Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Slice for Today (SOL)

It's late and I'm only now able to carve out time to write.
It has been a day.
I won't tell you all about my car getting out of the shop (for the 2nd time within 6 days.)
I won't go into the fact that it is cold and rainy.  again.

I will instead tell you about the shimmering, sparkling, beautiful moments that we had at the skating rink tonight.

I am the troop leader of an amazing group of Girl Scouts.  My oldest daughter is in the troop, my youngest still too young for Daisies yet.  Tonight we held a skating party at the newly renovated Skate-O-Rama for the troop--Tuesday nights are dollar nights and I love a bargain!

I originally scheduled this thinking my husband would watch our youngest daughter while daughter-the-eldest and I attended the party.  And then the car-in-the-shop-again-debacle happened and our plans shifted.  He had a workshop to speak at tonight, so I had both girls.

I wish I could say I was excited, but to be honest....well, dreaded might be an appropriate word here.  You see, my little one is a fabulous ball of sheer energy, and I am one tired mama, weary and worn from my very frazzling day.

Oh, but she was excited!  We got there, checked in, got her skates and were quite literally ready-to-roll.  No skating for mama tonight (I broken a toe last week, but we won't go into that either) so I had the opportunity to walk with her around the rink as she skated for the very.first.time.

They've invented these really cool gizmos since I was a little skater that I think are genius.  They are basically little walkers (rollers?) made out of PVC pipe that have been jointed together and they have wheels on the bottom.  The littles can hold on to this to stabilize them as they skate around the rink.

My little one had such an amazing, joyful time tonight.  Sure, she fell down---but she always giggled and got right back up.  She loved the lights and the music and watching the amazing older skaters just as much as she loved that rush of skating itself.

And you know what?  This is life in a nutshell.  This is so much encapsulated into one brief scene of life.

  • Life sometimes knocks you down (car? toe? frazzling rainy cold day?--nah, we won't talk about those things!) and you get.back.up.
  • scaffolding helps when you are learning new things
  • encouragement does, too
  • new things can be a bit scary, sometimes challenging---but oh, what a rush!
  • life is filled with joy (strobe lights and music are nice additions, too)

I'm so glad we went tonight, and I'm so glad I got to recharge my batteries a bit by basking in the glow of my little skater girl.  

Aliens in the Library!

I just love having fun displays in the library!  I'm working on my Spirit of Texas project and decided to make an alien display to give folks something they can use and tweak to make their own!
*edited to add...about 15 minutes after putting this up a 7th grade boy just came in and discovered it---
and excitedly loud whispered to his friend...
Dude, this is LEGIT!  I totally hit the JACKPOT!

Dude, THAT is what I'm talking about!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

*FREE* library display idea!

I love Sonic. I mean, where else can you get THAT many fabulous drink choices, right? The last time I went through the drive through to get drinkish treats for the family I thought---WAIT a minute here---now THIS could have a second life as a new book display---and so my pick up a cool refreshing drink display was born!

Take a look around and see what inspirations you can find to "upcycle" trash into treasure for cool & unique display ideas!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Point of View

especially for my sweet 6th grade classes this week!

tone = speaker's attitude

mood = emotional effect that

the text creates for the audience

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Slice of Life--a second helping

Every day in the library is a good day.  This morning, however, was just about perfect.  The stars and the planets must have been aligned in just the right way, or perhaps the book faeries and the tech elves sprinkled their magic dust on the shelves.

Whatever the case, my morning was lovely.  The warm smell of my favorite coffee in the air (HEB San Antonio blend, thank you very much--try it is is seriously DELISH!) and some  jazz playing on Spotify set the mood perfectly.  I saw four classes of 8th graders today, and in each and every class I happen to have already-trained-students who love to work the circ desk.  This left me time to walk about the library and help match my kids to just the right books.

In between classes I finished up processing a batch of new books that just came in yesterday (oh, but it is like Christmas has arrived when those books of books are delivered!)  I've mentioned this in an earlier post, but I really love to process books when I have the time to do it.  It feels very meditative to crease the mylar and adhere the Kapco coverings--- and I especially love it when I know that a book is going to make a particular student's day!

I have an 8th grade student that is newly in love with reading.  He is a "secret reader" for the most part, not wanting his buddies to know because he likes to look "hard"---and so he pops in the library at unexpected times when there aren't as many folks around.  Today, as he was leaving I asked him if he was enjoying the book I sent him yesterday (one I sent his direction as soon as I got it processed.)
His answer made my day---"Miss--I always love the books you send me---'cause you know me like that."

These are the moments I will treasure.

Have I told you how much I love my work?  Oh. So. Much.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My very first slice

Oh, my very first Slice of Life writing piece---I'm so excited!

When I first heard about SOL from the Two Writing Teachers blog I fell in love with the idea.  After all, teachers writing models that we actually think it is truly important and worthy of our time.

As a middle school librarian, I want to encourage my students not only to read, but to write, as well.  I want them to feel confident about it and feel encouraged to continue and grow in their writing.  I want them to discover that writing can help us work through hard feelings and difficult times as much as it can take us on magical journeys to places currently unimagined.  Writing has given me these gifts (I've kept a journal since I was in 4th grade, and OH the teen angst those many journals have witnessed!  OH the joys!  the pains!  the heartache!) and I want so much to share that with the tweens and teens (and adults!) I work with at my campus.

At any rate, I'm joining in the fun and excited about this challenge.  If you aren't currently slicing--won't you think about joining in?  The more the merrier!

Today's Slice:

The weather in my neck of the Texas woods has been incredibly cold and soggy of late.  The kind of wet cold that chills you down to your very bones and makes even the thought of leaving the house a bit dreadful. The sky is a dull cheerless dripping gray.

School employees heard the news before we even left school yesterday that today we would have a late start.  A two hour delay.  Not a snow day, which is lovely but must be made up (generally on Good Friday or even worse--a Saturday!) but definitely means I get to stay up a bit later and that I'll have time to enjoy my coffee at home in the morning.

It also means that I'll be the one dropping the children off at their elementary school before heading in (now late because of our respective start times, which is why my husband normally takes them) to work myself.  It means I am gathering backpacks and running back in the house for forgotten blankies we simply MUST have for our naptime (my youngest is in Pre-K).  It means I am brushing hair and wiping tears and suggesting we all hurry up just a bit (wait--aren't we supposed to have more time this morning?  this does NOT feel like more time.) I'm cleaning up the spilled juice and wiping noses, and also suggesting that perhaps if we all just put our shoes in the same place every evening we might actually know where both of them are in the morning.

Success!  We finally all make it out of the house, and into the car and down the street, and through the line and get dropped off, backpacks and projects and blankies in tow, blowing kisses and saying have-a-great-day from happy children and a semi-happy mama.

Not a drop of precipitation on the road.  I am grateful for this---I used to live in North Texas where we got a lot of black ice on the roads and it is both treacherous and exhausting to drive on it.

I make it to my school in less than 15 minutes.  Thank goodness I saw the just-sitting-there-forever train before the point of no return, took the long way and made it to work.  Whew.

No breakfast duty, but no quiet morning time either. Drank my coffee at home,so no warm, homey smell in the library, a fact that was bemoaned by teachers wanting a cup AND my students who love, love, love the smell when they walk in and were completely bummed that it "didn't smell right."  Note to self:  always make the coffee!

And it rained.  Slowly at times, down to a fine mist.  Pouring down at other points in the day, but always raining.

And it was c-o-l-d.  I realize I live in Deep East Texas and while my cold is not your cold if you live in North Dakota, my cold is still MY COLD, and it was frigid.

It is nearly midnight now.  The storms and high electricity use have caused power outages in counties all around me.  I'm lucky (knock on wood) we have ours, and so I am toasty warm, snugged up in my favorite blanket sitting in my favorite chair (drinking my favorite red) at this late hour because...

Tomorrow is once again a late start.

Thank you for reading my slice,
Mrs. S

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Day in the Life

     image from http://rebloggy.com/post/vintage-illustrations-libraries-librarians-tumblarians/67767519118

Earlier this weekend I read a blog post that the amazing Teri Lesesne posted on her FB page. Although Professor Nana, as she is also known, writes an incredible blog, this post was from another great blog called More Books than Time, and it was about the day in the life of the librarian writer of the blog.
Read the post HERE.

In her FB post, Dr. Lesesne mentioned that she thought more of us ought to talk about what it is we actually do---our job is, in fact, very like an iceburg---there is a LOT you don't see just looking at it from the outside.

Well, I couldn't agree more.  I loved reading Chris Margocs' post about her day and thought I'd share what a typical day (if there is such a thing) looks like for me.  This is my 12th year in my library, and my 15th year as a teacher-librarian.  In the course of those 12 years, the look of my day has certainly shifted, but the joy of spreading book love never dies!

