Monday, June 18, 2018

Books that I'm in the Middle of Reading

So it's no secret that is' been like crickets around here. Some of this post is personal, some of it is professional. That's the way it might be for a while longer.

And you will think I am nuts when you see how many books I have started over the past week. And I checked 4 out of the library. And that doesn't count the other ones on the Kindle and the ones on the shelf and the ones on hold and the poor, neglected Netgalley and Edelweiss ones (if you can't SEE the books--because those are "hidden" in the documents section--it's way too easy for them to be forgotten. BAD BOOK BLOGGER. Side note ... since I sort of took a break from blogging? More random emails about books or sponsored posts than I ever got when I was posting every day. What is up with that?).

I probably won't get very far, either, because family is coming Tuesday night and won't leave til Saturday morning. But there is the rest of the summer for most of this.

Book 1 #SparksintheDark I tend to think of the title of this one in terms of the hashtag.
Because I did love Kids Deserve It and I love their enthusiasm. Tweeted a bit about it and will say more when I'm further along. Reading multiple books at a time it may take a while but with professional books I want to have time to think about things as I go and not rush. Sometimes (let's be honest, a lot of times) with fiction I rush.

Twitter screen cap

Book #2 The Google Infused Classroom
I am pretty Google literate (got my level 1&2 certs last summer ... didn't do trainer because I can't ever get people to come to trainings but maybe I need to think more out of the box on how I do that?) but all of the reviews say it is still useful and so far I would agree. And it looks like they have another one coming out? But student dependent not savvy ... that is SO TRUE. I also kind of want to go back and also get Google Apps 4 Littles to see if there is anything I can share and get teachers to do (I tried to get them to use the color coding login cards but they didn't "get" it) but I'm already spending too much $ ... got a new Kindle Fire, too. So we'll see. 

Sketchnote

And remember I already read Kasey Bell's Shake Up Learning: Practical Ideas to Move Learning from Static to Dynamic this spring and it was awesome so I totally recommend that. More about teaching than tech, really.

Book #3 The Wild Card
Part of me resisted this one a little bit because last year is close enough to remember how tired I still feel (it wasn't all THAT ... the docs claim part of it is an autoimmune thing but as the internet claims that will never go away I keep hoping to find something that will make me feel like I used to ... but I digress) but the other part of me wants to get some FUN back into things. Because FUN is ... well, more more fun for all of us and more engaging for kids. More memorable, right? And more work. But does it feel like work? That's the balance. So we'll have to see.

Which is not to say everything last year went wrong. Was actually quite surprised by a very positive evaluation by the AP. She's pretty reasonable and nice. Didn't get to actually talk to her about it (was all done electronically) and have any face to face time but whatever. Will take what I can get. Apparently my feelings that this past year was the worst one of my entire career ... that was the "d" word talking and not necessarily what everyone else saw?




Before I put the last book here is a pic from last week. One of my fave people is retiring. Can you see me? ;) I'll admit I had to make myself go. Even now when things are much better than they were four-six months ago. But I was glad that I did.

Book #4 The Depression Cure
I learned about this one through the Calm app and a masterclass. They give educators free access to the Calm paid version and while I think they wanted it used with kids I've used it more with me (and not consistently used it, to be honest, until the past week when I started listening to some of their masterclasses ... one on Social Media and Screen Addiction and then this one on Depression. I think the Social Media one deserves more thought and a professional angle on it because it really does have me thinking about some ways I can support parents more). TMI?
There. I said it. It's embarrassing (and it shouldn't be) and mortifying (and it shouldn't be) but man oh man oh man the past school year was NOT FUN and it has only been through a combo of family, faith, meds, and here again I am going to say it out loud professional help that I am climbing out of it now. The funny thing is it means less time online and more time back exercising (why is that SO STINKING HARD STILL because it does make a huge difference) and trying to connect again with those outside of family. I guess that is why I am saying anything here. Because teacher librarians ... it is way too easy to isolate ourselves. WAY TOO EASY. The school community doesn't mean to but they actually enable it some when they do things like take away assistants and get upset if the library door is locked for lunch and have everyone sit with "teams" at staff meetings and at lunches and such because where does that leave us? So. Self care. Make it a priority. Even if you are an introvert still talk to people because even introverts need some people. Even when you don't think you feel like it you need some people. Break into groups even when it makes you feel super uncomfortable. Now the sun one in this book. UGH IT IS SO STINKING HOT DURING THE SUMMER IN SOUTH TEXAS. During the year that is very likely part of the problem. I leave before the sun comes up, go inside to where I have no windows, and if they get their way don't leave until the sun goes down. That. Has. To. Stop. Being allergic to the air doesn't help ... but you know, the more I learn the more I wonder if some of the allergies aren't all related to a body at war with itself. Anyway.


(To be honest I found the Calm masterclass better than this Ted Talk. But you'll have to fill out the application first for that.)

Here are some of the books that are on deck. The left from public library. Right from my school collection. Again, terrible book blogger because bad lighting and staging. Asi es la vida. Most of my IG pics are better. But re Social Media and Screen Addiction ... this is more real life, you know. ;)
Happy Summer Break! Unless you are not on Summer Break? Not everyone is. I sometimes sort of forget that in reality other people CAN read this and they CAN be from other places. Happy READING, either way. If the personal stuff is TMI ... it won't last forever. If you've ever felt the same ... it happens. It does get better!


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Thinking Out Loud As Summer Approaches

So.
This is a personal post so it's ALL ME, not my district or even much to do profession wise. FYI. Proceed knowing that. I'll regret oversharing and want to delete it but anyway. Two "awareness" months that have super affected my health the past year ended in May and if oversharing maybe helps one other teacher know they are not alone than so be it.

