Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's That Time of Year!

When the world falls in love. Every song you hear. Seems to say. Merry Christmas May your New Year dreams come true....

It's what I instantly think when I hear those five words, but it's not Christmas yet.  It's the season of school bells ringing and keyboards tinkling and all the kids come back from summer. The big question is the recurring one of how or where do I start?
Think globally - even if it's in your own "backyard."  See if there are colleagues new to your school and take time to sit and collaborate with them.  You may be new to the profession (I see these names and faces popping up on listservs right now) and will need a mentor to help guide you.  Collaboration doesn't stop there though.  As librarians, look at those people you've worked with for awhile and create a profession learning community in your district to share ideas, work through problems, and create a bank of projects or lessons that can be used by everyone. 

Forward thinking for your library - Any school is run by bells, but more than that, they are run by schedules and calendars, which fill up quickly.  Take time now to look at the district and campus calendar and find time to schedule ahead to make the library stand out.  This is the perfect time to put down potential dates for authors, speakers, Skype visits, special projects, lesson collaboration with teachers, quick PD for teachers, conferences, and anything else that may come up.  Between state tests, local benchmarks, student programs and more, you'll need time to showcase, participate and collaborate. 

Leftovers from last year - When I mention this word to my family, a quiet groan fills the room.  They'll eat it, but prefer fresh.  It's the same way with our professional life.  There are those things that are left undone and we need to take time and create goals to finish them.  I know there is no way I'm going to sit down the week I go back to school and catalog all of the books I had left from last semester, but I know I'll eventually have to do it. Sometimes small bites are better than large ones (at least in this case) but there are some I'll "eat" whole.  But like edible leftovers, if they sit too long...well, you know what happens.  If this happens, re-evaluate the importance of them to see if they need to be rehashed (a little food humor there) or need to be done away with to make room for other things.

Oh, the joy of lists! - Even in the age of technology, I still keep a running list on paper, sticky notes and in notebooks.  Looking at the lists, I have great satisfaction of running a line through the ones I have fulfilled.  Sometimes, those lists get looooong, so I try to make it a habit to only make a list with five things on them.  Each week I find time to finish them, whether they be presentations, book trailers or contacting people; sitting down for meetings, collaborations or teaching a lesson; learning  new technology, finding new sites and apps, or reading for my profession. 

Create a booklist - This is by far the hardest one for me.  I can have a stack I'm going to read, then see 10 more that just came in that I want to add!  By then, I'm knee deep and desperately trying to keep up.  I've found what works best is to find five from different genres and read those.  It's a catch and release type of reading I do now.  Once I'm finished, I get let it go and fish for another good read.  The titles add up but more than that, I'm adding to the walking repository in my head that I can use to put teens into books they'll enjoy.  That is the concept and the glue which is most important to a library - making connections with your students.

My Golden Rule of Technology - there is just TOO MUCH out there to know everything!  You may have heard of something fabulous in a workshop, read about it online through a PLN, discovered one on your own, but everywhere you turn these days, there is always a "Top 25" list of best apps or sites.  Throughout the years, I've adopted this rule that has slowly added up to a powerful and useful compendium of tech sites and apps I know today.  If anything, learn just TWO THINGS and learn them well.  Become an expert at them.  See how they can be used in different areas.  Demonstrate them to the teachers on your campus.  Think beyond the box.  Put effort into learning two things and passing them around to teachers and it will make a difference.  Of course, this number isn't a limit.  You can go beyond two things, but what matters is the depth of knowledge you know and can share.  Don't make it surface material, but ingrain its potential into the library and classrooms.  This year my focus will be infographics in all curricular content :)

Lastly, always remember why you chose being a librarian as your profession. As with all things, there will be staff, in attitude, in responsibilities, but if you have the passion, it makes everything else so much nicer regardless of any negativity you may run into. Yeah, kind of syrupy, right?  But I'd rather have sugar than vinegar.  And in reality, vinegar by itself is very sharp and acidic.  But add sugar to it and it makes it so much more savory, especially when mixed with other great ingredients.  

 It's an exciting time of year, but it never has to be a season.  It can last so much longer.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!


readerreed said...

Thank you. I love so many of these tips, but especially the ones about learning two new tech tools well and the 5 item to-do lists. I hope you can give me your opinion on tools that will work well for my library this year. I know Animoto really well but that is the only tool for youngsters that I know extremely well. I am a prek- 5th grade librarian and I'd like to have the children create books this year. What two tech tools would you recommend for me to delve into thoroughly?

Naomi Bates said...

You really need to learn EdCanvas and Smore. The first is a curation tool and can be used for SO many projects for students and a curation tool for teachers!
Smore is a simple but easy infographic creator you and your campus can use.
Thanks for your comment :)