Saturday, September 9, 2017

Whaaa? It's September already?


As much as I want to keep new posts up on the blog,
As much as I truly believe consistency creates a presence,
As much as I love to write,
As much as I have a passion for librarianship,
Life still happens.

I admire the folks who can remain consistent in their blogging despite busy-ness that clearly happens for all of us, but I am apparently not one of them.  At least, not yet.

I have learned that I need "white space" in my life in order to be my best self.  I need time to think and breathe and be.  With school starting and hurricanes blowing and training a new assistant and one of my kiddos now attending my school and us both adjusting to her being in high school (and dealing with some serious mean-girl issues) and the other having after-school transportation issues-----well, something had to give.

I've come home weary and unable to "brain" well after shifting back into beginning-of-the-year school mode.
I've come home most school nights with barely enough energy to feed my family, do enough dishes and laundry to keep us rolling, and take hot Epsom salt baths.

My bullet journal and my workouts have suffered, too, and I've passed on nearly every invitation I've received to get together with friends whom I love.  Y'all, sometimes I just can't do one more thing.

And I refuse to feel guilty about it.

I think it is far too easy to fall into the trap of believing you have to do all the things and be all the things for all the people all of the time.  I don't want to let folks down, but I also know this is truth for me---if I do not practice self-care and self-compassion and listen to my gut about what I need to function as my highest self then I will run out of steam, catch every cold that comes around, feel resentful, act like a martyr, and ultimately be no good for anyone around me.

I'm beginning to catch my breath with this new school year.  I'm settling in and feeling less like I'm drowning.

And so here it is---September 9th---and I'm blogging again.

I hope your school year has started off beautifully.
Be gentle with yourself and listen to your gut, friends.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Summer PD


We were fortunate this year that our upper admin granted us time to hold some summer professional development days---two days paid, two days comp days, which was awesome.  I have never had a district admin team show as much support for libraries and librarians as my current team and it is much appreciated.

Y'all, we had a blast.

We have 2 new members of our team and another who just joined us in the spring, so not only did we do a lot of learning, we did a lot of bonding this week.  I sent out a Google form in the spring so everyone could give their input on what they wanted to learn/work on and what book they wanted for our book study this year. Everything we did was designed & taught by our very own team. Flexibility was intentionally built into our schedule so we could run with those teachable moments and move along quickly when everyone already "got it."

We went over our proposed new state standards, Future-Ready Librarian information, and maker-spaces for all levels. We worked through the process of creating a new Mission and Vision statement.

 

We played with an Epic Instagram Challenge I used Canva.com (my fave!) to create this challenge as a way to help us think beyond our usual go-to's with photos and social media updates of library happenings. We didn't all actually post our pics on Insta, but this was practice for the upcoming year. (feel free to use it if you like it)



#booksonashelf

We had time to play with Canva.com, Google, and our Texquest resources and brainstorm ideas about how to get the word out to our stakeholders about all things in library land.




We discussed Gary Hartzell's work about building influence and specifically referenced Doug Johnson's blog post about making the principal your ally.

We got our new book-study books and I AM SO PUMPED.

We broke into elementary/secondary specific sessions, too, for a bit.  Author visits and Bluebonnet Battles were planned. We came out of this week with a new shared Google Drive folder and are looking forward to building content together.

We discussed the power of Twitter chats for awesome continued growth, and are planning to do one as a team to get the newbies used to them. You just can't understand the amazingness of them until you live it.

On the next-to-last day our Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction stopped by.  We were energized as a team to see their genuine excitement and support of our library programs.  Without a shadow of a doubt, we know that they recognize that strong school libraries support student achievement---and that is super-affirming.

I want to thank my new partner-in-crime for stepping up to take the lead elementary librarian role.(She blogs over at MrsTaylorsTales, so go check her out!) We have a shared vision and are working towards excellence!

I am so energized for this coming year, guys.  What are you doing to get inspired?  I'd love to hear all about it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Literacy Honor Cords

     


I'm super excited to get LIT this year with literacy honor cords available to earn from the library! I've been looking for a way to really create a culture of literacy at my high school, and I think this is a fun and important step to take in that process.

