A Few Thoughts for the Beginning of the School Year: Part 1

KQ Blog September 2016

I was just thinking about all of the things that I would do to prepare myself for the beginning of the school year. I was terrified my first year as a school librarian because I wanted to do my best. I had excellent training. Yet, everyone knows there is a social aspect to being an effective school librarian. You have to become a trusted member of your school community.

In some ways, starting your first school librarian job is like being a K-12 student and having to go to a new school. Will I fit in? Who are the most popular people? And then there are the “How do I…” questions.

Each year it got easier for me. Then finally, I slipped into a routine. So when I switched schools, I did not feel the same anxiety because I was confident in my skills. Being in the library was like riding a bike. Once you get your balance, you can have a smooth ride.

Here are some of the things that I did to find my equilibrium and build momentum each year. Next month I will share more of my thoughts. Of course the professional development for the month is at the bottom of the page. If you know of an organization that is offering free online professional development applicable to school librarians, please let me know.

  1. Talk with your principal to find out about their priorities and key initiatives for the school year. You want to avoid surprises. Before you go to the meeting, prepare yourself by reading, “Ten Things Your Administrator Needs to Know as the School Year Begins” by Audrey Church.
  1. Contact local businesses to ask for support. (The truth is that sometimes I did not have to ask for help. The parents offered.) Local businesses can help by donating funds for books, sponsoring programs, and purchasing supplies. Frequently, local small business owners are the parents and grandparents of students. They want the best for their children and usually are willing to be supportive.
  1. Develop a list of items that you need for the school library and display them on your bulletin board. You list will come in handy when you are contacting businesses. The items on the list do not have to be expensive. My list included requested books, materials to support library programming, and supplies. Put the list in the newsletter as well. You never know when a gracious parent or teacher will give you a gift.
  1. Choose your platform for newsletters and announcements. One of my favorites is Smore.com. There is a free and paid version. Yes, I do pay for it. I like the paid version because I can quickly create posters and save them as images. In addition, I can create a mailing list and see which contacts are reading my emails. Talk to your principal or a local business about paying for your subscription.
  1. Decide how to thank your supporters. For example, you can keep a bulletin board at the front of the library, publish their names in your newsletters, put their names in book plaques, have a program to thank them, and acknowledge them during the announcements. Sometimes people continue to help because they know they are appreciated. A little recognition goes a long way.
  1. Find out when teachers are meeting. Try to participate so that you can understand their curriculum needs. Showing initiative will let the teachers know that you care. You will also be able to plan your own lessons based on their needs.
  1. Get a list of new teachers and meet with them as soon as possible. Don’t be shy; go to their classrooms if they do not come to you. It always helps to have a friend to get you acclimated to new environments. If that friend is you, it is a win-win situation. The teacher gets the support system that they need and you get a new advocate.
  1. Schedule your library orientation visits. Here is a tip. Each year I would get hoarse from repeating the presentation so much. So I recorded the beginning of the presentation and did activities and a Q & A session at the end. Students that are absent can watch the recording online and ask questions later.
  1. Don’t forget about partnering with the public library. School and public libraries have common goals and I tend to believe that two creative minds are better than one. In this article, I provide suggestions for collaborative activities.
  1. Host a teacher appreciation breakfast. This does not have to be difficult. Don’t break the bank. Coffee, muffins, and bagels work great. While teachers drop in for breakfast before school, set up a display of teaching resources. You don’t want to overwhelm the teachers with a presentation. Relax and mingle with your guests. At the least, share the link for a handout about the services that you offer on a bookmark. You can also raffle a gift basket of teaching supplies from the dollar store.

September Professional Development

Title: Harnessing The Power of Infographics as Teaching Tools

  • Organization: InSync Training
  • Date: Tuesday, September 6, 2016 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT
  • Description:  Infographics are striking visual representations of information intended to illustrate information efficiently and effectively. Additionally, they can be FUN to explore! Infographics are advantageous in learning because they have the power to improve comprehension by using graphics to enhance a participant’s ability to see patterns and trends. In doing so, infographics support learning transfer and retention. By the end of this webinar, you will be able to:
    • Value infographics as learning tools
    • Describe standard infographic types
    • Appreciate the appropriate use of chunking and visual cues in an infographic
    • Be aware of several web-based infographic tools available for creating your own infographics

Title: Fostering Innovation and Creativity

  • Organization: InfoPeople
  • Date: Thursday, September 8, 2016 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT
  • Description:   Fostering innovation requires two key things: an organizational culture that supports innovation and tools/processes that support innovation. Join Brenda Hough and Stephanie Gerding in this fast-paced and interactive webinar to explore how to be more creative and innovative yourself… and how to help others get in on the fun, too. At the end of this one-hour webinar, participants will be able to:
    • List three potential innovation barriers and motivations
    • Cite examples of innovation
    • Describe techniques to foster a culture of innovation and experimentation
    • Recognize the importance of rapid iteration and documentation in learning from innovation
    • Use strategies to balance risk and innovation

