Drawing as a narrative tool

person drawing angel, kids, child, children, elementary, little kidsHD wallpaper: person drawing angel, kids, child, children, elementary, little kids 360x640px (480P) free download from wallpaperflare.com_wallpaper(2)

I came across an interview with Mo Willems thanks to a post on the Facebook Group “On Butterfly Wings – English and More”. It provided food for thought across a variety of topics, but something that particularly struck me was Willem’s comments on drawing as a form of writing and as a narrative process (especially for children).In paragraphs 29 and 30, he states:

I think it’s a mistake to assume that drawing or doodling isn’t a form of writing—I think drawing is a very accessible form of writing. Many writers use storyboards or make maps or sketches, even if they’re only writing prose. There’s an inherent value in drawing that’s really powerful.

Children tend to draw chronologically, which is to say narratively. They’ll start with, “Oh, I’m going to draw a character. Now, is it a hero or a villain? It’s a villain. Well, if it’s a villain, it has a cape. And if it has a cape, it can fly. Let me draw the sky.” And all of that story comes out of having a drawing utensil in your hand. It’s magic.

While I should and would like to do some more research on that, it has inspired me to use drawing as narrative more throughout my K-6 library lessons. I think it is tempting for me to want more text-based responses from students as they get older. However, with a substantial EAL/D and LBOTE population in my school, I think that incorporating more graphic responses would be beneficial as well.

Hopefully this musing is not too light on… I am trying to get back into a blogging mindset after the topsy-turviness of the COVID-19 shakeup of the schools.

For my theoretical audience, LOL, a few questions to comment upon:

  • How do you use drawing in library or writing lessons?
  • Do you have any other readings or thoughts on this topic?
  • Are you willing to demonstrate your creativity through having a go at drawing (and accepting what you have drawn without negative comment) in front of a class?



Kaplan, E. (2020, February 21). Mo Willems and the lost art of being silly. In Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/mo-willems-lost-art-being-silly?fbclid=IwAR0kVyO1IarXpHGHY6c7xffKAlZkBGZB4i1pDzD67tAanzibbNcfi0Rb6-g

Thoughts on a new year


2020 Year of the Rat Banner
Free picture from https://torange.biz/fx/year-overlay-banner-new-2020-background-213832. CC BY 4.0 

I came into the new school year with some trepidation. In the last week or two of the school holidays, as I was just starting to relax after finishing the coursework for my Master’s degree (YAY!), my social media feed seemed bombarded with images and posts of other teacher librarians getting ready for the year. From the creative soul weaving a whale to hang on display in her library to the different variations on library advocacy welcome back packs for staff, and the pictures of beautiful library display areas I was a bit dizzy with the array of quality preparations that were underway across the land. And I was left feeling incompetent and unprepared. Continue reading “Thoughts on a new year”

Stress – seeking balance

This week I submitted (and received back) my final assignment in my final subject for my Master’s in Teacher Librarianship. YAY!! It did, however get me thinking about balancing stress.

Throughout my Master’s journey, I have received distinctions or high distinctions on every assignment. Yet, with every submission I worried that I would fall below the standards I was aiming for. On the one hand, stress about my assignments was beneficial: stress about meeting deadlines meant that I got them in on time, and stress surrounding fitting all the requirements from the rubric into the word count led to fairly tight, high quality writing. On the other hand, stress led to snapping at my family, losing sleep and making poor exercise and eating choices. There is definitely a balance between the beneficial and detrimental aspects of stress, and I often found myself on the wrong side of that balance.

As the school holidays draw to a close and I start feeling stirrings of stress about the coming school year and the tasks I want to accomplish, I find myself hoping that I can find a better balance. I hope for the control to allow enough stress to spur me on to accomplish things and meet deadlines without falling prey to its detrimental aspects.

Some tips that I have come across (The Leaders Institute, 2002 – 2019; WebMD, 2005-2020) that I will try to implement:

  • Eat a balanced diet – this is something I try to do, but I have started tracking my eating to keep myself accountable to healthier food choices;
  • Exercise – I have signed up for a fitness passport membership to encourage me to do some intentional exercise weekly;
  • Analyse and schedule tasks – I am looking into better ways to manage my task lists and schedule my time so that no facet of my job or life responsibilities gets overlooked;
  • Take breaks – make sure that I take at least one break period in every work day… some time when I am not trying to get jobs done, plus make sure I take at least one day of my non-work days where I do not do ANY school-related work;
  • Relax, stretch, be mindful – when stress rises in ways that start inhibiting performance, I will stop and take time to consciously relax (breathing, stretching or some other mindful stress-managing and releasing activity).

