5. Relaxing, renewing summer – This summer was spent reading, relaxing, and traveling with my favorite people; my husband, my children, and my mom. I took on no major household projects like painting or redecorating. I stretched my body in the garden weeding and harvesting, and I stretched my mind with reading. I made a quilt, talked my mom into quilting it, and hung it on the library wall.
4. Reading, reading, reading - I won’t go into the exact numbers, but due to several incentives, mentioned in this post, I have read more middle grade and young adult literature titles this summer than in the entire previous calendar year. I have a list of must-reads for my students and teachers, and thanks to NetGalley, I have some titles to watch out for that I can promote before I even buy them!
3. Inspiring staff development – My summer had barely started before I attended the two-day Upstate Technology Conference, where I networked with other librarians and gathered great information about new educational technologies, Web 2.0 tools, and current trends. During three days of Mentor training I learned so much about how to talk to people in ways that are non-threatening, and how to offer help without offering unwanted advice. Although I don’t have a new teacher assigned to me this year, I know that the training I received will help me build relationships with the new teachers in our building. A full-day SMARTNotebook 11 training reminded me of the versatility of the interactive whiteboards we have in our district, and I am excited about sharing the new features with our staff.
2. My PLN – This was the summer of the PLN, a time when I really understood how important it is to never stop learning, to reach way beyond my own knowledge, and to tap into others’ energy, creativity, and inspiration. Starting with the other two middle school librarians in my district, and expanding to other states and other countries, I have been able to remind myself of why I became a librarian, and to begin to let go of excuses that kept me from being an effective one.
1. THE STUDENTS! – It’s still all about them. The year I don’t look forward to seeing my students at the beginning of the school year is the year I should retire. No, actually, I should retire BEFORE it gets to that point. Middle school students are so diverse in their interests, maturity levels, and personalities that it is almost impossible to make a blanket statement about them. Whatever they are, middle school students appeal to my heart in ways that elementary and high school students do not. I like their sense of humor, their unpredictability, and their sassiness. I know everyone does not feel that way, and I believe that only people who like middle school students should teach middle school students.
What about you? What is the best part of starting a new school year, and what prepares you during the summer to get off to a great start?