Librarian Roar: Finding Joy in your Work
Welcome to Library Lions Roar, celebrating libraries and the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. since 2010. Teacher Librarian Melissa Thom is back with us this month to talk about Student Reviewers, Author Visits, and taking Joy in your professional life.
A Roar for Student Reviews
One of the programs that I am working on is Student Reviewers. Through a variety of ways (webinars, conferences, various book events), I gather advanced reading copies (ARCs) and try to encourage students to read them and then share what they thought with our school community, as well as authors and publishers, using Flipgrid or a written review. One 6th grade student, Christine, received a sneak peek copy of the manuscript of the next book in the series she had reviewed. Two 8th graders, Ana and Aaliska, received signed copies of the book they had reviewed. One way to start out simply would be to tweet a pic of the student with the book and tag the author and publisher! Students (and I) LOVE hearing back from them.
“The library is the one place where I feel like I can be myself.” Rebecca 8th grader
“The Makerspace is the reason I have the friends I have.” Juan, 6th grader
Any personal interaction between readers and authors is special, whether it be through Skype or face-to-face. Two years ago, as I was planning some activities to commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11, I knew I wanted to include an author visit. Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes and Memory of Things by Gae Polisner had just been published so I decided to reach out to them. Jewel visited our school and met with the 6th and 7th graders.
Gae Skyped with the 8th graders. Both events were highly engaging and overall successes.
Another time I took advantage of the Scholastic website that connects schools with authors and had the opportunity to set up a Skype visit with Natalie Lloyd for a small group of students participating in a lunchtime book group. The day of the Skype, the school’s internet was not working, so Natalie FaceTimed us on my phone! We all gathered around to say hello and then passed it around with each student getting to ask Natalie a question. The students were thrilled!
Finally, author visits can sometimes be a last minute decision due to an unforeseen opportunity (and everything aligning just right). Last spring, I was fortunate to discover that Laurie Ann Thompson, one of the authors of “Two Truths and a Lie,” offered FREE 15 minute Skype sessions. I had been working with the 7th grade Science teacher on media literacy and guiding students to develop strategies for determining if the information they found was reliable using this highly engaging book. The group who participated was extremely excited to have the opportunity and were able to connect on a deeper level with the author.
One Last Roar
I try to find joy in all areas of my professional life. After being a classroom teacher for twelve years, becoming a teacher librarian is truly my dream come true. For me, everything that I love about education comes together in my current position. The potential impact I have on my entire school community is both daunting and invigorating. Some of the things I have learned in the first three years of my teacher librarian journey include:
Balance and planning ahead are extremely important and not always easy to do so develop some strategies.
Make an effort to get to know all the teachers and staff in your building! Regardless of which type of schedule you follow (fixed or flexible), collaboration will be a key aspect of your role. Begin with those teachers who are willing to take risks and have fun. There will also be some negativity so focus on the positive aspects (and people) within your building.
We are all in this together! Develop and continuously grow your PLN! As a teacher librarian, you are often the only person in your building (and in some cases your district) in your position so you need to find ‘your people’ and connect both in person and virtually! Click here (https://goo.gl/SMduLS) for a list of some of my most inspirational people and groups. I will continue to grow this list as the year goes on.
Take risks and HAVE FUN! Find the joy in everything you do and spread that joy and love of all things library and makerspace to everyone around you!
Thank you, Melissa Thom, for another terrific post for LLR! Wishing you and your students at Bristow Middle School all the best in this coming year!
Melissa Thom is the Vice President of the Connecticut Association of School Librarians and a member of both AASL and ALA. She makes an effort to attend conferences (both in person and virtual) in order to stay connected with the experts and leaders in the field saying, “I believe there is power in collaboration, connection, and networking.”