One ... for heaven't sake, be nice to yourself. Mental health people ... make it a priority. Even those with super strong families and spiritual bases and common sense can one day (or night cause insomnia is THE WORST) wake up and realize all is not well. Please understand the kids are still awesome. They need us. I wanted to be there for them and be on fire for them but this year has been HARD. My own health has to be a priority as well, right?  I have tried to get a change in scenery over the years. Heaven knows I have tried. Applied and interviewed so many times it became kind of a joke because it always went to someone else. Could tell myself "they knew someone" (because in many cases prior connections came out later, even they the person ended up doing well anyway). Could tell myself "there's a reason you are supposed to stay" but why was that true when I felt so stagnant and alone? When I was so ... I don't want to say unhappy but no longer inspired? I wanted to be but it got to where I couldn't get anyone to do interesting things and couldn't get anyone higher up to listen (I avoid confrontation like the PLAGUE) and it felt like all I was doing was checking books in and out and not even getting to talk to kids about what they were reading and that was just not fulfilling. I was exhausted and in pain before the mental health issues started and a cycle of dwelling too long on the issues of education today and how frustrated I was at so many policies and procedures that were harmful to kids did not help. Glad to say tiptoeing down a better road now. It's a precarious road but a better road.

I truly don't know whether it was the chicken or the egg but they say stress can contribute to the onset of autoimmune disorders (docs have been super less than helpful ... I was doing half marathons 6 years ago) but pain and exhaustion and mental fogginess are real, no matter what the cause. They are real. And until I can get that under control the former issue will probably always be a bit of a spectre at the edge, waiting to jump back in if I let it.


So. Still have a week and a half to go but then it's summer. Time to relax and recharge. Some thoughts.


First of all ... the first couple of weeks means no thinking about school. Just get back into reading. That is one thing that has been a real barometer of just how much was wrong over the past year. Super hard to sit for anything but the audiobook on the commute. I'd either fall asleep or just not have the ability to concentrate. I have a backlog of Goodreads but I'm sure there are new titles that hopefully my local library will have? They are a smaller rural system so not many branches to choose from. Haven't tried the heavy duty ILLing from other systems. They are under renovations this summer so it should be an adventure going to pick up any titles!

Then I also joined my old gym. I've been going to Pilates and that has stretched tight muscles but it hasn't gotten the heart rate up all that much so it's time to work on that. Two times a week at Pilates and three times a week at group training classes. Hopefully I don't die or start crying.  Eeeek!

Renew some interests outside of school or find some new ones. Haven't figured that out yet. I used to watercolor back in college. That would be cool but seeing as how it's already been 100+ (NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN UNTIL JULY! SO UNCOOL!) not sure I want to be outside. Maybe hand lettering?

And some crafty things. Both for home and school. Just have to decide what.

When school starts again I have to figure out how to connect more with the other teachers even though my introverted self craves some time to just be quiet. This year I really withdrew ... without an assistant I ended up eating in the library because I was trying to get caught up and people still ended up sending kids during my lunch and that needs to stop (even though I've taken the same lunch pretty much since my first day there 14 years ago and I was always asking for it to stop but no, I can't lock the door). Back to the lounge even when it feels awkward to break into team tables or I end up sitting by myself because they are all sitting with their teams.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

(Almost Anyway) #IMWAYR April 9


It's (almost) Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now… who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!
Our Kid Lit to YA version is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.





It's long. The subject matter makes it upper middle grade but in print form I think a lot of my kiddos would be intimidated ... it's long. Like HP#5 long. But in audio format subject matter is fine for upper elementary. Darker fantasy but fine.

book cover
I loved this story. I listened to it in the car on my drive to and from school and during lunch. The narrator does an exceptionally good job at bringing the characters to life. I mean, the author wrote really awesome lines (some funny, some creepy, some fantastical) but I just loved the tone and accent of the delivery. I died any time I had to stop listening and that hasn't happened for quite some time. No, not every question is answered at the end but I didn't even care I enjoyed the book so much. Book two comes out in October, I think?

Description (publishers, from Amazon)
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks--and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart--an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests--or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

It's already got a movie production deal. That news came out in Variety before the book was even published.


I also read Shake Up Learning. Can I be quite as effusive about that one? No. It was PD and I'm a fiction girl. But it is a very good PD book. I got to read a free advanced copy (because I am a Kasey Bell/Google Teacher Tribe Fangirl ... if you remember clear back when I used to post more you might(?) know that? Both her blog and the podcast were major helps to me passing the Google Educator Certifications last summer) and just kept thinking yes, yes, yes and anymore due to health and other general circumstances I have been pretty disillusioned about education and my particular job situation so that means something. I don't say that to sound woe is me, just in passing honest. (If ever) More on that in another post. I only show up every day because of the kids. They are still worth it. This book is honest. Don't try to do it ALL at once. Tech is not a "it will fix everything." In fact that very mindset is part of the problem. We have to shake up the way we plan learning experiences in order to make things more applicable and more engaging and more relevant. Each chapter has great thinking prompts and actionable steps. Definitely worthwhile for educators for all ages. She also has an amazing set of resources linked up for the chapters at her website.


Not sure what I'll read next. It's testing so ... actively monitoring! 🙄 But I also have to take a day to get my license renewed and I might do that post testing just as something to reward myself for not going crazy. Even if it is Library Week because heaven knows no one else will ever remember that. And due to testing I can't really promote it, either. I did send some pics, at least, to the district guy who wanted something to tweet. Who sent out his request on School Librarian Day without a word. They remember nurses and counselors at the campus level. But they do more than check in/check out books, you know? Insert sarcastic eye roll ... 🙄🙄🙄