August 17, 2018

We are almost back to school! And I have a few back to school related reads for you this week, but first. What is your favorite brand of pencil? Mine are Ticonderogas – just the softest lil graphite and a very well-meaning eraser!

  1. Making Students Care About Writing, The Atlantic. “Analyzing the work of middle-achieving students—rather than just failing or thriving ones—can significantly improve teachers’ effectiveness with underachieving students, McKamey argues. When teachers focus on the work of the lowest-achieving students, McKamey has observed that such conversations often turn into a space to blame the students, their parents, or other teachers, or they veer off into emotionally invasive discussions of a student’s private life. Focusing on middle-achieving students who showed recent improvement helps teachers dispel unrecognized stereotypes—and learn how to notice and build on their strengths.”
  2. An Underappreciated Key to College Success: Sleep, NYT. This is so important! “Dr. Prichard, a professor of psychology and neuroscience and scientific director of the university’s Center for College Sleep, said the sleep habits of college students represent “a major public health crisis” that institutions of higher learning pay little attention to. Of 26 risks to well-being that colleges consider important to inform students about, sleep ranks second to last, just above internet addiction, she said.”
  3. Basic Needs, Security, and the Syllabus. This is such a thoughtful idea, to make a statement of needs on your syllabi. “Is this the right thing to do? Will it also help accomplish another goal – communicating to my students that a classroom of learners is, in my mind, a sort of family? Is this language exactly right? Will they respond to it as intended? I don’t know. But I’m glad I put it there.”

    This is the statement she is considering for her syllabi this year, and I really appreciate this line of thinking: “Any student who has difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact the Dean of Students for support. Furthermore, please notify the professor if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable her to provide any resources that she may possess.”

  4. Alternative to Thinking All the Time. I’ve read this before – maybe even linked to it before? But it’s gold. If you are approaching this fall as someone connected to education (teachers, librarians, students, parents of students, or simply people who love bouquets of newly-sharpened pencils), I invite you to remember that you don’t have to think so hard all the time. “Over time, this intention to come back to the present, to see how it tastes, becomes natural. More and more, rich experiences of ordinary things just happen. Without trying, you just start feeling the experience fully, when you’re starting your car, when you’re settling into a lawn chair, when your friend’s voice comes on through the phone. The richness in any ordinary experience, when you’re there for it, can be unbelievable. And it happens more and more.
    The whole time, just in the background, accessible in any moment you feel safe to drop the mental busywork of reactive planning and worrying, is a steady stream of sweet, interesting and complex flavors, fresh ones arising in every moment. That might sound like more pretense, but it’s the opposite: it’s the only thing that’s real.”
  5. Agency, Not Use, ACRLog. “I am not a resource; I am a person. I am a woman with agency, skill, experience, and talent. I do my work for myself and for my community. I am a teacher who facilitates learning. I do not go to work to be used. I go to work to educate, empower, and learn.” I value this perspective as I approach this semester. I’m eager to be helpful, embedded, trusted, and yes – useful. But it’s good to be thoughtful about the words we use for what we do and the implications of them.

August 3, 2018

This picture is pretty old, maybe my senior year in high school. But just look at that freedom, that innocence, that embrace of nature! Where is that girl? I think she’s still walking around in here, but there’s a matte layer of routine and responsibility over her now. And sometimes after a week of flood warnings, storms as you sleep, and furiously flapping windshield wipers, I forget the option to just go stand in the rain.

  1. My wedding was perfect – and I was fat as hell the whole time, Lindy West. “I have never in my life been fatter than I was on my wedding day, I have
    never shown my body in such an uncompromising way, and I have never
    felt more at home in that body. I was fully myself, and I was happy. We
    are happy. This life is yours, fat girls. Eat it up.” I’m going to sneak some extra reads in here because I want to
    front-load this weekend with LOVE. Captain Awkward hosted a conversation
    on her Patreon about bodies and the online resources and writing that “helped you be kinder and gentler to yourself and others around bodies
    and/or eating,” so I shared this write-up of her wedding that Lindy West
    did a few years ago. Reading this piece when I was preparing to get
    married was the permission I needed to by joyfully and wholly myself
    that day.
  2. You Don’t Have to Love Your Body, Ijeoma Oluo. Captain Awkward shared this piece and the next one, which I felt were really valuable: “I also love body neutrality. I love the freedom of slouching and
    wearing gross sweatpants and not combing my hair and scratching my butt
    and not giving a rat’s ass about my body whatsoever. I like allowing
    fleeting moments of body negativity to pass by without so much as a
    cursory glance as I get back to forgetting my body exists. I like the
    rare and welcome surprise of occasionally getting dressed up and saying,
    “hey sexy lady” to myself in the mirror and then once again going back
    to forgetting my body exists. I like not having to strive for anything
    regarding my body other than basic maintenance in the hopes of keeping
    it running a little longer. I like the freedom to ignore even that.”
  3. The Fantasy of Being Thin, Kate Harding. “So
    giving up dieting and accepting my body didn’t just mean admitting I
    would never be thin; it meant admitting I would never be a million
    things I might have been. (Which, I’m told, is a phenomenon sometimes
    known as “maturity.”) I am absolutely not one for settling — which is
    where the confusion about pessimism comes in, I think — but I am one for
    self-awareness and self-forgiveness. Meaning, there’s a big difference
    between saying you can’t be anything other than what you are right now,
    and you don’t have to be anything other than what you are right now. You
    will probably never be permanently thin, unless you are already, but
    other than that, the sky’s the limit. You can be anything or anyone you
    want to be, in theory.”
  4. Your Brain Really Does Get Slower in the Summer, The Cut. “
    A new study
    found that students who lived in air-conditioned buildings (where the
    temperature averaged 71 degrees) performed better on tests than students
    living in buildings without AC (which averaged almost 80 degrees).” I knew it! I’m sluggish in the summer and this helps me feel justified.
  5. Mr. Rogers was my actual neighbor. He was everything he was on TV and more. “Fred Rogers’s ethos was unlike any other: scrupulously moderate,
    tolerant, and anti-consumerist, driven by cutting-edge models of child
    development and infused with dollops of real Christian love. (Rogers was
    in fact an ordained Presbyterian minister.) At the same time,
    his worldview was steeped in traditional values: discipline, modesty,
    self-control — preparing children for the real world of routine and
    responsibility. And he was training the parents of the future,
    delivering his message across the “vast wasteland” of television and
    directly into people’s living rooms.”

