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.
I woke up this morning to one of my best friends and fellow nominees Melissa Butler calling me to tell me that we both had made it as finalists for the 2014 Bammy Awards. I am beyond shocked and honored.
Shannon Miller, Laura Fleming, Jennifer LaGrande and Jonathan Werner are all librarians who I learn from on a daily basis. I can only wish to be half the teacher librarians that they are! I have learn so much from them and "steal" from them all the time.
I also would not be where I was today without my friend and fellow finalist Melissa Butler. She is truly an amazing 6th grade ELA teacher, and I am so lucky to be able to collaborate with her. I would not be up for this award with out her willingness to take a risk and try something new.
The entire list of Finalists is located here and I am so happy to see so many of my friends and fellow PLN members also on the list. Congrats to all of them and can't wait to see everyone in D.C in September.
After doing the test run with the Sphero in the pool a few weeks ago and getting great feedback from the great folks at Sphero, Marv and I decided to give it a try again this time with paddles!
Thanks to some duck tape, I was able to design some paddles which I put onto the Sphero. Both Mr. Alexander and I agreed that it did go a little faster this way. After talking more with Marv about what his thought were for the Sphero, he decided that it might not be able to be used to pace swimmers but the Sphero but could possibly be used with struggling swimmers.
We did decided it had enough possibilities for his class, that I left one for him and I hope that he continues to experiment with it. I have asked Mr. Alexander to keep me updated on how things are going and hopefully I can report back to you soon on how it is working in a swimming setting. Since I will be leaving the district I sadly can not see this experiment through.
I need to thank Mr. Alexander for agreeing to take a risk and work try this new technology in his classroom. Not all teachers would have done that. Thanks!
This morning I woke up to find some really nice comments on the previous blog post I did about the Sphero but the one that stood out the most was Adams from Sphero, asking if we tried using packing tape to make paddles for the Sphero.
I had never thought about that. So after testing was over this morning. I got to work on my new project. Using some book tape I had around the library I built some paddles and set about testing it in a bowl of water
I think it has potential. I am going to try again later with a thicker tape. I also think I am going to use a colored one so that it is easier to see the paddles.
I wish I had duck tape at school cause I think that might work really well. I have an email in to Marv to see if he will let me try it in the pool today. I will make sure to videotape and blog about it if it happens.
Any other thoughts we should try? It would have never dawned on me to try to make paddles if it was not for Adam! Thanks friend for the great idea!
Edited to add - a picture of Sphero with Paddles 2.0 Version made with a thicker book tape.
A few weeks ago I was speaking with Joyce Valenza's students about Augmented Reality and we got on the topic of Spheros and how they can be used in schools. I talked to them about how I had used them with my students. (If you want to read more about that click here for a previous blog post I did on the topic) While talking with these students it dawned on me that the Sphero 2.0 is waterproof and I wonder how it would work with our swim students at the high school.
I contacted the swim teacher Marv Alexander @marvalexander1 and asked him if he would not mind giving this idea a try. I was so happy that he did not think I was totally insane and was willing to be a risk taker and try out this idea of using a mini robot in a swim class.
Today I brought the Sphero over to the pool and we gave it a try. We decided to try it out first without students in the pool, so that we could get a better idea of just how it worked. After pairing the Sphero up Marv's Ipad and getting him used to driving it, we threw it in the water. It floats on top of the water and you can move it around the pool from your Ipad using the Sphero App. We tried it with and without the Nubby and found it to be a little slow in the water, but it could be that we just have not trained the Sphero via the Sphero app to go faster.
One of the things we were trying to figure out is if we could use it to pace a swimmer. After experimenting with it a little we realized that it might not be able to do that, it is a little to slow. But there are some beginner swimmers and they might benefit for something like this because it might just be a little different way to motivate them.
We did experiment a little with the Color Grab App and we think it could possible work as a game where the students have to swim to the Sphero or jump in and grab it.
I have an email out to some of the people I have worked with at Sphero, hoping they can help us come up with ideas on how to use it it in a swim class. I am hoping that they will help us come up with some ways we have not thought of.
I would also love your ideas and thoughts!
Over the next few weeks we will be experimenting with it and I will be documenting what we figure out here.
Hope this experiment works!
Elissa Malespina is the High School Librarian at Verona High School and a Presenter, Author and much more. The views are my own. Find my full resume above.