The last post left me feeling a bit down, but as that classic Beetles tune says, "I get by with a little help from my friends" and so...I did.
My good friend and colleague Melissa, who I have mentioned before, shared that the "rainbows" on the canvas were covered up by all of that glorious colorful paper that was going to be used to bring life and happiness to the new library space. That little comment lifted my spirits! Then just a few days later, I had the pleasure of visiting a library space that is being transformed by another colleague (you can follow her on Twitter here) and we took about four hours to talk about our ideas on all things library! Gina is weeding thousands of old books (we are talking copyrights prior to 1990 old) and has already installed a Lego wall thanks to Donor's Choose.
This all served as inspiration! Then...the AASL's Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2017 were announced this weekend and I was super excited to dive in! There are so many wonderful resources here for librarians!!! And I must admit that my personal two favorite tools from this year made the list....Buncee and Flipgrid. They are two fabulous tools for the library and for classrooms. Check them out if you haven't.
And I've got many other things brightening my days and clearing away those overwhelmed duldrums. I'm following friends on Twitter who are at the ISTE Conference in San Antonio, Texas. I'm catching up on some of my Netflix shows. And right now...the sun is shining bright outside my window as I get ready to start a new day. I'm quite simply...happy.
Overwhelmed. Just the word alone evokes a sense a panic in my spirit today. I'm a glass-half-full kind of gal, but I think the stress of being in graduate school, changing jobs, and trying to figure out everything I need to DO for my new position just has gotten the better of me this week! I don't think the overcast and rainy days we've had this week are helping either. More storms predicted for today and tomorrow. As a matter of fact, they have forecast rain for the entire week.
I wanted to just dump all of my complaints here. I wanted to first tell you that I almost had a meltdown yesterday while seeking answers to a question about kindergarten book selection. The answers I found were all different....not one media specialist does it the same. Then, I went into my bedroom to take photos for this gripe-session-of-a-blog post. Why? Because I have stacks of materials from my former office plus new stuff I've been accumulating for the library. And I was determined to share those photos here and tell you how I'm so overwhelmed that I can't even consider my bedroom a respite anymore. Then......this thing happened.
I noticed the big canvas artwork I purchased at a local Fred's. (Anybody else out there love Fred's? Great discount store.) The canvas is in the left corner of the bottom picture. Notice it? It has a big umbrella. A pink umbrella. All umbrellas should be pink. Such a bright and fun color...although you can't tell because it is so cloudy here that even with the lights on and a brightened filter, my photo is still too dark! I digress. The point is that the canvas says...."When it rains, look for rainbows."
Did you notice too that the "rainbows" lettering is covered up by that rolled up rug and all that Pacon paper I bought?! I mean it is a perfect metaphor for how I've been feeling!!! My rainbow is covered up by all the clutter and thoughts and worry. But...no more. Blog posts can be a little therapeutic that way.
I still have tons of stuff on my mind. I'm still worried about how to handle book check-out for kinders. I'm still buried in graduate work that must be done by a deadline. But...I'm looking for rainbows. They are there somewhere.
Anybody just love books?! That is the BEST part of being a school librarian....the wonderful access to books! And for Father's Day, my husband (who happens to be an avid reader, as are my three boys) wanted to go on a shopping spree to one of his favorite used book stores, McKay's in Chattanooga. The wonderful thing about McKay's is that there is something for the entire family.....two miles of something to be exact. Yes, there is literally two miles of shelving in this store! Two floors of awesomeness.
We rarely get rid of books, but we had a few things (mostly college textbooks since I'm in graduate school) to get rid of. McKay's BUYS books. We rarely take the cash option and "double" our money by taking a store credit.
My guys all scattered once we were inside....youngest one headed straight for mythology and astronomy books, middle and oldest boys went upstairs to peruse the old G.I. Joe comics, and the hubby headed straight to history. Me? Well, as one might imagine, I headed straight to the children's books. That sounds like it might be a small section in the store, right? WRONG! There are literally rows upon rows of children's books. And each shelf is divided into these tiny cubbies, but they are crammed with books. It is just simply awesome. Like heaven for librarians.
