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Friday, May 24, 2013

Trying to make a good name for librarians everywhere

I've had a few very good days at school and am very encouraged.  I am enjoying it overall.  If this school ever offered me a job, I would take it.

Mrs. R still drives me a little crazy.  I am thankful for her, but at the same time she can cause some annoyances.  She is very stuck in her ways and opinions...and very outspoken about them  She is very tough on the kids and can act a bit crabby towards them. We differ on a few of our views of how the library should be run.

In fact, I am finding that the librarian I am subbing for runs things very differently than I would too. For one thing, she is very unforgiving about lost or damaged books.  If a book is lost, she will hold it over the kids' head for years...literally.  Do you remember this post?  I've seen a few cases just like the two in that post.  One little girl lost a book while attending a different elementary school in the same district...over a year ago.  She has not been allowed to take a book out since.  That is, until I came along.  I let her take out a book last week!  I put an exclamation point after writing that sentence because letting her take out a book made me so happy! I tried to remove the record of her taking the other book, but could not because it is from a different school.

There is another little boy who will be coming to the library to do jobs in order to "pay" for the damaged book he returned to the library.  I'm all for holding kids accountable.  He made a mistake and left the book where his little sister could reach it  She tore out several pages. I think he should be held accountable for what happened, but I will not let him be banned from taking out books  either.  I was told by his teacher that it was highly unlikely that his family would pay for the book...money is pretty tight for them.  I'm pretty excited about helping him pay off his book by letting him work. 

There are some other issues too!  Grades 2-5 are allowed to take out 2 books.  If they only return one book, they are not allowed to take out any books until both are returned.  I think that's ridiculous!  I think they ought to be rewarded for bringing one book back!  Why not let them take out another book for a total of two?  My goodness!  What if one of the books they are reading is a chapter book like Harry Potter or something? That's a pretty long book! They might not be finished with it yet...so can't they browse through another book at the same time?

In another instance, a 5th grade class came in to look for books about different countries. Each child was to sign out a book about a different country in order to work on a class research project.  I was in another part of the library when I overheard Mrs. R tell a little boy that he could not take his country book out because he had an overdo book on his record (a book that was due in March).  I came up to the desk just as the class was leaving.  The little boy was still standing there at the desk.  I said, "What's going on?"  She told me that he could not get a book because he had a late book.  Meanwhile, the little boy was worried about his class leaving, so he left.  That is when I had a little discussion with Mrs. R.  I said, "He CAN take out this book.  It is a class project."  She started to argue with me, but I proceeded to check out the book in the boy's name and I left the library to catch up to him.  They had already made it all the way down to their classroom.  I invited myself in and gave him the book.  I also talked to his teacher.  The next day, she stopped me in the hall and thanked me.

There are librarians who give the profession a very bad name.  Crotchety people who think that the books are more important than the kids are.

It's NOT NOT NOT NOT a box!

As promised, here is one of the "not a boxes!"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Not a Box

Today went much better!  In fact...it was a good day.  All the lessons went well.  This is the book I read to the kindergarteners.  We talked about imagination and of course...playing in boxes.  I also showed them Harold and the Purple Crayon on BookFlix.  (a collection of books made into short movies) Tomorrow I will add a little image of one of the children's creations that we did after the lesson. I photocopied a few of them on the school's color copier to put into my portfolio. 

First grade went well too and the children seemed to enjoy the lesson and project.

Second grade.  I had Mrs. L's class today and they seem to be a pretty good class.  I did not have any major behavior issues.  I ended up tweaking the lesson a little from last night.  We all did a little research project together on mealworms-which they are studying in their class.  I thought it might be a good idea to model how to research using the information on a database called PebbleGo.  I think the kids really enjoyed it.

Very tired and ready to just relax!  Thanks for all of your prayers....keep it up!

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's tough

I am in a difficult assignment.  I'm really questioning whether or not I am in the right field.  I'm very discouraged.

