Tuesday, 14 December 2010

It could easily have been a Thursday ... but it wasn't

I've finally dropped my hours at work which has meant that I've managed to do two units on my Studies in Management module in two weeks. In the past that would have taken me well over a month. I'm back in a very positive frame of mind and emotionally and spiritually I feel back to my old self. I may me broke from reducing my work hours but at least I've got my sanity back ... mostly!

What having Mondays off has also done is throw me off balance so I can't remember what day it is anymore! Today I thought it was Wednesday but to my surprise it turned out that it was only Tuesday and tomorrow was not going to be the Thursday that I had hoped for. Oh well. Something new to get used to.

Christmas is nearly here and I'm starting to get excited. I'm looking forward to spending time with my parents, partner and friends. I've not really spent any quality time with my friends since the summer and I've really missed that. This weekend I'm going to my friend's to participate in a Murder Mystery evening. I'm really excited and it's just the kind of thing that I need at the moment. I will be taking the part of Chastity Darling - a flirtatious young country girl. What a hoot! Let the season of festive joy begin I say!

I'm not sure I'll post again before Christmas so until the New Year -

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!




Wednesday, 1 December 2010

CoFHE LASEC talk, crazy work schedule and new hours!

Well hello! Over a month since I last wrote. Doesn't seem like that long thank goodness. This term has just flown by and I can't say that makes me sad. Christmas is almost upon us and I am quite relieved. Time to relax and reflect.

On Friday I gave my talk to the CoFHE LASEC group about Untangling Web 2.0 and using Web 2 tools to market my service. I think that it went very well and the people who were there seemed to think it was good so YAY! I really wasn't very nervous which is rare for me. I'm usually a seething bundle of nerves. I met some rather lovely people, had tea and biscuits and got to listen to another talk given by Anna Knox from UEL on Using Customer Feedback to Market the Library. It was really interesting and I got a lot of ideas from it. Though we work in very different environments the same techniques can work in both. I shall have to make some time over Christmas to go back and think more on what she said.

If you would like to see some of the tweets from the day click HERE! The lovely Helen was our tweeter for the day. Hmmm I wonder if that's the right word....

I was hoping that the last few weeks at work would be quiet and things would start to wind down but no such luck! Last week was manic with the Principals interviews, my yearly appraisal and trying to work out how we are going to replace one of my staff who has decided to retire at the end of term. It was and wasn't a surprise as she's been talking about it for ages but it has made things difficult because we need to advertise, interview and appoint before the holidays! That's only two weeks away now! I think come January we will be very short staffed. Oh well. These things are sent to test us I suppose. I'm certainly looking forward to the process as it means I have to go into manager mode and I don't do that very often.

I start my new reduced hours next week. I had almost forgotten about it as it took so long to organise. I asked about it in September and two months later I'm just about to start them. I had hoped that the process would be faster than that but I guess I expected too much. I'm going to try to get the module I'm working on done by the end of January and then the next one done by the end of April. My tutor has been great and has postdated some time out for me. That hasn't solved any of my problems but it has taken a bit of the pressure off.

Right! Best get back to work! TTFN!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Unshelved - how I love you

My favourite Library website www.unshelved.com has featured MY Banned Books Week display!! I am so chuffed. I've been feeling very demoralised lately and this has made me feel so good I can hardly explain. So thanks Gene and Bill. You've made my day, my week and my year.






http://www.unshelved.com/2010-10-20/Awesome_Banned_Books_Week_Display!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

More Photos from BBW

Here are some more photos from Banned Books Week! Enjoy!


















These are some some photos of the posters that the Amnesty Students made for the Library. I was so happy and proud of the hard work they put into them. They really did a great job!























Monday, 11 October 2010

Being ill and something exciting

My prediction was right. The saturday at the end of Banned Books Week marked the start of my first week of illness this school year. I got a chest infection, a cold, laringitis, swollen glands and a sore throat. It's been over a week but I am still not fully recovered. I have a feeling this is going to linger for a while. Oh well. I don't care cause I got some good news last week. I've been asked for speak at the next CoFHE meeting at the end of November about the Phil Bradley course I went on back in April. They want me to feedback on the course, what I've used from it, what challenges I've faced with Web 2.0 technology at work etc. I'm really excited! The meeting is at the end of November so I've got some time to prepare. Luckily I will shortly be cutting back my hours at work in order to have more time to complete my course work so I can also work on my talk then. It will be someting good to add to my CV.

