Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mail Call Monday- Let's get Busy!

I have to admit.. Mail Call Mondays are becoming one of my favorite days!  I LOVE when people agree to guest blog for me. I love social media and how I am able to connect with people from all over the world!  My guest blogger is no exception this week!  

I think I have mentioned before that I follow several hundred blogs. The Busy Librarian by Matthew Winner is a great one.  I mentioned him in my last blog as a the founder of the #LevelUpBC and #Shelfchallenge.  I tweeted him last week to see if he would be my guest blogger.. and he agreed!  

Thanks Matthew for an AWESOME blog!  Find all of his information at the end of this blog.  Are you participating in #levelupbc and #shelfchallenge?  I just love the power of social media.  Enjoy the read!

Let's Get Busy
Guest Blogger Matthew Winner

I'm a teacher librarian and I only teach for fun. That's the rule. If I can't find enjoyment in what I do with the students, how will they?

I'm also involved in a lot of different projects. Many consume time outside of the school day. Most are projects of which my school colleagues are unaware. Each is an undertaking I consider to be central to my character as a professional.

I am a busy librarian.

But I happened to be a busy librarian on a quest. 

I want you to be busy. In fact, it might even be best for you to be busier. Hear me out before you send the angry pitchfork-wielding mob to chase me out of town.

No matter what position you hold in education, be it a classroom teacher, a teacher librarian, a student aid, a principal's secretary, a recess monitor, chances are you're already busy. Like many, you probably feel stretched beyond your means and absolutely exhausted at the end of each day. Adding another thing to your plate would ludicrous and out of the question.

But what if the one thing you added brought so much joy to your day that it actually changed your attitude about school? What if that one thing felt less like work and more like play? Less like to-do and more like an adventure? Then would you be willing to add one thing to your plate?

On October 10th, 2010 I started the Busy Librarian blog with little more than the ambition to be a voice for the busy. I wanted people to know they weren't alone and I wanted to, in many respects, be the change, as Mahatma Ghandi famously spoke. My first post was really short and pretty vague... more a a mission statement than anything else. And yet it's been a source I've returned to over and over to make sure I'm keeping myself on track.

The text read:
This is a blog for busy librarians. 
For those of us who feel, well, overwhelmed. 
It's a place of comfort and, hopefully, a source of inspiration. 
Here you will find the opportunity to interact globally and to impact locally. 
We'll synergize moments, ideas, and activities that will enable us to become more effective librarians, more efficient in our libraries, and more energetic with our students, without feeling like things are careening out of control. 
So, let's get busy!
Being busy is not a bad thing. On the other hand, feeling like your stuck or overwhelmed or uninspired where you work... that's a different story. That's something I wouldn't wish on anyone.

I have added to my busy schedule in the best ways over the past 6 years as a library media specialist. Some of the things added lasted a week or two before I ditched them for something different. Others, like this blog, are still going and/or have actually increased in the number of hours to which I devote my time outside of work each week. But no matter what the task, the important part to recognize is that I'm volunteering to take it on because I see it as an opportunity for me to grow as an educator, contribute to my profession, and make my work a little more fun.

Being busy works for me. It's very easy to accomplish things when you're doing them from a place of love and with a sense of purpose.

I don't allow my work to come before my family, but I also try not to allow my work to come before my students or before my growth as a professional. Breaking routine, trying new things, and challenging myself to offer the best of myself to my students and my profession has made me a busy librarian, but it's also made me a very blessed librarian.

I hope you, too, can find yourself busy and blessed.

- Matthew

Looking to get busy? Here are a couple of things I did or do (and you can, too) that brought me a lot of joy:

  • Volunteer to be the recycling coordinator at your school. Work with students to collect recyclable materials from classrooms each week and deposit in the school's recycling containers. 
  • Serve on your state's book award committee. Help nominate titles for your state's book award and learn about a ton of great books for your classroom or library in the process.
  • Found an online book club. Meeting online takes a lot of pressure off of coordinating events and meet-ups while, at the same time, allowing for some really creative ways to connect and interact as a book club.
  • Connect your class with others via Skype. Whether collaborating on a project or simply connecting to say "hi", Skype helps your students get to know the world outside of your classroom as well as the many ways we and those we Skype with are the same.
  • Help your school celebrate a big event. International Dot Day, Poem in Your Pocket Day, and World Read Aloud Day are just a handful of truly awesome events you can celebrate school-wide while promoting literacy and creative expression, a win-win for any educator.

About Matthew:

Matthew C. Winner is a teacher librarian in the Howard County Public School System in Maryland. His library media program is aligned with ISTE’s NETS for Teachers and the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Before teaching in the elementary school library, Matthew taught in the 4th grade. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education from Towson University, a Master’s of Science in School Library Media from McDaniel College and is a National Board Certified Teacher in the area of Library Media.

Matthew has given presentations at conferences at the state, national, and international levels and has presented virtually at the TL Virtual Cafe. He has had articles published in Knowledge Quest and School Library Journal, and he is the author of the Busy Librarian blog. In 2012, Matthew was named Maryland Outstanding Educator Using Technology by the Maryland Society for Educational Technology (MSET). His love of video games and passion for teaching have earned him recognition as a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. He is also the cofounder of the Level Up Book Club, an online book club for teachers and professionals focused on game-based learning and gamification.

For more information on the Level Up Book Club, visit Learn more about Matthew’s library program and work at large at Follow Matthew on Twitter at @MatthewWinner or email him directly at


  1. I love this post! Matthew, you are the busiest! And best! I too feel overwhelmed and stretched thin at times and sometimes even feel indignant about things that come between me and my students, or that make my teaching less fun (which is less meaningful, in my opinion, to the students and ME!) But then something like a 3-way Skype or a #ShelfChallenge will come along and make your day and you realize that you have found your spot, after all. All thanks to one busy librarian helping to connect busy librarians everywhere. Thank you!

  2. Matthew, I love this post:)) It describes my hopes for my students and my profession in a succinct and delightful way! You have so many outstanding accomplishments and are a joy to connect with. I consider myself and my students lucky to have met you virtually. I hope to meet you in person some day as well.