Reflections on Freshman/New Student Orientation

When the principal of my new school emailed me at the beginning of August and asked me to talk to students at orientation my response was an enthusiastic "Absolutely!"   And then the panic set in, how many kids?   How long did I have with them? What were the expectations? What had been done in the past?

In my principal's response she told me "Changing up the 'old way' of doing it is okay."   
Trying to live up to what someone else used to do is a daunting task, knowing you are free to make it your own is liberating!

As part of the orientation, I worked with the Director of Instructional Technology to help students set up their Gmail accounts.   We would have only 25 minutes and groups of 40 students which meant we had to work efficiently.

I remember freshman orientation being overwhelming....having to memorize a schedule, know where the classes are in a huge school and just the lockers was enough to send me in to a panic...let's not talk about the overwhelming social part of those teen years.  

The students had enough to remember.  

What did I want them to know from my brief "library orientation" besides their new email addressI decided on two things:
  • First and foremost, I am here to help them and that I am approachable but with firm (and reasonable) expectations.  Our library's new motto:  JUST ASK!
  • Second, they needed to know that our library is more than a room of books, that we are a virtual library that they can access 24/7 from anywhere.  
I created a short Google Slides presentation with a Harry Potter meme, and Pokemon Go images.   I knew the kids might find it goofy but that was ok.   What they don't know yet is that I plan to use the process of my selection of those particular images as part of a copyright discussion that I will have with freshman in their English classes in a few weeks.

The Director of IT gave a short introduction to Google Classroom.  With the help of our amazing National Honor Society students, we gave kids their email addresses and had them create their new passwords.  I had created bookmarks with links to our library resources and  my email contact.  I encouraged kids to write their login information on the back of the bookmarks and then take a picture of it with their phones.

The process of setting the emails up during this time with the Director there allowed us to immediately troubleshoot any issues kids had.

I had two other activities up my sleeve if time had allowed. I created a Flipgrid for students to introduce themselves. Flipgrid is a a web based platform for video discussion.

My plan was to ask them to say their full name in the introduction and what their personal hashtag would be, or what their favorite book was, or just something unique they wanted their teachers to know.   The purpose of this was introduce students (and teachers) to a new technology and to send the link to the freshman teachers so they could start putting names (and pronunciation of names) to faces.  It was not something I was going to use publicly or post on social media.

The other activity I had created was a quick Kahoot, an interactive "game-based learning platform", with information about the library.

Reflection and Looking Ahead to 2017...

Next year, students will arrive as freshman knowing their Gmail addresses from the middle school. They will be familiar with Google Classroom and the GAFE apps.  I will also know more of the students than just the ones I worked with in the two elementary schools where I worked because I am also working at the middle school this year.  With my experience this upcoming school year, I will be able to gauge what students are learning in middle school and what they will need to know for high school and incorporate that in to the orientation.  I can also work in FlipGrid and Kahoot if time allows.  

The best thing about orientation was realizing that despite being a bit nervous, I am truly excited about this new adventure in my career!

Christmas in August: Destiny 14.0

Follett is releasing Destiny 14.0 very soon and there are a LOT of exciting changes coming...
Merry Christmas librarian friends and Destiny users!!   

In the elementary schools I did not follow these updates closely.  I would get the notifications and scan the new features, but the updates did not change how things operated at the elementary level. 14.0 has something for librarians and users at every level!

Just like Christmas, I snuck a peak...

The shiny present:
New User Interface
Follett is constantly finding ways to modernize and make updates based on user feedback. 
I am excited to be surprised and see the shiny new user interface.  

The useful present:
Destiny Discover replaces Universal Search
Now that I am developing a high school perspective, I am learning about the advances with Destiny's Universal Search, an update which came a couple versions back.  Universal Search integrates the books, databases and ebooks into one search, providing users with a streamlined ability to research.  Destiny 14.0 introduces Discover™, the new name replacing Universal Search, BryteWave™ K-12, and Follett Shelf.  Oh thank you for simplifying!!

The present you didn't know existed but now you can't live without:
Destiny Discover Google Chrome Extension  
I am IN LOVE!!!   This will FLIP how kids locate library resources.
I added the Google Chrome extension today and will admit that at first found the black box at the top of my search results a little annoying but then found the hide button.

Then I realized the brilliance: Kids are constantly using Google to do their research. I do it too and I know better! Once you install the extension, got to to select your school (or you can go to your school's Destiny Discover home page). Your library's Destiny search results will appear above your Google search results.  EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU DO A GOOGLE SEARCH ON CHROME!   THIS IS HUGE!!

Why do I love this?  Because if students' have the extension their computers, then every time they just decide to Google something for research, they will be reminded that there are so many better places to get good information and not to rely on Google.