A few weeks ago I posted on the ALA Think-Tank Facebook group asking folks to share their fabulous secondary library webpages.  One of my new librarian friends shared her website and it included info about their literacy cords.  I was intrigued and began searching out info from other schools who also gave these.  I only found one other school (full disclosure I did not spend weeks upon weeks searching---this from a cursory search) who bestowed these, but I love the idea and decided to run with it.  I messaged my friend, too, and she clarified a few things about their specific program for me.

After coming up with an initial list of requirements, I met with the National English Honor Society sponsor to get input, and now I've  sent it to our principal for approval.  I'm meeting with him next week to see where things stand.  Once I have it set in stone, I'll post it on the blog.

Honor cords weren't a thing when I graduated oh-so-long ago, and I didn't realize what a HUGE deal they are to the kids until I moved up to work at the high school 3 years ago.  Dude! They are serious about these and it becomes almost a competition of sorts to see how many you can earn. 

I'm all in.  While I don't love giving trinkets for reading, I DO love the idea of treating reading as something worthy of honor at graduation.  Let's reward our students for their hard work and commitment to reading. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

#IMWAYR



Still in my #Tayshaslist reading quest, I've managed to read a couple more this week.


The Dark Days Club, by Alison Goodman, is a fantasy set in the Regency era.  I happen to be a super-fan of this time in history, and love a good paranormal mystery.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait for the second book in the series to be available.


I'm still reading The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz. Currently, I'm about half-way through it and am enjoying it so far.  The main character is on the young end for a typical YA, but it has been interesting to take a look at the time period (the story is set in 1911) and I'm quite fascinated as this book was inspired by the diary of the author's grandmother.

On Audible, I've got book Hush Now, Don't You Cry by Rhys Bowen, the 11th book in the Molly Murphy mystery series.  Weirdly, I've found I can enjoy cleaning and decluttering to this book better than anything else I've tried.  Whatever works, I guess!


What are YOU reading?

Monday, July 10, 2017

It's Monday! What are YOU reading?


I'm finding that much of my reading is falling into two distinct categories this summer.  Tayshas list books and books on hygge.  There are a few other books I'm reading here and there, but I'll put all of them into miscellaneous--a bit of leadership, a bit of pedagogy, a bit of non-fiction on non-hygge topics and a mystery or two--but for the most part I'm on a Tayshas/hygge roll here.

I took Lara Avery's The Memory Book with me to Austin this past weekend.  I was attending Texas Library Association's Annual Assembly and my meetings were staggered at weird intervals which meant I would have some reading time in-between.


This book.  Oh, my heart.  I loved it, so.  Written as journal entries into a book to help retain her memories, Sammie shows us what it is to be human.  I finished this book right before my last meeting of the day on Saturday and went in weepy.  This book is gorgeous and hard and requires tissues. Loved this #tayshaslist book.

I also took Jeff Zentner's The Serpent King with me.

I've just started reading this one, but am totally intrigued by the characters thus far.  Another #tayshaslist book.  If you didn't get a chance to listen to the #KidsDeserveIt podcast or watch it with Todd Nesloney interviewing Jeff Zentner, it is worth going back to watch. Lawyer by day, writer by night?  Dude, I need some lessons.  I have been working on book ideas for ages and find it exceedingly difficult to wrangle the time between my library work and my mama work.


My newest book purchase.  After my final meeting of the weekend, I just had to swing by Book People.  I should probably mention that it is one of my most favorite places on earth.  I could easily spend hours there.  Anyhow, I went in looking specifically for this book--it was only available through my public library on ebook, and truly I hate reading on my phone.  Also, it just doesn't seem very hygge to read on a phone to me, not to mention that it was checked out already anyway.  I started it last night and am enjoying it.  It is a beautiful little book and I feel more surrounded and filled by hygge just by reading it.

Have I mentioned that my goal is to have the most Book People-ish high school library in the world? #goals #hygge

What are YOU reading?

