Friday, May 29, 2009

Craving Curricular Conversations

It's a wonderful feeling when teachers are excited to see you come down the hallways. The wide-eyed expressions with expectant smiles and looks of eagerness to engage you in a conversation often bring me excitement. However, I have grown more and more disappointed by the topics of these conversations over the past school year. For example, I ran an errand on the 6th grade hallway yesterday and experienced one of these eager-to-see-Kristen encounters. The teacher was beaming at the sight of me and exclaimed, "Oh my goodness! I'm so happy you're here . . . " Of course, it made me feel wonderful and I couldn't wait to continue the conversation. She then continued, " . . . . come in my classroom and let me show you this computer that won't print to this printer and this computer which won't log onto the network and this computer that's running too slowly. . . and . . . and . . . . " (you get my point). It's not that I'm not eager to help people with technology trouble-shooting issues. One of my "additional duties as assigned" is that of a Technology Contact, so this type of conversation is part of my weekly routine. However, as these conversations grow more and more frequent, I find myself getting frustrated, even irritated, at teachers who are so eager to see me because they view me as a computer technician.

I CRAVE curricular conversations. I want that expectant look when I come down the hall to be a conversation starter for an exciting upcoming lesson plan or a project that we could collaborate on. "Kristen, I'm so happy to see you because we're starting Ecology next week and I'm really interested in bringing my students to the media center to find connections between the science curriculum and local ecology." Now, THIS would make me excited. THIS is why I became a library media specialist. THIS is what it's all about!

In these rough economic times, I am forever grateful to have a job that I love and need to remember that it's my perspective that needs to change. I need to be more proactive in encouraging these curricular conversations which I crave. "Sure I'll see what's wrong with your printer, and while I'm taking a look, what are your kids working on this week?" "Any big projects you're about to start?" "I'd love to come share some new books that we just added to the media center collection. When is a good time to visit?" Hey, I've already got a foot in the door (literally) by being in their "space." It may be the back way in, but it's still a valuable opportunity . . .


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Taking Inventory

So it's the end of the year and most of us in library media world are taking inventory of our books, resources, and equipment. We're ordering the shelves -- getting those Dewey's in the right place -- and putting equipment in storage. We're marking off stuff on our year end checklist.

And that checklist is mostly tangible: turn in this order, complete that report, close up this lab, cover up those computers.

We need to take inventory of not just the stuff, but also of our library media program.

Did we reach our goals? (Hey, did we even set goals this year?!) What was our impact on reading? on helping students develop research skills and critical thinking skills? What about collaboration with teachers? How was our involvement in our school-based PLC's?

Have you taken inventory yet?

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Gardening" in the Fiction Collection

Today has been such a great day! I'm weeding our fiction collection for probably the fourth time since I came to this school 6 years ago. I remember the first time I weeded fiction, I was EXTREMELY conservative - - pulling only those titles that had never circulated, or maybe only went out once or twice 10 years or so prior to the year I weeded. As I dove into the fiction collection several more times over the next few years, my criteria for weeding because less restrictive and the highly-sought-after titles became more apparent when browsing the shelves.

Today's project involved pulling all books with orange dots on the spine. Those dots represent fiction titles that were part of the original school collection - - purchased more than 15 years ago. After pulling books all morning, we're now surrounded by 5 filled-to-the-brim carts of books and are thrilled with the way the fiction collection now showcases the "good stuff." Over the last few years, our media staff has been diligent about fulfilling student and teacher book purchase requests and staying on top of the latest, hottest titles and authors our kiddos like to read. These types of materials have steadily been added to the collection since my arrival, and now, the fiction shelves actually show them off!

I've had a nice trip down Memory Lane today. I've revisited the Choose Your Own Adventure series, of which I was incredibly fond of as an elementary school student. Eve Bunting and Beverly Cleary were also staples in my personal bookshelf as a youngster. Some of these books even have that smell of an old elementary school library. We media staffers each paused to open the pages of one particularly odorous volume and passed the book around for a step back in time.

Today's adventures make me excited about next year and the opportunities to continue building an exciting, well-read fiction collection for our students. It's time to get "Back to Basics" - - - matching kids with books they'll love so they'll learn more about their world and become better readers through that process. That's why I come to work each day and that's what today's adventures were all about.

-Kristen :-)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A gathering of the minds

A few years ago a group of middle school library media coordinators were brought together in a professional learning community that was aptly named LearningTeam Middle. These were a dozen library media professionals all currently serving in middle schools with various backgrounds and numbers of years in education.

Our purpose was to have a gathering of the minds, to share program ideas and issues, to look at our data (whether that be our circulation statistics, our school's end-of-grade reading scores, or district data), to look at trends in our field. Our goal was to come together as professionals to discuss library media issues in order to ultimately impact student achievement at our individual schools across our district.

The PLC has evolved into our current group (some original members have moved on, retirement, children) - a group of nine dedicated middle school library media coordinators, working to make a difference.

We hope you enjoy our professional conversation!