I recently attended the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) annual conference in Williamsburg, VA. I love attending professional conferences and VAASL is one of my favorites. I like to connect with other school librarians from around the state to talk and learn and share ideas. The biggest theme running through the conference was that truly, and perhaps more than ever, school libraries are important and valuable. They matter. What else matters in relation to libraries? That's where my five take-aways from the conference come into play.
Lately, I've felt the stress creep in. Looking at the calendar, the timing is about right. School is in full swing, the breaks are few and far between (no fall break for my school district), the work is piling up. Oh, and the gloss of "this is all new and shiny!" is wearing off. Kids are getting tired. Their work is getting harder. You get the idea and if you are a teacher, you know what I mean because you are living it. That's not to say I don't love my job. I do -- I love it to the tips of my little dressy flats --, but if you pour your soul into this job the way the work demands, it's stressful. It just is. So as teachers, we have to not only constantly work to create the best lesson and to build lasting relationships with our students, but also to keep stress in check so that we can be our best selves -- the selves our students need. So this week, I've taken a deep look at mindfulness as a way to combat the stress both in my own life, but also in the lives of my students. Here's what I discovered along the way.
Early in the school year, our Reading team approached my co-librarian Susanna and I asking if they could regularly bring their students to the library for a quick lesson and book checkout. We jumped at the chance to develop this natural partnership and began to plan the first skills lesson: visualization. We chatted with our reading colleagues, did some searching on the web, and pulled together several different activities for our students with the goal of encouraging them to use all of their senses. These strategies could be used on one day or split apart to re-emphasize the skill over several days.
One of the things I love best about teaching is that my teaching practice evolves constantly as I learn what works best for kids. Teachers are always searching for education's holy grail -- the activity, the lesson, the strategy that will help students do their best work, their best thinking. In last week's post, I briefly touched on a video I recently came across. It focused on low-stakes writing (or writing to learn). If you haven't seen it, you can (and should!) watch it here.
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