Friday, 1 October 2010

BBW Day 5

And so it comes to an end. This has been an amazing week for me. We often struggle through the year doing the same old things over and over again, and while this has been incredibly hard work in the end I'm so happy we did it. It has raised our profile and given us something to look forward to everyday. They say a change is as good as a rest and I think that doing Banned Books Week has really reinvigorated my staff. They've been smiling all week and chatting with staff and students about books. I've really seen a change in them. We've promoted a really important issue and educated a large number of people about how important it is to have free access to information.

I have been completely and utterly rushed off my feet this week and now my body is really feeling it. I've told the girls that if I'm ill next week it's because my body has been run into the ground. But I don't mind. My mental health has never been stronger because for the first time in a long time I have been really happy about being at work.

Midday marks the end of our BBW competition for students and staff. We've only had a handful of staff entries and only 1 student entry. It's probably my own fault for not advertising it enough but hey. At least someone will win something. Now I've done a major event in the Library I can learn from all the mistakes I've made and make the next one better.

I hope that those of you who have been following have enjoyed my posts this week. It's really important to me that I'm writing about things that people are interested in reading. If you have any questions about things that I've blogged about this week or any week for that matter just leave me a comment and I will try to answer.

Thanks again for reading and have a great weekend!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

BBW Day 4

Sorry for not posting yesterday. I was up to my ears in work and then I supervised a Dance trip in the evening. We went to see Traces at the Peacock Theatre near Holborn. It was amazing and I'm glad I went though I am quite tired today. 5 hours with a group of giggly girls, negotiating rush hour underground traffic is not how I normally like to spend my Wednesday evening but actually it was kinda fun in the end.

Anyway, Waterstone's book sale today. They are arriving at 11.30 to set up. I've got lots to do today so I will write again later this evening.


-------------------------------------------------------------

The book sale didn't go as well as I had hoped. We had a lot of interest and people stopping by to look but we only sold 5 books in the end. Natalie (Waterstone's manager) was very nice though and said that doing school visits she either sells lots or hardly anything at all. Oh well! She said she is happy to come back any time so hopefully I can get her to come back for World Book Day in March.

The rest of the day went well. I spent a lot of time talking to students and teachers about Banned Books and I've even aquired my own little fan club. I met a lovely asian girl on the trip yesterday and she brought some of her friends in to meet me. They said they had made great friends with the Librarian at their last school and now they had met me they would be back often. We chatted about the books they like, their favourite authors and they asked me for recommendations. One of the best things about this week has been meeting so many students who just love to read. Two girls yesterday were over the moon when they saw that the Waterstone's stall had the next installment of the book in their favourite series. It was wonderful to see so many people excited about books and reading.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

BBW Day 2

Today was a really nice day! The kids are still coming in to look at the displays and I chatted with quite a few today about the Banned books and about books in general. One of the girls I work with was telling me that the son of a friend of hers who attends our College was talking about it at home. He was saying that everyone is talking about it. I was quite chuffed.

I've got two teachers coming in with their classes later this week to see the displays. One is a General Studies class who will be studying Censorship later in the term. The teacher was eager to get them in to see what we were doing.

I checked my work email this evening when I got home and found one from the Vice Principal. He was emailing to tell me that he had seen the displays and that he thought they were excellent. He wanted to pass on his congratulations to the Library staff. That really made me happy. It's not often that we get any recognition from the SMT for the work that we do. A lot of the time I just want to fly under their radar in case they diaspprove of what I do but it's nice to be able to do something like Banned Books Week and for people to recognize all the hard work that's gone into putting it all together.

One of our teachers organises and runs the Amnesty Internation group at the College. I went to speak to his students last week about Banned Books Week and they were really excited. Every year Amnesty International marks BBW by publicising people who have been arrested and or executed for writing and speaking out about subjects that are censored by their governments. The students decided to make me some posters and they are worked on them today in class. Carl (the teacher) brought them to me in the afternoon and they are stunning. They went mad with poster paint and drawings. I was so chuffed! They really put their hearts and souls into them. I've put them up on an empty bulletin board in the Library. I'll take some photos and post them later.

