Random Things

I’m finding myself feeling the need to express myself on Facebook or Twitter, but I need more than 140 characters to say it…

Stats: So, I started my Applied Statistics I class last night. I actually was so worried about it I gave myself a migraine so I left work early to go home and take a 30 minute stress nap before class. You know what? It was not so bad. Now, I don’t want to get overconfident, but I felt good about class by the end of it. I felt like I may actually be able to do this. If I make it through this class, I will have crossed a big hurdle towards finishing the doctorate.

Dreams: I have been having some weird dreams. Sometimes they involve going to Starbucks. Sometimes they involve eating anything I want and a bunch of it, then I wake up in a panic thinking I actually ate all that food, but thankfully I didn’t. I had a dream I finally went to buy new running shoes. This is kind of a joke with me: The last time I bought new running shoes was December of 2009. I have had 2 children since then. It’s ridiculous and a good thing I’m not running much right now.

Training: Since I am incredibly busy this month my training has been altered. Basically, my calories are lower and my workouts are shorter. I’m doing better. I figured since I already have a huge goal to finish 6 hours of class successfully this month, while working and keeping the kids alive, I might as well add “Lose 5 pounds” to that goal.

Sleep: I’m thankful for the training my children gave me on how to function on very little sleep, because it looks like I won’t be doing much this month. Mondays: Work until 10:00 pm. When I get home it always takes a few minutes to get ready for bed and wind down, so I’m usually asleep at around 11:30. Then Tuesday I wake up at 5:30 and work and go to class until 9:30 ish. Then Wednesday I wake up at 5:30 and work and then parent. Thursday: Class until 9:30 ish. Friday: Drag my butt reluctantly out of bed sometime before 6:30. So, I may get a little sleep on the weekends. I just keep telling myself you can do anything for a month.

Remember the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness”? I feel like I need to watch it again. This guy had SO MANY obstacles. Everything was crazy. But he didn’t give up. And (spoiler alert) in the end he gets the job. He is victorious. It was all worth it.

That’s what I keep telling myself it will be like when I finish my degree. All the work will be worth it when they announce “Dr. Brown” at graduation.

And so on I go…



I guess I’ll see y’all sometime in August

I have done a very disappointing job of blogging lately, and I don’t see it getting better anytime soon. I start taking 6 hours of doctoral classes on July 7. One of these classes is Applied Statistics I. I am terrified. It meets 6:00 – 9:45 PM twice a week. Adding that to my 1:00 – 10:00 shift once a week, that means three nights a week I’ll get home after 10:00. This is rough for someone who gets up at 5:00.

I have already arranged to take 2 Fridays off to “catch up” because I know I will need it.

I also agreed to sub 3 out of 4 Sundays as a church musician. Because why not? I’m already busy…. (The 4th Sunday I work at the library).

The only thing I can do is tell myself to put my head down and just go. I’m imagining being outside in a storm and just putting my hood on and walking into the wind because eventually I’ll get indoors.

So I’ll see y’all sometime after August 7, when my classes will be over, and if everything goes the way it’s supposed to, I’ll have 18 hours of doctoral classes and my degree plan filed.



In my former life, what seems like a million years ago, I was a piano teacher. That was my primary job in college. I was a music major training in piano performance so it was a given.

I actually used to make my living accompanying, but the thing is, I married a musician, and I got tired of neither of us having stability. So after spending way too much in student loans on a PhD I didn’t finish (while making money accompanying), I went back for even *more* school to become a librarian.

Since I’ve had kids, I haven’t had much chance to play piano at all. I miss musical theatre and the friends I had there. I have considered teaching to make some extra money, but there is no time with all that I do. So, I often consider myself someone who *used to* play piano.

Last week, for some strange reason, I decided to touch a piano again. I sightread some Elton John, and played an old 10,000 maniacs tune I taught myself in high school.

I proudly announced on Facebook, “Hey I guess I remember how to play piano…” and one of my former students, who is all grown up now and a teacher herself, commented (word for word):

If you were able to teach me… You could never forget how! You probably don’t remember, but I recall you playing a song for me so I could hear what it ought to sound like. When someone peeped in the door afterward, you pretended I played it and praised my abilities. Best piano teacher ever.

I tell you. I cried a little reading that.

It made me think. Here I am, still teaching, just not teaching piano. I know that when I have a one-shot session class, we probably don’t mind like I did with that student. But I hope I’m making a difference, in some small way, for at least someone.

Rubrics and Stuff: I’m stuck

Ok, bear with me here while I talk about my research.

I decided a few weeks ago that I want to look at Information Literacy Assessment for my doctoral research. I decided to take a previous study (which used the old ACRL Standards as criteria for assessment) and update it using the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy.

