Lies You Never Told Me – Book Review

**Copied from my school blog:

36547961Lies You Never Told Me
by Jennifer Donaldson

I just want to say beforehand wow.  Just wow.  This book is powerful, mysterious, confusing, frustrating, has a lot of what the #$%^ moments, and a realization at the end that will blow you away.  It’s that good.  It’s so good I shared it with some of my top readers, and word got out, so I had to quickly add it into the system for people to check out.

This book has two narrators: Elyse and Gabe.  At first, I will admit, this book is confusing at the start.  It did take me a bit to really get into it because of that.  But, as you start reading, you realize that you’re reading two different stories, two different perspectives.  And that’s ok!  Really, I promise.  As you read more into the story, you realize that Elyse starts going down a path she shouldn’t, and Gabe is with a girl who is popular but not right for him, but he feels trapped.  The twists and turns in their story really take you for a rollercoaster ride.  But that last drop – the reveal – will truly blow you away.  Completely unpredictable, in a world where so many books and movies are overly-predictable.  This is a total amazing read.  Get past the first couple of chapters where you feel confused by the storylines and I guarantee you’ll get sucked into Elyse’s and Gabe’s stories.  This is a 5/5 star book if I ever read one.


How to Prepare for “Real Life” – Keeping Track of Your History

**This was originally published on my school library site blog –

I wrote this to help my students prep for the “real world” with advice that they may not have been told…. **

“Keeping Track of Your History.”

Why do I call it this?  Well, it is because I have a big recommendation for students.  This actually came about after a discussion with one of my students.  She is prepping for college, and planning on becoming a teacher, and was asking some advice.  And so I told her what I have done.

Keep a list, file, document, etc.  Keep it in a place you will always have access to it: personal email storage like google drive (NOT your school one! I’ll explain why in a moment), or a document storage site such as dropbox.

There’s a reason I suggest this.  Number 1 – you will want to always have access to it, be able to expand it, add more, etc.  Number 2 – if you use your school storage, you might likely lose access to it when you leave/graduate.  It is better to keep it to a personal email drive/document storage space.

Now, this document should have all kinds of information.  Now, I’m not meaning things like social security number, but other important things.  This document, which should be considered a living document as it expands as time goes on, should come in handy any time you are applying for a job.  I have kept the document I use for many years now.  And it has been a lifesaver when it came to completing applications.  So you are aware – this list of information that I’m recommending is not all you can put.  It is just what I have found to have needed over the years.  I no longer had to wrack my brain at 25 or 30+ years old to recall something that I needed from high school.  And yes, there are places occasionally where they want your WHOLE history.  It’s crazy but I have completed those applications before.  So, without further ado, here is information I recommend you have on this document:

Current and former addresses: Yes, I would recommend even from childhood.  If you moved around a lot, like I did in my early 20’s, it can be hard to recall information about a place you lived at when you were 10.  Having a list of former addresses will help you greatly.  Now, will everyone require your addresses from childhood?  No.  But you never know and better safe than sorry.

Employment History:  Yes, this is huge.  Like addresses, who can recall what you did when you were 16?  I recommend the following information to keep in this document:

  • ​Company name, address, and phone number
  • dates worked (at least month and year)
  • starting and ending salary (if different)
  • supervisors name
  • job title
  • responsibilities

High School GPA/Activities/Honors:  Yes, this is more applicable when you complete high school, but the activities part you can start now.  Make sure you list any and all activities you were a part of, as well as any officer/leadership roles you held (and responsibilities of those roles if necessary).

College GPA/Activities/Honors/Credit Hours in Major and Minor: This is obviously for those who are college-bound, but even if you just take a few credits at the local community college, keep track of that!  You never know when you might need that info.  You can update it each semester, or when you complete your studies.  It is also helpful if you transfer schools to have this information for each school.

Activities/Memberships Outside School:  This is another one of those that you may not need right away, but you might.  Make sure you have the organization, dates of membership, any leadership positions you may have held and dates for that, and any other contributions you may have done or any awards or honors you may have been awarded.

If you were a Boy Scout, for example, and earned your Eagle, you would want to keep that info handy, such as when earned, project, date completed, etc.  I’ve been a member of a number of community bands during the last 20 years, and so I have a record of what band I was in, what instrument I played (I play several), and directors.

This also goes for any organizations that may pertain to your career, such as a union membership, a society that focuses on your career, etc.  Again, for example, I am a member of the American Association of School Librarians, and have received a scholarship from them.  I have all of that noted.

Anything Else YOU Feel Is Important:  Because I am not you, and I do not know what else you might need, add what you think you need to add!  As an educator, I have seen a number of the same questions on applications.  I have kept those responses I gave for them!  I fine tune them over time, of course, add and edit where I need, but I have that collection of questions handy.  Why reinvent the wheel for the EXACT SAME QUESTION?  You might want to add references including their contact info and how you know them, as well as how long, or special skills you may have (I have a lot of tech ones).  That part is really up to you.  The more info you save, the less you have to think about and try to recall later on!

I truly mean it, this has been a huge benefit for me when I was job hunting.  I’ve filled out probably hundred or so applications by this point in my life, and no two are ever quite the same.  But, having this information handy has made life a lot easier.  Start your document today, while things are fresh in your mind!

My first Breakout Creation

So, I’ve done BreakoutEDU’s before.  Both as a participant and facilitator. They’re awesome.  (Sidenote – if you haven’t tried one, you must!) Escape rooms meets education.

I want to do a breakoutEDU for my library.  But I don’t want one that’s already been made, because I want it to be tailored to my library.  So, I want to make my own.

Ok.  Full disclaimer.  It’s FREAKING hard to create one!  They make it look so easy.  It’s not. Just sayin’.

So this is something I have been working on for several weeks.  I have the direction one down, but the rest….? yeah, no.

But then.  I realized I had a presentation to do for my music fraternity.  It was a week out from the presentation.  What could I present? … and then I started thinking.  And thinking.  And it hit me.  I could make a breakout for it!

Ok, so you may be thinking – you just said it was freaking hard!  Yes, yes I did.  But somehow, and I don’t know how, I was able to create this breakout.  Within two days I came up with this breakout!  I started thinking, I started researching, I grabbed my SAI History book (not a thin book!), and went to work designing it.  And by the end of the week, I had a full breakout game.

And then I had to present it.

So, the hard part of this is that you have to have at least a little bit of knowledge of my music fraternity in order to figure out the locks.  So, I couldn’t have just a regular person test it.  So, my first test run was for my presentation.  I did give a disclaimer that my groups were my guinea pigs, and then let them to it.

They loved it!

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I did learn a few things.  My directional one was the hardest clue.  It wasn’t clear, and that make it difficult.  I had to give hints a lot there.  But, otherwise, the ones who tried it loved it!

I’m hoping that since I now have created one (which, of course, like any good thing, needs to be revisited and revised to make better), I am looking towards the library breakout with new eyes.  It’s still hard to create, but I now know I can.


Presenting – my greatest fear

So I have a confession – I am terrified of public speaking.

Yes, I said it.  I am terrified of public speaking.  The thought of people staring at me while I’m talking/presenting terrifies me.

Wait.  You’re a teacher, right?  That’s what I hear a lot when I say this.  And yes, I am a teacher.  But kids, I don’t know.  It is so much easier talking to kids.  They don’t know what you’re talking about, usually there are lessons already created (by yourself, by others, etc).  I don’t know, it’s so different when you’re talking to kids.  You are that expert.  But peers, people my own age and older?!?  Um, no.  Another one I get – you used to perform on stage in front of hundreds of people!  I was playing a character, practiced it ad nauseum, and the theater was dark.  It worked somehow.

Back in high school we had to do public speaking.  I think it was sophomore year.  I will never forget this.  I cried.  I was so terrified about speaking that I literally cried.  And I NEVER cried usually.  My teacher was kind enough to let me have just a couple of friends stay after school with me as my audience, and I made it through, but oh man, it was rough.

Freshman year of college was the same way (or maybe it was sophomore year… but I digress….).  I had a 8am public speaking class.  8 freaking AM.  If I remember, I did that by choice, hoping few people would actually be willing to sign up for that early.  But nope, full class.  I told the TA (law student guy) that I was petrified of public speaking.  He was kind, understanding, and got me through it.  I think that was one of my few A’s at U of I, honestly…. I got through it, but yeah, no confidence whatsoever.

I have the same issue with performance anxiety as a musician.  I can play, but if I have a solo, I can’t do it.  I’m too terrified I’ll squeak or crack or do something, and yeah, I’m all alone out there if I do. So, yeah.  This has been a long-standing fear.

I’ve been trying to analyze my fear.  I know it’s a common fear people have.  75% of people, according to (and others), have this fear.  I believe it.

My fear stems from people thinking I’m stupid or boring (the music thing is a whole other fear so we’ll focus on speaking for now).  Now, to be fair, I never have done the most exciting topics for public speaking.  Things like weather, for instance, was a go-to.  Yeah, weather.  Bor–ring.  Also feeling like I have no idea what I’m talking about.  I’ve never been a “subject matter expert” on things really.

