Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sicky or mental health day?

I had a bast*rd of a day yesterday, so I am sick today. Sick of working with the Shadow and her silly bloody games. I mentioned previously that I had spoken in a manner I regret and have been on edge ever since waiting to see what would come of it. In the mean time I have been trying to change my reaction to her behaviour. I've walked away from a situation, I've counted to ten and I haven't done it again. So what do I get in the meeting? A veiled attempt to accuse me of bullying and harassment. It was cleverly disguised as something for all new staff but the words she used were about the way you speak to people may be seen as bullying and you could get yourself into trouble without realising it... Um, only if someone didn't deal with it like an adult, in the open! In the meeting we also talked about the no kids in at recess policy and the Bear said it was her decison, a tech asked for clarification and it was pretty simple - no kids. The Shadow disagreed for reasons such as creating bad will (I have seen kids I've kicked out come back with a note after recess and a cheeky grin) and that it will lower usage and turn kids away (I'd like to see some stats on her usage claims). After what happened not long after I started (I'll post that some other day) I wish I'd pushed for a proper apology and not let her get away with this cr*p.

Saw some new books she'd bought on the weekend and asked the Bear about them, she sighed and said that the Shadow had photocopied the suggestion book and gone shopping, nevermind that the Bear had already bought or ordered some of them.

I'm over it and don't want to work with just her again. I need the bear to show her teeth!

Below is what I emailed to the Bear yesterday.

I will not be in to work tomorrow.

Regarding yesterday’s meeting, I would like you to know the following.

· Shadow has made it almost impossible for me to respond to her without me risking her being able to claim bullying or harassment.

· Shadow does not speak to me. Not even to tell me she was supposed to be on desk this morning.

· She puts me into difficult positions regarding the SSOs and I am in danger of compromising my principals and legal responsibilities for fear of offending her.

· I recognise that I spoke harshly to Shadow but am frustrated by her persistent failure to listen, respond to and respect others’ points of view and decisions.

· I feel intimidated and undermined by her ongoing passive/aggressive stance and as a consequence am reluctant to place myself in a position where only Shadow and I are present.

· I wish to avoid a confrontation such as the one that happened last year where she used her apology as another chance to have a go at me and there was no recognition that her behaviour was unacceptable. I cannot be expected to deal with that again and respond in a way that I can be sure she will not take it as harassment or bullying.

Paper is not dead!

Before I started this subject I was already working as a teacher librarian. I spent the first few months trying to work out what a teacher librarian should be, what they should do and how to go about it. I looked at my colleagues for examples of what to do and what not to do and decided who I would emulate. Since then, some ideas have changed, some haven't.

It is very hard to separate what I have learnt in the subject of collection management from teacher librarianship. The collection management issues that I have discovered in our library (20 May 2009) are an important aspect of the practice of teacher librarianship. It has been frustrating to learn how things should operate to get the most appropriate resources for your students and find out that whilst the library manager agrees thinks the same way another colleague works actively against it and is unwilling to change.

The professional reading I have been exposed to has given me a fresh set of standards to see my practice and that of my colleagues through. The standards of professional practice for teacher librarians (ASLA & ALIA, 2004) have given me a benchmark to measure my development against and I can see I have a long way to go. From the beginning of my time in the library I have asked questions of my colleagues and see that (for the most part) they are aware of current issues and are willing to discuss them with me. I get well thought out answers that show how our school is doing those things, or how they would if they could and are trying to make it happen. I can see evidence based practice is important to them when they make the time to explain their actions rather than give me the run around or tell me they do it because that was how it had ‘always’ been (14 March 2009).

Reading the forums frustrated me to the point where I did not read them unless I required specific information that someone else may have already asked. On each occasion I found them to be lacking the discussion I was hoping for (25 May 2009) and full of ‘I don’t know where this is’ ‘I can’t do it’ ‘Give me yours’ that I wouldn’t accept from high school students and can understand why Roy was ‘flippant’ with at least one. It really worries me when people about to become teacher librarians display behaviours like that, especially when it is in regard to technology. How are they going to teach information literacy when their own appears so poor? I find the same thing happens frequently on OZ_TLnet although there are some very interesting discussions, such as recent ones on homosexual content in school libraries and the future of teacher librarians, that make up for the other.

