Bittersweet

This beautiful lady has been my assistant for the past eleven years.  She has kept me sane and made me laugh.  She has kept the library up and running through the births of both of my children. She has done all the hard work of being in a school library while I get all the glory.  I have depended on her and she has been there for me – alw12189426_10207439960624831_7637598026814263324_oays.  And she retired at the end of last school year.  I am so happy for her.  She will get to spend more time with her boys and her new grand baby coming in December.  She will get to travel with her husband and do all the fun stuff she deserves.  I love her with all my heart and will miss her so much.

Yesterday,  I had the opportunity to meet my new assistant.  She seems nice and funny, and I am sure she will do a wonderful job. She has so many positive qualities and I am looking forward to getting to know her and working with her to keep my library moving forward.  But as the school year begins, I am missing my friend.  It is bittersweet.

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Waking Up

It is summer and I allow my brain to sleep like a baby for the month of July.  It is necessary for me not to burn out.  This first week of August has been my brain wake up.

On Tuesday, I spent the day at WiLS World conference.  It was primarily a public library conference, but the keynote speaker , David Bendekovic, really made me think.  He asked us the question – why do you do what you do?  In all honesty, it is a question I have needed to ask myself for awhile.  With all the changes in education in general and my position specifically, I have been struggling to find the joy that once provided my spark.  Sitting and listening to this k232323232-fp3-nu=3237-2;8-3-6-WSNRCG=32324765;2835nu0mrjeynote, I was reminded of why I chose to be a school librarian and realized that my internal fire has not gone out.  It has just been dimmed for awhile.  I am really grateful for the opportunity to reflect on my practice and maybe begin to fan the flame again.

Today was an entirely different experience.  I spent my day at our district Leadership Academy.  I am part of my building leadership team, and we spent the day working through our building goals for the upcoming school year.  Our district administrator said something that really resonated with me.  He said that he hates the word accountability, and that he prefers the word impact.  He reminded us that our impact on students is what is important.  We then got the opportunity to create goals for our building so we can maximize the impact that we have in our students’ lives.

I am still looking forward to having one more month of vacation to relax and refresh my spirit, but this week has helped me start the slow process back to being in teaching shape.

Ending July

Summer is coming to an end.  While it is technically only the last weekend of July, I am gearing up for the August ramp up.  Next week, I am attending the WiLS World conference and am meeting with our Building Leadership Team to develop our building goals.  My brain will be right back in it.  I made a conscious effort to walk away for the first part of the summer.  I needed the break, but now I am starting to get excited, as I do every August, for the new students, new challenges, and new energy that a new school year brings.  Looking forward to sharing the journey of the new school year with you.

Summer “Break”

We are heading into the last week of school.  I have so much to do  – shelf read, get books back, pack up the technology, but most importantly, I have to decide what work I need to prioritize this summer.  13310385_1614314352219303_8298288264891305287_n.jpg

This isn’t going to be another rant about how teachers really do not have a break in the summer.  Yes, I am busy – with my kids, home projects that I do not have time for in the school year, course work and planning for the new school year.  On the flip side, I can read a book in the sun on a random Wednesday afternoon.  It has its advantages.

This summer will be tougher than many.  My assistant is retiring and my job is undergoing a complete overhaul.  I am not sure how I will manage without the woman who has been my right hand for the past 11 years.  I am not sure how I will train someone new when I do not even fully know how our world will look.  I am nervous and overwhelmed, but I am also excited.  I am looking forward to spending my summer getting my head around my new role.  I am looking forward to growing and becoming the educator I want to be.

Moving Forward

My growthMAET program is finishing up and as a result, I feel a change in focus is in order for this blog.  Rather than focusing on my learning journey in my Master’s program, I am going to change the blog to focus on my learning journey in the role of Technology Coach.  It is a change that I have advocated for with my principal and I am lucky enough that he saw the potential for me to truly make a difference.  As a result, this blog will be more about my changing role and a reflection of my practice.  As always, I appreciate any input as I begin to move forward.  Thanks!

 

Embodied Thinking

Embodied Thinking is the use of the body sensations – both physical and emotional – in the creation process.