Monday, 27 September 2010

BBW Day 1



My day started at 7am. I didn't manage to get enough time on Friday to finish off all the background work on the bulletin boards so I got in early to try to get everything up before the kids came in. Nothing went right. The Hazard tape I used as the boarders on the bulletin boards was all pealing off and none of the documents that I had typed up on the weekend would open in Word 2010. I was like a woman possessed, running around trying to get it all fixed and done before I had to head off to the Briefing at 8.30. I managed to get one board done and the posters on the front doors before I had to abandon it all for the Briefing.



Back from Briefing, Abigail and I got all the book cover posters up on the boards with the blurbs about why they were banned, when and by whom. They look really good and I'm really pleased with how they all turned out.




On Friday Jean spent all day covering the banned books with brown paper. I got the idea from a photo I saw of another Library that was promoting BBW. We wrote things on the brown paper covers like, "I Promote Sexual Promiscuity" and "I Criticize the Catholic Church". We had lots of kids looking at them, especially the boys who seemed particularly interested in the one that said, "I Contain Scenes of Lesbianism". They were giggling like school girls - it was hilarious!






Today really was manic but I feel good about what I have accomplished. On Thursday, Waterstone's will be running a book stall in the Library (I managed to wanggle a 10% discount for the students!) and I've created two competitions (one for staff and one for students). The first prize is £10 of National Book Tokens.



I've had lots of great comments from students and teachers about the displays and generally what we are trying to promote. I think it's really important to remind people that we can't take our freedoms for granted. I really hope that by doing this I can promote Banned Books Week and get more UK schools involved. It's important that we spread the word so that people know that things like this still happen.



If you want to find out more about Banned Books Week, check out the ALA's website:




 

Anyway, off to have a nice cup of tea and wind down before more mayhem tomorrow!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Banned Books Week

I've been wanting to promote and run an event in the Library for a long time. The closest I've got in the last two years was doing a few things for World Book Day in March last year. I didn't realise that there was a Banned Books Week until about a month and a half ago. Preparing for it has been a little rushed and I've accidentally stepped on a few of the Senior management toes but otherwise things are going well. I've managed to organise for a major book chain to come and set up a book stall in the Library next week. That was quite an achievement for me though I did kinda rush it and I didn't get the procedure for authorising it quite right. Anyway, I've bought brown paper to wrap the 'banned books' in, I'm making book marks, I'm creating a prison motif for the bulletin boards and the Amnesty International kids are going to do a stall about people who have been executed or imprisoned for writing/promoting books/view points that have gone against Government agendas. It should be a good week and really all I'm hoping to do is get people thinking and reading. I'll post more next week with some photos of the things we've done.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Thought for the day

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.
- Marcus Aurelius

Thursday, 2 September 2010

And we're back!

First week of term and it is MANIC! Student enrolement is a bit of a nightmare and for the students who didn't get the grades it is a bit emotional. Luckily I left at 4pm yesterday but some of my colleagues were at work until 7pm working through the backlog of students still to be registered. Today we've rearranged things a bit so hopefully our setion should work better.

We have a new Assistant Principal this year who is now incharge of overseeing the Library and the other facilities. I wasn't sure how I was going to take to having a new line manager (it took me long enough to break in the old one) but she is wonderful. I was feeling very demoralised over the summer and thinking about quiting and going back to uni. After one meeting with her I feel so much better and I actually believe that this year might be better than last. I hope that her enthusiasm and good mood lasts because we are in desperate need of it! She reminds me of how I was when I started two years ago. Now look at me - tired and cynical. Is this what working in education does to you?

I've made a few 'new year' resolutions. I need to sort out my life and get my priorities in order. There are lots of things that I want to do but I think that I'm just not organised enough to achieve them. So here are the things I want:

to finish my degree by September 2012
to learn to drive
to improve my fitness for cricket and for my own health
to read more for pleasure
to go on a proper holiday
to spend more quality time with my family and my boyfriend

Now these aren't earth shatteringly difficult things to achieve but I never seem to manage to do them. So starting this new school year I am going to make these things my priority. I have to change my life and be happier otherwise what am I doing?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Pubs are a good substitute for Public Libraries - WTF?!

I've just been watching the BBC news and they are about to do a report on the Government's new ideas of Public Libraries. To entice us to watch they say 'Do Libraries really need buildings anymore when people could get their books in supermarkets and pubs?'

