Friday, November 8, 2013

My New Home

What?? It's November??!! How did THAT happen???

I had every intention of starting a new blog for this new adventure as a high school librarian.  I even had a name for it, but after talking to my illustrious library director (whose opinion I greatly value, and I'm not just saying that because she might be reading this), I decided to stick with the Red Reading Chair--even though the chair has been moved to my house and does not have a physical presence in my new space. By sticking with this blog as a place in cyberspace to share the lessons and ideas that come to life in the Skeeter Library, I hope to stay connected with those who followed my elementary journey. Even though I work with high school students now, I think some of the same issues permeate all age groups--how do we get kids of all ages to become passionate readers and thinkers? If you are an elementary librarian (BIG props to you, my friends; I know how HARD you work), I hope that you will continue to follow the RC and get some ideas that you can use with the students on your campus.

Everyone wants to know: "How's it going?" "Do you like it?" "How is it working with the big kids again?" Here's my answer: It's different; different is what I wanted, and I love it. I feel like I'm back in my niche; I'm home again in a literal sense because I am a proud graduate of MHS Class of 1993 (And here I am 20 years later. Never say never...)

Don't get me wrong--I miss the preciousness of my Shaw kids. I truly do. And I miss my Shaw teacher friends; I built some strong friendships in my four years there, and I've told some of them that I wish I could bring them to MHS with me. My eleven years in the English classroom were spent at two 4A campuses, and now that I'm working on a HUGE 5A campus (over 2800 students and 200 staff members), it's hard to know everyone. That's really my only complaint--Mesquite High is just so darn big. But I love it. And I am BUSY, which is the way I like it. High school librarians work just as hard as elementary ones--I know this for a fact.

Another reason I want to continue this blog is to show how HARD secondary librarians work. When I left Shaw, one of my sweet, well-meaning friends asked me, "So what are you going to do there?" I looked at her confused. "What do you mean? I'm going to do the same things I do here...teach kids how to be 21st century thinkers and help them love reading." She smiled and said, "Yes, but high school kids won't sit in front of your red chair and listen to read-alouds. How will you teach them? And how will you give them books? I can't remember ever going into the library when I was in high school.  Do they even check out books in high school?" That's when I knew I had to keep blogging about what I actually do. Many have this misconception that high school librarians just love to shush people, keep up with the stuff, and read in their offices all day. Let me tell you something--the Skeeter Library is not your Mama's (or your own) high school library! Thankfully.

Rather than try to catch up with everything that I did over the first six weeks, I'm just going to include some of the highlights to give a feel of where and how I spend my days:

  • A Library Makeover--Our district has two librarians in each 5A high school library, so I have the privilege of working with a wonderful partner. Sharon and our fabulous principal had a vision for updating the library last year, and I got to come on board and help make a few decisions, but Sharon really had the ball rolling before I got there. Taking shelves out for a new gaming area, new paint (no more hideous teal!), a bar for charging devices (we are a BYOD campus), and modern furniture that feels like a college library are some of the big changes that took place, and the results are FABULOUS. Here are a few pics of our new and improved space: 

Our cool new seating areas  and tech bar have been a huge hit with students
We chose photos from old yearbooks to include in a wall paper collage
that our district's graphic artist designed for us. Super cool! 
Thumbs up to the cool new furniture! 
A typical busy morning before school. The top columns once were green,
and now they are maroon, our school color. 
This wall was once was teal, and now it's maroon. The way it should be! 
Our new gaming area is extremely popular, especially before school

  • Freshman Orientation--We "flipped" our orientation this year and had the English teachers show two short videos before the 23 classes came down for orientation. (Yes, 23!!) First, they watched a quick Animoto that we made to introduce them to the library and highlight all of the changes that have been made. (Click here if you would like to view it.) They also watched an awesome video that we found via Joyce Valenza's SLJ blog that was made by Flocabulary called "Ode to Librarians." It ROCKS, and I guarantee the song will get stuck in your head, and you will also know about my J-O-B. 

Once they came down to the library, we quizzed them about the important points that we wanted them to take away from the videos.  Then the students spent the majority of the time checking out a book because we wanted them to feel comfortable with this process and see how easy it is. The highlight of Freshman Orientation was when a student said to me, "Your books go hard up in here, Miss!" If you don't speak slang, that means he likes the books in the Skeeter Library. As the closure for our lesson, we asked students to tweet about how they were going to use the Skeeter Library to be successful at MHS, but we discovered that many freshmen do not have  a Twitter account; Instagram seems to be the popular social media among 9th graders. A few did tweet, so we had them write their responses on paper (not as cool, but it worked). We then gave each student a bookmark that included all of the things that they could do in their Skeeter Library, as well as our hours and other important information. 

Here is the lesson frame that we used during Fresh. Orientation 
  • Another Blog--Marnie, who is a rock star librarian at Poteet High School and one of my dear friends, and I have started a new blog about one of our passions--using picture books in the secondary classroom. It's called LOL: Librarian on Loan. We both have an elementary library background, and now that we are at high schools, we want to continue our love affair with picture books and help teachers see their value in the classroom. We each use this blog to write about the lessons and picture books that we use on our campuses, and we are planning on presenting our experiences at the Texas Librarian Association (TLA) Conference in April. Please visit our blog here

  • Stats for the First Six Weeks--We created this of our first six weeks statistics to share with our stakeholders via email and on Twitter. It was super-easy to make, and it was a quick way to share our stats with our staff. 

Because we have the free version, we can't print the, so we have our stats posted in the window of the library. It is vital to let our school community know how busy the Skeeter Library is!

It has taken me 12 weeks to get this blog up and running! Rather than go back and blog about each of the lessons that I have taught, I plan on hitting the highlights in future posts. But I will tell you this: I have spent the majority of these twelve weeks teaching--just like I did in the elementary library. That's when I am the happiest in this job--when I'm engaging with a class of kids or helping a student one-to-one with a concept. I am a teacher at heart, and just because I'm a librarian doesn't mean I'm going to leave that passion behind; I've still got many years of teaching left in me, and I am excited that I get to spend them in the Skeeter Library. I am home...again.