This isn’t a “so far” book review…

I am currently reading Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Everyday…No Matter What – and I LOVE it!! I am only on the 3rd chapter, but already this book has offered me inspiration, given me practical advice and called me out on behaviors that could possibly hinder my happiness and productivity.

I am not going to write a “so far” book review, but I will say that Angela Watson has certainly given me a lot to think about. As I reflect on last school year and set goals for the upcoming one, this book is the perfect motivation to really think about my everyday experience at school.

I’ve already highlighted so many passages. Here are a few that have really resonated with me so far:

I can’t change ridiculous school policies, reform standardized testing, reduce class sizes, or make any of the other systemic changes that would help teaching feel less insurmountable.

As a librarian, my value is often measured by how many of my colleagues and students use my expertise and the shared space my assistant and I have created in the media center. I work hard to form relationships that will ensure that I am utilized. But sometimes, the weight of public education bears down on me and it’s hard to get takers on my ideas that involve taking risks, giving up control and allowing students more freedom. So this upcoming year, I want to remember that I have to refocus my attention away from the things I can’t influence or change and onto the things that I can influence and control – which in turn will help me to feel less defeated.

…it’s rare that anything productive will result from complaining about the same situation multiple times. The more you talk about your problems, the more you allow those problems to take up space in your head.

Complainers. Every school has them and we all know them. While I try very hard to not complain, I often times find myself voicing my anxiety on situations or circumstances that arise. So, this isn’t necessarily complaining, but it isn’t much better. I am a worrier by nature – I just can’t help it. Worrying, however, can be just as unproductive and poisonous as complaining. Not only can it influence the people around you in a negative way, voicing these concerns over and over again for an audience will only cause you to fixate on them. So this upcoming school year, I am going to make a very conscious effort to find a positive way to deal with worry and anxiety. This isn’t to say that I’ll never voice a concern to my very small circle of ultra close colleagues, but I will try to not fixate on the anxiety surrounding the concern. Because, really, sometimes you just have to let it go.

What Coach Taylor Has Taught Me About Being an Educator

coachtaylor I have a summer tradition that has been going on for the past 3 or 4 years. Each summer, during July, I rewatch the Friday Night Lights TV series from beginning to end. That’s right, all 5 seasons of it. If you’re not familiar with this series, it chronicles the lives of Coach Eric Taylor, his wife Tammy, their daughters and others from Dillon, Texas. Coach Taylor is a high school football coach, while his wife is an educator.

Sure the show is about a high school football coach, his players and their lives as a part of the Dillon Panthers and the East Dillon Lions, but it’s really about so much more. I have to admit, that I’ve actually watched the series 7 times through, and each time I still get teary eyed at virtually each episode. Not only does this show speak to me on a human level, it touches my educator’s heart as I watch these adults teach, inspire, nurture, care for, love and empower the young people they come into contact with.

So here’s what Coach Taylor has taught me about being an educator.

We Are Part of a Team
dillonpanthersSometimes it feels like it’s easier to close the classroom door and do our own thing, but most people thrive when they’re a part of a team. A team comes together for a common goal or purpose, ours being to help and care for children. We need our team to help us when we fall or fail. Our team can be there to lend a hand or an ear, to listen when we feel alone or talk when we need advice. The team we belong to is also there to help us reach our full potential and encourage us to keep pushing. Sometimes we will shine and be the star of our team, but there will be other times when we will have to sit the bench or stand on the sidelines and cheer for our teammates. This can be hard, but we must remember that being a part of our team is an infinitely powerful thing and all of our effort is for the greater good – a higher purpose of educating, nurturing and caring for our students.

A few will never give up on you. When you go back on the field, those are the people I want in your minds. Those are the people I want in your hearts.  – Coach Taylor

Character Is To Be Discovered and Developed
We are in the inspiration and empowerment business. Each day we help students discover their own character and we strive continuously to help nurture and develop that character. Character is developed in practice. We use lessons, real life stories, content, books, films and numerous other tools to teach students valuable lessons about what character is and why it’s important. But we must remember, character is also developed and learned on the field. We have to use practice to teach our students the plays, but we must let go – we have to allow them to go out on the field and make their own decisions to execute the plays we’ve given them.
coachtaylorcharacter

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose
clear eyesClear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. – Not only is this the show’s catchphrase, it is also the most important lesson that Coach Taylor has to offer. As educators we are constantly reminded that our profession is unimportant and less valued than many others. But despite this, we have to give everyday our all. Our students deserve this much. Even if the game isn’t going our way, if the scoreboard doesn’t reflect how hard we’re trying, we must press forward. If we can look at our effort with clear eyes, knowing we played with integrity and gave 100% with a full heart, we can’t lose and our fight is not in vain. In the end, we all want to win, but we have to redefine how we measure a victory.

Every man. At some point in his life, is going to lose a battle. He is going to fight and he is going to lose. But what makes him a man is that in the midst of that battle, he does not lose himself.

Hello Monday

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The summer is flying by as we get closer and closer to the beginning of the school year. It’s time for installment 2 of Hello Monday. These posts are designed to begin the week with a little humor, some motivation and things that inspire me.

 

 

HUMOR
Have you seen these memes about dating dealbreakers…and breadsticks? They’re so hilarious and really speak to the geek in me. This is one of my favorites! 

If you’re like me, you love Amazon and wouldn’t know what to do without your Prime account. So naturally, when I heard about Amazon Prime Day, I was excited! Amazon advertised that Prime Day would be better than Black Friday. Even though I wasn’t planning on spending lots of money, I was curious as to what types of deals they’d have, since their prices are normally lower to begin with. Well, Prime Day came and it was an EPIC FAIL; a laugh out loud epic fail,  but a fail none the less. These responses to Prime Day sum it up perfectly!

