Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fit Leaders: Carrying Education's Torch

Editors Note:  We are honored to have Dr. Ryan Jackson, Principal of Mt. Pleasant High School in Mt. Pleasant, TN as our guest blogger!  As a new school year begins, we encourage you to create your own #FitLeaders plan.  Thank you Dr. Jackson for reminding us that we must take care of ourselves before we can offer our best to others.

By Ryan B. Jackson, Ed.D (@RyanBJackson1)
Librarians are like lighthouses. A great librarian serves as a beacon of resource and hope for all teachers. Whether you are a starry-eyed millennial newbie fresh out of college ready to save education or a seasoned veteran committed to pushing the depth of 21st century teaching and learning, a great librarian can help you get to where you are going. However, today’s librarians (dubbed Media Specialists by many) are also much, much more than that. Today’s librarians define Jack-of-all-trades: testing coordinator, professional development facilitator, data analyst, curriculum specialist – the list goes on. Truthfully, a great librarian is the lifeblood of a school, the proverbial backbone of the organization capable of initiating, supporting and sustaining the vast amounts of change that can truly test even the best of schools. The question then becomes, how do librarians meet the ubiquitous needs of 21st century education while, quite frankly, meeting their own health needs in order to both maximize their performance and sustain it? 

The above question forms the ethos of the #FitLeaders movement. Ultimately, it is about asking leaders, such as librarians, to take a hard, honest look at their own physical health and lifestyle in order to determine what changes can be made to better ourselves. See, like most public servants, librarians get so consumed in the daily rigors of uplifting and supporting everyone around them that a focus on self becomes purely an afterthought. The #FitLeaders ideology flips this thinking, asking us instead to lead first from within, securing our own physical, mental, even spiritual well-being before truly committing to leading others. Now, in theory that all sounds well and good but then other questions start to seep in: Where do I start? Where do I find time? What are my goals? 

What’s cool about the #FitLeaders movement is we are a tribe of educators from across the country that encourages, informs, and serves as an accountability system during the fitness journey. What’s even cooler is the process is profoundly simple: Progress Equals Happiness! We even have an answer to the most frequently asked question: Where do I start? We call it, Pick 3 for Me!

The key to sustaining physical health and an overall sense of well-being in a rigorous profession is to begin with incremental change and celebrate your successes along the journey. Pick 3 for Me is designed to do just that. Here’s how it works:

1. Pick an incremental goal but be specific. Ex: I want to lose 15lbs. 
2. Pick a physical exercise that will help you achieve your goal. Ex: Walking 1 hour a day
3. Pick a dietary restriction or change but be specific. Ex: Switching from 2% to skim milk

You have literally formed the basis of your #FitLeaders plan. The next-step is to work the plan! What’s really cool, though, is that you are not alone. Sure, your exercise and diet discipline are personal, but the journey doesn’t have to be. By sharing your journey via social media platforms like Twitter, using the hashtag #FitLeaders, you will connect with thousands of others on similar journeys. This sense of belonging, inspiration and affirmation will help keep you going, help you update your goals, and connect you with other passionate educators! I look forward to connecting with you as embark on both a new school year and a life-changing transformation! I’m only a tweet away: @RyanBJackson1

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Save $1000 on Nonfiction Signage!

By: Olivia Rodney (@oliviacgm)
Rosebank Elementary School

Did this topic catch your eye? Are you interested in having amazing signage for your nonfiction section without spending a ton of money? Then, you are reading the right blog post. 
A little background before I provide step-by-step directions. ☺ Like many of you, I work in a school that does not have tons of extra money. And when there is money, library signage is not typically what a school wants to spend their money on. At Dodson ES, I created nonfiction signs in Word, backed them on different colored construction paper for each Dewey section, laminated them, and taped them on small book ends. This worked really well; however, there are several drawbacks to this option. 1.) The construction paper faded even when laminated, which made them look old and worn after a yearish. 2.) The small book ends took a bit of space and went at the end of the section rather than at the beginning. This was fine when I had a ton of shelf space and was able to space the sections out. 3.) The biggest issue of all was it didn’t allow for me to shift sections easily. If I wanted to move books and shift, I would have to create a completely new sign. This worked when I had a clerk and plenty of time, but that is no longer the case.
So when I came to a brand new library at Rosebank ES, I had to decide what kind of nonfiction signage I wanted. I contemplated printing up the signs I already created, modifying the sections I have here and be done with it, but that just didn’t sit well. The drawbacks for that method were too much. This created the Great Search for New Signage. In the Great Search I found what we all find….boring signs that cost WAY TOO MUCH. The one only one I liked cost a little over $1,000 for the nonfiction section alone. What was a poor librarian to do? Get CREATIVE! 

So now this brings us to my solution:
The first thing you will need to do is gather as many discarded laptop computer boxes as you can. The Dell ones your school receives are PERFECT. If you don’t have any, ask your IT guy. I bet they can help you gather some. Once you have these boxes, use a box cutter and cut them in half. This will fit the depth of your shelves perfectly (unless you have oddly deep shelves).  

Optional step – Tape top end to ensure it stays together.

Next you can either create your own signs or buy a package from Teachers Pay Teachers. Since I am super busy and don’t have has much extra time as I used to, I decided to spend a little bit of my (yes personal) money. The great thing about Teachers Pay Teachers is they have a lot of options for you to choose from. The one I went with is Magazine File Box Shelf Signs for $10  ( Print these signs out on thick paper or cardstock.

After I cut all my signs out I laminated them. I originally used our school laminator but the lamination creased in places and separated. Also, it wasn’t as thick and sturdy as I wanted it to be. A teacher at my school has a small personal laminator that uses pouches which she so kindly let me use. I purchased 5 mil laminating pouches from Amazon (yes with my own money again). Again like Teachers Pay Teachers, Amazon has a MILLION different options. This is the one I went with I highly recommend this one. It’s thick and has held up really well. 

Finally, I taped these on to all the boxes (you can hot glue them if that’s more your style) and they look FABULOUS. For a total of $25 I have the perfect nonfiction signs. The author of the TPT package included several blank signs as well as an editable file so you can create customized signs needed for your library. If $25 is still too much money for you, you can always ask PTO or your school to purchase these items. ☺ I hope this helps you in your Great Search for New Signage. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I’d love to help you in way I can.

Before Pictures:

After Pictures: