Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to Troy Hills Elementary School in the Parsippany - Troy Hill School district to see Travel Day in action. I can not even begin to describe to you how engaged, and excited all of the student were. I tweeted out a few pictures of the event and got some questions about how it works from fellow teachers who might want to do something like this in their schools. I asked Christine Lupia - Fugere the amazing librarian there to share a little about how the day works. Here is here write up!
" Every year, a committee of Troy Hills staff members works with their principal to reach out to the parent community, looking for volunteers to come into school to present about their cultural heritage or country of origin. Students and staff are invited to dress in clothing that represents their cultural heritage, country of origin or a place that they traveled. Or they can represent our school colors (blue and white) or red, white and blue for the USA. Students create flags to carry for our Parade of Nations. Teachers work with students to create maps and flags to represent the various countries. Presenters teach about music, art, culture, clothing, education and the history of the various cultures and countries. Today we learned about Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Spain, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, South Korea, Cameroon (Africa) India Korea, Scotland, Ireland, Brazil and Spain. Our Character Trait of the month is "Acceptance," which fits in with our theme of multicultural diversity and tolerance. Students will have opportunities to engage in follow-up writing activities in the classroom and in the media center, as well."
My son needed to do a density science lab for his science class. In it he needed to experiment with different labs liquids to figure out how dense they were. They were required to make a 5 layer density tower. He had to document his experiments in his lab by writing down what happened. We decided to Augment his lab so his teacher had a better idea just how the experiments went. We took videos of him doing the experiments using the time laps feature on phone and then but those on trigger images of the finished experiments. When scanned using the Layar app you can watch him doing the experiments. This is a great way to take a science lab and show the lab in action!
Scan the image to see for yourself (you have 60 days until it goes away)
It is getting around that time of year when your district puts out its list of courses that they are offering for next year. Parents and students then sit together and work with the guidance department to figure out what students want to take. Every year in my district we would updated our word document and put it on the website for the parents to see. I worked fine but was not interactive at all. This year I decided to do something different. I took the traditional document and made it into an iBook using iBook Author.What lead me to what to do this is that our amazing TV production teacher Jeff Covello made 30 second videos highlighting most of the courses currently being offered in the district. We made these videos as a way for students and parents to have a better understand of just what happens in a certain class. I wanted to feature these videos and a great way to do that was to make an interactive course selection booklet. iBooks allows you to embed the videos into the books and to be played right in the book. It also allows you to link to outside websites. The course selection booklet came out much better then I could even imagine. It looks so professional. Since it is also just a click of the button to turn the ebook into a PDF (without the ability to play the videos, but the website links work) I was able to also make a really nice looking PDF version of the book for people who don't have MACs.. I highly recommend doing something like this with yours. Here is a link to see the entire book.
Yesterday for the 3rd year in a row I got to experience a incredible day of FREE learning with a group of over 400 educators from around NJ and surrounding states. My friend Paula Nagel even came from Louisiana to attend!
I love that it is participant driven learning. I love that it is parents, teachers, administrators, and superintendents all learning together. I love that it is conversation driven not "sage on the stage" learning. I love that one session can be on Google apps and the next on body language. I love that I get to connect in person with the people I learn from everyday on social media. There is so much I love about the EdCamp experience but what struck me most this year was how there are not many educators of color at it.
Let me be clear, I am not at all critizing the organizers of this great event. They spend a year of their time planning and putting this together all while working countless other jobs. Why I write this post is to start a conversation about this topic. . How do we get more educators of color to join us in this educational movement?
I don't know the answers but I believe it is a conversation that needs to be had.
When I started becoming a connected educator I found it so cool that I was able to connect with the people I admired and learned from. It was so amazing that I was able to tweet and connect with my librarian heroes like Shannon Miller, Gwyneth Jones, Joyce Valenza, Nikki Robertson, Jennifer LaGarde, Tiffany Whitehead and many more. Then I started to get to know them as friends and learned that they were no different than me. They struggled at times and doubted if they were doing the right thing. It made me realize that I was no different then them.
All too often we idolize people and think their lives are perfect and that is not the case at all.
Here is my story - A little over 13 years ago I started out my career as a librarian. I had yet to finish my schooling and had no one to mentor me. I totally learned on the job. This was way before Twitter or social media and because of that it was much harder. I was also the only librarian in my school, so I had no one to turn to. After two years I left the job to have my son and then after a few years I started back as a part time librarian at the high school in my town. I worked with two other people and I found it difficult.
One of the people I worked with was a total old school librarian who never wanted to change anything. We were supposed to do things like we did 20 years ago and if you tried to change anything it was met with tons of resistance. The librarian was also not very nice to the students and it was hard to watch. No matter what I did it seemed to be wrong and I was not treated very well. There was also no consistency in the services we provided and teachers would avoid having that person teach their classes. There were even times when I was yelled at in front of the students and I really considered quitting. Luckily that person retired, and I thought I would now be able to do things I wanted to do. Well, that was not the case.
