Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Down for fourteen

The last two weeks have beaten me 

A defeated boxer lying in the ring while
The contender paces the mat
The referee counts me down

After a few big punches
The final blow
A mere tap on the cheek

Enough to make my stomach,
My heart, my tears
Fall to the mat

If I stay down long enough
Will the pounding stop?

Do you ever have weeks where you are pushing through, dealing with one stressor after another, thinking you're handling it all until just one more thing pushes you over?  During the last two weeks, I've mourned the death of a good friend; moved my child from college dorm to home; helped him get ready to travel to Japan; administered standardized testing; dealt with health insurance claims and bills; faced deadlines and stayed late at work; mourned the school shooting here in Texas and fumed over inane politician responses; received distressing news about positions being cut in our district; and, for the last blow, got into a fender bender last night--which means car insurance claims to manage.

Any one, two, or even three of these things I could handle.  The count is at nine...Enough is enough!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Post-Mother's Day reflection

I am one lucky mom.  Despite my mistakes, my missteps, my less-than-loving moments these walls have witnessed as my children were growing up, they are marvelous human beings.

My first-born, my preemie, is wise beyond her years; her NICU nurses knew she possessed an old soul before she left the hospital.  Goal-oriented and adventuresome--these qualities helped her land a percussion spot in the middle school band, join varied clubs in high school, choose a small private college for her degree, learn Japanese, and move to Japan to work, learn, and explore.

My second-born is my headstrong, empathetic deep thinker.  Gentle with children and animals, he feels and loves fiercely. His opinions are formed by experience. He has weathered several physical storms in his young life--hand surgeries, sensory struggles, losing his voice for two years.  He began college in the midst of recovering from major jaw surgery, and managed to not only survive his freshman year, but thrive, finding his place in a service fraternity and returning to his music when he was healed.  

We have had our share of arguments, disappointments, door-slamming, and tears.  But birthdays have always been celebrated, traditions kept, I-love-yous exchanged.  There have been worries and warnings, hugs and hurrahs. 

And my children still want to come home, when they can.  I hope that never changes. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Tuesday Slice: I spoke up yesterday

There was this meeting
That ran too long
And meandered off track a bit
And covered a lot

And during this meeting
There were several pregnant pauses

And during a pregnant pause
I chose to say something
I had to say something

I even used the word "ridiculous"

I don't know if it made a difference
I don't know if it will make a difference

But I'm still glad I said it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Young analysts

The third graders sat down on the "learning side" of the library while I pulled up a split screen on my computer.  Displayed on our interactive board were the results of our end-of-year library survey and a blank Google doc for note taking.

"You are going to be data analysts today," I tell the class.  "Remember the survey you took while I was at my library conference?  I don't want you to think that your answers just sit there; I have looked at them, thought about what the results mean, and will be sharing it with the principal at the end of the school year when I get my report card from her."  Some giggles erupt.  "Yes, teachers get report cards, too!"

I explain that Google forms put the data into pie charts and bar graphs, making it easier to analyze.  We start by looking at the respondent grade levels--the fourth grade slice is bigger (we have eleven fourth grade classes!), but overall, it's close to an even split among the second through fifth grades.

We continue through questions about enjoying the library experience, finding good fit books, finishing books, and the genres we like. There are questions about library lessons and programs, and open-ended responses for additional information.

When the data analysis concluded, I had the following suggestions from the third graders:

  • offer more lessons on using our online catalog
  • hands-on lessons on connecting the information from the catalog to the sections of the library and reading the spine label
  • talk more about different authors and genres, perhaps with book tastings
  • continue our book fairs, author visits, Hour of Code, creative iPad time
  • invite older students back to the Book Nook for read-aloud time--they miss that!
After twenty minutes with each third grade class, I had a clear plan to start the next school year.  I hope they felt like their voices were heard.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Starts and a full stop

I've now started three different topics on this page, and backspaced over all of them. 

End-of-school-year countdown--been there, done that, doing it again.
Reneging on a promise I made to myself about not presenting PD this summer--no point in hashing it out, I've signed up.  And it's only half a day, and the presentation is already prepped, blah, blah, blah.
On the difficulties of knowing better, but not always doing better, especially when it comes to work/ life balance; pretty sure I've covered that in a dozen posts.

That's all I've got in my head this morning.  No Muse is alighting on my shoulder to whisper sweet topics in my ear.  My to-do list is long, my well of creativity coming up short.

Come back and visit next Tuesday; maybe I'll have something print-worthy then!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Still a thrill

Five years ago, sometime in November, I placed my first book order as a librarian.  I am fortunate to work in a district that allocates a book budget for every school, based on population.  My first order came to thirty-five hundred dollars, about half of my budget.

Thirty-five hundred dollars for two hundred twelve books.  It was like Christmas to me, buying presents for my students on the district's dime.  As the boxes of books arrived, I squealed with delight and set up a special section on top of the shelves to highlight the new collection.  Then came the anticipation every gift-giver experiences--will they like the books?  Did I make the right choices?  After a few days, I would talk up the remaining books on the shelf, and a few more would go home with students.  There would always be two or three left, worrying me with their presence.

Yesterday, I placed my last big book orders for the school year, one hundred sixty-eight books in all.  Many of the books are replacements for worn out titles, continuations of series, students' favorite authors.  I started a new club--a student readers' advisory, which meets four times throughout the school year to review our collection and suggest new books.  Several of their recommendations are in this book order as well.  They will most likely arrive after our last checkout in mid-May, but that's okay; we will have brand-new books to display when the students return in August.   

My shopping carts are already filling up for fall.  Lucky me--I get to have Christmas whenever I want, just by opening up a box of books.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tuesday Slice: A week at TLA

Last week, I posted from the pre-conference at our Texas Library Association's annual conference, already thinking of the busy week ahead.  

Tuesday was filled with Tech Camp breakout sessions, Speed Dating the Bluebonnets (meeting authors of next year's Bluebonnet Award nominees), and a lovely dinner hosted by one of my favorite jobbers.

Wednesday opened with inspiring thoughts from Rick Steves, sessions about our Armadillo Reading Program and inquiry-based teaching, and a little time on the vendor exhibit floor.  I capped it off with a brisk 5K walk with fellow librarians around Dallas City Hall and some yummy pork tacos at the President's Ball (in my sweaty workout clothes!).

Thursday started with an 0430 alarm and a large coffee purchased at the gift store in the hotel lobby.  I helped stuff goody totes for our Teacher Day @TLA breakfast and registered attendees.  Christopher Paul Curtis was our guest author with great stories to tell!  Two more breakout sessions on graphic novels and online databases, then the Bluebonnet Award Luncheon, some much needed downtime in my hotel room, and shopping and book signing in the exhibit hall.  I caught the ending comments from Junot Diaz's general sessions, cheered on our district's book cart drill team (the only entrants this year), then joined my Teacher Day colleagues for a celebratory dinner.

Friday began with a wonderful author session on teaching empathy with books.  I checked out of the hotel, took the last of the heavy bags of books to my car, and made one more sweep of the vendor floor.  I was glad I did--got a few free and below-cost books to add to our library!  By noon, the GPS was primed to navigate my way back to the highway and home.

Tomorrow, I'll post the to-do list prompted by my week at TLA.  So many great ideas....