WHAT!? Seriously? What complete and utter muppet came up with that idea? Granted public libraries aren't the only place you can get fiction books these days (you can now get those cheap anywhere) but PL's are a whole lot more than that. They are community hubs where people can meet to participate in social activities, get information about public services, talk to INFORMATION PROFESSIONALS about where they can get specific information and services and much much more! I'm starting to wonder why I am bothering to get a Library degree when our government in all it's wisdom says that what I do is pointless. I don't think that what I do is pointless but it's quite demoralising to be putting in all this work and money into a degree when there probably won't be a job for me in 5 years time.

What do we have to do to get people to realise that what we do is important? How do we make the powers in control of our WONDERFUL public libraries see that qualified librarians are important to our communities and that what they do on a daily basis is important to a lot of people and vital to a communities?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Interesting Library things....

I stumbled across two really interesting things today - one a comment/article on why this one Librarian decided to leave CILIP and secondly Phil Bradley's post on CILIP in 2020. I'm going to repost both links here as I really think they are worth reading. So here they are!


 
CILIP in 2020
What should CILIP be, and where in 2020?

This is another of my thought pieces, which is basically a stream of thought, so it doesn’t have a great structure to it, but it’s heartfelt, which I hope will be sufficient to overcome the other deficiencies of the piece. It’s an attempt to add to the conversation, so I’ve tried to be fairly wide reaching with it. Comments are most welcome.

CILIP needs to be an integral part of every librarian’s day to day work. I would like to see a situation where CILIP acts more as an aggregator of data. I’d like to wake up in the morning, go to my machine or have my mobile device alert me to all of the interesting things that CILIP has found for me overnight, so that I can then sift through them as appropriate. I would like to be able to use CILIP as a conduit, putting everything into one place for me, assessing data, making links to other resources and displaying it for me in useful ways. I want CILIP to think, so I don’t have to! Of course, I can do a lot of this myself now – it’s a matter of a few seconds to create a Netvibes page (and I’m delighted to see that CILIP has), or to drag data from different RSS feeds into one resource for me, but I’d rather someone else was able to do that. I could then just bolt on any extras as needed.

..... to read the rest click on the link above!



Why I quit CILIP ...

Ed Chamberlain Posted: 05-25-2010 8:07 PM

i've posted this as a comment on Bethan Ruddocks blog, but was subsequently guided here. Its my experience of CILIP as a chartered member and my recent resignation. As a CILIP Member of nine years and a Chartered Member for the past four, I have recently quit. A colleague from another institution suggested I do this publicly, which I was not used to, but after some deliberation, I've decided to share the whole process. Here is the guts of my resignation letter, outlining why:

-----------
Dear CILIP,

After much deliberation, I have decided not to renew my membership for 2010.

In the current economic climate, I cannot justify the cost of £184 p.a. for an organization that no longer meets my professional development needs.

CILIP is all but unrecognized in my workplace. Looking at my institution of employment, none of my division are members, not my Line Manager nor our Director. Charted status has no bearing on my current pay, nor has it in my previous positions (in specialist and museum libraries). Alternative mechanisms exist to support my personal and professional development. In terms of keeping abreast of developments in information provision and our sector, I find many other sources, (blogs, professional journals, System provider literature) are now meeting my communication and networking needs more than adequately.

Most tellingly, the past years’ worth of CILIP literature has largely remained in its expensive plastic wrapping. My job entails keeping abreast of the latest information developments, yet CILIP cannot tell me anything I have not already found out from other more current and informed sources. CILIP always seems to be several steps behind developments in the networked environment, seemingly playing catchup and acting conservatively. Its attitude towards using Twitter back in March is a case in point.

Even an institution as archaic as my own (Cambridge University Library) is using this medium. Finally, I have issues with CILIPs’ effectiveness as a representational body. Throughout my membership of your organization, I feel that it has failed to tackle issues of pay and status and adequately represent information workers and promote their skill-set and value.

Unexpectedly, I received the following letter from Chief Exec, Bob Mackee, some of which I would also like to share:

I’m saddened by your decision but I’m impressed by your intelligent and considered demolition of the value of CILIP membership for you. Professional qualification is not required by your employer. You get support for your personal and professional development elsewhere, and your needs in terms of networking and current awareness are met through alternative print and online sources. You find CILIP overly conservative in its engagement with the networked environment, and you feel that CILIP is ineffective in representing your interests. Stuff you receive from CILIP remains in its plastic wrapping, unopened. Ouch! These are trenchant and chastening criticisms which summarise very well the challenges facing CLIP now and in the future

I’m not going to attempt rebuttal because all your points have validity. Nor am I going to ask you to change your mind: your decision has been made after much deliberation, and I respect that.

