Serendipity: The next chapter of my story

Thursday, February 5, 2015




Serendipity means finding something good without looking for it. After watching the movie many years ago, I fell in love with the word and idea that a "fortunate accident" or "chance encounter" could have the power to change your life.  Since then, I have come to realize that everything happens for a reason.  We may not know why in our present reality, but we can trust that there is a bigger "plan" for us…

The story I will share today on the blog is one of believing in fate and trusting that the stars will align…

Since I was quite young, or perhaps for as long as I can remember, I loved books, artistic expression, and learning.  Like most educators, I created a make-believe school in my basement for my dolls and friends to play in.  One year, after making an art school, I remember I was very determined to create my own library.  I organized all of my resources, added pretend barcodes, library pockets, and library cards.  Back then, when Disney books lined my shelves, if you asked me which princess I'd like to be, my answer was always Belle from Beauty and the Beast, the one who loved to read.  As an adult my love for literature never faded, I was an English Major, volunteered in school libraries, worked as the book specialist at Mastermind Educational, and always found myself returning to my love of reading!  My amazon bills… Okay let's not even go there…  You get the idea!!!









It should come as no surprise that I love books!  For fun, I spend time at Chapters/Indigo browsing their latest and greatest novels and children's books.  There is no better gift, than the gift of reading and it is what I choose time and time again for myself and my loved ones.







I wonder who else you know that would buy a Great Gatsby book clutch and tote bag…  Books make my heart smile!  So much so, that I made our wedding a Great Gatsby book theme with the hashtag #shareinourstory.  Our engagement pictures were taken in the New York Public Library, our invitations were story-like with bookmarks, and when I styled the event myself I was sure to include a vintage typewriter, books, and an old wooden library card holder.














Now all of this was well underway before what happened next…  

It wasn't in my plan to leave my Kindergarten homeroom position or even my former school for that matter…  When we bought our home, I began to think long term and worried that the distance might make things difficult for my family life.  I thought that I would search our school board's website to find out if any new schools were opening up in the area.  I read that Anne Frank Public School would be built in September of 2014. At that point, I wasn't yet certain about my next move...  Then upon hearing that the principal would be Aneta Fishman, an administrator that I admired and learned from during my practicum placement at Bakersfield Public School, I nearly fell off my chair!  I knew then that I should apply and see what happens...  

My first meeting with the principal of Anne Frank was scheduled on Valentine's Day.  I can't say that I knew Aneta very well, but was hopeful that she at least recognized the face behind the name that appeared on my resume.  When I arrived at her school, wearing a red dress with a Valentine's day heart scarf and saw that we were dressed similarly with our red coats, we had an instant connection!  Aneta shared her vision for the school using two books "We are the World" and "Anything is Possible."  She said that Anne Frank Public School would be a place where everyone had a voice.  At that moment, I knew that I had to be part of this amazing new school!

During my first conversation with Aneta, I had prepared a short presentation with images of my beliefs about learning.  Though I was being considered for the Kindergarten position, I took a chance to express my interest in the Teacher Librarian role as well.  I later had a formal interview for this position and discussed my ideas about transforming the library into a space of possibilities!   My dream was that it would be a common place for students, staff, and the community to learn, inquire, and grow together.  I shared my vision for the library, as one that offered more than books and technology, and was hopeful to create various learning areas. These learning areas would be modelled after the setup of a kindergarten classroom and had the potential to encourage thinking, problem solving, creativity, and collaboration, of all grades.

When I got the job it was a shared position with being the Early Years Lead teacher and supporting each of the six kindergarten classes with literacy and inquiry. There was no way that I could give up working with young children, however, this position would allow me to maintain my connection with Kindergarten and spread my understandings of the environment as third educator and inquiry-based learning across the grades.  

I knew that it was the right fit for me both professionally and personally and I agreed to the new challenge...  What a wonderful leadership opportunity to be presented with, especially when beginning my PhD research! 









These were some of the examples that I shared during my interview that supported my ideas of a space of possibilities. They included engaging materials, provocations, children's natural curiosity, and professional learning for educators.













My wish of becoming a Teacher Librarian came true and I had the most incredible chance to open up a brand new school and library, similar to a blank canvas or the first page of a book.  What could be better?  Slowly we started the shopping process and over the summer I began to think about how books could be extended with explicit connections to the various curriculum areas.









Our school library is located on the right side of the building and faces in the direction which maximizes our sun exposure.  Across the street is a beautiful pond and view of our community.  When I first looked out the window, I recall tears coming to my eyes and asking someone to pinch me!  Now I often stare out the window while I check emails, blog, or plan, and feel completely grateful for how fortunate I am. 

Though I know that this post is getting quite long, I wanted to share some of the before, during, and after pictures of what we have been calling our "Learning Commons."  See how we spent our first season arranging furniture, organizing books, and being creative!  I even got to dress up as princess Belle on Halloween, alongside my principal the wedding queen, and colleague the fairy! Dream come true...

It is important to note, that the two rooms that are typically used for group meetings, reading recovery, or teacher librarian's office for book processing have been designed as inquiry spaces for students and staff.  One room has various visual arts materials and is a sort of studio (we will still require a formal name for it), and the second room is a hands-on mathematics and science space equipped with a large carpet for building, white board for inquiry planning group work, and table for experiments. 

Please also be aware that we did not have any say in the colours of the room that were predetermined by the architects.  The floor is brightly coloured, as our the walls, but I still think it's beautiful with the sunlight, large windows, and cathedral ceilings! I am doing my best to neutralize the space, wherever possible, and have many ideas for the future…      



























Somehow after setting up the physical space of the library, the weekly routines, and  recess expectations, I still managed to host my first Scholastic Book Fair that raised over $4000.00 in books to add to our new collection and plan my winter wonderland wedding.  It truly felt right out of a fairytale, which is so fitting for my new position…

I love all of the ways that the library is being used each day and am looking forward to continuing this learning journey!  














The Learning Commons is a place for professional learning and I am excited to announce that the permit has gone through for the York University Kindergarten AQ course beginning in our library on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015.  I will blog about this as soon as it is up on their website.

If that wasn't enough to make you believe in destiny, I got an invitation to speak at The Reading for the Love of It conference this coming Monday and Tuesday.  My love of books, reading, inquiry, and creativity all came together serendipitously! 








Welcome to our Anne Frank Public School Learning Commons.  A "learning commons" is more than the physical space found within the walls of the library.  It consists of digital learning and allows for the inquiry to continue even outside of the school building.  More about this will be shared in a future post…

I hope that you enjoy my virtual tour!






Of course this is our work in progress and will continue to transform and evolve over the next few months and years!  I know that I have a lot more work to do, but am truly proud and blessed to be where I am today.  Maybe this was all meant to be after all!!!!! 

Thank you to Aneta Fishman for believing that a new Teacher Librarian could pull this off!  You took a leap of faith with me, and I will never forget it…  Anything is possible!!!



Life is not merely a series of meaningless accidents or coincidences

But rather, it's a tapestry of events 

that culminate in an exquisite, 

Sublime plan.

                                    -Anonymous

4 comments:

  1. I saw your name on the list of presenters this morning, and got very excited! So happy to see the directions you are heading!

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    Replies
    1. Awww thanks Kylie!!

      Hope to connect with you at the conference! Thanks for reading the blog!

      Warmly,

      Joanne

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