giving during prep time, and the students overcoming their fear of needles or first time jitters. No matter what happens, I always finish the day down a pint of blood but feeling full of Falcon pride.

These are the moments that reinvigorate me. There are days I feel like I’m only fixing printer issues or checking passes. Then there are days that I’m riding high on research questions and inquiry. Then there are the blood drives. What do other educators do outside of their regular duties that make them feel as fulfilled as what they do each day?

2017-10-13 17.13.08

This year’s three senior student volunteers and me (second from right). Photo courtesy of Jake Planck, communications for our district. 

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2018 in Events, Librarian Life, Miscellaneous

 

Fin

For the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education. While the official club has ended, they have shared posts to continue the journey through 2017. This week’s prompt is the final one to celebrate the success of completing the year-long challenge.

It’s a bit anti-climactic since I’ve celebrated two “endings” of the challenge. Well one reflecting on the blogging process midway through the year called Reflecting on Blogging (though I’d been blogging before the club began) and the second when they were going to end early called … and scene. So, unless they come back from the dead, this is really IT.

MatterhornHow do I feel? In one word, accomplished. I saw the yearlong activity through from January through December. I posted each week using the prompts and in between with other blogging-related content like book reviews and librarian activities. I’d say that it’s a characteristic of my personality, the need to accomplish an activity once it’s started. Ultimately every library activity from author visits (planned years in advance sometimes) to preparation for the year ahead is an exercise in perseverance. Students may change, the weather even, and administration or colleagues, but inside you need to revisit the concepts and the reasons, refining them and getting as close to perfection as they can before the launch. You hear this from authors whose published books began years before.

So again, thank you Edublogs for putting this together and keeping people connected. I’ve followed several blogs and connected with others professionally that I would not have otherwise. It’s inspiring and reinforces the need for educators to talk, share, and engage with one another. I’ll be closing the book on 2017 and a years worth of posts and can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring.

 
 

10 new prompt ideas

For the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education. While the official club has ended, they have shared posts to continue the journey through 2017. This week’s prompt was to create a list of prompts like Edublogs did for the #edublogsclub.

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Here are my thoughts on what I’d like to see from fellow educators including my librarian colleagues.

  1. Behavior and consequences— How have you dealt with difficult students? How do you feel about discipline in your building and in schools in general?
  2. Wardrobe– What do you wear everyday?
  3. Most creative thing you’ve done– What creative activity are you most proud of?
  4. Profile a student– Was there one student who won you over? A student that you’d like to see run the world one day? A student that you’ll always remember?
  5. What you do on holidays and breaks– Is this your time to decompress and unwind? Do you pack it with activities that you’re not doing while in school-mode?
  6. Encouraging memes, quotations, videos, or music– We all need a pick me up and there’s a reason I have a Pinterest board called “For One of Those Days”, so what meme, quote, video, or music do you use to encourage you on one of “those days”?
  7. Share a lesson or activity– Do you have a particularly awesome activity or lesson you’ve done with students that you’d like to share?
  8. Summer— Just like what what you do on holidays and breaks, how do you spend your summer?
  9. Gift-giving or gift-receiving— We share gifts with our mail people and neighbors, but what’s the best gift you’ve given or received during your time in education?
  10. Bulletin board or display— We don’t have to be Picasso’s to whip up (or steal) a great bulletin board or display, share the picture and the reason for the display!

Phewf! That was exhausting, how did Edublogs do that for a whole year? I’m sure a fabulous collaborative team, but I am only one person and ten was all I could handle. Any other ideas that you’d like to see?