Originally I thought I would blog about something rather profound and serious. Then when I was gluing the fake jewels to my pink foam crown a few days ago, I changed my blog topic. The pink foam crown has to do with my job, which is elementary school librarian. Thus, I decided to blog about fun at work.
One of the reasons I transferred from the classroom into the library was the freedom to be more creative and out of the box with lesson plans. Probably one of my favorite aspects of teaching is developing interesting and engaging lessons, and I thought becoming a librarian would yield more opportunities to cultivate this passion.
Unfortunately, over the past 2 years I have moved away from creative lesson planning. Instead, I have become entrenched with weeding, developing the collection, writing grants, and a myriad of other necessary tasks to run an efficient and effective library. Recently I realized that these tasks were becoming the bulk of my work day, and as a result my work day was becoming mundane.
Serendipitously, a teacher came to the library to ask about Patricia Polacco books. She wanted to do an author study with her class, and picked author/illustrator Patricia Polacco. Several years ago Ms. Polacco spoke at the Children’s Literature Conference in Athens, GA. Seeing her speak made me a fan for life— she was incredible! So, when the teacher said she was doing an author study on this fantastic writer, I knew I had to jump on that bandwagon. Luckily, this teacher is also someone who brings who class into the library weekly, so I figured she would be accepting of my ideas. I approached her, and she was immediately willing to collaborate. She did ten books Patricia Polacco books in class, along with a biography. The library’s part in all of this is the culminating activity. In the library, I plan on reviewing the books and author with a PowerPoint, hosting a mini Reading Bowl Competition, doing a craft based on the Pysanky eggs featured in the book Chicken Sunday, and then serving a slice of Thunder Cake, a recipe found in the book with the same title. I have secured buzzers for the competition, have written 50 reading bowl-style questions based on the books the teacher covered in class, have written and copied the invitation to the students’ parents, and have created the e-vite that I will send to our school’s administration and our system’s media services coordinators.
Has this been a lot of grunt work for an hour lesson in the library? Indeed, it most certainly has. Have I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of planning and creating the lesson? Indeed, I must certainly have. I think psychologists even have a term for it: “being in the zone,” where you block out all else and have no concept of time because you are so enthralled with the activity.
The lesson started as something selfish: bringing fun back into the work place. Now, though, unexpected bonuses are starting to surface. First, it gave me an opportunity to collaborate with a teacher with whom I never had before. Second, word got out and now another teacher who rarely does anything with her class in the library wants to do a similar lesson with her class. Clearly, this lesson has been good PR for the library. Third, the culminating activity in the library will be interdisciplinary. Students will find Russia on the map, learn what “babushka” means in English, learn about another religion, do an art craft, and more. Fourth, parents will be invited, so they can see what their child is doing in school, and get to know their child’s teacher and librarian. Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, maybe a child’s love for reading will be sparked by all these activities. Perhaps students will realize reading can open a whole new world to them, and the library is the gateway to this world.
Where does the pink foam crown fit in all this? Well, I am no Vanna White or Alex Trebeck, and I need some sort of prop to indicate I am mistress of ceremonies. Okay, the real reason: it’s fun and I just want an excuse to wear it at work.
In March’s blog, I’ll catch you up on know how the lesson went. If you want a more details about the lesson, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much!
Anja Tigges, Elementary School Librarian, Atlanta Public Schools