Still loving it

I knew in the 4th grade that I was placed on earth to be a teacher.  At the end of the school year, I would carry a box around to all of the elementary teachers and ask for their leftover mimeograph (yeah, the purple stuff) worksheets.  I would tote the box home 2 blocks and have a plethora of worksheets for every grade, every level and every discipline.  I was differentiating back then!  When my mom made us take a nap everyday in the summer, I would open my window, push out the screen and teach all of the children in the neighborhood!  This went on for a long time.  I even taught non-school age children.  One day, my mom caught me and school had to have a new time schedule.

I started getting paid to teach 32 years ago and still love what I do!  My first year in teaching, I was with some really mean, jealous, veteran teachers who made fun of me for smiling all day… “You get a few years in this business and you won’t be smiling like that anymore.”  I told them, “If I’m not smiling, then I will go get a job I love.”  They also made fun of my wearing heels to school, so you can imagine all the other things they said to me.  They were mean bullies and I cried all the way home everyday, but I lived through the first year of teaching with no mentor and no help.  Yes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger…” plus “I remember that and help newbies as much as possible!”

 

It’s important to not only help the students become readers, but to keep teachers in the loop with new literature. My teachers are really good about taking advice about what they should read next. It’s great that the students see the teachers with “outside” reading material on their desks. That goes back to modeling the positive outcomes that you are trying to reinforce with students.
I also ask teachers what they are teaching next and find new material to help them or take their notes and put them into PowerPoint or Prezi. Things they don’t have time to do.
Ipads are a new teaching tool that our school just received and the teachers are exploring the Apps, so I tell them about ones that will help them with their classes. Whatever I can do to make their teaching world easier, I do it.
Today I am going to leave you with; “If you are not making a positive impact in your school with students and peers, it might be time to retire.”

New Readers Thrill Me

A new student just came into the library and said, “My friend told me that you have lots of new books. Do you have…”

“No, that one is checked out, but let me tell you about this Dystopian novel! Have you heard of that before? Dystopia-futuristic-world-gone-wrong books? I loved this one, so here’s what it is about…” I replied. “You also will love this great fantasy (for next time) that has a love story in it. Make sure that you read at least 20 pages before you decide whether you like it or not and if you don’t like it, bring it back. We’ll find you something you love.”

“Oh, another thing that I tell new students. This library is your ‘safe spot’. If you need help or just a few minutes to get away, come here and I will help you.”

“Ok, just one more thing, do your eyes jump around the page? Use this blue slip of paper to read with. It will help relax the pressure in your eyes and your eyes won’t jump around the page. Just try it; it works for many of my students.”

The new student left feeling like she was important to me and her new library. She was excited about her new book and couldn’t wait to start the trilogy. I know that she will be back and I will look for her in the hallway to make sure things are going okay for her in her new school.
Since many of us remember what a teacher in school said about us, everyday I try to make students feel good about who they are, where they are, and where they are headed. I try to instill hope about their future and, of course, a love of reading. Getting out positive energy to students who are having a hard time is rewarding, helpful and most of all, IMPORTANT. Yes, it’s about the books; it’s more about the student.

If you are excited, they will be, too

Getting reluctant, alternative school students into the library is a challenge… This is not a disciplinary school; it is a school where students are behind or off track, and we help them get back on track.  But, still, many don’t read, so how do they ever make the trek to the library?

We get students almost every week, so I asked the counselor; “when you check a student into our school, would you bring them by the library?”  This way (1) they find out where the library is, (2) I introduce myself, (3) I find out if they like reading and if they don’t (4) I ask them to please give me a chance – just 5 minutes to tell them about some books.  Usually they come back!  Yes, they do and usually after 5 minutes they leave with a book and a promise to read at least 20 pages before they decide to like it or hate it.   It is quite pushy, so what?  Call me the pushy librarian.  We have readers at this school now.

It is real strange that teachers forget to include the library and research or free reading into the curriculum.  Well, maybe not so strange – they have so much to cover in so little time!  I ask teachers to come to the library with their classes each 9 weeks, but if they can’t do that (4) times; I ask them to come in each semester (2) times.  Sometimes they only get down to the library with their students for 10 or 15 minutes , but that is long enough to “sell” a few books.  Someone will take a book or two!

In the halls, I see students who haven’t come by the library and go up to them, “Hi, I’m the librarian!  I haven’t seen you in the library yet!  When do you think you can come by and visit?”  Usually that very day the student comes in! 

You may say, “Sure, that’s easy for you to do, you have a small school.”  Even when I had 2 campuses and 3200 students, I did that.  It always gets students in the library because they see that someone cares about them and notices them.

The main way that I have such a large book check out is because I ready Young Adult books through the school year (summers are for adult books).  I book talk like crazy!  If there is a book I haven’t read, I ask the student to come back and tell me about it.  They do that especially if they loved the book and then I tell the next student, “Oh, a girl just read this and loved it!  She said I had to read it, so you might want to try it.”  Simple?  Yep, and they take the book!

Really, to “sell” the books and the library to teachers and students, you HAVE to get out there and advertise!