Today Lily came again.  Once again I could not read the story to the class with her there.  She started yelling that she did not want me to show Nolan the pictures in the book.  This was after getting together with Mrs. S (Lily's teacher) to go over her BIP earlier in the day. We also went over the seating arrangement together to try to put Lily in the best possible seat.  Lily was not originally going to even be in class today, but there was a change in plans and there she was.  She came in holding Mrs. S's hand.  Mrs. S said, "Lily is going to have a good day in the library today, aren't you Lily?"  Lily nodded. The children sat down and I started to introduce the story.  I got a half a sentence in when Lily said, "I can't see!"  I explained that I would make sure that everyone in the class got a chance to see the pictures....that is when she started in that she did not want Nolan to be able to see the pictures.  I tried to calm her down and of course it was useless. Mrs. R called for help.  We all got up and moved to another section of the library when support came and I read from there. The good news:  no running around the library this time and no lock down.

Then the kindergartners came in and there was a little boy who was terribly disruptive.  I don't recall him being there last week so I am assuming he was absent. He had a 1-1 aid with him and had to be taken away.  It took awhile for him to finally be taken away. Because he was so disruptive, it was impossible to read the story.  After he was gone, it was still challenging to read the story.  Many of these children do not sit and listen to a story very well.

I just looked up this child's name in the system because I could not remember it....it's Aiden...but that's not all.  I discovered that he and Lily have the same last name. Interesting.  Are they siblings? More sleuthing and I found out they have the same address.  Who are the parents?  There is clearly something dreadfully wrong with these children and it is very sad.  What causes them to be like this?  Whatever it is, it is not their fault.  They are victims of something.

I'm not looking forward to tomorrow.  I'm just afraid that tomorrow will be a disaster.  I worked hard all weekend to come up with different plans for the classes coming in.  My plans for the second graders are kind of sketchy and I'm very worried about it. I am trying to come up with a simple research project on insects with the kids.  The thing I am worried about is that there are only 10 computers in the library.  Tomorrow's class has about 24 kids.  We will have to break up into groups in order to take turns using the computers.  I need something to keep the other children busy and out of trouble while I work with the children on the computers.  Everyone will need instruction on how to use the database I am planning on using.  I also forgot to check how many headphones I have to use. I know that there are several in the back office...I just don't know how many.

What have I gotten myself into?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A little lighter

Yesterday morning I woke up with a heavy heart.  I hadn't really gotten into it Thursday about the vice principal walking into the class when I was losing my cool with the class that was in there...I just was too sick about it to elaborate. It was very bad and cast me in a very negative light. I later was crying to my husband that I had just destroyed any possibility for getting a job in the future.  I just couldn't see how I could ever gain credibility back with the VP.  He said, "Maybe you didn't...talk to her tomorrow."  I intended to, but she was never in her office when I stopped by.

I DID however, stop by another teacher's room (I will call her Mrs. P) to talk with her.  I knew her class was coming in to the library and that they were also difficult.  I walked into her room, formally introduced myself and said, "What works with your kids?"  Unfortunately she did not have time to talk because she was running to a meeting, but she indicated that the kids need to DO something in library besides color coloring pages.  I TOTALLY agree.  I have been bored to death with the lesson plans that the librarian has left for me.  I've already changed some of them to be more interactive learning.  Next week's lessons are an absolute SNORE!  If I am so bored with the lessons, why wouldn't the kids be? Later Mrs. P came into the library to toss a few ideas around with me.  We are planning on some sort of  research project for insects in the form of centers in the library.  I quickly changed the plans for today with her.  Today's lessons were not perfect, because I had about 40 minutes to get ready for three different grade levels to come in back to back, but it was some improvement over the other lesson.  It was a book entitled Bug Faces.  (I actually wrote a review for this book after reading it to second graders in another school district) Unfortunately, the class was poorly behaved...making it difficult to read the book.  VERY disrespectful children. That's a whole other story which I won't get into.