How do you manage and balance stress?


The Leaders Institute. (2002-2019). The key to balancing stress in the workplace. In The Leaders Institute. Retrieved from https://www.leadersinstitute.com/the-key-to-balancing-stress-in-the-workplace-work-smart-live-smart/

WebMD. (2005-2020). Ten tips to manage stress. In WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/tips-to-control-stress#3



Stress and uncertainty

Hot on the heels of my feelings of triumph and competence came the creeping panic and overwhelming stress of the end of the year. Last Thursday, I had little stress flutters all throughout the day, which was not helpful when trying to accomplish the tasks that I assume were setting off these attacks. I am lucky that I work in a small school with supportive staff. Several times that day I was asked if everything was okay and help and support were offered to me. This was helpful on the one hand, on the other hand I felt like something must be seriously wrong for everyone to notice that I was so stressed out. I want to project the image of having it all together and being a source of support and assistance – not the beneficiary of it!

I guess my lesson for today is: it takes a village to build a library (and to build a librarian). None of us can be truly successful on our own – together we are stronger, better, and brighter. So, I am giving a shout out of thanks to the staff members who asked after me and offered their help on Thursday. I am also giving a big shout out to Lindy at Abbey’s Bookshop who helped me find some library award books on Friday – the time spent poring through the children’s section with her was deeply restorative to my soul and equilibrium. And today or tomorrow, I will also try to take a piece of advice given to me by my library assistant recently and make a list of what needs to be done. I did not really want to face everything in black and white, but I think I need to organise and prioritise my tasks to get it all done.

How are you handling the mad rush at the end of the year?

Confidence and bravery

In my placement report, I reflected that one great benefit of the placement experience was to be able to measure my competence as an information services professional through working alongside others in a larger organisation. Receiving a glowing report from my placement supervisor and feeling that I had made meaningful contributions to the Sydney University Library in my time there gave me the confidence I needed to step forward in courage in my school library.

A few months ago, a member of my teacher librarian network was asking on Facebook whether I knew how to run a report on loan statistics to compare the current year’s circulation figures to previous years’. I never had to figure it out because she figured out how to do it before I had a chance to try. At the time I considered finding out how and running the report to see what my statistics looked like. However, I chose not to do it because I was afraid I would find out that there was no change or that we had gone backward since I arrived. With my newfound confidence (and a complete year of borrowing finished) I ran the loan statistics report this past Wednesday and found that borrowing had increased by more than 40% in 2019 as compared to 2018. Given that enrolments had risen by less than 10% I found this to be a meaningful increase.

I encourage you to face that feedback you’ve been avoiding – you might find it brighter than you imagined!

Technology: Helping to connect users and information agencies

What role does technology play in the relationship information agencies develop with their users?

Technology was a common theme in the presentations of information agencies across a broad spectrum in the Sydney 2 study visit session. The uses of technology within the information agencies were integral to the relationship each agency had with its users. Though different uses of technology developed different aspects of the relationship between agency and user, one of the key roles played by technology was that of “connecting”. Technology used by information agencies connects users: to information; to personalised expert help; to the selection process; and to community. These connections create, change and develop various relationships between agency and user.

Technology connects users to information held by information agencies. Furthermore, technology has enabled the location for information exchange to no longer be confined to the library’s physical location, but rather freed in a new virtual mode of relationship between agency and user. Many of the information agencies on the Sydney 2 itinerary had online public access catalogues (OPACs) and e-Resource collections and had digitised selected items from their collections. Providing round-the-clock access to information and resources online extended the reach of these agencies, both geographically and temporally. This enabled them to forge relationships with users that they would not have had contact with otherwise due to distance or time constraints on users’ ability to physically access the library during opening hours.

Wallpaper sample book
Wallpaper sample book from Caroline Simpson Library (c) 2019 Marika Simon (Digitised version at: http://museum.collection.hht.net.au/search.do?view=detail&page=1&id=375&db=object )

For instance, the Caroline Simpson Library of the Sydney Living Museums has been contacted by users from around the globe in search of rare items that they have made available through their OPAC and through digitised items hosted on the Internet Archive (M. Stephens, personal communication, October 1, 2019). This interest from abroad in a small, specialised library whose main purpose is to provide support for the interpretation of historical houses would have been almost unheard of in the pre-Internet era. Woollahra Library owes approximately 10% of its circulation to e-Resources. It reports that a significant and growing number of its active membership maintains an exclusively virtual relationship with the library – never setting foot in any of the three physical branch locations (V. Munro, personal communication, October 2, 2019).  Those are just two ways that we see technology connecting users to information and developing geographically extended and virtual relationships between information agencies and their users.

