Shaking Up SLP - School Power

Change is in the air with SLP. More people are getting outside the box and re-examining the worn-out paradigms of how we engage kids in the summer. These posts look at aspects of SLP and ask us to think bigger, deeper and wider - and share experiences along the continuum for change. 

Sue Abrahamson is a children's librarian at Waupaca Area Library in Wisconsin. She is a smart, compassionate librarian and leader who isn't afraid to tilt at windmills and slay a few sacred cows Here are a few she described slaying last summer: little or no SLP decorating; extending the SLP from 8 weeks to the entire summer; only books for prizes (when the staff solicited community partners for money specifically to buy books, the library received $2375!);set up an experiment-a-day to engage kids in the SLP theme; did away with bulletin boards. 

In this post she shares a deeper connection to year round literacy that is the result of - and sets the stage for - outside-the-box schoolage summer reading reading success. By changing how they approach summer reading, Sue and staff have created a richer, deeper connection to the schools - one where the schools know exactly how the library supports the school's work with literacy and reading.

Good Morning Friends!  Please fill your coffee cup and spend five minutes reading my story.

Waupaca, WI - January 20, 2015
Today is the one day set aside in January that I spend the day (my co-worker, Jan, spent 2 hours, too) at our local elementary school reading to classes as part of their PBIS reward system.  Students earn "Rascal Tickets" by working hard, doing great things, and following the "Rascal Way."  They can spend their tickets in many ways, but one way is to save them up and redeem 25 tickets for the public librarian to come to read a story to their class. Teachers can sign up for Public Librarian Visits on a Google Spreadsheet that is shared with all school staff and public library personnel. 

On this day, Sue read in 7 classrooms; Jan read in 3 classrooms.  Sue also scheduled three sessions to meet with school personnel: The gym teacher needed help figuring out how to download ebooks from the library on her new iPad; the Reading Specialist talked about testing and the upcoming school sponsored family reading night that now has the "Every Hero" theme; and the Principal and Vice-Principal met with me to talk about RtI and the relationship they have with the public library and to give me some of their thoughts for our upcoming summit.

The Principal told me that our success first came by his understanding of what we do at the library and how it helps his students and their families.  As a new principal, (and new, too, to elementary school) he heard from bus drivers, teachers and parents about things happening at the public library.  He felt he needed to understand what sort of relationship was already forged and why it was so critically important that people would be calling him about it so often.

He also commented that he thinks having a librarian with a background in education was helpful. (I worked at the school before taking the job at the library.)  Repeatedly he credited my personality and enthusiasm for working together.  He said that it was clear to him that my experience, my passion for helping his students and families learn together outside the school day, my involvement with the Parent Teacher Group, and that I took every opportunity that availed itself to make the school and the public library visually connected demonstrated clearly that we had a shared vision.

The Vice-Principal spoke from the heart about how their PBIS program works to create a culture of support for learning, not just at school but everywhere in the community.  This includes everything from character development to literacy skills, helping students grow and learn their whole lives long into healthy, successful adults.

I read John Rocco's book, Blizzard, to all the students today to introduce the "Every Hero Has a Story" theme.  It was the perfect story to tell for a variety of grades.  It gave us the chance to talk about what makes a person a hero.  It gave students the opportunity to think of people they know who act heroically.  It told the story of a 10-year-old hero who thought outside-the-box to problem-solve in a crisis situation, who put the needs of other ahead of his own, and who grew up to be an author and father who shared his personal story so others can find the hero in themselves.  Hope you can read it soon!

How about you? What have you been thinking about summer reading/library program? Join our conversation in the comments, on your blog or as a guest post writer (send guest posts to me lochwouters at gmail dot com). For additional thoughtful posts, stop by the Summer Reading Revolution Pinterest board or read other posts in this series

Shaking Up SLP - Facing Down Fear
Shaking Up SLP - Questions
Shaking Up SLP - Research-iness
Shaking Up SLP - Workshop Power
Shaking Up SLP- Creating the Zen

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