Busy, Busy

Dear Self,

I’m sorry for the lack of updates to this work journal. I may have taken on a few too many freelance projects, so this blog is getting neglected.

Today I taught a newspaper/history/genealogy class to a group of second graders. It was painfully awkward as I wasn’t sure what to expect or how the class should be taught. I spent way more time prepping, searching for books, and asking my supervisor for assistance, than the length of the actual class. The second graders were brilliant and wicked smart. They asked me questions about historical topics that I didn’t hear about until middle school! They also put me on the spot a few times with questions about WWII and current political climates. I managed to skate by with “….he had issues and did bad things” (regarding Hitler).

Then tonight I went to the writers’ group where we critique each other’s work. The other writers there make up a colorful cast. My non-fiction piece completely threw them for a loop since it’s of a technical nature. After I turned in #bigproject in January of 2013, I was completely burned out and aside from writing emails, texting, and occasionally updating this blog, I have not written since then.

By joining a second writers’ group, I’m trying to get more integrated in the local area. I lack a healthy appreciation for/recognizance semi-recent names of immigrants for the last century. So while people I have met here in CT are quick to tell you that they’re Irish-American, I don’t share the same experience since I personally identify first and foremost as being from the mountains of NC. The Old World is something that no one I know from home ever considers. Therefore it’s an eye-opening experience to have people drop in proud with the name of their ancestors’ foreign country of origin.

LibUX: Social Media Buttons

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pc7eqVC8pXY

Michael Schofield (@gollydamn) and I have been talking about doing a podcast/videocast dicussion about libraries and UX for months. As he says in this episode, we’re both busy and didn’t prioritize this, but finally we got the ball rolling! The tone is informal and in this first one, we’re discussing the usefulness of social media buttons on websites and Facebook’s new algorithm. Michael will be posting the podcast version on iTunes.

On Teaching in Real Life

I taught WordPress.com to a small group of teens this week. It was…challenging. I realized I made too many assumptions like the kids knew about browser tabs, how to save images, and what a URL is. I’ve likely been online longer than those kids have been alive. I wasn’t quite ready for that realization, but thankfully I had it in the comfort and safety of my bed later that night.

My live-and-learn lessons in teaching are:

  • Try to make them laugh. I have a self-deprecating humor style and that usually works for me.
  • Expect there to be at least one person who is unfamiliar with how to use a mouse.
  • Several people did not read the class description.
  • Someone will be way more advanced than the rest of the students and thus bored.
  • The advanced person will probably stay after to ask you some hard-hitting but thoroughly enjoyable questions.
  • Don’t expect everyone who registered to show up.
  • Expect oddball questions which are unrelated and roll with it.
  • They say to try and liven up the class by asking people questions. Most of the time (in my experience), no one will respond.
  • Tell stories.
  • If you write your notes up and teach from them, you can reassure the class that they don’t need to worry about taking notes.
  • Be careful not to give the notes until the end of the class. Otherwise people will jump ahead.
  • Repeat yourself to highlight big points. You can do this by restating it when you do mini summaries throughout the class.
  • Someone is always going to be whispering to their neighbor and have no idea where you are. They’ll then ask and then you’ll have to go over (probably repeatedly) to get them up to speed. Try to figure out how you want to handle this. It slows down everyone (please tell me how to take care of this).

I really quite enjoy teaching these small classes. However, I become extremely anxious immediately before each class — even for material I know like the back of my hand. I’m not sure how I come across (probably like a high strung mouse), but I relax as soon as I state my name. Usually time will pass by fast and if you run out of material, just say so. People tend to be ready to get out early!

WordPress for Lifestyle Bloggers & Online Readings

Lately I’ve been fortunate enough to work with patrons interested in lifestyle/interior design/creative WordPress blogs. While my own blog here is not very action-packed or set up to be a lifestyle blog, in the past I was obsessed with them. So this new movement of one-on-one appointments has been very enjoyable to me. I get to rack my brains to think about my impressions of what a lifestyle blog should look like, how you build an audience, and describe the different ways to stay in touch with your readers (e.g. email, RSS, social media). What’s difficult is remembering the name of any of those blogs I used to follow!

On that note, I have mostly given up on following blogs via RSS. This happened long before Google killed Google Reader. After the devastating losses of three years ago, I found myself to no longer reading my RSS feeds. So I dropped my lifestyle/crafts/interior decorating blogs. Now I use RSS to keep up with webcomics and to skim librarian related blogs. I don’t think I’m alone in this — I’ve noticed that the quantity of library related blogs has gone down substantially in the past few years. So, where do I spend most of my free online time? Twitter, Tumblr, and news websites. I favorite hundreds of tweets a month which I mostly don’t look at — but it’s nice to have for the days when I’m looking for something new to read. I also have shifted a lot of my online reading away from librarians and to web coders/developers. These people are intense and way beyond where I am (hey, their job is to be web people while I’m responsible for dozens of things at work), but I enjoy seeing what others are doing.

Why I Avoid Book Talking

Confession: I avoid book talking at the weekly chat as often as I can.

The reason being that not a single book, movie, or TV show I’ve ever recommended was taken by the regular group of patrons who visit. My preferences are so far from theirs that I get polite nods and walk away with my arms full of the carefully selected items I had brought with me. I try to enliven my book talking with charming stories about how this book relates to my life, current events, etc. No dice!

With this bit of disappointment in mind, here are today’s selections:
The Rosie Project
BBC’s Sherlock
Spirited Away
O’ Brother Where Art Thou
The Arrangement by Mary Balogh
Soutache
Remains of the Day
A Farewell to Arms
The Red Tent
Lost Cat: A Story of…
A Street Cat Named Bob
The Autobiography of Mark Twain

I then showed off the book journey bookmarks and explained the reasoning behind them: 3 books which share a theme tied together with a fun title and public domain artwork.

Sadly, I carried off all my books and movies again.