Tuesday, August 26, 2014

25th Anniversary Celebration!

I am celebrating my 25th year as a school librarian.  Many have asked what are "my secrets" over the years in an ever changing profession.  My #1 secret is that I enjoy my job and I am fortunate to work in a school that feels more like a family than a faculty.  Here are my top 10 reflective thoughts on my secrets to a successful library program.

  1. Be passionate – Your passion as a librarian will be contagious so show it. You have the ability to set the tone within your school so do it in a positive and productive manner.
  2. Choose your own adventure – If and when something within your library program is boring, change it up.  You have the unique power of choice so use it.  Add new tools or elements to lessons, make an activity interactive, join a Google hang out, but just don’t continue with a monotonous presentation.
  3. Embrace technology – Delve into the digital age and take the time to concentrate and become an expert on a few new tools each grading period. Embed them into your program and watch the excitement grown within your learning community.  
  4. Engage in a magical mystery tour – Entice your faculty and students with surprises.  Leave them at the edge of their seats, yearning for more, and guessing what’s next with your library programming. Everyone loves a good mystery.
  5. Grow your personal learning network – Find others with the same ideologies and collaborate.  It’s a smaller world than just a few years ago. We are all just a few clicks away from one another so seek out others and share globally.
  6. Have fun – It’s all about having fun.  Greet your patrons with a welcoming friendly smile.  When you are having fun, the rest will follow.
  7. Learn to facilitate – Release tasks to your students or others in your school that you may have been tethered to in the past.  Be a friendly facilitator rather than a distant dictator. 
  8. Show advocacy – Take every available opportunity to be an advocate of your program.  Be an inspirational leader in your school and professional community – tell your story.  Mentor those in need and model to the masses. 
  9. Take charge of your own professional development – There are so many opportunities available to each of us whether it’s face to face, in a Google hangout, on a Skype call, or through a Twitter chat.  You have the choice so find the best prospects that will help you become a better librarian.
  10. Welcome change – Change can be difficult for many but confront it head-on and be the first in your school to greet the inevitable transformations of a 21st Century educator. Begin with adding a virtual presence in your library program. 
I ask myself where has the time gone with 9 years as a classroom teacher and 25 years as a school librarian?  There have been many celebrations over the years.  My most grateful celebration is that I have been proactive in making the right choices as a school librarian!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What's Your Challenge?

I am a firm believer that YOU are in control of your own professional development.  Whether you sign up for a meeting of interest, participate in a Twitter chat, attend an EdCamp or convention of choice, or partake in an online opportunity it is YOU who should decide on your professional development needs. 

When the ThingLink Teacher Challenge came through my personal learning network (PLN) at the beginning of the summer, I knew this was an awesome tool that needed further investigation so I eagerly joined a global network of learners for 10 weeks of collecting, curating, and sharing interactive images. The awesome Susan Oxnevad, author of Cool Tools for 21st Century  Learners, managed the TLChallenge communicating through a blog, Twitter, email, and Google+.  The challenge didn’t stop while I was traveling because I picked up my iPad and continued on.  I absolutely love the ease of this tool plus the new video platform.  It is rumored that  there will be "many more education features and functionality improvements coming in the next months."

What did I bring away from this experience?  
I had ready-made tools for professional development workshops, projects promoting literacy to share with my students, interactive maps to help our summer reading program, eContent tutorials, and expertise to introduce a new tool to my teachers and students.  I also had the privilege to have projects highlighted in the article The Global Search for Education: Pictures With Links and attend a freeThingLink webinar.  I hope to continue to add to my ThingLink projects and collaborate with those in the Challenge.

I chose this virtual experience that was well worth the 10 weeks of knowledge that I will bring back to my school and learning community for this coming year.  I am now in the 2nd week of the Edublogs Teacher Challenge with the amazing Sue Waters and I know this will be as extraordinary  as my summer challenge. What goals have you set for yourself and what professional development opportunities will you choose in the new school year?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Get a Fresh Start this School Year

Produced in canva

With this being my 25th anniversary as a school librarian, I have a few tips for all those refreshed and ready to start the year.  In reflection these are tips that work for me. I have put this tips out in the past but have tweaked them as I see change. 

Here are a few tips from a veteran librarian.