Monday, July 3, 2017

It's Monday, what are YOU reading?



Summertime, and the livin's easy!  One of the very best things about summer is the free time to read. It is just delicious, isn't it!

One of my main goals is to read all the Tayshas books---yes, there are a ton of them, but yes, I'm going to keep at it 'till I get it done.

Oh, but I enjoyed this one!  What a delightfully snarky main character!  I just felt like I knew him and his friends, you know?  Brilliant.  A delightful coming-of-age story with fun, quirky characters.


This is a lovely book.  Genuinely beautiful.  Lyrical writing that dances with your senses.  The 4 teens each have a story which intertwines beautifully in the end.

And in other reading--


I came across the perfect memoir for someone like me who is fairly obsessed with the idea of hygge. I am so enjoying reading about such a different culture and the author is both humorous and interesting.

And lastly, I'm listening to the Audible version of a wonderful cozy mystery series I enjoy--Bless the Bride by Rhys Bowen, the 1oth book in the Molly Murphy Mystery series. This is a fun series to listen to while I clean and attempt to achieve the homey-hygge I mentioned above.


What are YOU reading?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

looking ahead


I'm thinking about my goals for the coming school year.  What do I want to accomplish this year? What are my top priorities for moving the library forward? I'm really still in the brainstorming process here, and will continue to take a look at the space itself, at the new state standards (currently still in draft version, but available as we continue to work on them), the Future-Ready Library information, and the TEKS for my grade levels as I make a list of To-Do's and work to prioritize them.

Future-Ready is divided into 8 sections that center around personalized student learning.
So, here, in no particular order, is my current list of things I would like to accomplish this year.  As the summer moves forward, I'll look at prioritizing and plotting & planning. 
  • Thorough weeding of the Reference  and non-fiction sections.  I need the space to be put to better use.  I've farmed out a ton of books already to the art department.  I've put some up for adoption.  I've moved the green books into a storage location for future book-tree building opportunities. I bought a cat-shaped book to show my fabulous shop teachers what I want to have done to some of them.  I've saved some to rip pages out of for blackout poems and other artsy stuff, but there is only so much storage space I'm willing to give up.  I really, really hate to dumpster them, but yeah, I'll probably have to with some of them as there are JUST.SO.MANY.  ugh. 
  • Building some community partnerships.  I've been working with our local public librarians (who are seriously amazing, by the way), and now I'm looking to branch out to create some new partnerships, as well.  
  • Create a stunning new website.  Mine is seriously lacking. 
  • I need to up my social media game.  Why?  Because I need to reach my stakeholders with the great news of our library, and I need to do this more than every-once-in-a-while.  Consistency creates a presence. 
  • Create new signage.  Mine is no longer correct since I've genrefied. 
  • Collaborate with more teachers, building on what we've already done.  I'll have many new teachers at my campus next year and want to start them off knowing we can partner up and that it isn't an "extra" thing for them---that it will be curricularly based and not a waste of precious class time. 
  • I want to increase my Maker area, which is currently all low-tech, and add the tech portion to it. 
  • I want the library to be utilized in better ways---honed in to student's needs better.  Not just open and available as a place, but really more of a concierge atmosphere in a way. 
  • Teach my teachers and students how to use our digital resources effectively--particularly our TexQuest resources.
  • Teach my teachers and students how to use our newly updated Destiny resources.
  • increase our digital holdings and market them better.
What are YOUR goals for the coming school year? 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bittersweet


My friend is moving.
She's funny and kind and smart and we have the best time working together.
Yeah, she's my friend and she is also my lovely library assistant.
Which doesn't make the situation easier.

I'm really so happy for her and her husband to have the opportunity to live closer to their kids and grandbabies.  Truly.

I'm happy we'll stay in touch through the magic of social media--and because she is moving close to my old stompin' grounds so we visit on a semi-regular basis.

