Thursday, July 2, 2015

"I don't have time to read, Mrs. Cooper."


Is there anything better than a shipment of new books? I feel like it is Christmas every time I receive a shipment of books that are hot off the press. I eagerly run to my students with all the new titles and expect them to mob me in the hallway trying to get them. In, that does not happen.  I hear the phrase, "I don't have time to read, Mrs. Cooper."  My heart breaks, as students rush to their next class, and I am left holding my precious treasures.

Well,  fighting back my disappoint, I decided something needed to be done. I am all too aware that students have tight schedules and finding time for pleasure reading takes a backseat more often than not.  So, when are students free?  The answer is lunch time.  The cafeteria is full of students in a relaxed social setting. I thought to myself, "What a great time to go connect with the students!"  

Loading up a book cart of full new titles and magazines,  I start off on my quest.  At first the students look at me oddly. They wonder, what is the librarian doing?  I stop at every table and show off the books and magazines.  Using my trusty iPad, I check out my first book!  Wow, I feel elated. To get one book into a student's hand has made the whole trip worthwhile.  Soon coming to the cafeteria is a weekly event for me.  The students stop me in the hallway and ask, "Are you coming to see us today, Mrs. Cooper?"  Absolutely! The student library assistants begin dressing me in colorful costumes, from Duck Dynasty to a giant box of Valentine's Day candy.  They don't want anyone to miss seeing me!  

Then, something amazing begins to happen.  I begin to build relationships with the students.  Not just, "Hi! How are you?"  I am referring to real authentic relationships. Students wait to see me on Fridays to catch me up on how their week went. They share their accomplishments, disappoints, hopes, dreams, and aspirations with me...the librarian.  Yes, I check out books, many books, but that is not the point. The blessing has become mine. All these amazing young people are sharing their stories with me.  They inspire me, motivate me, and remind me how fortunate I am to have the best job in the world.  

I will share one student's tale. Every week I would approach a table of young men who loved the outdoors, riding recreational vehicles, fishing and hunting.  These young men would look at me with my pile of books and politely tell me, "Mrs. Cooper, we don't read books." Well, I kept coming by every week to chat with them.  As we started getting to know each other, one of the young men asked if I had any Duck Dynasty books.  Well, no I did not have any, but I would be happy to order them.  As soon as the books came in, I rushed to the cafeteria to find the same young man.  Later that day he came by to see me.  He was on page twenty-one.  He kept coming by to inform me what was happening in each chapter. As he finished each book, he shared the stories with me, his English teacher, and his friends.  Later,  I found out this young man had not read one book the entire time he had been in high school up to this point. I felt so humbled that he trusted me enough to ask for a book.  

Now, I look for every possible opportunity to connect with students. Mostly, I listen to their stories. Our young people are just waiting for us to ask them for their ideas, opinions, and dreams. Go ask, today!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New School Year? Find New Adventures @Your Library!

          Are you ready for a new school year? I am more excited about this school year than any other in my sixteen year career. After spending my time, up to this point, at high school,  I moved to our middle school campus last spring.  It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  The students are excited, creative and ready to participate in all the adventures their new librarian can think up!  I decided that I would do things differently this time around.  I listened to the students first. I asked the students what they wanted to see in their library.  After spending a couple of months listening, I found the students love technology, but they did not always know the best ways to use their devices at school.  Our students were practically born with technology in their hands.  Some call them "digital natives."  Yes, they are "digital natives," but they need proper guidance and training.  I feel this is an area library media specialists can help; therefore, I created a tech club.  We explore digital citizenship, cool tech tools, coding, apps and much, much more. We meet during grade level lunches once a week. I was amazed at the response from our students.  Over one hundred students from sixth, seventh and eighth grades joined the club. I could hardly contain my excitement!
          In addition, students expressed an interest in starting a book club.  So, we formed a club that started off pretty small, but continues to grow.  This year, thanks to a Donors Choose grant, every book club member will receive their own book!  Last April,  I met author Chris Grabenstein at a Random House dinner at the Texas Library Association Conference.  Wow! He is funny, creative and intelligent. I knew right away our students would love his book, Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library.  So, I wrote a Donors Choose grant for seventy-five copies of his book.  I am honored to say that Mr. Lemoncello, himself, was our first donor (courtesy of Mr. Grabenstein). The students and I are looking forward to our author Skype with Mr. Grabenstein this fall.  Go book club!!!