Anyway, Mrs. P was totally supportive and encouraging to me. She also said she would step into the VP's office to tell her that I had taken initiative to talk with her about being successful with her class.  Take a look at the student work page on this library's website (one I have subbed in in the past and learned so much at) and look at all the interesting projects that have been done.  That's how I want a library to look.  I feel so much lighter knowing that I have someone on my side.

I still need to talk with the VP and I need to confront Mrs. R about some issues I am still having with her.  Please pray for me.  I feel that this whole experience is a turning point in my search and experience as a school librarian.  It will either make me or break me.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Toto, we are not in Brighton anymore....

...or in Webster, or Pal-Mac, or Gananda...etc.

How I wished I were wearing ruby slippers and that I could click my heels together and go home.

I ended the day in a very BAD way.  The second graders that came in were horrible.  How can 2nd graders be that bad? I lost my cool with them...and in walked the vice principal.  Feeling like a giant failure right now.  Perhaps I should have stuck with public libraries.

The other very frustrating thing is that this school keeps pulling me out of the library during the times that I don't have a class, to do coverage for other classes.  This morning I was scheduled to sub for a 4th grade class from 9-10:30.  Mrs. R had the day off so I had to put the book drop box out in the hallway for returns and lock the library door.  That meant that none of the kids who returned books in the morning could take out books.  That is the time of day that I actually enjoy the most. Perhaps because it is the more enjoyable kids who are there to exchange books.  Kids who want to read.  I like making conversation with them and helping them find the books that interest them the most.  So...I had to sub for a 4th grade class.  At least the class was good.  The phone rang during the class and I answered it. It was the secretary who wanted to know if I was available to sub for another class at 10:30.  (It wasn't really a question...it wasn't like I really had a choice.)  Anyway...at least the 2nd class was good too. I found this to be very frustrating. Yesterday I covered for a class and tomorrow I will have to cover for another class from 9-10:30.

Seriously?  I know I need to be a good sport about this, but it is hard.  I have a headache.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Just Another Day in the Office...but it's Friday!

Wow!  This was quite a week. I'm learning a lot!

My first graders came into the library at noon.  I had noticed just before class that there was a notation made about them.  It said, "BIP-Please make sure not to let Lily and Nolan near each other."  Hmmmm.  Interesting.  I went out to pick up the kids in the hallway.  Within seconds, there was a little girl hanging onto my arm. I learned that this was Lily. I took the kids inside and sat them in front of the SMARTboard to start the lesson, but first I was going to read them a story. I was satisfied with the distance between Lily and Nolan. I started the story which was a simple biography about Pocahontas, but had to stop just a half a page in.  Lily was shouting, "Stop looking at me!  He's laughing at me!" She was pointing at Nolan, who, as far as I could tell, was not doing anything but sitting on the carpet listening to the story.  He said, "I am not...I'm just sitting here."  She started shouting over the top of his words, "You are too looking at me!  Stop looking at me!  I hate him!"  She would not stop shouting.  I asked her to be quiet.  "I will not be quiet.  HE needs to be quiet!"  I said, "Lily, do you need to go to a quiet space for a little break?"  (I asked this as gently as I could because I know that she is an emotionally broken child) Her response was, "NO!  HE IS LOOKING AT ME AND LAUGHING AT ME! I HATE HIM!"  At this point Mrs. R was calling the office for support.  One of the counselors came down and tried to get Lily to take a little walk with her.  She refused to get up.  At this point, it was suggested that the entire class move to another part of the library to read the story.  That is what we did...leaving Lily sitting angrily on the carpet.

While I was trying to read the story, the counselor was trying to deal with Lily, who had started to run around the library.  The counselor called for more support on her radio. A second counselor came down.  We continued to read the story as best as we could. Suddenly, they were gone and we finished the story and went over to the SMARTboard to continue the lesson. (which was about how biographies are written in chronological order by the way) On the board, the kids started dragging sentences of Poc's bio to put them in order chronologically. Then there was an announcement over the P.A. system.  "We are going into a level 1 lockdown."  A level 1 means that there is not a danger to the school as a whole, but for some reason, we need to lock our doors and stay in our classrooms.  About 20 minutes later, the lockdown was lifted.