Bonus features:


June 8, 2018

Well, this was one of those weeks where I feel like I’ve been pestled into a fine powder. I hope I make a soup much spicier than the chef intended! I only have short reads this week, because I’ve been comfort-food reading (mostly reading cookbooks, like this one and this one). Aren’t cookbooks just like magic spellbooks?

  1. Pretzel Bites Recipe – King Arthur Flour. I’ll start by sharing a magic spell that was super successful for me the other week. I think homemade pretzel bites are going to become a tradition around here. These came out nicely, and the instructions walked me through a process that I had always assumed was beyond my abilities.
  2. Millennial Pink, Gen-Z Yellow and the Truth About Color Clickbait, Man Repeller. “I racked my brain for some other association that would peg this unique shade of green to this particular moment in time and encapsulate its underdog-like combination of alienating and appealing and offensive and charismatic, all at once. That’s when it hit me: This color is such a Miranda.” People trying to predict color trends is so interesting. I also kinda wonder why all the recent trending colors are so milky-bright? Not quite pastel, but full brights, and certainly not jewel tones – all four colors mentioned (millennial pink, “Gen-Z yellow” lol, melodramatic purple, and Miranda green) are (for me anyway) firmly in the “too light to be a pants-color” camp. You know, you watch these near-future speculative films and everything is shiny, silver, and black, but it’s kind of funny to imagine our future as candy-colored. I’m sure there’ll be a 90s-primary-colors normcore reaction in about 4 years anyway.

  3. An Ode to the Strange (and Lost) Intimacy of Shopping With Friends
    , Elle. This is a nice personal reflection on shopping with friends. I have my own complicated feelings about being in a dressing room with various friends, but I do think this is a type of socialization we lose when we shop exclusively online. However, in my circle of friends anyway, the dressing-room experience is going nowhere thanks to thrift stores!
  4. Interesting Patron Questions, OCLC/WebJunction. These made me laugh. “May I please have half a David?”
  5. “Steps,” Frank O’Hara. Such a lovely, “I do this, I do that” poem.

Bonus features:

  • I recommend the Netflix “The Toys That Made Us” episode on LEGO. It’s very good!
  • Prince George’s County Public Libraries have a great Summer Reading video out, it made my day!

February 2, 2018

Today marks 4 years together! I still remember the day we got together, which was lovingly recreated by my husband when he proposed. It ended, as all perfect days do, with spaghetti. My heart’s feeling as soft as this photo…Here’s some stuff I read this week:

  1. How to Maintain Friendships, New York Times. Some great practical advice here about how to nurture your friendships. “Ask questions that invite reveals (“How was your vacation? How’s your new job going?”) and avoid statements (“I hope you’re having a great day!” or “You’re in my thoughts”), which don’t tend to prompt meaningful back-and-forth exchanges.” I like the idea of bringing friends into some of the everyday routines you normally do alone, like exercise or grocery shopping. Also love the advice to just show up; that one has gone a long way in my best friendships.
  2. Not Every Hobby is a Side Hustle, The Cut. “Personal pleasure is what makes a hobby a hobby.” This is a good read and reminder to let some of the things you do be for the fun of it. I’m glad it also mentions how side gigs are a reality for young workers trying to break into a field and/or to supplement their paltry incomes (can you tell I’m exhausted this week, y’all). 
  3. Awkward, Funny Cookbook Covers. I laughed aloud at these, and I needed the laugh this week!
  4. Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies we Tell Ourselves, In the Library with the Lead Pipe. This is the first time in a while that a scholarly article has made me tear up. Inside libraries and out, librarianship is praised for its service orientation and daily (sometimes extreme) sacrifices, in pursuit of lofty goals like the defense of free speech and the guardianship of democracy. There’s sacred language that is used to describe libraries and librarians, and it’s made me uncomfortable for a long time but Ettarh does a fantastic job expressing this phenomenon with the phrase “vocational awe.” Here’s the part that made me cry: “Libraries are just buildings…we need to treat these people well. You can’t eat on passion. You can’t pay rent on passion. Passion, devotion, and awe are not sustainable sources of income. The story of Saint Lawrence may be a noble one, but martyrdom is not a long-lasting career.” [Emphasis mine]
  5. How I Got My Attention Back. “Take the morning. Hell, just take the first hour of the morning. Make a plan. Own your attention….Attention is a muscle. It must be exercised. Though, attention is duplicitous — it doesn’t feel like a muscle. And exercising it doesn’t result in an appreciably healthier looking body. But it does result in a sense of grounding, feeling rational, control of your emotions — a healthy mind. Our measuring sticks for life tend to be optimized for material things, things easy to count. Houses, cars, husbands, babies, dollar bills. Attention is immaterial, difficult to track. We deserve our attention.”