Up and running for 2015

When I walked into our LRC on January 6th it very much felt like I had returned home after a long holiday! The smells were the same and the layout of the library was pretty much as I had left it. However, as I sat at our Borrowing Desk I wondered if it was time to make some changes. A week later I returned and to my horror everything had been moved to clean the carpets and nothing had been put back, including the three heavy Fiction shelves on wheels that had been “strategically placed”!

It was however, an opportunity to sit and contemplate various ways the space could be changed, but I decided in the end we had a space that worked well where sections of the LRC were clearly defined, students had choices of where they wanted to be and I had a clear line of sight to be able to observe students in the space. It then meant a “teacher librarian workout” (when you’re a TL you don’t need a gym membership!) putting everything back.  There was lots of running backwards and forwards to move the Fiction shelves into the “just right” position and angle to ensure I could see the popular beanbag reading area when doing borrowing. Tables and chairs were colour matched and positioned along with moveable furniture and displays. Finally all was right with the world…

Next came cleaning and wiping down walls, the Borrowing Desk and the tops of benches in the workroom. I removed posters from the Borrowing Desk and LRC front doors so there was a clean slate ready for a new year.

Before I continued getting the LRC ready, my next focus was organising Bulk Loans for 21 classrooms. These loans consist mostly of Picture Books for Year P-3 and some Non Fiction books are added for Year 4-6.  This is quite a long process as I choose books carefully based on the year level; time of the year; authors/illustrators I’ve shared with the level as well as noting each level’s Inquiry and Wellbeing topics. The Bulk Loans are changed at the end of each term and teachers are welcome to change or add to them throughout the term. The Inquiry Loans for the seven year levels that I need to do can wait until I meet with teachers later this week.

With Bulk loans done and piles of Picture Books removed from the tops of shelves, I could now organise the Picture Book area to create an inviting space.  I have bought quite a few book character toys and these are now happily sitting on the top of the shelves with their matching book. Lots of Picture Books are displayed on the front facing shelves to tempt readers.

The Story Chair and Story Keeper are ready for a captive audience and the bean bags and cushions are waiting for students to snuggle up with their book…

Junior Fiction is a popular and busy area and I noticed quite a few series were added last year. I may have to do some re-thinking about it this year, but for now it’s ready for borrowers.

Now it was time to focus on some displays for the LRC.  I no longer have my wonderful Library Assistant, Marg who was so artistic and created all of our fabulous LRC displays (and there are more throughout our LRC Blog). Slightly terrified, I have been collecting library display ideas on Pinterest for a while and one that caught my eye is now on our LRC front door with a few modifications. I hope it sets the welcoming and inspiring tone I’m hoping for…

We have three display boards in our LRC. I’ve left the small one with it’s current display and the large one is ominously empty for now, but I want it to feature student work over the coming weeks. That left me with the middle landscape board that I decided to use for our theme of “Connect” in the LRC this year.  An illustration from Peter Reynolds on Twitter was my inspiration and with the help of a trusty overhead projector (worth it’s weight in gold to non-artistic people) I created our KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) display.

I have some words I want to add to the display and students will add pictures, but it’s still a bit “open-ended” at the moment.  However, after posting a thank you on Twitter to Peter Reynolds for his inspiration for our display I now feel under a tad under pressure after his response!!

The front reading area at the entrance is ready with Picture Books about Australia and is waiting for it’s turn to shine for “Library Lover’s Day” and the Non Fiction area is armed with popular books on display.

Everything is not as completely ready as I would like, but this year I’m saying “That’s okay”.  As with classroom teachers, teacher librarians have a lot to organise and get ready at the beginning of the year. However, it’s not one class that we focus on, but the whole school. Our library spaces are our classrooms, that are highly visible and need to welcome, inspire and cater for the needs of the whole school community. As a teacher librarian, my beginning of the year involves juggling the organisation of the library, managing resources to ensure classroom teachers are prepared to start their year, as well as doing my own preparation and planning. It’s such a hectic time and I feel like a swan – trying to look as though I’m calmly gliding across the water, but my feet are paddling like mad under the water to keep me afloat (and not always successfully)!