But there are two things I would like you to do. One is to agree that I can copy your letter to the members of CILIP Council and to the Working Group set up by Council to consider issues relating to CILIP membership: your comments will certainly help to concentrate our minds. The other is to contribute to the “Big Conversation” about the future for CILIP that we propose to undertake in the coming months. In your letter you set out the reasons why CILIP membership no longer works for you: it would be really helpful if you could set out, after a similar process of deliberation, what CILIP would have to do in order to work for you again in the future.

.... to read the rest click on the link above!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Appreciation

It's coming towards the end of the year now and everyone is tired and grumpy and generally fed up. I was plodding through my day, cataloguing books in a typical afternoon zombie fashion and into the Library walks the ex-student coucil president. He comes up to the desk and says, "Hi Emma - this is for you" and hands me a box of chocolates. "It's a thank you for helping us out with supervision at the student parties this year." I was suitably stunned. Firstly, I had never thought that they would think to do something that nice and secondly only moments before I had been thinking about how nice it would be to have a piece of chocolate. It completely made my day. I was feeling a bit tired and generally fed up and just that one act of thoughtfulness has restored my good mood and belief that teenagers do think about others sometimes. A little bit of appreciation every once and a while goes a long way.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Tidy desk, tidy mind




I took some time out yesterday to tidy my desk. It's amazing how many rubbish bags of stuff I threw out and also how much work I got done after it was clean! I've managed to be incredibly productive and so much more organised. So I decided to take a picture of my tidy desk to inspire me to keep it neat and tidy from now on. It makes life so much easier when you know where to find things and you're not surrounded by stacks of paper and books.


And this is Nancy Pearl - my librarian action figure - who is going to inspire me to stay on the straight and narrow!

I really do love being a Librarian!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Science Fiction - (these are not the books you are looking for)

I've been on a real mission to get sci fi books for my library as we really don't have any. So I started by buying all the SciFi Masterworks books. They all arrived the other day and we've been busy processing and cataloguing them so we can get them on the shelves as fast as possbile. I bought a new spinner for them to show them off and that arrived yesterday. We had such fun putting it together. It felt like Christmas. My childish glee was thankfully shared by my staff who have been cooing over it ever since it went up. It's funny what makes people happy. I felt happy from my head to my shoes!

Anyway, Unshelved has had some Sci-Fi related comics this week that I want to share as they are HILARIOUS! Enjoy!









http://www.unshelved.com/

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Sometimes it really is a trial

Before I start, I know I should always try and keep a good sense of humour about these sorts of things but after a while it all really starts to grind you down.

We are very busy at the moment in the Library, with exams looming and students panicking it's a very stressful time for us all.

So why, why would someone decide that setting off an air horn in the library was a good thing to do? OK so I know the answer really. They didn't think, they didn't care. They thought it was fun and didn't care that other people were working and actually want to get an education. I tell ya sometimes working in a state school really puts me off EVER letting my children attend one. The lax discipline and cavalier attitude of the people who are supposed to be enforcing the rules is disgraceful. I'm sending my kids to a private school where punishments are harsh and kids are taught to respect their elders. Puritanical I hear you say? Too authoritarian? Nothing wrong with that. I was taught to fear and respect my teachers and it didn't do me any harm. These kids think they are above the rules and they don't care at all that their actions cause harm and distress to others.

ARRRG! Makes me so hopping mad sometimes. I would wish them some sort of physical or mental harm but that's not a very Christian attitude. I shall instead hope that they are caught and learn the folly of their ways.

Hope springs eternal after all ........... and pigs might fly

Friday, 23 April 2010

Phil Bradley and Web 2.0

I am currently sitting in a computer lab in a college in London listening to Phil Bradley talk about Web 2.0. He is not at all what I expected and I think I'm really going to like this session. More later!
................................................

Much later as it happens as it is now Monday morning. Had a fantastic day on Friday but left feeling like my brain was about to explode! So much new knowledge that my brain didn't know what to do with itself.

I've been aware of the term Web 2.0 for a while but never really had it explained. It's one of those terms that people throw around but no one is willing to admit that they don't know or understand what it actually means. Here are a few things that I learnt. I hope Phil doesn't mind me borrowing his words!