As much as I tried, the other librarians and I could not get along. There were numerous reasons for this some of them because of me. It became clear that it would not work out for all of us to work together. After much soul searching and help from a dear friend I made the decision to move to the middle school.
At the time I thought it was a demotion. I thought I was a failure and was labeled by many as uncooperative and hard to work with among other things. It was one of the hardest times in my life because I started to believe what others were saying about me. I gave up believing in myself. I lost all confidence in myself. I was lucky to have the support of a few friends and family members who did believe in me and helped me through this time.
It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I was able to run the library liked I wanted to. I was able to try new things and experiment. I did not have to answer to anyone but myself and it was great! It was also around this time I started to become a connected librarian and that opened up another world for me. I started to learn from and connect with other librarians and teachers from around the world. I started to share with others what I was doing. All of that made me into the librarian I became.
At the end of the last year I made to choice to move to administration. I now supervisor librarians and multimedia teachers. I could not pass up this opportunity. I like what I am doing now, but I really miss being with the students... I am not sure I made the right move. I still have my doubts that I made the right decision but I am going to give it a try. We have to be able to try something new and be willing to take a risk. I am in the process of doing that right now. Who know how things are going to turn out but realize I am far from perfect.
Last night , I was so honored to be chosen by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences as the 2014 winner of the Bammy Award in the school librarian category. I am in total shock because I honestly did not feel worthy to be mentioned as a finalist. Shannon Miller, Jennifer Lagarde, Laura Fleming, and Jonathan Werner are all librarians that I learn from on a daily basis.
Pernille Ripp, who I greatly admire, wrote this outstanding blog post on the Bammy Awards today. I love her sentiment that we should recognize all the amazing educators out there who do the hardest job in the world. They shape the minds of the young people in their charge every day.
So today I am going to recognize some the amazing educators and friends who have helped me to become the person I am today. I can not name them all but will honor just a few here.
To all of the other amazing educators out there every day. You are the true rockstars. You deserve this award as much if not more then I do.
Thank you to everyone who voted for me, who helped me on my journey and who will be there for me for years to come. I have such an amazing PLN and I am so thankful to have you all as a part of my life.
My dear friend Nikki D. Robertson wrote this amazing blog post today about being a rebel in the library. It got me thinking about how we need to talk about these things a little more. It is ok to buck the trend and be a rebel librarian. Just because it has always been done that way doesn't mean it needs to continue being done that way. Do what is best for the children! With that in mind I have come up with a list of 10 Ways To Be A Rebel Librarian. Thank you to the librarians who helped me make the list. Try some & tell me how it goes!
I am so excited to be able to give out these cards to people I see doing something awesome. This is such an amazing idea started by Mark Allender and made into a kickstarter project.
I am really looking forward to giving out my cards to people I see in the schools doing something great. I can't wait to put the first one the teachers desk or in their mailbox with a little saying how awesome they are.
I think it can work not only as a way to show staff how great they are but also a way to show students. I would love it if staff passed them on to students when they do something great.
There should be more subversive accolades in life. For more info you can go to http://subversiveaccolades.com.
Every since I started the new job people have asked me how it is going. The only word that describes it is overwhelmed.
I am overwhelmed by the nice welcome I have gotten from not only my staff but everyone in the district.
Overwhelmed by how much I don't know. I am a person who likes to know the answer to things and if I don't know the answer I know where to find it. I mean I am a librarian - isn't that what we do :-)...but right now I am lost. I don't have the answer to anything..
I know I will learn and I am not expected to know everything but it irks me to be so lost. It is hard when you come from a job where you know how to do everything to one that you don't know anything.
Everyone feels like this at times. We forget this feeling because it passes but and I am not sure we should.
When a new teachers start a job it is overwhelming. When students start at a new school year they also have the same feeling. We administrators need to remember that and do all we can to make the experience less overwhelming.
One of the main reasons I am blogging my journey is that I can look back at it later and remember the lessons I am learning a long the way. I hope the people reading this can also learn too.
Can I do this? This is the question that has been going through my head for weeks now but is louder in my last few days as a school librarian.
For over ten years, I have been a teacher librarian and have loved my job. I love the students, working with the staff and all the many different aspects of the job.
I have to admit that it has only been in the last 4 years that I feel like I know what I am doing. That I may actually be good at what I do. That I am not questioning every decision I make. I could be happy doing this job for a long time.
But tonight as I sit here I wonder why am I leaving? Am I making the correct decision? Will I be happy as an administrator? Will I really be able to have the impact that I want? Will I miss the students? Am I up for the many new challenges ahead of me? Will I make friends? Will they get my weird sense of humor? Am I in over my head?
These are the questions we all ask ourself during a transition to something new. The thing is we don't really talk about these fears. I think we should. We need to admit that we are fearful.
I love this quote "Recognizing and admitting fear is the first step to overcoming and neutralizing it."
Let's hope by putting my fears out there I can overcome them.
Any advice and suggestions are very welcome.
Elissa Malespina is the Middle School Teacher Librarian in Somerville and a Presenter, Author and much more. Find my full resume above.