Friday, April 9, 2010

reinvent the library

As we move into the 30th month of this “economic downturn” I am preparing for the next list of budget cuts to come from our Superintendent. I read through journals, blogs, and chats and my fear is not just justified my fear is pervasive.
Librarians are being cut, libraries closed or just left to try and function moneyless. Every time I read about another loss I start the grieving process again. I refuse to believe it could happen to me, then I get angry that it could happen to anyone, I always wonder if we could “do a deal “offer more, then I just get sad and move on. The good news is I can personally confirm that Kubler-Ross was absolutely right about the process. The bad news is that it feels more like a continuous cycle rather than a process.
The problem that continues to plague me is that when I am not feeling sad and defensive about my potential job loss, I feel, that like many parts of our educational system, elementary libraries are in desperate need of a total paradigm change. I cannot help but believe that our desperate need to change is related to our continued presents on the chopping block.
It is time to reinvent the library.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I read the other day that President Obama wants to revamp the NCLB. I am hopeful at that thought and have a couple thoughts on the topic.
First it must be said right up front that No Child Left behind is not a bad thing. The idea that we need to hold all students to a standard is well founded and necessary.
I would propose only one major change to the whole idea. Rather than No Child Left Behind what if we focus on making it our mission to have No Child Without Growth (NCWG). The idea is more centered on our efforts to help children from where they are.
We still need benchmarks, and tests to measure our approach to those standards. NCWG would be more individually based. My job as a teacher is to help every child grow academically. If a kid walks into my room unable to read my job is not to increase his score on standardized questions regarding reading comprehension of nonfiction text. My mission is to make him a better reader, to increase his skill set, to make him a better learner, to help him grow.
This idea also adds pressure on the other end of the spectrum. No Child Left Behind, as, the title suggests, focuses on those behind. NCWG would require that we challenge those “gifted” students. It has been my experience that those students go largely unchallenged until high school.
Special Education also benefits from this individualized type of plan. IEP’s (individualized education plan) is the life blood our SpEd programs. The idea of changing educational reform law without increasing the workload of Special education professional causes an audible cheer throughout the world of the over worked, and over looked.
A program that measured student growth over time; rather than one that offers comparison to an arbitrary standard also creates a conversation point for the discussion of merit pay.
I admit this is a general “big picture” sketch of my idea. I am also reminded that NCLB, as a general idea, sounded good too… but hey they are not paying me for these brilliant ideas.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What do you do in a grade school library all day

The question came up the other day and i thought the answer was worth sharing.
This is where we learn to get our geek on. I have been using this slogan with the kids for the last couple years. The idea is this. We all have something that we “geek out” about, something that we are interested in and want to be an expert on. The library exists to help with that. Schools are put on the earth to help you learn, teachers are put in schools to help you learn the really important stuff, libraries were added later to help you geek out on what you think is cool.
• Are you an Animal geek? I have all kinds of stuff on animals, I even have stuffed animals.
• Sports Geeks, you are in the right place I got info on players, games, teams and how to’s that will make you a star
• Are you a Freak geek? I have monster fact books, how to draw monsters, and monster stories that will scary the geek out of you.
• Are you thinking of becoming an electromagnetic geek… for the next two week while you finish your science project. I can help with that too. I have websites, books; I can even hook you up with an old project to get ideas from.
The point of the library is to bridge the distance between the need to learn and the desire to learn. That is not just about books. It is not even about media, at the elementary level, it is the fun stuff. Whatever that means to you, if you think chess is fun then the library should be able to find a way to help you pursue that passion.
So, over the course of this last year, in my library we have learned about research as we geeked out on animals. That culminated in an evening event with the local zoo and a jungle obstacle course.
Then we channeled our inner science geek with awesome science experiments and surefire ways to win the science fair in June.
Now we will finish off the year with books your teacher is not going to use in a lesson. For this we are looking at sneak peak websites, checking on funny books that have no academic lessons in them, and finding stories about kids that are tired of school just like us.
Through al l of this we are looking at fiction, non-fiction, websites, search engine tools, genres, and checking out books just for fun.

So, what i do every day is geek out on "Stuff"

Cool job huh.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My First thoughts

So, here is my frist thought... okay not my first thought every but my frist blogged thought.
I taught in the classroom for 10 years and loved almost every minute of it.
i have taught in the library for 9 years and still love every minute of that.
I am ready for the next great challenge... i want to be an elementary principal.

I know how important connecting and commnication with all members of the community is so i figured i should start that work now and get into the habit.
here we go.