Web 1 was not easy to use - required a knowledge of HTML
Web2 is easy to use, easy to add to

Web 1 is computer based
Web2 uses the web as a platform

Web 1 relied on installed hardware
Web 2 uses the browser

Web 1 was solitary
Web 2 encourages sharing

Web 1 data in one place
Web 2 data is portable

Web 1 was about consuming data
Web 2 about creating data

Web 1 was homepages
Web 2 is weblogs

Web 1 was tracking information down
Web 2 is having information come to you

Web 1 was badging your content
Web 2 is getting the answer out quickly

Web 1 is slow transfer rate
Web 2 is broadband

Web 1 was cost of hardware
Web 2 is cost of broadband

Web 1 was getting it perfect
Web 2 is doing it and moving on

Web 1 was stationary
Web 2 is mobile

Web 1 was about limitations
Web 2 is about state of mind

Please go and visit his websites:



Having been to lots of training sessions in my life so far I can honestly say that I got the most out of this one. I felt like I had actually learned something constructive, that I could put into use on a daily basis.

Thank you Phil! You've just made my work life a trillion times easier and more importantly more fun!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Nice way to start a Monday

I got an email this morning from a librarian at one of our feeder schools saying that he had visited the College on an Open Evening with his child and was very impressed by the Library. He's asked to come and visit. Made me rather chuffed that another Librarian should think our library is impressive. What a nice way to start the week!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

My Job

Understanding Organisations by Charles Handy
Chapter 11 - On Being a Manager


"Rosemary Stewart, studying 100 managers, found that in four weeks each of them had, on average, only nine periods of half an hour without interruption, which is less than one every other day. Mintzberg, studying chief executives, found what might be called the 'ten minute itch': everything, even desk work and tours of the plant or office, seemed to get fitted into average bursts of around ten minutes except for scheduled meetings, although even these, on average, lasted only just over an hour."


Hmmmmmm sounds so familiar.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The terminal stupidity of teenagers

Sometimes I wonder if kids misplace their brains when they become teenagers. They seem to think that they can misbehave and then run off and the next day it is all forgotten. Well I don't forget and I've had to deal with several students over the last week who behaved appallingly and then the next day couldn't understand why I asked them to leave the library and not come back until after Easter. Then today I had one student reply to an email about an overdue book telling me to piss off. His first mistake was to write it down. I forwarded it to his tutor who is now on the war path. The word kill was mentioned. I really don't understand their attitude. I would hope that they wouldn't talk to their parents that way but maybe that's why they think that that kind of language or behaviour is acceptable, because they DO talk that way to their parents. What a sad state of affairs.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Best line ever

We had a few problems with some students yesterday and while I didn't catch all of their names I did managed to get one. I informed the student's tutor who said that he wasn't suprised at all that they had been creating problems. Anyway, we agreed that the student should not come back into the library until after Easter and he sent the student a letter that was frankly the best letter I've ever read. The best line in the whole thing though came at the end when he said,

"I should advise you to bear in mind that I shall shortly be deciding whom we will allow to return next year and that you are at present doing nothing to convince me that I should allow the taxpayer to go on funding a place for you."

Sheer brilliance! It gives me hope that some teachers do care about maintaining standards and enforcing the rules on bad behaviour.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

What a difference a quiet day makes...

... I can feel my blood pressure decreasing by the minute! Monday and Tuesday of this week have been review days for our A level students which means that half of the students are seeing teachers and the other half are in the Sports Hall having careers lectures and playing games. It's been absolute bliss. My ears feel like they are on holiday! No more noise, no more annoying students being stupid. It's been like heaven. I've managed to clear my desk of all the paper work that was mounting, clean all the downstairs PCs, classify and catalogue a whole pile of books, work on new displays, sign up for courses AND do some coursework. I've managed to do two weeks worth of stuff in one and a half days simply because I've had no interruptions. This afternoon I'm going to sort out the second office, do some more paper work and tidy my office and then do some more coursework. I'll probably have done about three weeks worth of work by the time I'm done! I wish we had review days more often.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Good to feel needed

I had a student come to see me today in need of some help. His mother works with mine and she suggested that he come and see me. He has learning difficulties and is struggling with his ICT coursework. I'm not terribly surprised as he says that even his teacher doesn't know how to use the software that they are using. Anyway, he explained what he was doing and what the problems were and I found him some good study guides. We've agreed that he's going to come back tomorrow and I'm going to help him sort out what he needs to do. Making a plan of what you've done and what you have left to do is one of the best ways to focus and also to feel better about the work you're doing. One of the greatest problems he's having (besides the lack of teacher aid) seems to be that they are trying to do two modules at once and he's finding it hard as they keep jumping back and forth between them. I can totally understand that problem as I struggled with that at university all the time. It was hard to separate things that were similar in nature and I needed to be really focused to stay on track.

