Sunday, May 25, 2014

Stress Busters

It's the end of the school year. That magical time after standardized testing when weeks and days are filled with field trips, permission slips, yearbook day, field day,  rewards & celebrations, banquets, dances, awards ceremonies, graduations and more. For a school librarian here is what the and more means: inventory, lost library books, more overdue notices and the  "I never checked out that book." or the "I turned that book in." claims,  summer reading promotion, summer reading book and material distribution, and last minute student projects & reports as well as last minute collaborative efforts. There is also the end of the year report to your principal and the state survey.  Ooops!  I left out the frayed nerves, the strained relationships that also come with the end of the school year. And I completely forgot the "Who are they going to cut for next year?" anxiety.

"Stressed Out" by Jonathan Edward Lee

This can lead to a giant stress induced meltdown. Here is what I do to try to "Keep Calm and Carry On."

  • Focus on the future. We had a motivational speaking group called the Strength Team come to our school recently. Something they said has been helpful to me. "Successful people focus on what they are going to, not what they are going through."  I have been thinking about my vacation plans and what I am going to do with my summer. That really helps. This is not going to last and it is almost over. My mother loved Robert Schuller. She watched him on TV, read his books and sent in donations. For one of those donations they sent her a glass ornament that said, "Tough Times Don't Last, but Tough People Do." This quote helps me. 
  • Breathe. I try to remember to take slow, deep breaths when I am feeling stressed. 
  • Embrace the crazy. Sometimes when things get too busy, I try to think of what the opposite would look and feel like. It helps me remember why I chose to become a teacher. What would my job be like if there were no ________? (Fill in the blank with anything - students, field trips, summer reading). Most likely, it would look like something I do not want or would not enjoy for longer than a day. Part of the reason I signed up for this job is because of the super-busy, challenging nature of it, and it is also super-rewarding and satisfying to me, and because I love office supplies and technology.
  • Exercise. Make it non-negotiable. Even fifteen minutes of exercise will help.  Yoga really helps me. I also love a nice walk. 
  • Listen to music. It is amazing what music can do for my state of mind. 
  • Realize you are not alone. It is crazy time for everyone! 
  • Take Stock -  I need to put some goodies in my end of year report, so now is the time to look at the year and celebrate the highlights. 
I recently read that stress can be contagious. Yikes! Maybe that is why schools can be so scary at this time of year.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rotary Speech

Being President-Elect of SCASL is providing me with plenty of new and interesting opportunities. For example, I was asked to come to our local Rotary meeting and give a ten minute talk. I have never been to a Rotary meeting before. It was a very worthwhile experience.

Below, is part of my speech.

I realize that it has been a while since many of you were in school. And you may not know just how many ways a school librarian serves the students and teachers at her school these days. Actually, many people who work in schools don't know, much like teachers not having a full understanding of the extent of the principal's job.

 I am often amused by my students questions and comments about my job. "What do you do all day?" , they ask. I just smile and think about the wizard of Oz. "Pay no attention to the librarian behind the curtain!" 

This is what happens when you make yourself approachable. When you stop what you are doing when a teacher or student approaches you to ask a question. You smile, and give that person standing in front of you - your full attention.  People think you aren't doing anything important.  Because if you were, you certainly wouldn't be dropping what you are doing to speak to them. 

But, nobody wants to ask a haggard, overwhelmed, grouchy person to help them. What that person standing in front of you does not realize most of the time is that THEY are what is important to you.

So, let me tell you what a school librarian's work is:

Let's start with Reading.

Did you know that School Librarians are linked to improved standardized reading test scores 
regardless of poverty levels?

Twenty one state studies confirm that school librarians support student achievement. 

School Librarians promote reading, create and manage reading programs and events including book clubs and book fairs. We select and purchase print books, ebooks, audio books and other materials that compliment the school curriculum and spark our students interest.

School librarians teach information literacy skills to students and teachers. There has never been a more crucial time for this. 

We live in a time of exploding media content. The more content our students have access to, the more important it is that we teach them how to find the best resources and teach them how to responsibly use the information they find. 

School Librarians help students learn how to locate, evaluate and utilize ever changing information online while avoiding accidental plagiarisim. 

School librarians help students learn how to safely and responsibly navigate social media and the Internet. Schools across the country are turning to their librarians to assist in implementing new technology initiatives. 

Today's school library is not just a place to get information. It is a place to create. Together. It is a place to communicate. It is a place to learn to create and to learn how to communicate.

Many school and public libraries now have "maker spaces" with 3-D printers. Some have stages and movable book shelves . School libraries are not the quiet places they once were. Come into the Sims library and you may find students reading, doing homework, using computers, studying in groups or alone, playing chess and working puzzles or using a tablet to create a video. The school library is much much more than a place to get books. For many students It is a haven. A place where they belong. 

Today's school library is a place where teachers and librarians collaborate to create high quality learning experiences for students. Just yesterday I worked with 7th grade students exploring the topic of inequality and prejudice using infographics, videos, non-fiction text and word analysis. It took me about four hours to create a lesson that lasted an hour. 

And today at 1:00 a secret service agent is coming to talk to some of our 8th grade students. I promise, they didn't do anything wrong! The students are reading a book about a gang of counterfeiter's  attempt to steal Lincoln's body. The secret service agent is going to present information about the secret service and counterfieting. 

By now I am sure you understand that Today's school librarian wears many hats:

As Jennifer Colby puts it: "She is a builder of a library collection of print and electronic resources, an optimist who maintains a positive attitude, a ringmaster of a three ring circus 
 a coach who aids in learning of teachers, parents and students. She is the Harmonizer, keeping in tune with the needs of the teachers and students. She is a leader encouraging collaboration and best practices. She is a herder and protector of the library, its programs and volunteers."

The nature of the  school library shines the light of TRUTH and FAIRNESS to all and builds GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS. School Libraries are beneficial to all concerned. 

This is why I love my job. 

The school librarian can be one of the the most powerful forces in our schools. Consider this:  your school librarians  will  serve the entire student body population during their entire middle, elementary or high school career. 

Rotarians and librarians have many things in common. A strong work ethic, tied to the community. Service above self. Rotarians and librarians both look for the needs in the community, and we smile  and ask ourselves everyday,     how     can    we       help?

thank you