I found out later that Lily had given them chase by running through the hallways of the school. It took three adults to finally bring her in.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

A Whole New World....and the Monster Within.

Do you remember that scene in Lord of the Rings, when Frodo and Bilbo Baggins were hanging out together just before Frodo begins the journey?  Bilbo sees the ring hanging around Frodo's neck and suddenly snarls like a monster and freaks everyone out who is watching the movie? That was me today.  Okay....maybe not quite, but there is a monster within me.

I am working in a very challenging school right now.  It is a step inside of Greece from the Roch City School District. Just a few blocks away from the school is RCSD. There are many behavior issues.  Many of the kids are non-compliant...(which is a nice way of saying they are plain disobedient). I think many of them must come from very difficult family lives. I have seen children in other districts who are just as disobedient...but there are far fewer of them.  The sheer number of them in this district is very dismaying. I had a first grade class that had behavior that was just unbelievable. I absolutely lost it.  I can really have a very scary angry voice sometimes...luckily it is a voice that does not come out often. How did they respond? I DO think I scared them enough into a behavioral change...but I don't think it was effective overall. They crept into poor behavior again as the hour dragged on. I just don't want to turn into the nasty dragon librarian.

The Kindergarten class that came next is a high needs classroom.  Several students have Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIP).  I could barely read the picture book story to them. I actually had to simplify it in order to shorten it...I was losing their attention and needed to move on to something else. I felt like I was going batty. However, something happened during the story that made me stop and think...what is life like for some of these kids?  It was a simple question that was asked by a little girl named Brooke. In the story the word 'husband' was mentioned.  She said, "What's a husband?" She was not asking this to be disruptive.  She genuinely wanted to know. I thought it was sad that she wouldn't know what a husband is...I suppose she could come from a home where English is not the primary language so that could be a factor.

I was dreading my next class.  A second grade class with several more BIPs.  I knew it was not going to be a picnic.  I went to the door to get them a few minutes late because of problems moving the Kindergarten group out.I was greeted by a woman who was subbing for the class.  She told me that she had had a nightmare of an experience subbing for their class and that about half of the students were taken to the office by the principal. In walked about 10 kids.  I know that made life quite a bit easier for me, but even so...they were not very well-behaved. I was able to manage them, but was amazed that the "best" behaved students of the class were the ones sitting in from of me.

Anyway...I am going to need a lot more wisdom and tricks up my sleeve in order to manage classes better. I feel like I am student teaching all over again...but this time without a mentoring teacher sitting in the same room.  Ironically I could have used Mrs. R's presence. Didn't I tell you that my appreciation of her would grow by leaps and bounds?

I was thinking about how only a week ago I was subbing in an elementary school in Webster and I had 2nd graders all day long.  I loved the entire day.  The kids were so good! The biggest challenge of the day was a few kids talking out of turn. I remember thinking, "I love second graders." Just 9 days later and I am in an entirely different world.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Brand New Day

Today was a brand new day with a brand new Mrs. R! (Okay...not entirely brand new...but much better)  Her attitude toward me did an about face.  She spoke to me kindly and respectfully. The entire atmosphere of the library was much better. Maybe what I said to her yesterday made the difference. Tomorrow Mrs. R does not come in...which will make the day very challenging.  My overall appreciation of her should grow by leaps and bounds when I am on my own...juggling all aspects of the library. All alone in the library.

The last class of the day was very challenging today.  They are a difficult class and need a very firm hand.  I am going to have to absolutely take complete control of this class in order to work with them.  I have been told that tomorrow's last class is just as challenging as this one. If you would say a prayer for me, I would appreciate it.

I am actually too tired to write a very interesting post...going to bed!