I'm so grateful that Paula has been with me all 3 years I've been at the high school.  She has rolled with the punches and handled all my crazy wild schemes with ease.  She has been up for dressing like pirates and superheroes. She has relived the 70's with me and celebrated Tiara Tuesday like a boss.  I came in and shifted just about everything at that library and never once was she not along for the ride. She made me feel welcomed and wanted in my new days and some of my best working memories are with her.

She is moving on to new adventures and I hope she has a ball attending grandbabies t-ball games and dance recitals.  She will sure be missed in my neck of the woods.

So now comes the part where I will be setting up interviews for a new assistant.  I'm grateful the powers that be are giving me the opportunity to have a say in it, but I'm nervous.  I need someone flippin' amazing, filled with a passion for working with high school kids, and having fun doing it. I'm starting the process today.  I can train someone to do the work, but I'm looking for someone with that certain je nais se quoi.  I need someone that just *clicks*, you know?

I'm wishing Paula luck in her new adventures.
I'm wishing myself luck in mine, as well.

Onward.

Monday, June 19, 2017

It's Monday...what are YOU reading?

This summer I hope to read many of the new 2017 Tayshas list books.  I can always count on the list being full of amazing reads, and I love to be able to do reader's advisory with the newest and greatest out there.

First, I added a shelf to my Goodreads account that lists all the books in a want-to-read status.  Now I get the pleasure of reading all those that I haven't already read!


Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum was a fun romance.  I enjoyed the cast of characters very much and the storyline has a nice meet-cute element.  This was a perfect choice for the first weekend of summer break---an easy, fun read that held my interest.


 I'm now reading The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry. You can see my makeshift bookmark there in the pic.  I'm about halfway done and would love to just sit down and ignore all my other responsibilities to get this one finished.  The kids & the hubs think they need to eat and have clean laundry, however, so I'm reading it a bit at a time.  This is a long one--and a deep subject matter--women Christian mystics during the time of the Inquisition.  I long for a day filled with thunderstorms and soup on the stove so I can delve into this world more fully.  I find that I am intrigued by all the voices in the novel, but especially those of the three sisters.  No spoilers, but this one is really good!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

#ta7tc

video

Yesterday was my last official work day of the school year and I spent it in the most awesome way possible. I traveled up the road to White Oak Middle School and spent the day learning from the best at the TCEA Area 7 Conference, put on by my good friend and librarian extraordinaire, the ever-fabulous Michelle Cooper.

Our keynote speaker was Shannon Miller.  Um, yeah.  SHANNON MILLER!  Y'all.  May I just say that I left the keynote so inspired, so determined, and so ready to really champion for my kids to use their voice and left the first session more excited than ever to be a Future-Ready Librarian. While I've followed her on Twitter, read her blog, and have been involved in the Future-Ready Libraries Facebook group, I had never had the opportunity to meet Shannon until yesterday.  What a delightful person!  I feel like I gained a friend. She is so sincere and knowledgeable and real.

The breakout sessions were great, too.  I went to one that was a Future-Ready conversation, led by Shannon Miller, Mary Kay Wisener, and my friend & mentor Sharon Gullett. One of the things I really loved about this session was the feeling of camaraderie in the room and the support given to folks who are brand-new incoming librarians.

My second breakout session was also led by Shannon Miller and was a celebration of some her favorite innovative things going on in libraries. I left with a list of apps to try and was texting library friends with lists of things they need to try!

I went to a breakout session led by Marsha Edney (also a good friend and such a hoot!) about using green screens.  So, I've always thought green screens are cool and all, but I got ideas yesterday on how to use them with classes that could be game-changers for our students.  Inspiring! I think I have a place in mind that would be perfect for this in the library.  Now to convince the powers that be.

Even my lunch break was enjoyable.  I was the lone librarian from my district to attend, so I didn't go with ready-made lunch partners.  However, I made a new librarian friend (she is both a new librarian and new friend) and we enjoyed getting to know one another during this time.  We've connected on Twitter and I can't wait to see how her year goes.

My last breakout session was led by Andy Adams from Region 7, who was an engaging speaker and again, I left with lists of apps to play with both for creating my own videos and for having students create videos to use in innovative ways.

