Is there any project or activity that you participated in last school year that you’d want to tell other librarians about?
In 2016-2017, I got to work with a small group of 8th grade students for an hour once a week. With them, I piloted a passion project/Genius hour hybrid. I told them from the beginning they were my guinea pigs so I could learn the ins and outs to do it bigger and better in 2017-2018. Some of the projects were outstanding (my favorite was the group that learned to cook – tasty final project!). Some of the projects had great plans, but never got off the ground (that group really was going to design the greatest video game around, except they all did artwork and not a one learned to code…). Some never quite figured out what they were doing (that guiding question will make or break a group). Now, I am blessed that my new administrator is all about trying new things. So this year, the entire school is taking one Advisory period a week (and more after Winter Break) to work on Passion Projects. So far we’ve developed guiding questions and are working on research plans. I’ll keep everyone posted on the ups and downs throughout the year.
Describe how you stay passionate about your job in the library.
Students keep me passionate. They inspire me more than anything else. I love watching a student’s face come to life as they reach the twist in a really great book. I distinctly remember one student reading Found by Harlan Coben (the 3rd in the series) and shouting “SHUT UP!” as she neared the end. They also teach me so much everyday. Again, I have been blessed in my library. This year, my district bought a Clevertouch for every library. I also had a former teacher here give the library a $1,000 donation as she had heard about the great things happening here. I’m letting the students help me develop a plan for spending (mostly Spheros and other fun gadgets so far). Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I just let the students guide me.
The other thing that keeps me passionate are all the new ideas I learn from KASL and corresponding conferences. Summer Refreshers excites and inspires me year after year. This year, I was particularly inspired by our keynote speaker who asked “what’s your sentence?” After listening to her, I wanted to use that to inspire my own staff. Every staff member (from superintendent to principal to teacher to secretary) created a sentence this year. Then, we inspired students to do the same. Now, we are going to start asking ourselves “was I better today than yesterday?”
KASL Membership Chair
Elkhorn Middle School in Frankfort