Understanding the place and possibilities of teacher librarians in information literacy has been an important part of my learning from this subject. Being able to look at what is missing from the programs at our campus (16 June 2009) and compare them to the possibilities I have been made aware of in the reading and the effect that they can have on increasing student learning outcomes which is one of my school’s goals. The other campus runs much better programs and we need to catch up.

The next question is how to catch up when there is no time (20 May 2009)? Since moving from a standard classroom and staffroom to the library I have noticed it is harder to make the links with other staff that are necessary collaboration. What I have read rings true when I find it is easier to try new things with teachers I have worked with before and feel I need to work on creating that kind of relationship with more teachers but breaking the isolation of the library is difficult.

In the end I now have a clear idea of what a librarian should be and what I still need to learn to be a better one. One last thing I have learned from this subject is that paper is not dead! Paper is portable in a way that online materials, even with downloading and using a tiny net book, can’t be. I can take printed study material to the footy and read them on the train and before the siren just as I could (and often do) with a book. When there is a cheap, recyclable, renewable, flexible, durable method of viewing digital material, I’ll be all for it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

SATIREday... I wish

Can you add in an essay...

This is really a no brainer that everyone would have to say yes yes of course we do that. Hmm... if you not committed you may as well not be there, but how many jaded ‘libearians’ are going to A) read it, B) think ‘oh I can’t be bothered with doing that stuff any more’ and C) retire or find a new profession. Methinks, not enough.

Probably not.

Forgot to put in for Friday about the 10 minutes or so the Bear and I spent brainstorming library uses of wordle. The question was put to us by Sugar (coz she’s so sweet). Ideas we’d like to try include genre brainstorms, specific books, research topics – science units, geography, history, sports...

In teaching it would be a great way of visualising student knowledge, perhaps before and after a topic. Splitting them into groups of 6 to 8 would give enough words for the common themes to be writ large and clear.

The blog that is nonsense that I have on a ning can be back posted. I like that. [Ning being a site where you can create your own social networking sites. We’re using it for an in school PD thing. It has lots of potential.]

On a personal note I can’t wait for Sunday to be over! Solstice is a big day for me. I love knowing each day is getting lighter and summer is coming.

This week I...

MONDAY... it must have been as it is Tuesday today. I got my first confirmed hit on the after Twilight display I put up. A student wanted to reserve a book they had seen on the display board and it wasn’t on the shelf. ‘Um... Harris. With the face and the blood dripping.’ Am Happy.

Will add a photo soon... er or later.

Have told myself no reading novels until my uni work is finished and out of the way. Am just under an average of 2 per week since school went back.


Started building another blog but a professional one, one I can put my name to and have more interesting pictures on. I will keep this one for personal reflection and whinging.

WEDNESDAY did the reading the net lesson with a year 10 group on the other campus. Worked really well. Spent some time chatting with a group of girls who wanted to finish and read a book. After they did the survey I put them on to FML a life experiences website that some year 9s we into last time I did this lesson. It is very entertaining and makes you feel better about your own life. It’s not appropriate for juniors and can be sorted to show just those with sexual content (which they did, of course!) but all three were crowded around the computer reading and laughing. It felt good to have engaged them.


Doing ok this week. I just walked out at recess when I tried to get students to leave and the shadow had given them permission to be there and gave all their excuses. Grrr. I am going to try to have more morning tea times in the staff room. It might help the growing feeling of isolation. I was actually scared to go to work today, worried that the things I'd said that the Bear had backed up would result in another unprofessional blow up from the Shadow.