Our closing speaker was Jamie Donnally who began #globalmakerday  which I will totally be participating in from now on.  SO COOL.  Seriously, anytime a learning day ends with play-do and Bloxels, and 3-D pens you know you've had a good day.  This is something to remember in our own days-of-learning with students. Did I mention I came home with the cutest, coolest sphero ever? YAY! for door prizes!

What a day, y'all.  What a fabulous, learning-filled, FUN-filled, glorious day to end my school year on just the perfect note.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The week with no kids


Okay, so maybe not no kids.
I've had a few drop by just because, a couple kids making up hours by working in the library, and a former student who wasn't sure school was actually out swing by, but you know, no kids.

It is always a bit weird when the kids are gone to still be working.
The kids are my WHY.
However, I am really getting a ton done this week, which is great because I'll feel much more settled about leaving for summer vacation with more items checked off my to-do list.


  • I've managed to nearly complete getting the last straggler books re-labeled and fixed in the system by genre (and I would have to, if it weren't for those pesky kids folks updating my system, thereby shutting it down for today--but it will be totally cool once it is done.) Let's hope I get to complete this task or I will be up there on my own with no air conditioning to finish it.  I refuse to carry this particular task into the new school year. 
  • With the help of my making-up-hours kids, all the new Chromebooks are in their charging station home.
  • I'm sorting and cleaning out my messy office. Y'all I can stand it for so long, but this cleanup was WAY overdue.  Getting so many carts of books and all those boxes of computers OUT OF MY OFFICE was super helpful in this endeavor. 
  • The Google Form for collecting the thoughts of my district librarians was sent out so I can get our PD settled for the upcoming year.
  • Our MAGIC calendar of events for next year is progressing nicely.  I've even enlisted the help of a kick-butt local public librarian to collaborate for a particular event.
  • I've just about finished double-checking all my last purchases--still awaiting the arrival of one, so will check on that.
  • I will meet with one of our new elementary librarians tomorrow. :)
  • I need to complete my EOY reports. 
So, pretty good progress, all things considered.  Onward!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Reflections on the finished year



ah, what a year.
We FINALLY got our genrefication project done.  Whew!
This marks the end of my 3rd year as a high school librarian.
I had the opportunity to work more with some teachers this year---but I'm not done with this just yet.
We have only just begun, in fact.
Still, our beginning was super fun.
3 of my teachers were truly willing to do at least one collaborative project with me.
3 more were sort-of willing.  Still working to win them over.  This girl is not a quitter!

The library is used all the time. ALL.THE.TIME. I have AMAZING supportive co-workers.
(we're losing over 40 teachers this year, so I'll be really starting over come fall)
My kids love to be in the library.
A typical morning has over 150 kids and so does a typical MegaLunch.
(next year our schedule completely changes so we'll shift from morning times to afternoon times, which will, unfortunately leave out bus-riders.)
Our teen book club "Unbroken Spine" got a name and actual readers that wanted to come to meetings. Woo-HOO!  We ended up with about 15 kids who were devoted to attending and discussing.  It was awesome.

MAGIC was fabulous---building it year by year with grand plans to expand for next year.
(we'll have two new Heads-of-House and I'll sorely miss the former ones, but truly love the newbies)

and I have some things to work on for sure---
I want the librarian to be utilized as much as the space itself (yeah, that's me).
I want to up my game on offerings during "extra time" such as MegaLunch.  Yes, it is great to be a place to hang out--I mean that, and many kids need that.  BUT....I would also love to offer some actual mini-classes, professional development for teachers, and silent reading parties.
I will need to finish shifting and rearranging the library and then teach everyone how to use it.  I'm planning some back-to-school events for teachers in the fall to really showcase what we can do for them.
I want my kids to be able to utilize Destiny more--and all of its cool features.
I want my digital resources to be better understood and utilized.
I want to be on-point with my social media game.

My kids know I love them.
We have awesome books and digital resources.
We have great tech support in the district now.
It's just time to move it up a notch or two.



Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Big Book Switch


Notice anything about these shelves?
Yep, that's right.  All these books are FINALLY fully genrefied.

Oh, my goodness, what a ride it has been.  It has taken MUCH longer than my first library to genrefy. Much longer---next week marks the end of my 3rd year, so really about 2.5 of those were tied up with this project.

But there was a method to my madness (and more than a few setbacks which were totally out of my control, but I digress.)

I started my genrefying process as a brand-new-to-high-school librarian.  This gave me the opportunity to lay hands on each and every book in my fiction section.  I was able to get to know my collection in a very real, tangible way.  I weeded as I went.  I noticed what circulates and what doesn't.  I can finally answer the questions that begin, "Hey, do we have ..." with some modicum of clarity.
Everything:

  • is labeled
  • has a new spine label reflecting genre (ex. Fic Mys Obr)
  • has been changed in the computer
  • has had series order numbered if it is in a series
  • has been moved to its genre location

Thank goodness for my senior student aides without whom moving roughly 13,000 books in a work week would have been impossible.

I settled on these main Genres: Realistic Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Adventure, and Classic. I didn't break them up further into sub-genre such as paranormal, etc. because I'm all about keeping it simple.  If you've further separated your collection and it works for you, that is GREAT. I know myself, though, and I do better with simple.

Already my kids have been able to shelve the returning books at a much faster pace and with more accuracy-- plus, if they aren't in the right place they stick out like a sore thumb and don't sit hidden for months or years with us unable to find it for a patron unless we just stumble across it with pure dumb luck.

I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the results and how very glad I am to finally have this massive task crossed off my to-do list.  Once I get the new signage up, I will really feel "done" with this task and can move on to my other priorities for my library.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

TxLA17 recap


Y'all.  #TxLA17 was amazing!
The Texas Library Association annual conference is always great, but this year was really superb.

Here are some highlights from my week in gorgeous San Antonio:

  • Tech Camp. Amy Mayer of friEDTechnolgy's sessions alone were worth the ticket price.
  • Jennifer Niven & my BFF, Adam Silvera
  • Shrimp Paesano. Never underestimate bonding over good food with your library peeps.
  • Seeing so many of my TALL Texan 2016 family. #clearlysuperior
  • Cory Doctorow. 
  • Talking about my fabulous TALL mentor to a group (thank you for everything, Kate)
  • Mariachi in the morning
  • Dancing to the Spazmatics at the President's All-Conference party.  Walter Betts is the man. 
  • Sam Weller discussing Ray Bradbury
  • Tuan Nguyen & Katie Halata
  • Gene Yang.  Genius.  
  • YA reading lists by the indomitable Teri Lesesne, Donalyn Miller, & Karin Perry
  • Kid Lit vs. YA Lit Lip Sync Battle
  • Talking the new draft-version of our state library standards with Donna Kearley & Liz Phillipi
  • Meeting Nicola Yoon
  • Books! Books! Books!
  • Starting my tenure as YART Councilor
 


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Currently {#sol17}


Currently I'm...

Creating: a poetry-rich library environment with fun interactive displays to celebrate Poetry Month! I have a black-out poetry station, some book spine poetry made by my student assistants, and a "magnet" poetry that isn't actually magnetic.  What can I say?  I don't have much metal.  We used special reusable double-sided sticky tape on laminated cut-out words.  We have windows.  It works.

Reading: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See on audiobook, Ray Bradbury's essays on writing in The Zen of Writing, and The Reader by Traci Chee.

Planning for: TLA ---the Texas Library Association conference.  It is simply the best conference ever. Over 8000 librarians of all stripes gathered together for learning and fun.  What could be better?  Oh yeah, it is in my favorite TLA city this year (they rotate)---San Antonio.  So, yeah.  The Alamo, great Tex-Mex, books and margaritas?  yes, please!

Pondering: how I can best meet the needs of my students, my teachers, my admin, my district librarians, and others; how I can grow as an encourager.