  • I get to work every morning between 6:45 and 7:00.  The first order of business is to get in my office and get the coffee brewing! I get my office computer and the two circ computers up and running and unlock all the library doors.  I no longer have an assistant, as when my former assistant retired a few years back, massive budget cuts were rolling through the state at the same time and we lost para positions on my campus.  Thus, all these jobs now fall to me. I make sure to get the circ computers up and running because I have a couple of kiddos that love to slip in and check books in for me or just sit and breathe in the library air for a couple of minutes instead of going to breakfast.  
  • At 7:05 I'm throwing on my lovely safety-orange plastic vest and I'm off to breakfast duty.  This is new to me this year, as formerly students were allowed in the library before school and the library was my morning (and afternoon) duty station.  Now,I stand at the doorway to the food line greeting students and making sure the breakfast line moves along smoothly.  Nearly everyday during this time students dig books out of their backpacks that need to be returned and hand them to me---it often reminds me of a clown car--how DO they fit all those books in there???   ;)
  • By 7:25 I'm closing up the moveable partition in the hallway with my breakfast duty colleague and entering the library, ready for my day.  Generally a teacher or two, on their way rushing to class stop long enough to see if we can schedule a time to collaborate on a lesson or ask if there is still any room in the week to bring their class down to get books.
  • Usually after announcements I have about 15 to 20 minutes to check my emails and phone messages, and deal with any other "office business" I may have.  Up until the end of January, this included getting my lists together for ordering books and supplies.  All our monies had to be encumbered by January 31st, so the past few weeks have been especially busy with this!
  • My library schedule is completely flexible, with teachers signing up for the time slots they need.   With that being said, I typically start seeing classes at 8:00.  Generally I have classes for 45 minutes at a time, and this leaves room for me to start off with a few book talks before the students find their reading materials to check out. Sometimes, I am able to teach lessons with the students--pre-planned, teacher requested collaborative lessons.  I LOVE these days, but they are fewer now than they used to be.  More often than ever before teachers just want their students to come quickly and check out books and get back to class. They give them about 15 minutes. The ever-increasing pressures of standardized testing at work.  The teachers regret it, and I certainly do, but they are really hard-pressed to fit all their requirements in without losing classtime--even for wonderful things like going to the library.  Anyway, I generally see between 4 and 9 whole class groups every day for a variety of things and I choose to focus on the positives (of which there are many!)
  • Throughout the day students are coming to the library individually or in small groups to use the computers for this or that research project.  
  • Every moment that students aren't in the library ---- or when they ARE, but are handling their library business I can be found at a table in the corner processing new books.  I used to buy all my books already processed, but those budget cuts I mentioned before hit the library rather hard and in order to get the most bang for my buck, I often process my own books.   Other than the never-ending facet of processing, I really enjoy this part; I find it to be almost Zen-like.  
  • The final two periods of the day I have wonderful 8th grade student assistants.  They help in shelving, circulation, and creating displays.  Since the office no longer has student assistants they are also called on frequently to assist the office in making deliveries across the school.  Did I mention that these are some of the most hilarious, fantastic, genius and unique kids I know?  I would be lost without them.  
  • One Act Play is now done, but for the majority of the school year every Tuesday and Friday after school  until 5:30  I assisted in directing our OAP students.  What fun!  
The remaining time in my job consists of all the "regular" stuff---book circulation, shelving, running reports, weeding old materials, assisting students and teachers as they need it.  I also spend  a bit of time on testing our students who have been referred to the GT program, and keeping those files organized. 

I honestly have the best gig in the world.  Are there changes I'd like to see made?  Of course--and as I work toward those goals I am continually grateful for all the wonderful parts of my daily work life.  I am a teacher-librarian.  Really, what could be better than that?

I'd love to hear about YOUR day-to-day work life!  

Read on, Gentle Readers; Read on!

Mrs. S

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Blind Date with a Book

Not a novel idea anymore (sorry, hard to resist a bookish pun) as one can find pics of blind dating books all over the Internet (Pinterest, anyone? yes, please!), but one I haven't found time to do in my library...until now.

My student assistants had SUCH a great time choosing and wrapping these books for our Valentine display. True, they probably would have felt that way about anything that got them out of shelving for a couple of days, but they really did seem to enjoy working together to make this display.

I want to thank ALL librarians who joyfully share their fabulous ideas whether it be on your own blog, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, or whatnot.  Seriously guys, sharing IS caring...and makes us ALL better.

You rock!
Mrs. S

the larger view

up close and personal with a few good books...

Ah, young book love.

Puppy love is overrated.  Give me books any day!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Our day with G. Neri

It is always wonderful to have the opportunity to host an author at your campus.  

It is even more special when the author visit is the culminating event to a school-wide reading event, because everyone can claim some "ownership" of the story---everyone in the room has something in common, and we all are on the edge of our seats to see what having the actual author in the same room can add to the collective experience. It is a powerful thing.

We were lucky enough to host Greg Neri this week---and wow! what a day!  First, I must tell you that SO many of my students let me know that they saw themselves in Ghetto Cowboy.  "It was about me---this is my life," was a common refrain. 

Without a doubt, even though I love Ghetto Cowboy, my favorite part of the day was our special Yummy session.  This was a by-invitation-only event for my students who read Yummy and loved it so much they came back asking for "more books like this one."  I'm telling you, I have bonded with these kids over this book, and they've read it and passed it on to friends.  I have 8 copies in the library and they are ALWAYS checked out with a waiting list.  I have had several kids tell me this is the first book they ever read all the way through and the first book they've ever liked.  That, too, is a powerful thing.  

A couple of my 8th graders have become "secret" readers because of this book----they give me the guy head nod when we pass in the hall, but then come back around the library when no one is around to chat about what they are now reading and check with me to see if "any more books like Yummy" are in, to talk to me about hard things going on in their lives, or just to tell me it is nearly their birthday. I am honored, truly, to have earned their trust and their respect. In large part, I owe this to Yummy, and to G. Neri. 

If you have the chance to host Mr. Neri, I cannot recommend him enough.  He was a pleasure to listen to, to learn from, and to hang out with for the day. 

Speaking to the students.

Speaking to the students

We just got his autograph!

Yummy Group