  1. Start browsing through your PLN, think about your blog, make modifications to your library website (nobody likes those old reading lists), look into participating in some Twitter chats (join #TXLchat  on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at 8:00p.m. CST), update your accounts and at least make sure you have the correct logins. Look for new ideas and be ready to share your successes with your PLN (Personal Learning Network). 
  2. Take charge of your own professional development.
  3. Clean the house, cook and freeze some meals (or stock up on Sam's or Costco meals), mow the yard and work in the garden, and make sure the laundry basket is empty. This way when you come home from school exhausted those first few days, you won’t be concerned with domestic duties.
  4. Have a ME day. Make an appointment at the spa, get your nails done, play a round of golf or shop until you drop. Just take some TLC time for yourself before the school year starts.
  5. Eliminate last year’s baggage. Last year is behind you so get over it and proceed on with the new school year. If you have legitimate concerns, make an appointment with your administrators and address it with solutions rather than complaints. 
  6. Return from your trips at least 2-3 days before the school year starts. This will give you a few days to relax and get ready for the adventures of a new year.
  7. Pull out your positive attitude and smile. If you have put the positive vibes and attitude away for the summer get them out and practice smiling and enjoying life a few weeks before school starts. 
  8. Start an exercise program. Take a walk, ride a bike, jog, join a water aerobics class or get involved with an activity that gets your heart rate up. Begin with a simple plan and incorporate it into your daily schedule. If nothing else it will make your feel better, give you more energy, and encourage you with a sense of accomplishment
  9. Start getting up at your regular work time at least a week before school starts. This way getting back into your routine won’t be such a shock to your body.
  10. Start something new. Look into starting a new home project such as a home recycling program, a family blog, plant an herbal garden or any other innovative venture. This might inspire you to begin new and exciting undertakings at school in the coming year.
  11. Evaluate last year's programming.  Make changes where necessary; eliminate things that didn't work and enhance something to make it awesome.
  12. Make plans to start a Library Advisory Committee this year.   Rely on them for advice and or suggestions.  Include all subject areas, students, administrators, and parents if possible. This will empower the programming to others outside the library walls allowing you to be a true facilitator. 
  13. Start planning for conferences and make reservations now.  They can always be canceled.  If time or cost is an issue then look for some virtual PD opportunities. 
  14. Step back and evaluate the atmosphere of your library.  Come up with a plan to jazz up an area, declutter your office, change out displays or posters that are faded, or rearrange the furniture.  Sometimes freshness in the environment may create freshness in ideas.
  15. Step back and read your signage.  Do they have positive messages? 
  16. Evaluate your policies and procedures and ask yourself, "Are they user-friendly for my faculty and students?"  If they are not, change them! 
  17. Think proactive rather than reactive.  
  18. Make plans to take your library program beyond your walls and out into the world.  Look into opportunities to collaborate such as Dot Day, Teen Read Week, National Poetry Month, and more.  Use Skype or Google Hang Outs to venture out into the world.
  19. Stock up on some healthy snacks.  You may not have a relaxing lunch period for some days to come. By all means avoid the candy and soda machine in the teacher's lounge.  
  20. Include library advocacy in your thoughts and actions this year.  We are all in this together so let's do it together.
  21. Remember a happy healthy librarian is essential for a positive productive school library program.

Add your tip!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Region X Library Workshops

Today's session will be fast and furious with many "hands on" activities.  Click on the link for the Region X secondary librarian's workshop.

The Unpretentious Librarian Reveals Secondary Programming Secrets

ThingLink Teacher Challenge in Review

With my summer vacation quickly coming to an end, I am so excited to start back to school with projects that I designed in the ThingLink Challenge this summer. With Susan Oxnevad at the helm, I worked my way through many weeks of projects that will bring meaning to our library program.  I must admit I am missing one assignment that I plan on completing very soon.

Each week the participants were challenged in designing and using the tools offered by ThingLink.  Although I was already a user of the software I wanted to explore, collaborate, and learn more about this awesome website and I was not disappointed.  I learned how to add ThingLinks to videos and used new software to add audio.  I have already used some of my ThingLinks to help our summer reading promotion and during our district summer TechnoPalooza.  I was really excited about learning how to use the ThingLink app and I can't wait to share this with my classroom teachers.

I highly recommend signing up for the FREE Webinar : Transform Teaching & Learning with ThingLink on August 8th to learn more about ThingLink.

I am so glad that I stopped and took a second look at a tweet that came through my Personal Learning Network in early June.  I know that I am in control of my professional development and this was a challenge worth taking.

Here's my ThingLink channel.
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