What’s in my desk drawers? Please, just don’t go there.

Due to the long weekend, I am responding to the Reflective Teaching Questions: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers out of order. Rather than trying to stick to the suggested order, I will jump to Day 8: What’s in your desk drawer, and what can you infer from those contents?

Picture the scene. I have a typical teacher desk with two left drawers, two right drawers, and a long middle drawer over the knee area—the topside drawers are smaller leaving the bottom drawers designed to hold file folders. The desk is really a place to lay magazines as they come in, hold the library phone, eat my lunch, and quickly sit at to look at email. I have always preferred not sitting at my desks opting for student desks or library tables. I like the convenience of these tables and the non-permanent nature to them. I cannot “set up home” at a student desk or library table. I can only have my computer and other materials I actually need at the time. Then it all has to be neatly cleaned for students to use.

I am a librarian and believe in order and organization. I can almost fully recite the Dewey Decimal down to all the 10s. In my kitchen at home, all food and beverage products are arranged so labels face frontward. My pantry, cabinets, refrigerator shelves and drawers are organized so only certain items go on or in them even if that means at times a shelf sits empty. Suffice it to say, I am really into organization.

cautiontapeSo please believe me when I say “Do not open the desk drawer!” Not only will you not find what you are looking for, you will be amazed at the mess it contains. There are an assortment of dried pens and markers, random paperclips that are often warped, cards and letters from students, pictures from previous school years, and various cereals and snacks.

The desk drawers are catchalls. Oddly, some of the random items (the dried pens and weird paperclips) moved with me from my previous library. As I packed for my move from Arlington to Raleigh, I was very precise and leaving behind what belonged to the school, library program, or was too specific an item for me to take. My desks have never been organized nor used for their intended purpose. When it was time to pack up my desk drawers, I wanted to leave behind a neat desk ready for my successor. Therefore, I packed up the clutter: the notes, cards, dried pens, etc.

I believe this reflects my thought on the desk as a whole. When I taught in the classroom, I always used my desk as a writing center for students. All of my work was done at the table I used during small group instruction. Also, I live my by my computer. My computer and Google Drive are highly organized with series folders and sub folders. I could get philosophical about preferring a “paperless” way of life. But in all honesty, I have really poor penmanship and have relied heavily on word processing. This is probably why my desk drawers are random.

As to the randomness of it all, I could easily throw out the items but I have not. Why, I do not know. I am not a hoarder by any means. My librarian colleagues know me as a “ruthless weeder”. The snacks are thrown out when they hit their best used by dates. The pens go when I try to use one and realize it is dry—but only if it means that I have to walk and find a new one. For all my ruthlessness when it comes to weeding and purging, I believe the contents and randomness of my desk drawers reflect my heart. I hold onto what some might call “trash” because the contents reflect times gone by. Maybe it’s a note from a student, or a pen I used to sign off student recommendation. Maybe it’s the paper clip used to hold a stack of papers reflecting an awesome (or not-so awesome lesson). Maybe it’s a snack I brought because I looked forward to eating it but did not because realized it was nut based and the next class coming to the library had a student with a severe nut allergy. The contents are varied, random, and unorganized. They reflect my love for my job as seemingly odd as that may sound.

Caution Tape Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CautionTape.jpg

30 Day Challenge—Day 1: Start Blogging

By now, I hope it’s fairly evident that I intend to blog as a form of reflective writing. I always have good intentions to start this blog but I allow excuses for why I should not. Back in November 2016, my school district, Wake County Public School System, hosted its semi-annual Convergence conference. This conference is the district’s professional development for instructional technology and library media staff. Modeled after state and national technology conferences, Convergence hosts two days of congruent sessions bookended by keynote speakers. Each Convergence is structured through a theme. This most recent Convergence focused on innovation. Kevin Brookhouser and George Couros were the opening and closing keynote speakers respectively. Brookhouser* spoke about 20Time Project and Couros* The Innovator’s Mindset. Each keynote session was truly inspiring.

Each keynote speaker also let some congruent sessions. Due to timing of other sessions, I did not attend any of Mr. Brookhouser’s sessions. However, I did go to one of the three sessions Mr. Couros presented. It was on blogging as form of professional portfolios. I left the session knowing I needed to blog but not sure where or how to start. The session was both inspiring and overwhelming. Writing is fairly easy for me. As a librarian, organizing a blog is easy. But knowing what to say or if what I have to say makes a difference is more challenging for me. My understanding of Couros’ view of blogging is “you’re already doing this stuff inside and outside the classroom, just put it down in a digital footprint.”

Of course that is an overly simplistic view of his session and much more “plainly spoken” than what I took away from the session. Blogging is important. But more important than leaving a digital footprint is reflecting on my instructional practice. I believe that is the key to blogging as Couros sees it. As a National Board Certified Teacher (NBTC), I know how important reflection is on my daily instruction and student learning. I know why I must be systematic in my blogging. And I believe I put a lot of pressure on myself to make my blog/portfolio “good enough”.

In the past, and for the most part, I still do, I have viewed reflective writing as a dairy, as something for me to put my thoughts just for me. When writing for NBPTS (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards) and for graduate school, I framed my instructional reflections for a particular audience. Blog audiences are more varied. Am I writing for other teachers to learn from me? Am I writing in hopes of making connections and learning from others? Am I writing for future administrators as I advance my career? The answer is yes to all. So where do I start? I start by writing for myself. I apologize in advance if my writing takes a more direct or conversational tone at times. When I write for myself, I always read it aloud to myself as if I am presenting to an audience of one. I listen for the natural pauses and ponder when something profound is says. It may seem weird to some people, but I bet if you try it, you will understand why I do it. So this blog is for all the readers out there. But at the core, it is for me.