To do that, I have to create “desired learning outcomes” for each of the threshold concepts.

So, what are the threshold concepts?

1. Scholarship is a conversation

2. Research as inquiry

3. Authority is constructed and contextual

4. Format as process

5. Searching as exploration

6. Information has value*

Each of these threshold concepts can be “mastered” (may or may not be the right word) in stages. The vocabulary of the Framework even says “Learners who are developing their information literate abilities” rather than “the information literate student”, implying that there is not a point where the student “arrives”, but that it is an ongoing process.

So, how would we use a rubric to assess this? I found this description that really simplified it for me:

RubricSo, I need to decide what the criteria are to see if students are progressing on the threshold concept. Here’s what I have for the first concept, Scholarship is a Conversation:

Desired learning outcome: Students will be able to contribute, and understand the significance of their contribution, to the scholarly conversation on a particular topic at the appropriate level, and understand the contributions of others.

Now, how does that become a rubric??? Because I’m stuck there…

The first step on all of this is to come up with desired learning outcomes. This is important to do as an instructor. I mean, my title is officially “Information Literacy Librarian”, so hopefully I’m working towards that for all students. But the desired learning outcomes have to be measurable in order to be assessible (is that a word? Able to be assessed?). We have to use desired learning outcomes, and since the standards have been updated, I really want to use the Framework.

This is me stuck. I think I need to take a break.

*The final threshold concept was just released this week, and of course I went complete insane with excitement like the nerd I am.

Not sure if I’m not smart enough, or just really tired…

Lately I’ve been having a crisis of confidence, and I’m wondering if I have what it takes to be an academic. My job is boring me just a little. I mean, I’m excited about the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy, but when it comes time to apply it, I feel stifled.

I’m writing in my writing class, but I’m wondering if one day someone’s going to come along and tell me I’m really not as smart as I’ve led everyone to believe. In fact, I have nightmares about it. It’s kind of like this, except replace “Jon Snow” with “Sarah Brown”:

YouKnowNothingI’m aware that this could all be sleep deprivation and parenting burnout. I’m sure a week of vacation with no kids and no clutter and no reference desk would do me a world of good. I mean, imagine the sleep I would get! However, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

In fact, it will get worse in July, when I take 6 hours of class and still have the job and the kids. One of the classes is Applied Statistics I. Everyone is afraid of this class. They warn me repeatedly how hard it is. I try not to get caught up in hype like that, but I’m a little scared. Class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00 -9:45. Plus I’ll have my 6:00 – 10:00 PM shift on Monday nights. I’m just going to go ahead and accept that I will not sleep for a month.

Friends of mine who are writers (actual published writers) tell me that when you think you suck, that usually means you’re a good writer. So, maybe since I think I suck at academia, I may actually be smart. All I know is that most high level concepts are giving me a headache, but I can still sing all the words to Lisa Loeb’s song “Stay”, and Sir Mix-a-lot’s “Baby Got Back.” That should really count for something…



I think I have a topic…

For a long time, I have been very interested in information literacy assessment. My official title at work is “Reference and Information Literacy Librarian” (although sometimes I’m referred to an “Instruction Librarian”, so don’t get me started on how those are not interchangeable…). One thing I feel my institution- and many other institutions- lack is an accurate system for assessment. How do we know we are helping students develop information literacy? Are we helping them? If not, how can we?

Well, to assess information literacy, you need standards. The ACRL came out with standards in the year 2000, but they’ve recently (like so recent they’re still working on them) been updated. Now they are called a “Framework”.

As I’ve looked into some of the literature, I was very impressed by the work of Megan Oakleaf. In her 2006 dissertation, she used rubrics to assess information literacy. Since then, she developed RAILS. I’ve been impressed with these things and wondering how I could incorporate some of these concepts into my research. I felt like since she had done the landmark assessment/rubric study I was stuck. But then I realized (thanks to a discussion in my writing class) that I didn’t have to do that exact study. I can use her study as inspiration and perform a similar one here using rubrics. Most importantly, I can do it using the new Framework.

I’m very excited and trying to decide what to do next. I’m thinking I will set a goal of having a chapter 1 (Introduction) done for this class, and go from there. I realize the research may alter the topic, and I’m open to it. But at least now I have a direction.

Worrying about our kids

I’m wondering if I am normal, or if there is in fact something wrong with me. I am filled with anxiety about my kids. Worrying about them. All the time.

I think with what is happening today (another school shooting just today, for example), a little worry is normal. But I worry all the time.

A few examples of things I worry about:

– Other kids being mean to them.

– Bullying.

– My daughters being bullied by mean girls.

– My daughters being attacked.

– Kidnapping, torture, murder…

– