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Category Archives: Librarian Life

… and scene

How perfect that this week is the final week of the #edublogsclub blogging challenge (a few weeks shy of a full year) and this past weekend I completed the Rae Carson Gold Seer trilogy. Into the Bright Unknown’s book birthday was Thursday, so I dutifully went to the bookstore to pick it up and read as quickly and slowly as possible because I knew it was the end. Likewise, when Edublogs announced several weeks back that they would be finishing out the challenge on week 40, I couldn’t help but be sad too. So I savored prompt 39 and now write slowly for my last one, knowing it will be the last.

IntotheBrightUnknownCarson’s book was a riveting ending that didn’t quite have the explosions and bang bang shoot ’em up that book number two did nor was it the magic of being introduced to a strong female character, Leah Westfall, in the first (you can never get back that first-read feeling). This book felt mature. It was about each of the ragtag group that trudged through the American west to set up Glory together, all while the pains of prejudice and lawlessness reigned. Carson was so vivid in her descriptions of the west and then California where most of the third book takes place that I actually dreamed of the west.  It was a fitting ending and I won’t spoil it for you here, but there is hopefulness for the future of the fictional characters and a completeness to their story.

There is also hopefulness for the future of my blogging. I flexed the muscle of talking more about education rather than just books and it felt good. While I won’t always post about education and libraries in the future, I will incorporate those thoughts when necessary and in the context of my own professional interests around being a dutiful librarian. And for me, that means reading way more than I could possibly recommend so that I always have something to recommend to every reader. It means coming up with unique programs that keep students engaged and thinking. It means listening to and connecting with the students, our future. Edublogs did rev that engine and I thank them for that. I also connected with another school librarian named Alicia who works at a high school library whose initials are also AHS. You know, same thing: Edublogs inspiring me to be a better educator through blogging and also setting educators up on blind dates. Totally equal.

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So, thank you Rae Carson for writing yet another fierce trilogy that made me sad to have to walk away. Luckily, I’ll have the books on my bookshelf as a memory of the good times we had. And thank you Edublogs for inspiring thoughtful dialogue among its practitioners and giving me tons of posts to look back on including these which are my favorites from our time together: 1) Folders, folders everywhere, 2) Creative expression, 3) “So, professional development should…”, 4) The swinging pendulum, and 5) Worth a thousand words.

 

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The essentials

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic focuses on an article of interest.

I read widely because of my job and because of my interests. I find Pocket, a Chrome extension to be useful in curating the articles that I want to save, read, re-read, or remember for the future. This Huffington Post article is one such article about why libraries remain essential for school.

LifeIsShortAfter a short but very fruitful week this week, I’d like reflect on what Williams’ shared and specifically their quote from Timothy Healy that “the most important asset of any library goes home at night– the library staff.” Whether it’s my drive home, the moments before I fall asleep, or even during the work day, I’m constantly reflecting on my purpose. And now re-reading Healy’s words, it’s likely the most important thing I do each day as we celebrate student success and fill our cups with positive human interaction for our young learners.

Like today, I spent two periods with AP Language classes of thirty students each booktalking and then zeroing in on a narrative nonfiction or informational text for their outside reading project. I was buzzing with adrenaline sharing my favorites and seeing the light in their eyes as they made a connection with what I was sharing or what they found.

I also use the library’s social media to share what we’re doing, but my personal social media to recognize the importance of my work to me. My mother even recently commented on a Facebook post I had made during my presentations and attendance at School Library Journal‘s Leadership Summit that I epitomize the saying that when you find a job you love, you don’t have to work a day in your life. That is true.

So yes, libraries are essential. In the public sphere in and in public education. But ultimately, what moves you in your own position?

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

 

Quoth me

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic focuses on quotes. 

If you read my blog with any regularity, you’ll see that many of my posts are accompanied by several pictures and often, a quote. As a reader, I am fond of words. I have my favorite tattooed on my body in another language. And I use quotes often: to laugh when I want to cry, to entertain and amuse, to stay humble yet often to empower, and to know myself. But I’ll share the one that I actually just shared with students today doing a book tasting in the library, showcasing the magic of books in all of their forms and formats:

DifferentCombinationDoesn’t that absolutely capture the magic of books? Twenty-six letters and so many books that I have fallen in love with. How is that even possible?

With the advent of technology to make things faster and easier, let’s never forget the power of words. Spoken or written in the past or in the future. Use bigger words, don’t use abbreviations. Find a substitute for “that’s interesting” and say what you really mean. Buy books by authors you love to support their art. It may be easy to forget, but that’s why I keep this reminder around. Words are power.

 

Past, present, and future

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week I’m combining two prompts into one on interviewing and something that you wouldn’t see in a classroom today that used to be learned or used. 

I regularly blog for our local newspaper’s Books Blog contributing with other locals on what else… books! Two years ago, I wrote a June post entitled I’m the lucky one around five seniors graduating who I hold dear to my heart. One of those seniors I have kept in touch with regularly and decided to ask her a few questions about her high school experience and life post-graduation.

What were your expectations for high school and were they met?