Had an English teacher comment that the After Twilight display looks good and is useful for the kids. It isn’t as pretty as I’d like coz I had a brain fade and forgot the backing paper. I may get around to it one arvo next week after my assignment is finished. There are usually some of the titles shown or similar under the display but I have to move pretty fast to replace them, if there are any still on the shelves.


Lifelong learning... sometimes it starts with me saying ‘no, you can’t have a piece of blank paper. You are in year 9 and need to be more organised. Think of a way around it. Print yourself a sheet of blank paper.’ Some kids genuinely think we are the school stationary store, where everything is free. The looks I get when I tell them they need to get something for themselves is amazing! I remember when* I was at school I had a few sheets of blank paper in my folder in case, I’d go to the newsagents with my parents to buy big sheets of coloured paper or card for projects. You wouldn’t dare ask the library. Kids these days* expect everything handed to them with no effort on their parts.

We are going to try the carrot with use of student cards for borrowing. On our side we have lost the habit of this and the kids know it. If the other campus can manage it, so can we. So, pinching ideas from other places to do with encouraging reading we are going to run a competition where each borrowed book with student card gets you an entry. Prizes will be a bit random (as suggested somewhere else good stuff and a toothbrush or similar) and lucky dip. Will try for a big ad campaign!

The Bear told me all sorts of things that the Shadow has been doing but not bothered to tell me about. Nothing big, just library stuff that I could do with knowing about. We are having a meeting next week, with the Bear running the agenda and the comment on the email “there will not be time for extensive discussion”. This will be interesting.

*Proof I am getting old and grumpy. Maybe the library IS the right spot for me!

Need some pseudonyms for the other people I work with...

Technicians- Speedy, Bee (as in queen bee or wannabe)... there's 2 out of 6...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stuff from last week! (or maybe the week before...)

Yesterday (probably about two weeks ago now...) at the other campus it was interesting working with the librarian there and watching her take PIP classes. PIP is a Personal Investigation Project. It includes a series of lessons where students are taught question formulation, research skills, internet analysis etc. The two campuses are very different in the way information literacy is taught, our side seems to have lost the plot. Staff changes and the Shadow continuing to do the things she’s always done have left the staff disconnected with the library. The Shadow has some good ideas, that may work or have worked at other schools but the way she puts them to teachers or expects them to do as she wants can be really off putting. Make is big in her vocabulary. Make the students do this or do it this way. Make the teachers... as if!

A couple of days after this I was having lunch when the ‘Educators’ and the head of PD were havi ng an informal meeting about teaching info literacy. PD for teachers, standard design for assignment sheets etc. So I butted in and said count us in! We (in the library) need to be involved in this. The energy in the conversation went up a notch or two. Linking library bookings to teaching information skills would work really well, especially if the expectation was coming from up on high. It would make a big change from teachers bringing their class in to the computer area, letting them ‘research’ whilst hiding behind their own lap top. Explicit teaching of the skills required to find information is so important. So with any luck, we’ll have some help with that.

I went to a conference on Saturday. It was a half day on a Saturday morning. I was still half asleep! ALIA Schools in Victoria put on one a term apparently and usually the same people go each time (I was noticeably new and not just because I was under 50, had a motor bike, funny hair cut and stand about a head taller than most of the little people there). The first speaker was from Wesley. Here’s the page but the link to the main speaker isn’t up yet and some of my notes are related to slides in her presentation.

The big things I noticed were that you need to be a team to make change happen in your school. That brain research says uninterrupted reading sessions develop a different part of your brain to skimming and hunting for info on the net. She mentioned the article Is google making us stupid I still haven’t got around to finishing it. I keep getting distracted! At her school they have a series of lesson plans that run in the library program and the teachers can opt in. Some teachers come every week, let us do our thing, work with us. Some don’t.

The second bit was a workshop where we worked on ideas for book week. Great to start thinking about it early. The third thing was an author talk that was interesting but put me to sleep.