Wanting: to exercise.  I've managed to strain my calf muscles and it has set me back from moving as much as I like and as I should.  Ready to fully mend.

Celebrating: School Librarians Day (today!) and School Library Month (all of April)

Friday, March 31, 2017

reflection on a writing month {solsc day 31}

Today ends the 2017 Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life daily writing challenge.

Some days have been difficult to carve out time and headspace to write, but I made it through. I am grateful for this because it is far too easy for me to opt out if I have no accountability.
Even though I know the Muse is called by actually writing.
Even though I know writing soothes.
Even though I know writers write.
This lesson was super-solidified for me from this year.

I don't feel especially as though I've found my writing tribe, however.  I guess this lesson was also super-solidified for me this year, too.  As hard as it is for me to own up to, days of no comments, or maybe 1 comment are deflating.  Writers need readers.  We need community.  We need encouragement and atta-boys.  We need to know we aren't screaming into the void.
At least I need that.
I love this community, but I'm a visitor, an outlier, not family.

I'm getting cool with that.  I get so much from being on the welcome wagon (year 2!) and reading the slices of others. No sour grapes, at all.  I just recognize that I need to keep searching for my audience. I can't change my voice and remain authentic.  My writing improves by writing. My habit is created by doing it again and again and again.  Not everything is for everyone.  All of this is okay. It is life.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to participate, to read so many wonderful writers, and to be a part of something so grand.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

flat wrung out {solsc day 30}

It has been a very long week.
Texas testing makes it so.
A shout-out to
   all the kids,
   all the teachers,
   all the teacher-librarians,
   all the counselors,
   all the admin,
   all the testing coordinators,
   all the support staff,
   all the parents,
who have made it through this week,
despite being utterly wrung out,
and who ALL deserve a beautiful stress-free weekend.





Wednesday, March 29, 2017

On Wednesdays, we read {solsc day 29}



Wednesdays are my favorite.
My friends in the self-contained classroom come down for story time.
No matter how hectic my day has been, no matter how many reports need to be completed--everything else in the world is set aside on Wednesdays at 2:30.
On Wednesdays, we read.
And my joy bucket is always full to overflowing after spending time with these kiddos.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

DKG {solsc day 28}


Today, with all its testing craziness, was a difficult day. Folks were displaced and schedules were thrown off and bells weren't ringing and stress was high.

And I rushed, rushed, rushed through the day to meet the needs of my people--my students and my teachers and my personal children and their friends.

And then I rushed, rushed, rushed to make it back to school to lead a meeting for my Delta Kappa Gamma Chapter.  We held it in my library this evening.

Meeting with these women is sustaining.  We laugh and we talk shop (it is an organization for women in education) and we eat and we do good work for others.

Tonight our program had a chocolate theme.  What could be better than chocolate & laughter with friends to lift the spirits?

And I am now renewed and calm of spirit (maybe it was the cacao elixir we made?) and ready to rock tomorrow.

Onward!


Monday, March 27, 2017

testing week {solsc day 27}

I sit in the quiet stillness of the morning.
No one else is awake yet.
The hum of the air conditioning is soothing white noise.
And I think about my week ahead.

This is a testing week here in Texas.
This will make my library weird--it sets everyone on edge, and regular classes displaced by testing will be held in there.
This will make my home weird--I have an 8th grader.  She is in Algebra instead of 8th grade math, so she won't have to test today, but Wednesday brings the English-Language Arts test.
My girl is a good tester, but the added stress is still there.

My little one will have a weird schedule.  While she is too little yet to test (her last year before the crazy hits) it will cause weirdness in her day and no recess.  We must stay as quiet as possible for all the testers.

I'm no fan of high-stakes testing.
Accountability?  Of course.
It if is real and authentic and not biased.
It saddens me that high-stakes testing has become our normal.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

'Tis a gift to be simple? {solsc day 26}

I constantly find myself being of two minds.  There's the ever-striving, seek to do more, be more portion; my fully Orange, fully extrovert, fully YES side. And then there's my hobbitish, breathe-in/breathe-out, simply being is enough portion; my fully Blue, mostly introvert, Perhaps & Maybe, but Probably Not side.