I don’t think anything has wasted my time as much as high school did. I guess what I really expected out of high school was that it would really prepare me for the “real world” or for college at least. But it didn’t do that. It just genuinely was complete nonsense. It wasn’t reality and I’m glad I realized that early on unlike my peers who were really consumed in all that rubbish. My expectations weren’t met until it was finally over. Because I was happy it was over because high school just wasn’t for me.

Are you where you thought you’d be after graduation?

It’s been two years since I’ve graduated, and although it has seemed like time has flown by. I think I need more time to be where I really want to be. I think I settled for too much after graduation and now I just need to figure out where I really want to be.

What goals do you have for your future? 

I have many goals for my future. I plan I being a Radiologist at some point in my life so that if my current goal that I’m working on. But I don’t want to settle on one thing so another main goal for after I get my life started as a radiologist is to learn photographer and just photograph people from all over the world.

How did the adults in school have an impact (or not) during high school?

Personally, every adult in this school has had an impact on me whether it being negatively or positively. But one adult who’s impact really has stuck with me forever is Ms. Lawyer. She really impacted me in a positive way. Her devotion and passion was really inspiring. She was really there for me when I struggled the most around my sophomore. She just made me feel like there was someone who genuinely cares and who will listen to whatever I had to say. I really felt heard.

What is one thing you wish educators would know or learn when teaching youth? 

One thing that I think educators should learn when it comes to teaching the youth is to actively listen to some of the things students have to say, I guess it shows that someone actually cares to listen. I’ve seen teachers really shut students down and that makes me upset to see that. I just think that really listening to a students feedback makes a difference and makes class less miserable.

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EducationFireWhat she speaks to several times over leads me to respond to the second prompt around what used to be used or learned in schools that might be missing today. I could talk about filmstrips or the pro/cons of teaching cursive in elementary schools, but I’d rather address teaching the whole child. What my former student refers to about the connection with Ms. Lawyer is an emphasis that she was listened to, not “put in her place”. There are still teachers and certainly not all, who would rather sit and spit, getting through their lesson for the sake of sanity and the upcoming state test than stop and talk about a topic affecting a student emotionally or greeting the class with a smile and a handshake.

Every educator needs to be reminded that it’s not always about being right, it’s about people-building. I am guilty of letting frustration or anger getting the better of me, but upon reflection, I try to rectify that directly. That’s more of a lesson than ignoring it could ever be. Let’s remind our colleagues and ourselves that we need to continue to remember that these little or big bodies (at 5’1″, many high school students tower over me!) are as much in need of kindness as ourselves and that everything is a learning opportunity to grow ourselves.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2017 in Blogging, edublogsclub, Librarian Life

 

Reminding everyone about Remind

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic focuses on favorite tools and resources for the classroom.

Remind

I keep lists. Lots of lists. I have an agenda. I have a notebook. I love Post-its. I also use Evernote and Google Keep. Then there’s emailing myself to remind myself of something. So let’s face it- everyone needs reminders so what’s an educator to use? The Remind tool that’s almost more easy to use as an app than on a desktop, but both work for a buffer between the student and teacher in terms of communication. It can be individual messages or a class announcement and the best part is that the reminders can be scheduled and students who don’t have cell phones can attach it to their email.

The planner in all of us wants to not be last-minute and give kids ample time to prepare whether it’s an assignment, upcoming assessment, or an activity in the school community. In the library, I run several different “classes”- one for the blood drives that I coordinate, one for the club that I advise, and one for our library groupies when there are upcoming activities.

It’s the perfect solution to send out information, but get it in a centralized place too. And what’s more important for our sanity than a little organization?

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2017 in Blogging, edublogsclub, Librarian Life

 

Stepping back in time

After a short long weekend away from home where we were able to travel back in time and breath in the history of a long ago time while enjoying what it is in 2017, it got me thinking about the books that make me want to travel to a specific time or place.

  1. Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck uses the Fitzgerald’s specifically Zelda and her private nurse, Anna to bring readers to the 1930s using a main character whose husband is MIA from the war, a young daughter who died, and her new charge, the unstable Zelda Fitzgerald to bring the Jazz Age to life.
  2. Mary Coin by Silver is a haunting, heartbreaking, and lyrically romantic interpretation of the subject of Migrant Mother, the photographer, and a possible relative focusing on the Great Depressions far-reaching effects.
  3. Garden of Stones by Littlefield uses the same concept as Silver with the comparison of different generations in one story and how they all persevered. In this story it focuses on a woman’s survival at all costs during the Japanese internment.
  4. Into the Wild by Krakauer takes us to the wilds of Alaska and leaves us to wonder, what was Chris really thinking?
  5. Mudbound by Jordan shows us the dead-end life that Laura is feeling she’s living after relocating to the Mississippi Delta in 1946. The intricacy of relationships romantic and otherwise bring this story to life.

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All of these are adult titles whose authors have a particular penchant for historical fiction or in Krakauer’s case, writing nonfiction with a bevy of research and purpose, that provide readers with an experience. The kind of experience I had sitting for brunch with a pomegranate mimosa and eggs benedict  in the oldest tavern in the United States that opened its doors in 1697 and where the Colonial Legislature would meet. All you need to do is close your eyes and listen to the creaking of the wood floors and feel the bustle of life that long ago. I’m guessing it would be far noisier and smokier and sans white linens.

 

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