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Challenged...but making small steps

Yesterday was a pretty good day in the library...all things considered.

So far, I am finding that the library is not a really comfortable and fun place to be...because of Mrs. R.  I prayed on the way to school that the Lord would help me to love her.  It is difficult because I honestly do not like her.  Today and yesterday she was very condescending to me.  Every question I asked her was answered with an undertone that spoke volumes.  Have you ever spoken to someone and they answer you rudely with the words,..."Uh duh!" ?  She has not said these words to me...but the undertone of her answers has.  Finally I said to her, "Can you please speak to me like I am intelligent?" She looked very shocked and her mouth dropped open.  I also think she was embarrassed. (I hope) This was ten minutes before the first of three back to back classes was coming in.  I think that it may have helped because she kind of gave me a compliment on the lesson I taught by saying that she could tell that the kids enjoyed it.  She also did not interrupt one single time during any class to discipline.

Earlier in the day we had an interesting discussion which brought to light her "vast knowledge of library work and children." (sarcasm here)  A teenage girl has been doing service work in the library on occasion because of some discipline action taken against her (I don't know any details).  She comes from the high school to do work.  She was supposed to come in this morning.
Me: "Are you going to be here at 9:00 because _____ is coming in to do work." (I was stepping out of the library for about an hour and a half because of some other obligation)
Mrs. R: "Yes."
Me: "Have her shelf the books on the cart and if she finishes, have her start shelf-reading the fiction section."
(Blank stare) "Do you know what shelf-reading is?"
Mrs. R: "No."
Me: "It's making sure the books are in order."
Mrs. R: "The books are already in order." (add undertone of 'duh')
Me: "They are supposed to be in order, but after awhile they are not in order and need to be fixed."
Mrs. R: "No....the books were put in order in the beginning of the year."
Me: "Yes, but children will very quickly get them out of order."
Mrs. R:  "That's why they use shelf markers." (add undertone of 'duh')
Me: (trying to patient and kind) "It doesn't matter if they used shelf markers, children have a tendency to get books out of order."
Mrs. R shakes her head in disgust.
Me: (trying to maintain that I am knowledgeable, while trying to be polite too) "I have been working in libraries for many years, and we have always had to shelf read from time to time."
Mrs. R: "Okay" (add undertone of 'duh' and 'whatever')

Seriously, I know that many of my readers have never worked in a library and may not know the term 'shelf reading'...but honestly, who could possibly think that children are neat and tidy while looking for books in the library?  Most of you have kids and probably remember how quickly they can turn the house upside down. Mrs. R actually has one child herself.  Maybe her child was unusually neat and well-behaved and could sit still for hours at a time.  I don't know!

On a good note, I have created three SMARTboard activities which I have incorporated into lessons this week.  The kids are enjoying them and I think they will be great to be able to share during an interview. (don't get too bogged down if you don't know what a SMARTboard is...just think, "Priscilla is so clever and technologically savvy!")

Friday, May 03, 2013

And so it begins...

Last night, around 8:30 or so, I was notified that my long-term sub position has officially begun today.  My main goal for today was to get through it.  To begin to aclimate myself and teach the library lessons.  I was a bit thrown off by the presence of the book fair which had taken over the entire library.  Luckily this is the last day of it and on Monday, the library will be back to "normal."  I put normal in quotes because I have only been there twice and am not well versed on what normal really is there.

I am almost certain that Mrs. R will probably drive me crazy before the 7 weeks are up. She did not interupt me while teaching classes (she actually had left by then)...but gave me a lot of unsolicited advice and other comments.

The kids were not too bad.  I did have to correct some misbehaviors...it being a more challenging school (a step outside of the city limits).  I had the mischievous child, the interupting child, the ever-so-slightly-but-cannot-quite-pinpoint-it disrespectful child, the I-need-to-separate-you-two boys, and also the bossy-tattletale-class-reporter child to deal with.  I guess that is pretty typical.