It has been nearly a month since I last wrote anything here. And even now as I type this, my back aches, my feet are swollen, my eyes have bags, and my hands have a tinge of stiffness. I'm tired. Who am I kidding? I'm exhausted!
Words cannot express the journey I've taken in this transition to elementary. But I'm going to give it a try. I was able to get into the library for three days prior to our pre-planning and those three days were nothing but cleaning out stuff. I had to remove the jungle decor that was last year's library theme. I had my middle son come and spend an entire day scraping hot glue off the library walls. I filled 10 of those big rolling trash bins that the custodians use!!! Yes, 10. I don't want to bash the previous librarian. We all do the best we can where we are. But, as you can imagine, there were a lot of things that just really needed to go. So, they went. My goal was just to create a blank canvas. I needed to have a clean slate when beginning pre-planning and I think I got pretty close to that.
Pre-planning lasted 5 days, but as you can imagine, I was tied to all sorts of meetings and trainings, so I didn't really get that much accomplished in terms of the library. I arrived around 7:00 each morning and worked until 6:00 each night (the custodian basically threw me out) to try to make some headway in decorating and organizing. Keep in mind, I hadn't even touched one book at this point. I did get things looking bright and cheery prior to our Open House. The Happy Library actually was starting to look happy. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I was SO relieved when the first day of school came because I knew that teachers would be in their classrooms with students and I would have the library to myself. (We have a teacher workroom in the library that houses our laminator, xerox machine, color printer, etc. and teachers were in there non-stop during pre-planning.....and the laminator was torn up no less than three times during those five days....enough said.)
I was graciously given the first week of school (4 days) to work in the library with no classes. I was able to figure out our self-check station logins, learn a little bit of the new library management platform Destiny, figure out a couple of the other digital platforms we use, plan centers for grades 3-5, and finish up a few touches on the library decor. I felt ready. Not like perfect ready, but good-enough ready. I had done almost three weeks worth of work for kids and I wanted them to come in!!!
This past week I was able to see all of my third, fourth, and fifth grade students. I I decided to tweak my Happy Lesson upon the advice of The Daring Librarian, Gwyneth Jones. I had the students come in and we went through a short Google slide show introducing myself (in the form of a bitmoji, no less, which they loved), the concept of The Happy Library, and the procedures for centers. This only took about 10-15 minutes and then students were on their way to explore the Happy Centers!
I set up 8 centers: coloring (library pictures, of course), a reading inventory, dry-erase word search, peg art, Connect 4 game center, reading center (cozy up with a book buddy and read books centered around a library theme), I-Spy, and a paper construction center.
When the students first walked into the library, without fail, every single class went woooah!...it was sort of like the sound and faces you see when Willy Wonka opens the doors to his chocolate factory in the Gene Wilder version of the movie. I'm not kidding. It was magical. Then, as the kids went off into the centers, they were giggling, laughing, and saying things like this is so cool or we get to hold these?! (the stuffed animals were a huge hit, even with 5th graders). I tell you the truth when I say that there were moments when I thought I was going to literally burst into tears. The children were so full of joy. They were so excited. It was like Christmas morning every single day.
The teachers were pretty excited too. They were so positive about the changes they were seeing. One teacher heard some students giggling and said, "listen at that...they are laughing! This is perfect." What a compliment!
So, even though my body is screaming for Epsom salt baths and Advil, my heart is full and my grin is wide. I wanted to create a bright, happy space where the students can read, explore, learn, and have fun. I wanted to bring my vision of The Happy Library to life. And I did it.
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