This year, more than ever before, educators - teachers, librarians, support staff - have been going above and beyond to take care of our students and each other. We have been trying to make the most of a hard situation.
While I am proud of the work we have been doing, I am worried about our teachers more than ever! We must remember to take time for ourselves, which is easier said than done. Make it your goal as you move into the holiday break and the new year to do something just for you every day, whether it's reading a page of your book, watching guilty tv shows, exercising, or trying something crafty.
Here are some tips to get you started:
2020 has been a year of growth and reflection while also being painful and disheartening at times. A pandemic will do that to people, I suppose. This roller coaster of a year has allowed me to be part of a new age in education. I have been able to support and witness our teachers develop renewed confidence in teaching with technology or trying activities in the classroom they previously would not have tried. It has also allowed me to see some of the best educators I know shrink because of stress and time.
Education is at a precipice in which we can transform education with new, engaging possibilities or continue to strip away student choice, exploration, and creativity to meet bare minimum expectations. I have seen policies enacted within classrooms and districts which have made teaching in the modern age more difficult than ever before. In addition to these policies, our educators are working harder than ever before while also fearing for theirs and loved ones safety. It's no wonder our students and teachers are feeling tired, overworked, apathetic, or burnt out.
However, I believe myself to be a "champion of possibilities" as my dear friend Wendy Cope says. I believe the more we intentionally develop opportunities for student agency, the less burn out we will feel and the more our students will benefit. It's a win, win.
Student agency is a crucial component to include in the education culture of any classroom or school. Agency references the power to make choices and ownership of learning. Including activities for choice and voice through menu boards is an example, but it's so much more than that. How are we embedding student agency into the culture of the classroom or the school - whether in person or virtually? How are we including activities that are relevant to our students, provide authentic audiences, are driven by student interests and inquiry, and initiated by the students?
If we want our students engaged, we need to be intentional in our lesson design to allow our students to reach their full potential. Education seems to be done to students rather than developed with or alongside them. You may have heard me discuss at length the need to consider Maslow's Hierarchy within our inclusion of SEL in the library or school culture (if not, listen here or here). Students need to be seen, heard, and nurtured for them to achieve their optimal level of learning. If students do not feel like they belong or are a part of something, they may be disengaged, apathetic, or even misbehave in class to avoid learning. They may also just be complacent in their situation without reaching their full potential. Both are harmful.
The most seemless way to include student agency is through creative agency. We need to begin thinking about creative agency as a means of student empowerment. When students have greater ownership of the creative process through making or creating, learning becomes more relevant and engaging. This creative agency supports the development of critical skills and literacies needed for full engagement in our digital world, and it creates epic opportunities to demonstrate achievement of standards.
Creating (think: graphics, videos, drawing, coding, choreographing, etc.) requires us to use a complex assemblage of skills that celebrate and encourage out of the box thinking to helps students connect with their learning in deeper ways. Not only that, sharing creations with others makes us consider audience, a crucial aspect of life beyond the classroom. Providing authentic audiences can lead to powerful, profound connections with peers, colleagues, communities, and families.
If you'd like to start moving towards incorporating student agency more in your classroom, especially by including creative agency, please consider collaborating with your school library media specialist. We love to help and have been incorporating creative agency in our MakerSpaces for quite some time!
Living in Georgia, we do not often see the beauty of snow. However, this weekend brought snow flurries and it had me craving all the books with snow! These books make want to snuggle up with a cup of delicious hot cocoa, my fluffy blanket, and snuggle into my reading chair to read for hours.
Do you want to capitalize on how much your students love Among Us? Create a bulletin board for reading promotion!
November is Native American Heritage Month, or commonly known as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.
This month is a dedicated time to to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people.
Learn more here.
I love this time of year! Our temperature in Georgia is dropping below 80 degrees and who doesn't love a good opportunity to display horror books? Check out how we are making the most out of our limited, Covid programming below.
You've Been Booooked
You may have seen the cute way of promoting books that Shannon Miller has done. Because we are in a middle school and have over 15 ELA/reading teachers in three grade levels, participating in a Book'd program like Shannon's is as feasible for us. Instead, I do fun read alouds at different points in the year with a theme.
Want to try this too? Get the template to our boooked signs here.
Our library is not open to all students in the way that we are used to operating this school due to Covid. While students are definitely allowed in and to browse for books, the amount of students are being limited for contact tracing and safety precautions. Because of this, we have had to get creative with how to promote our MakerSpace and provide opportunities for creation. We have started Make & Take projects instead and so this month, we are doing a pumpkin decorating contest.
We ordered mini pumpkins from Amazon (you could easily get pumpkins donated from Home Depot or Lowes instead). I wanted to be able to keep our pumpkins for next year as part of our decor so that's why I chose to go with plastic pumpkins. When I purchased, it was about $15 for 30 pumpkins. After the pumpkins arrived, we printed directions and put the directions and pumpkins inside a bag for students to pick up from the circulation desk. We promoted the contest and our pumpkins were gone within a few days. Next year, we will have to rethink how many we have!
Students are to turn in their pumpkins by Thursday and we will display pumpkins outside the library for voting on Friday. I can't wait! I'll post an update after all entries have been turned in.
With our limited capacity allowed inside the library and half of our population at home for virtual school, we are promoting more outside of our walls with displays and advertisements. We are using our social media accounts, the monitors around the lunch room, and changed the directions of our displays outward for students to see the awesome books we have. We've also kept up our displays near the front of the library.
(Make a copy of this sign using my template here.
I also create virtual libraries to share on our Library Learning Commons Microsoft Team and ELA/reading teachers.
If you've been around for a minute, you know how much I love going all out for events. While October may mean fall for some, it means creating spooky decor over here! This year, we are adding a Halloween themed Spotify playlist to our ever-growing bundle of fun. Find out what else we are doing for this fun time of year here.
Yesterday, I was able to share one of my favorite apps for empowering student voice and empowering students as creators, Anchor, on the Future Ready Librarians webinar, Digital Learning App Smash for Future Ready Librarians.
Pro tip: Plan with your students ahead of recording!
Check out the rest of the amazing apps mentioned in the webinar below. Presentation: bit.ly/FRLappsmashwebinar