5 Things I Planned to do over Spring Break

This week is Spring Break, so I decided to share my to do list with the world.

  1. Catch up on sleep. (check)
  2. Read 7 Bluebonnets (I figured it would be one per day with Sundays off…see #1)
  3. Organize the guest room and get rid of clutter (see #1)
  4. Spend time with my husband and son (we are going to Medieval Times later…again, see #1)
  5. Synchronize my home, school, and purse calendars. (not yet…see #1)

By yesterday, I was mentally flogging myself for sleeping the week away. I have not been in bed all week, but after every tiny activity, I needed a nap. When I took the time to look at my Fitbit sleep charts, I realized that over the past month or so I have been averaging five hours of sleep or less per night. No wonder I am tired! We joked last week at school that we would probably all be sick during Spring Break because that is what usually happens–we push, push, push, and the first time we get a break, everything shuts down.

We have Spring Break for a reason. It is not a time to get caught up on the school work that we still have not finished after hours of extra work each week. It is not a time to do all the things at home that keep piling up because we are spending that extra time at school. It is a time to rest, regroup, and prepare for the final push to get ourselves and our students through to the end of the year. It is a time to enjoy our family and friends while giving them our full attention. It is a time to slow down for a bit. I did that this week, and I am not ashamed to say I needed it. Now I can look at the Spring Semester and confidently say, “Bring it on!!”

Student Privacy

Every year, we have the teachers go through Digital Citizenship courses with their students. Part of the digital citizenship is privacy. I do not think it is a matter of students and teachers not being knowledgeable about privacy, but more of a lack of awareness of the digital surroundings.

Everyone knows not to list a child’s name with their picture. We only use first names or first names and last initials. Parents must give permission for their children to be posted on social media. These are just a few of the steps taken to protect our children. Sometimes, that is just not enough. The students need to know that everything around them is a clue to their identity.

A few years ago, we began making video announcements with the students. They record the videos one week, and they are shown the next Monday. The videos are stored, unlisted, on YouTube. Even though they are unlisted, they can still be shared. A few months ago, we began to look into doing live announcements using Twitter as the carrier. I admit that I have been dragging my feet because I cannot guarantee the privacy of my students. Less than an hour after setting up the new Twitter account, before anything had been posted, we had a follower. My mommy radar went wild.

As I looked around the “studio” (that would be the library), I found multiple identifiers in a matter of seconds. The school name is not very common, so a quick Google search would give our location. They all mention their names when doing the announcements, and they have a website describing their jobs and a tiny bit of personal information–just enough that someone could use to seem familiar to a child.

Am I paranoid? Absolutely! Is it necessary? I think so. Will it keep me from allowing the students to continue their news adventure? No. I will just be ever diligent in doing what I can to keep them safe in a digital world, while teaching them to keep themselves safe, as well. They live in a digital world, and that is not going to change any time soon. They need to learn how to navigate that world while they have caring adults around to guide them.

Free Web Tools

There are a bajillion web tools that I could mention, but to be completely honest, when I am busy and do not have time to play around, there are two that I turn to repeatedly–Google everything and Picmonkey.

We have Google Apps for Education in my district. As long as the network is working, Google makes so many tasks easier. Our third, fourth, and fifth graders have 1:1 Chromebooks in the classroom, and have access to their Google accounts outside of school, as well. Students are collaborating with each other on projects through Google Docs and Google Slides on a daily basis. If it is a challenge I have given them, all they have to do is share the document with me and I can see everything. Another aspect of Google that we have started using is Google Classroom. We use it with the students, and also have Classrooms for teacher groups to pass along information and have it in one place so that everyone can find it later (no more accidentally-thrown-away emails).

As the campus webmaster, Picmonkey.com is a handy tool. I have to resize photos to match the dimensions for our website, and Picmonkey is easy to use. There may be more detailed photo editing tools, but I continue to use this one because it is familiar and easy. There is a premium account that you can purchase, but the only time I am tempted is when I am making collages and cards because some of their premium items are really cute. For everyday use, the free account works just fine!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

 

I took this photo to use on our website a few years ago to advertise that we needed people to help with JA in a Day. A father who was volunteering as a Watch D.O.G. was in the library with his daughter and he agreed to pose. It was the perfect picture to ask for a “hand.” The father and child have moved to another town, but I keep the photo because it reminds me that it is our job to help our students. It is not to carry them or to do things for them so that them so that they become helpless, but to give them a gentle hand when they need it. Much like helping my grandmother up the curb by giving her an arm to hold on to, we give our students something to hold on to until they are ready to let go and do it on their own.

 

 

What Makes a Leader?

I have been writing this post in my head for a few weeks. Every time I thought I had it ready, I would notice something that would make me rethink leadership. What is a leader? Is it someone that tells everyone what to do? Someone who has to make all the decisions? Maybe it is someone who knows more than anyone else in the group. This summer, I read The Leader in Me by Stephen Covey, so I know the traits of a leader and how to foster those traits in children and adults. I am on our campus Instructional Leadership Team and the Operational Leadership Team, so I am often faced with leadership tasks. Still, the question left me perplexed.

The answer came to me in the form of a lost child. I was sitting in the library waiting for my next group when the child came in looking for her class. She had been at the nurse’s office, and when she got back to class, her teacher and classmates were gone. This child could have gone to another teacher, the counselor, or the office–all of which she passed on the way to the library. Instead, she found me because she trusted me. That is when it hit me–being a leader means many things, but none of those things mean anything without trust.

I started thinking back to principals and bosses that I have had in the past. If I trusted them, I would do anything they asked without question. If I did not trust them, I would analyze and scrutinize every request. It has nothing to do with liking or not liking someone, but everything to do with whether or not I trust them to be in control of the situation, and know that if they are asking me to do something, it must be for the greater good.

As a leader on my campus, I want to be someone everyone can trust. I want to be the one they know they can turn to when they have a question or a problem. Even though I will not always have the answer, I can usually find the person who does. This type of leadership feeds my need to be a “very useful engine,” and allows me to be the type of leader I would be willing to follow.

My Second Home

My classroom is a library. It is the most wonderful place in the world to work! I am surrounded by books and computers. I have an open schedule, so there are students and teachers coming in and out all day. My room is large with picture windows across two walls so I can see the school pass by like a fish in a bowl. Before our new wing was added this year, I could look out the window and watch the children at recess as they ran through the courtyard and the playground. I miss that!

The funny thing about those fishbowl windows is that as people pass by, they forget that I can see everything they do outside those windows. The students always act surprised when I knock on the window and ask them to stop hitting or running. I have seen many things out those windows. Sometimes I feel as if I am spying on the world through my own looking glass.

My actual work space is not what you would expect from a librarian. I have piles that each represent a work in progress. My goal this year is to clear the piles and not start them again, but I keep getting new projects added to my plate. As long as no one touches my piles, I am ok. It is a bit like an archaeological dig, but I can usually find everything I need. Due to the construction that went on this year, I had to share my workroom with PTA, so all my projects are on the circulation desk. The kids are used to it, but I know it drives my principal crazy. Maybe this week will be the one where the piles are cleared, but it will not be today–I’m off to a meeting.

Let’s Get Started

New year, new blog!

This is not my first blog–I tend to start them and not continue them. I love writing, but tend to do it in my head and it never gets to where it needs to be.

I love reading blogs from other people. I follow several and read them when I get a chance. Some are read right away when I get the email that there is a new post, while some sit in the inbox for a few days.

My goal for the #EdublogsClub is to get into the habit of blogging consistently and actually writing on the computer instead of in the shower. As I build the habit on this blog, I can transfer the habit to my other blogs.