We have two staff Professional Learning days and our students start back on Friday, January 30th before library classes begin Monday, February 2nd at 9.10am…bring on 2015!

A school library without a librarian…is a room

As a teacher librarian, this quote resonated strongly with me when I saw it on Twitter. It comes from the article “Why We Need School Libraries” by Alan Gibbons an English author of children’s books and an educational consultant.  Alan is a passionate advocate for reading and the vital role of libraries and teacher librarians. 

I am incredibly fortunate to work in a brand new school library that was built with the BER funding. We moved from a 28 year old, tired, double portable classroom into a large, bright, open and modern space. Even though the two library spaces are in total contrast physically, their essence is the same. Both libraries have been much more than a room; they have both maintained a strong relationship with students, staff and parents and each library has encouraged, nurtured and valued a culture of reading at our school. The vital link between the two libraries is that there has always been a teacher librarian.

My principal values reading highly and as a result our primary school has a library and even rarer, a full-time teacher librarian. However, in the current climate I often find myself wondering what would become of our library if in the near future we have a principal who decides the school doesn’t need a teacher librarian. Instead, the classroom teacher takes the class to the library for borrowing once a week. Will our library still be a vibrant and welcoming space that is a celebration of books and reading and a place of creativity, inquiry and learning or simply a room full of books? Will the culture of reading we have developed be maintained? What impact would this have on learning at our school?

If there is no longer a teacher librarian who will…

  • Greet students with a smile and welcome them by name as they enter the library
  • Create a warm, vibrant and welcoming space that is open to all and a haven for many
  • Provide spaces where reading can be shared and social or done alone snuggled in a bean bag
  •  Purchase books that will inspire; fuel imaginations; enable walking in others’ shoes; foster an understanding of self; and move readers to laugh, cry and ponder
  • Expose students to a variety of illustrators and explore the power of visual images
  • Read and skilfully bring books to life with genuine love, appreciation and knowledge
  • Enthusiastically talk about and recommend books 
  • Make reading fun and positive
  • Take time to match students to the ‘right book’ to meet their needs and interests 
  • Organise books to make them appealing and easy to browse and access
  • Design activities where literature can be explored, discussed and brought to life in various ways
  • Encourage and celebrate reading with Book Fairs, Book Week, Author visits, Premiers Reading Challenge and other fun reading events
  • Teach students skills needed to access, use and present information ethically
  • Plan with teachers and provide resources for classroom reading and inquiry
  • Believe in and promote the power of reading for enjoyment and learning

“It is not enough to have a school library, however clean and airy and stuffed with books, e-readers, computers and tablets. A library without a librarian …is a room” Alan Gibbons

 

Attitude and Connect for 2015

I am not one of those people who makes New Year resolutions. The last thing I want is another “To Do List”.  However over the Christmas break I noticed a post by @KiwiLibrarian about “A word to guide me in 2015”  and it resonated with me as a simple but effective way to give myself a focus for the year ahead. Little did I know that narrowing it down to just one word isn’t easy (or maybe that’s just me!).  After a lot of thinking and deliberation I decided on two words – a personal and a professional word! (No doubt they will intertwine)

ATTITUDE

Those who know me will not be surprised that some of the inspiration for choosing the word Attitude has come from one of my personal heroes, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who has achieved so much in his amazing life. This is how he explains the importance of attitude.

“In space flight, “attitude” refers to orientation: which direction your vehicle is pointing relative to the Sun, Earth and other spacecraft. If you lose control of your attitude, two things happen: the vehicle starts to tumble and spin, disorienting everyone on board, and it also strays from its course, which, if you’re short on time or fuel, could mean the difference between life and death. In the Soyuz, for example, we use every cue from every available source—periscope, multiple sensors, the horizon—to monitor our attitude constantly and adjust if necessary. We never want to lose attitude, since maintaining attitude is fundamental to success.