Because of the many audiences and because it’s for me, there are so many directions I can take this blog/portfolio. There are so many journeys I want to pursue over the next chapters of my career. But I need to start by first putting word to print. I need to make writing in this blog a habitual practice.

I decided to search for how to form a habit and came across this article. For me, it presents too many steps but I believe it’s designed for broad appeal. I have read and reread the ones I think are most applicable to this journey and me. Therefore, I’m committing to 30 days of daily blogging. Furthermore, I found a 30-day blogging challenge for teachers. I like its approach and guidance. I plan to use it as training wheels.

Day 1’s challenge is to write a goal for this school year. My goal for now is to blog as a form of reflection. I will do my best over the next 30 days to connect both the day’s writing challenge to my thoughts of a lesson or takeaway from something happening at school. But most importantly, I plan to write each day. For it to be a habit, I have to start. To make a digital footprint, I have to step. This is that starting step.

*Do yourself a BIG favor! Follow their blogs, Twitter feeds, thought patterns. These two are truly innovative and changing the way other’s view education in the modern era.

 

Welcome to my blog (again–repost from 2016)

Here is my first ever blog post from last year when I used blogspot.  Much, if not all, of it still applies today.  I am still new to my district.  I continue to recreate everything.  But each day, I feel stronger.  Enjoy!

Welcome to my blog.  My hope is that I can provide you with a little inspiration, a little amusement, and some insight into my thoughts and actions as an educator.  Before I get too far ahead, let me introduce myself.   I am a veteran (some say seasoned) teacher working for the last 16 years as school librarian, classroom teacher, and teacher leader.  I am well credentialed but I believe it’s the daily experiences and reflections that truly shape my instruction.

Summer 2015, my family moved states.  After being at the same school for the last 10 years, I find myself in a new state, new district, new curriculum, and new library.  I say new because not only is it all new to me, the school building itself is new.  The school opened August 2015.  Being at a brand new school is exciting.  Everything is fresh.  Everything is shiny.  Everything is being created!

While I have experience creating and transforming classrooms and libraries, I have never opened a new space before.  So I find myself not just a veteran but also brand new.  In many ways, I feel more vulnerable and unsure of my librarianship this year, than I did my first year out of school.  Back then, I was new, naïve, and felt I could do almost anything.  Now, I know my limitations yet have that desire to be bold and naïve once again.

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This blog is first and foremost for me.  As you read and follow, should you do so, I hope you find something for you.  But if not, know that I am writing not only to provide you with new knowledge but provide me with clarity.  In some ways, this is a personal diary and should be written in private.  Yet, when I read others’ thoughts and experiences, I tend to find one nugget I can use or store away as “food for thought”.  Hopefully, you will find your nugget.

Much as an early Twitter user who follows and sometimes retweets, I am an early blogger.  The Internet is a vast storehouse of information.  Some information is important and some seemingly random and unnecessary.  My posts may often fall into the unnecessary column for your professional learning.  Know that for me this blog is furthering my professional learning.  Not only reflective, it will provide me a place to look back and see what I have done, what I thought, and why I made decisions.  As I stated earlier, I feel much like a new librarian this year.  Through my writing, I plan to learn and grow.  As a reader, and commenter, you will help with my growth.

Welcome to the new site

My blog is back up and running and on a new site. New Adventures of an Old Librarian

Hello and welcome to the new site rickydhamilton.com.  Last year, I started a blog on blogspot and enjoyed when I wrote.  But, I rarely gave myself time to do it.  After a few weeks of not posting, I thought, “Why bother?  No one is reading anymore anyway.”  But November 2016, I was fortunate enough to sit in a conference session by the one and only (and totally amazing…I’m geeking out here, just so you know) George Couros.  The session focused on blogging as form of professional portfolio.

This session challenged me in a way I had not anticipated.  Honestly, I thought I would enjoy hearing from him.  I have followed him on Twitter for years. I truly was going to the session as a fan an less as a learner.  Now before you skewer me for attending a conference and not opening myself as a learner please understand I value cognitive breaks.  As a teacher and librarian, I am focuseimg_0510d on instructing all day.  My learning muscles are not as sharp as they were when I spent my whole day in school as a learner.  So after attending a previous full day of attending sessions, taking notes, and devouring as much learning as possible, by day two I was a bit tired.  But I entered a packed room and found one empty chair I rushed to claim as mine so I could sit and be mesmerized by an edchat guru.

Instead of being mesmerized by his knowledge, I was dumbfounded by my lack of blogging; my lack of reflective writing; my lack of proving my passion.  I left his session wanting and needing to write.  But I did not.  I have sat on this for upwards of two months.

Why?  Because I was not ready.  Why? Because I was holding myself back.  Why? Because I felt inferior to those around me.  I allowed myself to forget how to correctly #failforward. And I have felt ashamed because I have kept myself from stepping out on a limb.  If I truly believe and want and demand that my students take risks, I have to as well.  So, here it is.  I’m back baby!  I have a lot to say and I hope others will learn from it.  But more importantly, I hope others will continue to push me, challenge me, and help teach me so I can continue to grow as a learner.

The next few posts are copies of the 4 posts from blogspot.  If you have not read them before, I hope you get something from reading them.  If you have, I believe rereading is always a good thing.  Once you read, please connect with me and share your thoughts.

Now let’s step onward in this new journey together.