Last, but certainly not least, #TrumpYourCat! There just really aren’t any words to describe how funny this is. Just trust me, check it out!

 

 

 


MOTIVATION
I love this post by Steven Anderson about creating using the appoLearning platform to create a professional learning collection for your school or district. I’ve always struggled with finding an easy way to curate all of the resources, tools, sites and videos that I share with my staff. It has to be easy to access, easy to navigate and all in one place. When I came across this post, the lightbulb went off. He found what I was looking for. I plan to start working on this in the next few weeks and continue to develop it throughout the school year!


INSPIRATION
This…
pripptweetAnd this…
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Enjoy your week!

Strong women…

It’s been said that alone we are smart, but together we are brilliant! This is something I’m reminded of daily and why my PLN is so important to me. Sometimes, we’re lucky enough to be able to connect, face to face, with members of our PLN. These connections can often lead to amazing things.

I am fortunate enough to have experienced this with one of my lovely PLNers! I like to call her my P.I.C., aka partner in crime. Together, she and I have been able to plan, create, design and implement all kinds of awesome things. We include each other in the initiatives we begin and always think about how we can do things together, as a team.

For us, it’s not a competition of who can be the better librarian. It is a relationship built on mutual respect and a true love and passion for what we do. Because of this, when I was given an opportunity to serve in a cool position for our state school library association, I asked her be my co-chairperson.

I am not too proud to admit that I need her help. Her positive attitude and excitement are contagious. I realize that together, she and I have the power to create real change. Life is not always about making yourself shine and stand out. The spotlight is big enough for all of us!

Mollee, this one’s for you!

Image Source: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B9HGXZoCYAAMYFD.jpg

Hello Monday

IMG_1329 In order to get yourself into a regular habit of blogging, it can be helpful to pick one or two themed posts to write on a weekly basis. Blogging can sometimes seem discouraging when you feel like you don’t have enough, or even anything to say.

Since it’s always good to listen to your own advice, I am going to start a regular post called Hello Monday on this blog. With this post, I hope to begin the week with a little humor, some motivation and things that inspire me. So let’s do this…

HUMOR
floodLet me explain this one. I live in downtown Norfolk, VA. If you’re familiar at all with this area, you know that it floods and when I say floods, I mean it seriously floods, like rivers running through the streets sort of flooding. When I woke up Sunday morning, I had no idea that I would spend my day wading through almost waist deep water, helping an older man out of his submerged car, bailing out my husband’s car with mixing bowls and buckets and trying to figure out how to dry out a car that lucky for us, decided not to die after being flooded. Whew!!

So, you’re probably wondering why I’d consider this as humor. Well sometimes all you can do to keep yourself from freaking out and crying, is to laugh. I am laughing and smiling because it could’ve been worse. We could have lost our car, the older man could’ve been hurt. And just picture it, me trying to push a Honda Civic in waist deep water; all 105 pounds of me.

Also I also came across this comic which is the perfect description of my summer life!


 

MOTIVATION
Tavia Clark   tavia_clark    Twitter


 

INSPIRATION
Pernille Ripp’s blog – Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension and especially her recent post “You are Not Just a Teacher”

I can’t say enough about the beauty of Pernille Ripp’s blog. I was fortunate enough to attend one of her sessions at NCTIES 2015 and I sat mesmerized as she talked about blogging, her students and all that they’re doing and saying because she has inspired and empowered them. If you’re in a teaching rut or you need a pick me up, READ THIS POST. Better yet, read as many of her blog posts as you can. She’s earnest, honest and her words are beautiful.

 

Enjoy your week everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

Let me confess…

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Don’t shriek too loudly, but yes, I am a librarian who does not enjoy writing book reviews. I know, it’s terrible.

Here’s the thing…I LOVE talking about books I’m currently reading or books I’ve read in the past. This is one of my favorite parts of my daily interactions with students. But, when it comes to writing book reviews, I just can’t force myself to do it.

I read book reviews everyday and most of them are beautifully articulated accounts of how the writer reaches his/her audience through an amazing character or situation. When it comes to trying to recreate this after I’ve finished a book, it’s an epic fail. I’m just not good at writing reviews. I never feel like the review I write is up to the same standard as the ones I read. Maybe I set the bar too high for myself. Or maybe I just want to bypass all of the things you can read on the back of the book’s cover and just talk to you about how much I loved a character or how much the words on the page made me cry, over and over again.

IMG_1324I’ve been reading a lot this summer and I feel somewhat guilty that I’m not reviewing each book once I’m done with it. I keep up with my GoodReads account and I always rate the books I’ve read, but when prompted to enter a review, I generally decline. But yesterday, something strange happened.

I was scrolling through Instagram and went to the Nerdette Podcast account. These ladies review all of the books they read, but the reviews are so much different than what you’re probably used to seeing. They’re one or two sentences, simple blurbs that honestly tell you what the reader thinks and feels about the book. Immediately, I thought, “I can do this!”

And I did it. I wrote a quick, simple review of a book I just finished and posted the review on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It was fast, easy and manageable. I can do it from my phone. I don’t have to plan a long, drawn out essay or analysis of the book. I can simply tell you I loved it or don’t waste your time.

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So, from now on, I will be reviewing what I read, but doing it my own way; the way that works for me and makes me feel good about what I’m sharing. I encourage everyone else to try out these tiny book reviews to showcase and share what you’re reading. Give them a hashtag so they’re easy for you to curate and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

Arnold Image: http://www.flickeringmyth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/kindergarten-cop.jpg