Anyway, I'm in the process of printing off the manual for the programme he's using so that he can finish making the product. I'm glad that I'm able to help him as it seems that ALS aren't able to give him the support he needs.

It's nice to feel needed.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Ways to engage students in reading

I have a lot of students who simply will not read unless it is for homework/coursework or an exam. I think this is rather sad and it also means that they are not developing their reading skills which will effect how well they do at school and later in life. I had a hard time learning to read as a child. I didn't learn to read until I was 12 and it was only thanks to comics that I was able to engage and find enjoyment in reading.

I was thinking that perhaps this would be a good way to encourage some of my students to read. Comics, graphic novels and manga are a good way to read for pleasure and often contain literary references that students may end up going to the source to look up. It is a bit of stretch but hope springs eternal.

I've been trying to come up with some titles to create a comic/graphic novel/manga section for my library but so far haven't gotten very far. I bought a copy of Watchmen which seemed to be popular but other than that I am at a loss. I did come across this comic today that looks really good and appealing to the age group I work with (16-19).

Moaning

Goodness! I have to apologize. I've just looked back over my posts and seen how depressing and moany they are. While there may be some HUGE problems with my work and studies not everything is doom and gloom I promise. My uni lecturers have been a huge support and not all of my students are vile little beings. I do like my job on the whole but there are some major issues that obviously need tackling. I have to admit that I would be unlikely to suggest to someone else that they try to do my kind of job and do a Master's at the same time but I would recommend doing them, seperately! My colleagues are great and they have been very supportive and nice to me since I started working here. I think everyone in their own way suffers a bit the way I do. I think that's just part of working in education.



Please, rest assured that my life is not all doom and gloom as I seem to report.

Monday, 11 January 2010

New Year

Sorry for not writing in a while. November/December is always a busy time for colleges as the January exams loom and students begin to realise that they need to cram over Christmas. I took the holidays off this year and decided to forget about work, studying and everything else that seems to plague my mind. The first week back at work was great because we only worked three days and had two off due to snow! I ended up playing Xbox and watching a Law and Order marathon on Hallmark. What a way to start the new work year!

But now we are back at work and I'm already planning my next escape. I'm going to the BETT show on Friday. If you've not been I would highly recommend that you do. It is a worthwhile day out of work (
http://www.bettshow.com/). Anyway, while I was looking jotting down the names of some suppliers I wanted to see at the show, I flicked back through my note book to the last day out I had at a Guardian workshop. It was an interesting workshop and I've added the links they showed us to my Handy Library Links list for you all to see. There were also some thought provoking topics raised.

The first speaker was Dr. Baldev Singh, who spoke on the topic of tools, technology and teaching in support of the Google Generation. He talked about the fact that in real terms we are only in the beginning stages of using modern technologies to teach. He talked about how often technology is used inappropriately and with a lack of imagination. He did, like many speakers at workshops, use high lofty phrases like "the best way to predict the future is to build it", which can come across as corny and trite. But saying that he did make some good points. He talked about how educational professionals are often afraid of using technology in their classrooms because they don't know how to use it and the knock on effect being that it takes them longer than if they didn't use it. He felt that teachers especially should be helped to find technologies that would aid them in low input but high output lessons. Now that's something I would like to be able to do. There are so many wonderful sites and programs out in the wide world that can help people if only they knew how to use it. And being a librarian I need to figure out how to help them and determine their needs. Anyone have any ideas?

The next speaker talked about Children and Technology - the main focus being that while many children are very tech savvy they don't know what to do with information once they find it and they don't know how to assimilate it. Many children are bouncers and flickers - once they find a web page 98% don't get past page 3 and 40% never revisit a site. They are e-reading but not e-learning. They also talked about how VLEs can become information dumping grounds - full of useful stuff not in no way accessible for students as they cannot assimilate information in this way. Children may be able to read but that does not mean that they are taking any of it in. Students need to be set tasks that compel them to learn and transform information

"We should be creating innovative, creative and effective learners not literate users." Rob Todd

I think the most interesting thing for me that the speaker said was that schools are built on the premise that we don't trust our children to learn. An interesting thought to ponder on.