Continue reading “Technology: Helping to connect users and information agencies”

ETL504 Assessment 2 Part B Reflection

My view on the case study group work moved from initial dread (Simon, 2019, 23 July) through to hope for a positive experience (Simon, 2019, August 9). In the end I feel this component has contributed to my developing practice of leadership and understanding how it relates to the role of the teacher librarian (TL).

In our first group effort, members stepped up as initiators, contributors, opinion seekers, elaborators, orienters and encouragers (Roberts, 2012; Simon, 2019, August 18, ). Donna Thurling (2019, September 22) suggested that perhaps groups should have been seeded with some dominators, blockers or aggresors (Roberts, 2012).  I disagree because I think the value of the experience is the authentic nature of the situation. Negotiating with real people rather than just roles or scenarios gave insight for my practice of leadership as a TL. Evaluating real-life reactions to my initiation (Simon, 2019, August 18) or hanging back (Simon, 2019, September 9) developed my understanding of how to effectively manage teams when leadership is distributed to me as TL. Continue reading “ETL504 Assessment 2 Part B Reflection”

Time is an illusion. Case study posting time, doubly so.

With my apologies to Douglas Adams and Case Study Group 9, time got away from me and our assembled-on-time group response was posted to the forum after the Friday midnight deadline. I think this highlights one of the potential downfalls of distributed leadership. Distributing leadership depends on having an overarching, supervising main leader from whom leadership is distributed to other parties. In the case of our case study group, since we are all trying to be leaders, yet all trying NOT to assert dominance over each other, in the end analysis something fell through the cracks. This week, the timely posting of our response was that thing.

This week was generally hard for us. More than one person commented on feeling less confident about the case study material – noting the narrowing of focus. The wiki-page creator and analysis initiator this week set things up in a slightly different way, which made it more difficult for me to connect with the material. We ended up identifying 4 major deeper issue areas for five people to comment on, but people were also slow to claim topics, so there was more confusion about who was covering what. I know that I had a hard time snapping into the frame of mind for analysing the case study while waiting for the return of the first assessment, processing the feedback when it was returned and beginning to process the requirements for the second assessment. I think a single, in-charge, following-up leader/manager would have helped our process to go more smoothly this week.

On the other hand, this week was definitely a team-bonding, relationship-building success. We had a lot of back and forth conversation in the wiki comments section and I feel we are bonding more as a team. I would not be surprised if some relationships from this group continue past the group exercise, the subject, the session and perhaps even the course. Since I feel that the greatest worth in this part of the course is the networking opportunity and the participation in and analysis of the group dynamic – I actually count this as a relatively successful week.

Five down, one to go.

By the skin of my teeth

Yay! The assessments were returned a few days early. I made it to my target (HD) by the skin of my teeth which is a great relief due to the immense uncertainty I felt about this assessment. Ironically, I felt more confident in my assessment for INF520 and I did not make it over the line for that one.

I was thankful that the written critical analysis was weighted more heavily than the concept map for this assignment. I suspect that I think more verbally than visually. I certainly found the critical analysis an easier way of unpacking, explaining and expressing my understanding than the concept map. Unsurprisingly, in that case, I received higher marks on the analysis section than on the concept map section.

Concept map of the leadership structure in a 21st century school
Concept map of the leadership structure in a 21st century school (Simon, 2019).

Continue reading “By the skin of my teeth”

Crisis of faith


I am once again losing the faith. I have stepped away from the path of true devotion and am floundering on the shoals of doubt.

I am having a crisis of belief as the modules start exploring collaboration, the TL as leader, and :booming echo-y voice: 21st Century Learning (learning… learning)…

My character arc was developing beautifully. Starting as a sceptic about the notion of TL as leader, working my way along the path of dawning realisation of different styles and paths of leadership, embracing the concepts of servant leadership and leading from the middle. I constructed my concept map and my idealised vision of the shining golden city – the Utopia of a Change-Resilient Twenty-First Century school leadership structure. It was a struggle but I was on the road to paradise.

Continue reading “Crisis of faith”

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