Students can link directly to the school's Destiny page from the results in the black box by clicking a resource or the link in the bottom right corner of the box.  In order to access the full potential of their school's Destiny resources, users will have to login at the actual library site.

I cannot wait to introduce kids to this extension as every time they do a Google search they will be forced to remember the mantra "I will not use Google for research...I will not use Google for research...I will not use Google for research."

The "I have wanted this forever" present:
Single Sign-On with Google
Oh SSO there should be a Christmas carol dedicated to you!!
How lucky I am that we are a GAFE school district this year? Gone are the days of creating usernames and passwords for students on multiple accounts and constantly reminding students how to login.  With everything else I have to learn, this makes me so happy.

Stocking stuffer presents:
There is more that I don't even completely know about and understand yet. 
Destiny will work with Baker & Taylor, Biblionasium, and the #GoOpen initiative.  
You can read more about the new 14.0 features and/or attend a webcast on August 23rd.  Sign up is required for the webcast Christmas Party (ok have I gone too far?) offered by Follett.  
Hope to see you there!
Thank you Santa Follett!
 Merry Christmas in August!!

Flipping the Sales Call

I admit it that I used to be one of those people who avoided sales calls at all costs.  I would lie about being with a class, out of money, or out of the building.   I had the set vendors I work with and that was it.  Working between two schools teaching 30 classes a week did not provide me with time to "make nice" on they phone while they tried to peddle their wares.  

Then I married a salesman and  I saw the other side.

Last week, in a social media group I follow, a former teacher was asking advice as to how to best approach potential librarian customers as she had joined the sales force for an educational company.   Most responses were similar to my initial reactions.  DO NOT CALL.  Send an email (which really means "I will get to it someday or just ignore it").  Yikes...we are harsh on sales people, people who are just trying to earn living to support their families. 

I am learning a lot about "Flipping Instruction" this summer.  

I decided to create my own "flip".  And I would flip how I approached my vendors.   Coming in to a new school, I was given all the purchase orders for the upcoming year.   Books, eBooks, databases, digital tools.   I was trying to learn them all on my own, figure out what I needed to know about accessing, student access, cataloging, how they work with other tools and how they might work with Google.

While the Internet can answer a lot of questions, it can waste a lot of time so instead of trying to piece together the puzzle by myself I decided to call each and every vendor that the previous librarian ordered from.   
Most of them "flipped" with joy that they were not the ones doing the dialing.  They were more than happy to provide me with in-depth explanations of their product, support tutorials, what the thought process was behind the purchase, the discounts we qualify for, etc.   

Taking the time to call was time consuming but in the end saved me time as they gave me direct answers and the best of the best tutorials (instead of me aimlessly searching on YouTube).  

Great thing about making phone calls: working from home!
I have now established relationships with professionals who I know I can reach out to throughout the year when I have questions. These people know their products inside and out. TALK to them, learn, ask questions.   

I also realized that with the rapidly changing technology and increasing number of resources available, I need to start talking to those cold call sales people and listen to their pitch.   Then, follow up with my own professional research and analysis of the need for their products.

Here are the list of questions I started with when calling my vendors:

  • Please tell me about your product.  What does it offer?
  • How do I as an Admin access it?  Are there any settings I need to personalize?
  • How do students access it?  Is there a way to track student usage? 
  • Is this a new product for our school or have we had it in the past?  If it is new, where do I get the marc records or how do I set it up?
  • Does this product integrate with Follett Destiny Library Database?
  • Where can I find the best tutorials for me as the librarian and for students?
  • What is the reorder process for next school year? 
  • Does your product work with GAFE or offer any Google apps, extensions or automatic Gmail logins?

Good luck to all of you starting your school year!  Especially to those in a new school.
Don't panic.  Embrace the joy of learning!

You got this! 

Where to begin?

Taking over for a library media specialist who has spent the past decade revolutionizing the high school library media center is a daunting task to say the least.  Add to that one day at the middle school each and my mind is swimming.  I am sweating just typing that.

Deep breath in.  

Channel my Headspace. 

Deep breath out. 

Sadly, the reason I am in this position is due to budget cuts.  Our district now has 2 librarians for 6 schools. Thankfully, the amazing lms I am taking over for was extremely organized.  Silver lining!!!

Because I am an overachiever, I am wishing that I could just use an external drive to take everything out of her brain and import it into mine.  I know I know that is not how it works.

In order to stay balanced I need to make a plan (in a list form of course).

Year 1 Learn
Learn the collection, procedures, curriculum, staff, & students.