The embodiment that I chose is a free verse poem that I entitled The Astronaut’s Wife. One of the aspects of the space program that I have always been fascinated by is the lives of the astronauts and their families – especially during the golden age of space travel during the Apollo program. The fact that their entire lives were photographed and reported upon while they were undergoing such stresses is interesting to me. The poem I created was meant to empathetically represent that duality of having to put on your best public face at all times even when you are terror stricken at what is going on. I think that this type of experience is one that almost everybody is familiar with and can be empathetic to at some level. This is especially true if you are a parent as there are many times when you have to simply bury your own panic, grief or illness in order to put on the parent persona for your own child. In my poem, I try to represent those two parts – the public persona and the private fear – to give an empathetic look at the life experience of these astronaut wives in the 1960s.

Astronaut’s Wife

 He just called. He is going to the moon. I am happy, proud and thrilled.

Credit nasa.gov

 (He is going to the moon. The moon. And he tells me like he’s going to be at a conference in Cleveland for a few days. Does he realize the dangers? Does he understand what could go wrong? Does he know that if something happens, he is going to be leaving me and the kids here alone? What am I going to do if something happens? I will be by myself. How will I manage? Where will I get a job? I haven’t been anything, but his wife for so long. What will I tell the kids? Who will walk our daughter down the aisle at her wedding? Do we have enough insurance? How can I make the next few months extra special just in case he doesn’t come back? I should look at our savings. Where will I go if he doesn’t come back? I need a drink. Does he realize that HE COULD DIE? Like Gus? Like Ed? Like Roger? What will I do if that happens? )

 He just called. He is going to the moon. I am happy, proud and thrilled.

I think this understanding impacts my topic by making the whole space program more human and less bureaucratic. The original astronauts are generally viewed as “steely-eyed missle men” and are looked at through the lens of their accomplishments in space rather than as the humans that they are. I believe developing an empathetic connection to them in this way helps us to understand the sacrifices that they and their families made in their personal lives for this national dream to become a reality. It really was not all Corvettes and jets. It was family men, who were not always perfect, struggling to be in the public eye and project an image to the world that did not always represent the reality. As a personal proponent of the space program, this type of understanding is important because as much as NASA is the mistakes it has made and the money it has spent, it is also the people whose passion, despite fear, for space exploration and the knowledge we gain through our time in orbit that make the space program important.

Creative “I”: Defining Creativity

I chose to interview a fellow teacher, Stephanie Buske, for this part of the Creative “I” project.  Stephanie currently is a fifth grade teacher, but before getting her education degree, she went to drama school and spent time as a singer and actress off Broadway in New York City.  Her husband is also an actor and both are heavily involved in the Madison, Wisconsin theater scene.  Stephanie defines creativity as the ability to take a role, ignore it’s history and previous interpretations and make it uniquely yours.  She says that she does this by trying to find the hook or the connection to the audience member or in her current situation – student.  Steph’s creative process begins with the kernel –  a book, a song, a museum exhibit – that she builds on.  From that kernel, she explores the things that inherently make that thing interesting and uses her words, body and voice to bring that intangible quality to life.  Stephanie also believes that the idea of creativity informs her life every day – as a teacher and mother.  When people ask her if she is still acting, she tells them not on stage, but that she acts all day as a teacher – finding those kernels of interest and using her talents to light fires of inspiration within her students.

Dr. Mishra and his colleagues in the article (Mishra, Henriksen, & the Deep-Play Research Group, 2013) define creativity as being novel, effective and whole.  In my interview, Stephanie also focuses on the idea of making something unique or novel to your interpretation.  For me, that is my biggest struggle in being creative at work.  So much of what I need to focus on such as data, standardized tests, and scripted curriculum do not give any room for novelty or uniqueness.  It is hard for me to incorporate that component into my teaching when everything I do is trying to squeeze it out.  Fortunately, I see a shift coming in my district.  We have new members of the admin
istration team who are encouraging teachers to find that novelty and personal interpretation and bring it back into our teaching.  I find I am at my most creative when I am allowed to have new experiences.  I am lucky in that I live in an area where there are lots of cultural events, museums, and natural areas that allow me to broaden my perspective and indulge in creativity.

Mishra, P., Henriksen, D., & the Deep-Play Research Group (2013). A NEW approach to defining and measuring creativity. Tech Trends (57) 5, p. 5-13.