Title: Juggling 101: Managing Multiple Priorities

  • Organization: InSync Training
  • Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EDT
  • Description:  “Time management” is an oxymoron. You can’t change it, or lengthen it, or shorten it, or ‘manage’ it. This course will help you identify ways to deal with the things you can manage: yourself, others, and the tasks with which you’re confronted.
  • Link: https://reg131.imperisoft.com/InSyncTraining/ProgramDetail/3235363130/Registration.aspx

Title: After the Storm: Libraries Helping to Heal Their Communities

  • Organization: Texas State Library and Archives Commission
  • Date: Thursday, September 15, 2016 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am CDT
  • Description:  There have been many resources and training opportunities that focus either on libraries and their role alongside emergency responders during and immediately after a disaster or on emergency preparedness for libraries prior to a disaster. This webinar, however, will explore the idea of libraries helping their communities to cope with and heal after a disaster. Spend an hour with us and hear how three Texas libraries (Wimberley Public Library, Houston Public Library and West Public Library) helped their communities to heal and recover in the wake of different disasters. Attendees will leave this webinar with:
    • Ideas for ways to continue supporting their communities after the initial disaster response
    • Ideas for engaging their community, whether or not a disaster occurs
    • Inspiration of the power of libraries
  • Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3375662701733186564

Title: Increasing Productivity with OneNote

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Thursday, September 15, 2016 @ 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm EDT
  • Description: Why use OneNote? OneNote is the ultimate tool allowing you to create digital notebooks. Join Jennifer Mitchell as she explains how you can use OneNote as a place to gather ALL of your notes and information, and covers how you have the added benefit of finding what you are looking for quickly, with powerful search capabilities. In addition, she will explore how to use OneNote notebooks to easily collaborate effectively with any group. You will discover how you can use OneNote to free up space on your desk, your bookshelf, and your filing cabinet as you begin to use this ultimate tool and move those many files and notebooks online.
  • Link: http://community.simplek12.com/scripts/student/webinars/view.asp?id=2486

Title: Digital Storytelling on ANY device with Sway

  • Organization:SimpleK12
  • Date: Thursday, September 15, 2016 @ 3:00 pm – 3:30 pm EDT
  • Description: Want to help students develop their most creative and innovative abilities? Introduce them to digital storytelling, regardless of their digital device! Students can use digital tools to create and share their own stories or experiences, or reflect on what they’ve learned. Join Robyn Hrivnatz as she discusses how digital storytelling can be used in the classroom. She will include information about how you can use Sway, a NEW innovative web-based learning tool that can be used on any device your students may have access to in the classroom. Kids love to be creative and share stories about themselves…digital storytelling is the perfect way to let them do it!
  • Link: http://community.simplek12.com/scripts/student/webinars/view.asp?id=2487

Title: The Importance of Validating and Affirming Home Language: Key Instructional Practice

  • Organization: edWeb
  • Date: Thursday, September 15, 2016 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT
  • Description: This webinar will be of interest to K-12 teachers and educators at all levels who want to understand how to validate and affirm the home language of students of all ages in school and in their academic programs. There will be a particular focus on writing and academic language. Dr. Hollie will outline three steps:
    • Acknowledging linguistic biases
    • Recognizing linguistic features
    • Providing opportunities for situational appropriateness
  • Link: https://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=EC56D887834938

Title: Teen Programming: A Mover & Shaker’s Recipe for Impact and Success

  • Organization: OCLC Webjunction
  • Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT
  • Description:  When “Change Agent” Courtney Saldana was featured as a 2016 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, we were treated to a sampling of her outstanding work with teens, and knew that all libraries could benefit from hearing more. Learn about her teen programming basics along with practical and actionable steps for doing a teen needs assessment, creating a teen space and hosting a teen book fest. Courtney will also introduce us to Skills for Teen Parenting (STeP), a program connecting teens with what they need to succeed as adults and parents: how to interview successfully, dress professionally, deal with conflict and time management, care for their child, postpone or prevent a second pregnancy, and more. Expanding from local success to state-wide implementation, the STeP program embodies a wonderful example of the replicable innovation brought to the field by Movers & Shakers.
  • Link: https://www.webjunction.org/events/webjunction/teen-programming.html

Title: Master Chromebooks in Your Classroom

  • Organization:SimpleK12
  • Date: Saturday, September 24, 2016 @ Various Times 10:00 am – 3:30 pm EDT
  • Description:  Discover ways you can use Chromebooks.  Get secret tips on the easiest ways to get started with Chromebooks in your classroom. Save time and increase your productivity with these free apps and extensions. Take your students on any adventure without worrying about cost with virtual fieldtrips.
  • Link: https://simplek12.leadpages.co/event-9-24/?cc=website-sk12-upcoming

Author: Daniella Smith

Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently an associate professor at the University of North Texas.



Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics, Professional Development

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4 replies

  1. Thank you for this great list of tips, Dr. Smith! Sharing with our new (and experienced) librarians.

  2. You are most welcome. I have a few more for next month. :>)

  3. Hi! edWeb.net offers free professional development and there are several groups for school librarians.

    Emerging Tech (www.edweb.net/emergingtech) is the most active of the librarian groups. Its focus is on integrating technology and 21st century learning into school library programs.

  4. I appreciate you sharing Emerging Tech’s information. I will look at their professional development for next month.

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