OMG. I’m in High School…again. Help!

*FLASHBACK* Last summer. The beginning of the school year is rapidly approaching and it dawns on me…I’m going back to high school. I mean, yes, I am going back as a teacher, but that doesn’t quell me nerves. Honestly, it terrifies me even more. What if they don’t like me? How am I going to make the changes that my principal is hoping to see? Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh. Deep breath. Hold. And release.

Sure, my first four years of teaching were technically at the high school. But, I was a band director. As a band director, I automatically have something that bonds me to my students – music. Besides, I didn’t have to worry about the entire student body. Just the students who were enrolled in band. I got to be in my musically enhanced bubble and I rarely let my bubble intermingle with the rest of the campus. Going back to high school as the media specialist was a completely different ballgame.

My entire media specialist career up to that point had been spent at the elementary level. Everything I did made those little guys happy. I decorated with over-the-top themes and bright colors. We did lots of fun lessons. I read to them. I can’t do any of those things at the high school level. They would literally laugh in my face. They might even call me a…oh dear…dork. I really don’t need a repeat of my own high school days!

Okay, I might have been a little worried over nothing. The librarian who retired the previous year had been in her job for a long, long, long, long, long time. The library was an incredibly strict environment that actually discouraged students from coming in. Checking out books was a process similar to passing a bill in Congress. Talking within the walls of the library was quite the sin. People were actually scared to go in for fear of being yelled at.

I had a starting point. Don’t yell at students for coming in the library. Make book checkouts a much less painless process. Let students carry on conversations. Smile at students. Okay. That doesn’t seem so hard. But what else can I do?

So, I came up with a few changes to implement. I painted the walls. I ordered new cafe-style tables and chairs. Implemented self-checkouts with the iPads. And, of course, focused my book ordering on new YA fiction instead of continuing to cram in uncirculated nonfiction. Is it enough? Will I be able to get students to use the media center? Will these changes in environment and attitude be enough to bring them in the door and checking out the materials?

*FAST FORWARD* We are now at the end of the year. My library is always full of students. We tripled our circulation numbers. Students are working on Chromebooks all over the room and chatting happily with their friends. Music from my favorite Pandora stations are playing through the computer speakers. Oh, and the high school students do like my crazy decorations.

So, yes, I was overly worried about nothing. My first year as a media specialist at the high school rocked. And year two is going to be even greater. I’m not nervous this summer. I am excited. I cannot wait to embark on this journey. Just you wait.

Lovely new furniture and freshly painted walls. Don’t we all love a good makeover?
This was just the opening to some awesome ‘Banned Book’ week displays. Kids loved the “Walking Dead” reference.
Christmas tree made of weeded books. Almost exclusively nonfiction. This monster tree was a huge hit.
Historical Fiction display that featured some awesomely nerd-tastic elements. The TARDIS, the flux capacitor, and each shelf featured a backdrop from a different time period.

Who knew that a retreat could move you forward?

Well, first off, HELLO!!! Here I go with my premier blog post. I’m a little nervous but, apparently, I have great things to say. I’ll let you be the judge of that!!

So, a little introduction. I am Heather Peters and I am a library media specialist in the small town of Bauxite, AR. I am now the high school media specialist after spending three years at the elementary. I know – the babies to the big kids. But, its been a really great change! In August I will be starting my fifth year in the media center and my ninth year as a teacher. As of now, my family consists of me, my husband, and our sweet black kitty cat. We are a goofy crew but that just fuels my crazy fire. 🙂


Here we are before checking out the new ‘Minion’ movie a few days ago. See. I told you we were goofy!!

Anyway, enough about that for now…let’s get on the important stuff! This retreat thing. Somehow, I managed to convince my curriculum coordinator to allow the three media specialists from my district to find a place in the middle of nowhere for a few days and completely immerse ourselves into the beautiful world of library and count it as part of our professional development requirements. For three days, we planned our entire year. Well, mostly. I guess it was really just a solid frame for the year and laying out the supplies we need to launch a phenomenal year. Like, really amazing. Battle of the Books, March Madness Book Brackets, Genre Bingo (to help students get used to the new genre-fied fiction section!!!), themes, and displays. We are super excited. And, we spoke to some really amazing people.

On the first day, we got to spend about an hour ‘hanging’ (and by that I mean we connected via Google Hangouts) with the mighty little librarian herself, Tiffany Whitehead! I have to admit, I was a bit starstruck. She is truly amazing at her job. I have no idea how she manages to keep so many balls in the air, but apparently she is a Ringling Brothers level juggler. apparently she is also a saint. She gave us so much great advice, particularly regarding Accelerated Reader, that I think we could actually have her canonized. Okay, maybe she needs just one more miracle, but its pretty close. We kicked off our first year with AR last year and it was, to say the least, an incredibly bumpy ride. No, she didn’t wave her magic wand (though I know it was tucked under her desk) but she did give us a lot of tools to help us fill the potholes in our AR road and keys to unlocking reading challenges that make reading, well, you know, FUN! At the end of the hour, Saint Tiffany left us with one piece of advice – Take one thing this year and be the best you can at that one thing. Throw yourself into that one element. Hmmm….good advice but, how do I choose just one thing?!?

So we started with a library national treasure so on the last day, we met with a local library hero – the amazing Stony Evans! Stony is my mentor. He is the reason I am a media specialist and lays the footsteps I try to follow. He is a collaboration machine and creates the most fabulous learning events. Like a good teacher, I am absolutely stealing everything I can from him. Why work harder, right? Ha!! Actually, his example is always pushing me to go a little further and work a little more and strive for that next level. He showed us the importance of a strong social media presence and encouraged us each to begin blogging. Well, Hello Blogging World! You can kindly thank Stony Evans for pushing me into your realm. 😉 After three and a half hours (!!!), we left Stony armed with a newfound respect for social media, ways to impress our admin through stats, and a metric ton of collaboration examples.

Wow! My head is officially so crammed with library plans and ideas I think it could possibly explode. Or maybe just create a slight trickle out the ears. But I am truly blessed to have been able to experience the last three days. I want to thank my district administrators for supporting this endeavour, my gorgeous cohorts for putting up with me for the last three days (because I know I talked incessantly), and Tiffany and Stony for providing us with inspiration and advice. This school year will absolutely rock because of them. One little retreat has got me so ahead of the game for this year I might not ever feel overwhelmed or have anything slip up on me at that last-minute. Wait. Uhh. That’s hilarious!! Maybe it just won’t happen as often as usual. I guess only time will tell!

Okay all  you lovely and amazing people, thank you for stopping by and reading my first blog post! I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing it! Until next time, keep calm and read on!!


My lovely cohorts and I with the one and only Stony Evans!