I didn't really have any particular books I was looking for, and that is usually a good thing at McKay's because the inventory is constantly rotating. You never know what you will find. I do regret not buying a little $3 book of postcards I found for teachers. The "emoji" postcard was rather cute and I snapped a photo, but I came across that book early in my browsing and was just leaving room in my two-tiered shopping cart for other goodies.
Eventually, I stumbled upon the poetry sections. The photo I took only shows one or two of the cubbies and a little taste of an "egg-ceptional" poem, however, I spent almost an hour looking at poetry books! The more I looked and read, the more I became inspired.
I think I shared in the last post that I attended an Andy Plemmons workshop this summer. He did an awesome activity inspired from another done by Colleen Graves that involved a Makey-Makey kit. Basically, you record a poem in sections, draw pencil pictures that relate to the poem, then connect the Makey-Makey up so that just by touching the pictures, the poem sections will play. This really allows a lot of creativity and allows kids to re-think the poetry. They can play the different stanzas or sections in different order to create new poetry! It was an awesome idea and one that has me thinking of all sorts of ways I can help kids see poetry in a new way.
And, as one might imagine, my shopping cart was full of poetry (with a few fiction chapter books thrown in for good measure) to use with students this coming school year. I even found two Strategies for Building Fluency workbooks that use poetry! I'm really excited about that.
After being on the road for two weeks, I'm finally home. And I've taken a day or two to reflect on what has transpired over the last two weeks. The first week of June, I was traveling with my family for some rest and relaxation in a delightful place called Santa Rosa Beach. For anyone familiar with 30-A, you might know that it is off the beaten path and the most delightful stretch of beach! We rented a beautiful two-story beach house with my parents and the trip was amazing. We even had a secret garden by which to access our little piece of sand. It was heavenly.
Fast-forward to the end of the beach vacation and my hubby dropped me off at my folks house to spent one night before I headed down to Peachtree City to participate in the professional development highlight of the year for all Georgia librarians......Summer Institute. If you've never been, I wonder why? It is low-key and jammed full of sessions taught by and for school library media specialists. The keynote was delivered by Audrey Church, President of the American Association of School Librarians and our closing keynote was the phenomenal storytelling of author Carmen Agra Deedy...the Library Dragon did make an appearance.
After three days of Summer Institute, I took a one-day break (again at my parent's home) and then drove to Grantville to participate in Summer Camp for Media Specialists with Andy Plemmons of Expect the Miraculous fame. If you have never met Andy, heard Andy, or read Andy's blog....get to it! He is such an inspiration for media specialists!
I cannot summarize the wealth of information I learned or the inspiration I received over the last week of professional development, but I can share a few take-aways that I think are going to end up driving my work over the course of the next school year.
Advocacy was the focus of Audrey Church's keynote at Summer Institute. Advocacy is at the heart of Carmen Agra Deedy's love of libraries, books, and the heart of stories. Andy shared a quote that bears repeating.
"If your work isn't online, then it doesn't exist!" --Austin Kleon
And he is right. I want to be sure that I am advocating for my library, my school, and my students. And I can't wait for someone else to do it. Thus...the blog. It will be a big part of the coming year. Not just as a diary or reflection piece, but as a voice. My voice. And I want to be sure that someone hears it.
Support the Reader.
There were so many wonderful sessions I attended at Summer Institute. I wish I could re-cap all of them here, but I can't. If you ever get the chance to meet or hear from the following people, do it. They were the best of the best, in my opinion, at Summer Institute.
The final take-away is really the biggest and most challenging one. Andy is a genius at this. He works tirelessly to give students a voice in the library. He shared with us the famous Barrow Peace Prize project that empowers students to speak and share their work with the world. He shared the story of his student budget committee that gets a portion of his library budget each year to make book selections, survey other students, sift through data, and eventually spend $1500+ on books for the media center. I'm not sure if I will do the same projects that Andy shared, but I will strive to give my students a voice in our library. I want them to be members, not just visitors. I even have a little "theme" in the works that I will share in a later post. The key is.....give students a voice.
I know this was long, but I just had to share my thoughts. It can be overwhelming to get SO much information and SO much inspiration all at once. I have enough ideas to keep me going for another three years, at least! But I hope that in summarizing and reflecting, I will find just what I need for The Happy Library. Until next time...
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