I want to learn
  • what we have : databases, ebooks, bound books. supplies, digital tools, technology 
  • how to use it
  • who uses what 
  • the best way to teach it   
Year 2 Build & Blend
In year 2 I will have a greater sense of the needs of the school to know how to build upon the collection.

Taking Year 1 experience, in Year 2 I will be able to find more ways to blend into curriculum and classes.

Year 3 Implement
In year 3, I will continue to build & blend.  I will also learn and implement more ideas to bring students in to library (makerspace???).

My goal is always to do my best to serve the students and staff at the schools.
I want the library be an inviting place where people want to come and work or relax.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

OneTab Extension Puts Your Mind at Rest

I am sitting at my computer with what feels like a million tabs open on my Chrome.  You know....when you have so many open you can only see the first letter on each tab?   I won't even try to explain how I am figuring out a way to manage 5 Gmail accounts.

Oh OneTab how I love you!

I added the free OneTab extension to my Chrome a few weeks ago.

Push the funnel-like button and all the tabs you have open funnel in to a list on a web page for you to click from there.

Tab lists are saved until you delete them.  Each list appears as "# tabs" and the date.  You have the option to rename the list, lock the list so it cannot be changed or unlock it to add to it and drag tabs within a list or to other lists.  

OneTab is available from your Chrome or Firefox account.   OneTab lists can be shared with others as a web page.

The image below is a screenshot of my OneTab.

Some ways I plan to use OneTab:

1. Freshman Orientation.  I will be co-teaching several sessions.  Instead of reloading links prior to each session, I can just OneTab my way back to start.  Similarly, if you are teaching multiple sections of the same class or giving the same presentation and need to access web sites, you can use OneTab to get you back to starting point without having to reopen each tab.

2.  Share Resources with teachers or students. When asked to help find resources, I can have multiple tabs open with relevant web sites  OneTab it and send that list as a URL to the student or teacher.

3.  Take a Rest. As I am learning all the resources at my new job at the high school, I am often working in multiple tabs, figuring out how resources operate together.  I can take a break and know I can get right back to work later thanks to OneTab.

Besides the work functionality of OneTab, it saves memory as you do not have multiple tabs open which may speed up your computer.

Calm & Patience with Headspace

August is a highly emotional month.  I am sad that summer and unlimited time with my family is over for another year.  Excited about the school year ahead.  Nervous about the new challenges.  Stressed over all I have to do.

I feel like my mind starts going in a million directions.  I try to make the most of my days with my son but want to get prepared as possible for the year ahead, without being over-prepared.
YES! Over-prepared is a thing that Type A teachers will understand.  We Type A folks function best when over-prepared but there is a cost....that of mental and physical exhaustion.

"Your challenge will be to be patient with yourself."  

I was visiting a friend  who happens to be my former administrator at the end of June, telling her about my new position at the high school and middle school and how I didn't even know where to start preparing.   "Your challenge will be to be patient with yourself."

Sometimes it takes the wise voice of someone who knows you well and who is sitting outside observing to make you recognize your abilities.  She knew, as well as I did, that I would not go into this job ill-prepared and that it was more than okay for me not to know all of the answers right out of the gate.  A tough pill to swallow for this Type A girl but once it settled I knew she was right.

It was as if the universe knew patience is what I needed.
Headspace just released their Patience Pack.

Headspace has changed my life.  Headspace calls itself "your gym membership for the mind".  Accessed on a computer or through a mobile app, Headspace makes meditation simple and accessible.  It has made me a better mother, wife, daughter, overall more centered person.

I have been using it (almost) daily for over a year now and it has given me the tools to focus and remain calm.  I knew the research on meditation and I love the savasana part of yoga but to commit myself to sitting still every morning for a set period of time all by myself was not going to happen.   I wasn't even really sure what I was supposed to be doing sitting there breathing.

Headspace explains it all.  Founder, Andy Puddicombe, talks me right through a guided meditation, with his smooth and charming accent.  Sometimes, he provides a short video to help explain and visualize a concept.  This is one of my favorites:

Headspace is a paid subscription if you want more than the basic 10 sessions.  I started with the free 10 before subscribing and it was worth every penny.  (Plus, let's face it if you pay for something you are more likely to use it....kind of like with Weight Watchers right?) Subscribing allows access to mediation series on a variety of topics such as Relationships, Anxiety, Happiness, Focus, and Health.  You can choose how long you want to meditate 10, 15 or 20 minutes.  If I do more than 10 minutes I am interrupted by my son.  I love it and I am excited to start the Patience Pack to get me ready for the school year!

Headspace was created by Andy Puddicombe. Check out his Ted Talk when you get a chance.

Badges Are Not An Alternative to Library Media Specialist Certification!

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