Archive | March, 2014

Why I Became a Librarian…

30 Mar

WhyLib APRIL is SCHOOL LIBRARY MONTH

Here’s my story on why I became a librarian…

I took a strange path to being a middle school librarian.  Everyone in my family took a book to the dinner table.  Or a magazine or a newspaper, but everyone had just enough room for the book.   And I married someone from a similar book-at-the-table household.

I started (adult) life as an electrical engineer from Georgia Tech.  I was working full time at Turner Broadcast as a Project Manager when child #3 made working 60+ hours a week too much.  With lots of family decisions, I decided to “quit” and stay home.  I’m sure that lasted a week before I was  working  by putting in small networks, running a small office and doing basic bookkeeping for a couple of very small businesses.  But I made time to spend with my kids and their schools.  As my eldest was entering the Spring of her Kindergarten year, I was asked to help with FIELD DAY.  [For those of you without kids and no real memory of Field Day, let me say that letting children outside to run around for half a day is a good thing.  From the volunteers’ perspective, it is slightly cooler than the desert, but carries just as much sand or clay  into your mouth as the desert.]  I walked off the field and into the school saying that surely there was another job I could do to help out the school from INSIDE.

The library was open and I walked in willing to put up books.  I’ve never met a librarian unwilling to grab a volunteer and shove her at the books.  This librarian was young, wore skirts and sat on the floor with the kids and read books.  It was probably exactly as I always imagined an elementary school librarian would be.  She left a couple of years later and they hired someone new.

Linda looked different.  She wore pants, solid dark shirt of almost the same color every day.  She laughed loudly.  When she read aloud, she stopped talking and asked questions.  She yelled across the room and worked with kids tirelessly to try different books.  She moved furniture.  As I came to understand, she didn’t believe in a static library.  Furniture, pictures, book locations moved.

I took over the book fairs and ran them twice a year at that school.  When child #2 went to another school, I did four book fairs that year.  I scheduled regular volunteer time at the library so the librarians would know in their scheduling when I’d be available to help.  Finally, I turned to Linda one day and said maybe I should be a para and get paid to work in the library.  She didn’t bat an eye, she just said “Don’t waste my time, get the Master’s degree”.

It wasn’t fast – I took 3 years to complete my online Master’s from Florida State University.  I continued to volunteer at school libraries adding middle and high school libraries so I could get the best experiences.

I am a middle school librarian. (I prefer the title “Teacher-Librarian”.) I teach research skills and a few other jobs too.  I wear many hats:  school photographer, morning news sponsor, tech/newspaper/photography club sponsor, school communications officer, grant writer, 3D printing expert and controller, Striving Reader team member, school continuous slide show producer, testing team member, web goddess, twitter account manager, educational instructor of teachers and students and library manager.  Or, to put it simply, I am a Teacher-Librarian.

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In Cyberbullying, Who Is an Innocent Bystander?

16 Mar
Cyber Bullying

Ending Cyber Bullying

In teaching a class about web research to 8th graders, I brought up Mia MacMeekin’s infographic on Digital Citizenship.  I focused on only 5 items to start rather than to try to swallow it whole.  I chose “Engage”, “Cross Reference” [did you know how many students don’t understand what those words mean?!], “Respect”, “Stand” and “Give.”  The one that garnered the most conversation was “Stand Against Cyber Bullying.”

We started with an example where Student A sent Student B an email saying that Student C was “stupid”.  Who is at fault?  Everyone agrees that Student A is for sending the message.  Here’s my twist:  I claim that Student B is also at fault if s/he does nothing.  In general, I don’t believe that Student A is mean-spirited and vicious.  I think that Student A is trying to make a connection with another person.  It’s what we do in middle school – make connections.  So, I think that Student B’s silence would lead to 1) Student A thinking Student B agrees and 2) making a stronger push to more people to get a response by sending even more emails and to more people.   Doing nothing adds to the equation, not subtracts.

I believe that being passive is unacceptable when someone is being bullied.  The reality is that a simple reply “Please don’t say things like that” may very well turn an ugly situation into a connection (the goal!) and the conversation can turn to the week’s sport stats.

Interestingly enough, of the five classes I taught the other day with this discussion, only one child continued to argue with me.  The others had some comments initially, but then seemed to accept this and we moved on.  Only time will tell, but it was truly the first time many of these students thought that their action was required to be a good person.  And it absolutely is.