THE NEXT WEEK... (I think? It’s all becoming a blur)
Something that came up with our PD guy was models like the Big 6 and the e5. e5 is the Victorian governments teaching model of the moment. The bear and I compared the models to see how they fit together. They fit quite nicely, so your instruction could involve teaching the information skills necessary. Instructional model for information literacy, a combined e5 and big 6...?

Maybe that was Friday... Tuesday I had book club and we did a wordle about book club. All the students were given a piece of paper to write down all the words they could think of to do with the library and book club and a warm milo to help the thinking process. One student typed all the responses into wordle (check it out at wordle.net) and I played around with the output – see below. I showed them some of the them and they want copies. It worked really well as a short activity. I’d like them on t-shirts.

Thursday’s are never good. I dislike working with just the Shadow and I. Things that have been working fine, from decisions made at the end of last year are suddenly changed back to the way they were, without a word to me and always done through the technicians. It has been worse in the last couple of weeks whilst I’ve been ill and away a few days – a great excuse to change things with me not there... but none of that was what made me angry.

At recess I come back in after passing the Shadow in the courtyard outside the library. There are kids in the library. I attempt to kick them out as we are closed at recess and there was no teacher supervising them until I came in. Apparently they had been given permission by the Shadow, who had then left them. When the Shadow got back one of the technicians asked for clarification as to what is a good reason that the students might have to let us break the closed at recess rule. The Shadow couldn’t answer decently and I said they can’t be in here without a teacher. It’s not allowed, you would not be legally covered if anything happened. The Shadow says it’s fine, I let them in, I’m responsible for them even if I’m not here. Really, that’s not the point! She may be the one to face court but who has to deal with the situation? The technicians - who are not paid enough or legally obliged to deal with the situation that is made possible by the Shadow. That is not fair and they do not feel they can say no to her. I didn’t say anything I regret but my tone of voice may have been a bit harsh because it is something I feel very strongly about. The Shadow and I agreed to disagree and discuss the recess rules (and the way I speak to the Shadow!) with the Bear. I overhear her making it my problem by saying to one of the techs that she is just doing what she has always done and what was done before I came.
A very tense day.

...is a marking/report writing day (no kids!) and one that the Shadow doesn’t work. Eventually I bring the situation that occurred on Thursday up with the Bear. I say I got a bit angry. She sighs but agrees with me (I have brought it up before now) and says she has spoken to the Shadow about it before. One of the techs who has been there longer than any of us says we have always been closed at recesses with no excuses for kids. Before my time!

My main work on Friday was attempting some sort of collection evaluation. I spent ages trying to massage the data out of Bibliotech and make it useable. I tried for number of books, circulation and average age by Dewey. I did ok with number of books and circulation data but still need to make a phone call to find out how to get the age data out. Nothing we tried seemed to work. The data was interesting in places. I then tried to do a similar thing with book tubs that we have made up in the past from the list on BookIt. That didn’t work so well as there are less concrete ways to search and no descriptors of what the teacher was actually wanting to be covered by the box. I think we will have to make that sort of data collection an ongoing thing.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

What the?


Hi All,

R said we could support English by providing supplementary reading lists for books chosen, especially mentioned Town- so books related to small town life like Broken Glass- will also meet need to structure WR classes which may be addressed more favourably under F


Email from the Shadow to all TLs at our school. I am sick but I still think it needs a professional translator... It starts off ok but lost the plot completely in the second half. I think the Bear was at the same meeting and may be able to provide a translation...

Home sick in front of the fire with the cat today. Also a bit achey from falling off my motorbike on the way home from the docs. Truck in front braked and I braked too hard, locked up the front wheel and dropped the bike. No major damage to me or the bike. Broken mirror for the bike (which judging by the scratches had done this sliding alone the road thing before!) and a sore shoulder muscle where I landed on it and the opposite neck muscle probably from keeping my head off the ground. It was a very low speed slide but I’m happy to say the gear did its job and all was left with was some scuff marks on the leather jacket, gloves and boots and my draggin jeans are a bit roughed up on the seams. I’d hate to do that in office clothes or shorts, t and thongs ! Those people are mad!