          What else is new at the HMS Library? I am so glad you asked. Our newest club is all about robotics! While presenting at ISTE 2014 last summer, I met some talented educators who have a robotics club at their middle school.  I brought the idea back to our school and found a ton of support for the program.  I am looking forward to getting started, and I will keep you posted on our progress.

         Are you looking for ways to get students excited about learning? You may want to try starting a library club at your school. Library clubs are a wonderful way to help get students involved and trying new adventures.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ready for #Nerdlution?

Thanks to Colby Sharp I am re-evaluating my priorities. How can I challenge myself to be better? How can I better help my students?  What could really make a difference in mine and their lives? I have decided to do at least one good deed a day for fifty days. I will go out of my way to do something special everyday for someone- it could be a teacher, administrator or a student.  The best part??? I am going to do it anonymously! Let's see how creative I can be disguising my good deeds! Have any suggestions? Just let me know!  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


American Association of School Librarians Conference 2013

     Recently, I had the opportunity to attend my first national conference. My road to the American Association of School Librarians Conference started in June 2013 with a simple tweet.  Shawna Ford tweeted that she needed a roommate for #AASL13.  Wow! I wanted to go and tweeted her immediately!  Did it matter that I only knew her from Twitter? No!  She was a librarian, and that meant she would be fabulous.  (Although, Shawna's family & friends were concerned I might be a homicidal maniac!) With the support of my awesome principal, I soon had plans to attend my first national conference. Then Carolyn Foote asked if I would like to present in the eLearning Commons.  Would I? Try and stop me!  I was so excited about AASL would it ever live up to my expectations?
                                                     Presenting in the eLearning Commons

Without a doubt the highlight of AASL was meeting the librarians I admire and respect. I have collaborated with some for years, but have never actually met them in person.  The TL News Night team is fabulous, and I finally had the chance to meet all my colleagues.  Yes, they were just as nice in person as I thought they would be!  The live TL News Night show from the eLearning Commons was a great experience. Usually we only see each other on a Google Hangout, and it was fun to experience the excitement first hand.

There was even an unconference organized by Joyce Valenza that rocked into the night with everyone learning, collaborating and having their voice heard.  The eLearning Commons was a huge success thanks to all the hard work of Carolyn Foote.  A big thank you to everyone involved in organizing the American Association of School Librarians Conference held in Hartford, Connecticut.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Digital Shift 2013

The Community Joins In:  Library Makerspaces

I had a wonderful experience presenting for The Digital Shift 2013! My fabulous co-presenters were Justin Hoenke from the Chattanooga Public Library and Amy Koester from St. Charles City County Library District. You can read about my co-presenters at The Digital Shift and view our slides below.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Teamwork: Lion Style

Showing your School Spirit

This past week was homecoming at Henderson High School, and everyone showed their lion spirit!  The week was filled with fun dress up days and special events.  This week I was adopted by the science department. We transformed ourselves into "lions" to cheer on our favorite lions--our students. We even made a special guest appearance at the pep rally.  What I learned most this week is how blessed I am to work at HHS.  We truly love our students and fellow teachers.  I am honored to be a part of the Magnificent Seven.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Being a Connected Librarian Rocks!

On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to join connected librarians Elissa Malespina, Gwyneth Jones, Nikki Robertson and Tiffany Whitehead on a panel for the New Jersey Association of School Librarians.  
I had a blast and the following tweet sums it up nicely.

We discussed great resources for connecting with colleagues in our profession.  Twitter was at the top of the list for sharing, collaborating, and making connections.  Are you using Twitter yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Twitter offers the best professional development 24/7 for FREE.  Did I mention free?   Aside from making connections, Twitter provides a forum for numerous professional chats.  A few of my favorites include:
               #TLchat 2nd Tuesday at 8:00 pm EST
               #Edchat Every Tuesday at 7:00 pm EST
               #TXEDchat Every Wednsday at 8:30 pm CST
               #TXLchat 2nd & 4th Tuesdays at 8:00 pm CST
For more educational chats, hashtags and Twitter resources for educators, visit Jerry Blumengarten's Cybraryman page.  Happy tweeting!