Both of these describe me. I need both to be healthy and whole.  The older I get the more I fall into the hobbitish side. This is probably true for many folks.

A friend of mine posted an essay on Facebook recently.  It is called "What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life." It speaks to me.

While I don't love the word mediocre --who wants to be mediocre?--I do get the title and this particular word choice, but I would substitute the word simple or maybe quiet.

Is it harder to be okay with simple as an American?  Are we, the descendants of those who trekked across the globe in search of a new life, "The American Dream,"even allowed to now just want simple? I don't know. Having never lived anywhere else, I can't fully answer the questions I pose.

I know in many circles it is seen as a waste for a smart person who is capable of so much to end up doing so little.  Go Big or Go Home.  Be a WINNER!  Most Successful of her graduating class probably isn't talking about inner peace & feeling satisfied at the end of your day.

Even among educators the ones who stay at school until all hours are the ones who are seen as most dedicated.  Everyone should go to college.  Don't encourage your kids to become teachers---they'll never make a living. My kid is going to a top-tier school. Top of his class! National Honor Society! Honk if you love your Honor Student! I was there until 10 last night! #lifeofateacher

And there is part of me that totally gets it.

I'm a Slytherin, an Aries, a first-born child. I enjoy the spotlight.  I love it when people think I'm smart/talented/whatever. It makes me feel good to win awards or have a great reputation in town that I'm awesome at what I do. I love the stage.  I love applause.  I love the rush of making the deal/fixing the problem/being the hero.

But the other part is yearning for simple.

I love a rainy Sunday spent making soup and reading books.  A beautiful morning drinking coffee and writing.  A quiet evening at home grilling on the patio and taking in the stars.

I haven't written the bestseller, my name is not up in lights.  I wear no crown and have no illustrious title.  I don't have a six-figure income and my blog posts don't go viral.  I don't encourage folks to cash me outside how 'bout dat, so no TV appearances or viral music videos. Like the woman in the essay, my house isn't always tidy and I'm not a competitive mommy.

Most of the time I am okay with all the above.
I'm not even saying it is better to live a simple life, a quiet life.
I take no moral high ground on this.

I just think we (I?) need to wrap my head around the idea that one's life isn't better, isn't more important, isn't what one should or must aspire to by being famous or busy or high-profile---because while I believe this, I still carry with me the strive, strive, strive to do more/be more.

William Shakespeare and Jane Austen both lived amazing lives.  My neighbor across the street whose name none of you will ever read in a history book has, as well. He matters to those in his circle.  And who knows the positive ripple effects that one living a simple life can make?

I have a former student who is now a grown woman.  She is a total genius--so, so smart and an amazing artist, to boot.  She has a college degree.  She wants to be a wife and a mom.  She wants to be a homemaker.  To cook, to make art around the house, to read stories to her babies and take them to the park.  THIS is her dream.  Sometimes her friends, extended family and well-meaning former teachers make her feel that this dream is not okay.  That wanting to raise a family is not enough.  I mean, it would be fine if she wasn't so smart and so talented.  But she should want more for herself and she should give more to the world.  So, we don't want smart, talented moms?  Only smart, talented CEOs.

THIS is where I find the striving particularly problematic---because while I never said anything aloud, in the past I have been just as guilty of this thinking.

I have no answers to finding balance within myself.
I'm a work in progress, and actually really okay with that.

Here's to simple, quiet lives and here's to those more complicated.
May we all do the best we can do to be the change we wish to see in the world.
And may we all seek to work on ourselves rather than judging the choices of others.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday morning farmers market {solsc day 25}


Kombucha
Collard greens
Baby goats for petting
Handmade birdhouses
Blueberry bushes
Essential oil blends
Fresh-brewed coffee
Breakfast burritos
Artisan cheeses
Focaccia bread
Acoustic guitar
Strawberry plants
Local honey
Independent winery
Friendly faces