I did my first conference presentation in 2013.  It was at the Kappa Delta Pi Conference.  I actually presented with another person.  She was one of those more confident people.  She did a lot of the work (not for me lack of trying, it was just her thing), and she did a lot of the talking at the presentation.  I got the credit for being a presenter, but I definitely didn’t do a ton.

My first time stepping in front of a group of Sigma Alpha Iota chapter girls was just a mess.  I was supposed to speak on hazing, and other issues I had seen during my chapter visit.  Those first talks were just not up to snuff.  Talking in front of those college girls just made me anxious for days before I met with them.  Now, to be fair, I have come a long way in 6 years.  I have my hazing speech down to a science “Don’t do it!  I don’t want to deal with the paperwork!”, and yes, I have gotten better at addressing whole chapters, but that took 6.  Whole.  Years.

This fall I delved into presenting again.  I presented at the Missouri GAFE Summit.  Again, this was something that filled me with dread.  Not that I would know anyone going to my session, but the fact that I might look or sound stupid, that I wasn’t giving any information that people wanted, etc., just terrified me so.

Yet I keep going.  Tomorrow I’m giving not one but two presentations!  Luckily on the same topic, but they tagged me twice!!!  Oy.  I”m trying not to be anxious, I used my Google Chromecast and actually practiced what I might say during my presentation a couple times now.  I have a decent 40ish minute presentation.  But I’m so worried people will think it is dumb or lame or whatnot.

I know I’m not alone out there.  This is a thing. But, it’s a thing I need to get over if I’m ever going to be like my library heroes.  If I’m ever going to go far with my career beyond my library’s four walls.  So I’ll keep going up there, because maybe someday, somehow, I’ll stop thinking of presenting as my greatest fear.

Genrefication – Final results!

I just realized I never finished up and talked about my final results!!!

So, it took me roughly a week to relabel everything.  Then, came the moving.  THAT was probably one of the most difficult things to do… and made more interesting by the fact that I was collaborating with one of the ELA teachers on book speed dating!

It actually helped that we had the speed dating right around the same time that I was genrefying.  First, it helped students to see that there were changes being made.  It also helped students discover what genres interested them.  Finally, it allowed me to start the shuffle of books!  That was the best part I think.

I have seen most people easily shift their books on their carts.  But, as I stated in an earlier post, I had a previous librarian shelve books by title…. so the best thing for me was to take the books all down, one genre or so at a time, empty some shelves, and then re-alphabetize them.  Was it a pain…. um, yes.  But, in a lot of ways it was good because I was able to actually touch, assess, and really look at my collection.

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The shift took me another few days, but the end result = awesome!

My students have been very happy with the result.  I have heard many many times how much “easier” it is to find things that they want to read.  I’ve had students ask me for suggestions in their “genres,” students go right to the colored section they know they’ll enjoy, and it really is so much easier to direct people!


It’s done!  A panoramic view

But wait.  What about the catalog???  Well, I did what many people did: I changed the sublocation in Destiny to the genre. Of course when I want to, I can’t find the directions I used, and so I’ll have to save that for another post (I’m thinking I’m going to be busy at break!)

Proposal Writing

So, I did it.  I submitted my first solo conference proposal.  It isn’t the most elegant proposal ever, but I’m proud to say that I submitted it.  What’s the worst they can say?  No.

I’ve always said I want to be like amazing librarians like Nikki Robertson or Jen LaGarde.   I may or may not stalk their websites on and off, reading blog posts they post, and otherwise just wanting to be them.  Not because they lead glorious lives (maybe they do, I can’t truly say…) but because they stand up in front of people, possibly hundreds of people, and they don’t ever seem nervous, they don’t appear afraid.  They are out there, their words and ideas are being heard, and frankly I would like that too.

I have anxiety when it comes to speaking in front of my peers.  Now, this seems weird for a teacher who stands up and talks in front of students daily, but teaching and speaking in front of peers are really two different things.  I work with a group of high school color guard girls, and I’m perfectly fine.  But going in front of a crowd of librarians or tech people… shoot, that is just a lot.

Here’s the “but”.   But, I want to speak in front of people.  I want to be a google trainer someday.  And I know I have to start somewhere.  Everybody does, right?  This conference is a local conference – a google conference.  I figure, why the heck not start there?  So, I typed stuff up, submitted it, and yeah.   We will see.  I’m excited to just say, yes, I took that jump, and I submitted a proposal.  Go me.