Sunday, January 31, 2010

Loss

Losing a loved author is truly like losing a friend. Many great authors seem to put a bit of their own soul into their books, so any fan can gain an understanding of who that author is as a person, possibly more than they know many of their own friends or relatives. Of course the depth of the soul-leaving is heightened when a memoir writer like Frank McCourt passes away. 

J.D. Salinger passed away a few days ago at the age of 91, and although he was not one of my favorite authors, I respected his work and point of view. So losing J.D. Salinger was like losing a wise professor who probably didn't know my name, wouldn't recognize me if we passed on the street, but whose lectures made an impact on my point of view and flavored the lecture style of all my other professors. 


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Opinionated





Now, I've always known that I have strong opinions, that I have a hard time not sharing and defending, however when it comes to my opinions on my own profession and on my daily routine (otherwise known as reflections) I have been oddly outwardly silent. But all of the sudden I have a post-it with a list of blog topics and reflections, and I actually find myself scripting posts throughout my day. 

And of course I have an opinion why.

This is my third year as a school librarian.* My first year, I was sick and pregnant and rather shell-shocked by the career switch to school librarian from 7th grade math teacher. My second year I was overwhelmed by having 2 kids, switching to a school with a longer job description, and starting the Library Media Education certification progress through MN State University, Mankato. So now it's my third year. I'm still sick a lot, I still have two kids, I work more than I did last year, and I'm just entering my fifth-straight quarter and internship at MNSU. I've learned a few things about my profession and myself in the last three years. I'll spare you all but the most important; I love my job. 

If I wasn't a teacher, I couldn't bear to leave my kids with their grandma during the week. No, that's not true. I didn't feel that way when I was a math teacher. If I didn't have the pleasure of working in a school Media Center, I couldn't bear to leave my kids during the week, nor could I push myself to finish my LME certification. I enjoy my classes because I enjoy the topics. I enjoy my long list of job responsibilities because I enjoy the tasks (and, no, my principal isn't reading this). And although I did have a few shirts sporting the irrational number Pi, never before would I have loved to have my profession advertised so much to be drooling over the merchandise on this website.

I'm quite smugly proud to be a librarian, and I'm finally growing into the librarian mantle. 




*note: school librarian vs. library media specialist is a topic listed on said post-it note

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From here to there

I've had to really work on transitions, especially with the younger kids. Classically, transition from one activity to another is the hardest time for students to stay on-task, so I've really been working on how to minimize the stress of moving from here to there to wherever in the media center. When I had a full-time assistant a few years ago, I could manage student behavior during book check-out time while my assistant handled the checking-out (and most of the library maintenance). This year, with budget cuts I only have an assistant in the media center for 2 hours each day, inconveniently during the times that I have older students. 
I'm finally realizing that I have to be supremely structured about book check-out time, otherwise chaos ensues. My chance to observe my colleague Juanita James (at Pillsbury) enabled me to see how she handles her time with no help whatsoever. Once she got her kids settled in the project for the day, she dismissed groups to go check out books and bopped back and forth from working students to the circulation desk. I tried this a bit with my 4th graders last year, and it was fairly effective, however the layout of my media center with the computer lab a good piece away from the bookshelves made it nearly impossible to flutter between two groups of kids. So, I've trained. And had to create projects that make it easy for students to work independently (or get help from classmates) while I check out books. 
Sometimes that's more detailed than it seems necessary. For example, today I had to break up a group of first graders into thirds so that I could show them where books in their reading level were stored, and rely on my superb grouping skills (taking a third of the sassy kids with me in each group) so that the remaining workers were relatively well behaved.  It actually felt less chaotic than usual, and enabled me to help kids find books they like on a more individual basis, which I haven't had time to do before.  
Its definitely a work-in-progress, but I'm seeing progress.