In my experience, something similar is true on Earth. Ultimately, I don’t determine whether I arrive at the desired professional destination. Too many variables are out of my control. There’s really just one thing I can control: my attitude during the journey, which is what keeps me feeling steady and stable, and what keeps me headed in the right direction. So I consciously monitor and correct, if necessary, because losing attitude would be far worse than not achieving my goal.”

― Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

 Attitude impacts on everything and is the one thing I can control (it also encompassed quite a few of my possible words). This year I’m aiming to be more mindful so I can keep adjusting my attitude to fit the situation and achieve a positive, fulfilling and successful 2015.

attitude

I discovered this blog post Attitude Adjustment: always bring your ‘A game’ and it has some handy tips that I’m going to try. I started my Grateful Diary on January, 1st and I’m finding it a positive way to reflect at the end of each day and keep my attitude on track…

A little addition to this post…

I received a lovely surprise in my mailbox from Cath Sheard or @KiwiLibrarian who inspired me to find my words for this year.  Cath is not only a librarian but also a talented artist and she generously created a small piece of art for me based on my word “Attitude”.  I have framed it and it’s sitting next to my computer on the Circulation Desk so I can see it each day. This is a lovely example of the wonderful connections you make through Twitter – thank you so much Cath!

 

CONNECT

Connect PHR 2

This illustration from Peter H. Reynolds (of The Dot fame) jumped out at me from one of his recent Twitter posts. When I return to the LRC this year I will be re-connecting with approximately 520 students, our school staff and parent community.  It also means renewing my connections with the teacher librarian community through my Catholic Regional Network and SLAV (School Library Association) and once again connecting both locally and globally through the LRC Blog as well as Twitter. That’s a lot of connecting when you’re an Introvert!

As a teacher librarian a big part of my role is creating connections.  It is about me connecting with people or connecting people to each other. It involves a lot of time connecting students to books and reading. I also connect staff and students to resources both print and virtual, to technology tools and to ideas. This is often a challenge and I regularly feel pulled in many directions and wonder if I’m achieving anything or even making a difference.  I really want to focus on making effective and rewarding connections in 2015.

Connect for me will mean focusing on (and this list may change!)

  • Finding ways to include and connect students and parents more to the life of the LRC 
  • Exploring global projects that teachers can participate in to connect our students with others
  • Continuing to use creative ways to connect our students to books and the joy of reading
  • Inviting more authors and illustrators to school to connect with our students
  • Using a variety of ways to connect students to themselves and their world through literature
  • Introducing more technology into the LRC to connect our students in their learning
  • Connecting with staff as much as possible both formally and informally
  • Connecting with greater confidence to the wider community of teacher librarians 

It also means knowing that sometimes I have to DISconnect…

2015…time to relaunch!

When I drive to my brother’s house I pass a school whose board displays quotes that change regularly. I am always amazed how the quotes are so pertinent to me and often wonder if the person has a direct link to my mind! However, this quote was so apt that I stopped and took a photo as it summed up my 2014…

I started school at the age of 4 and a half and I’ve never left! At the end of 2013 after 28 years straight teaching and losing some special people in my life, I made the decision to take a break in 2014 in the form of a Gap Year.  I saw it as a gift of time and an opportunity to step away from my much loved LRC to stop for a while and recharge my battery.

Things didn’t quite go to plan as far as travelling overseas because my 93 year old grandfather was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer after Christmas. Pop was still living independently in a retirement village on the NSW Central Coast, but would need care and assistance.  I had promised my mum before she passed away that I would look after Pop for her. I was so glad I wasn’t at school and had the opportunity to spend periods of time with Pop, cook his favourite foods while he could still eat and pack up his home before he had to move to a nursing home where he passed away peacefully in September.  A wise friend said to me “Kim, you are where you need to be for now” and I believe that to be true.

However, I still had a wonderful Gap Year that took me to NSW, ACT, WA and parts of my home state in Victoria with adventures and fun along the way…

As the 2015 school year approaches I’ve had time to reflect, possibly reinvent myself a little and I’m definitely recharged, so now it’s time for me to follow the final step and relaunch…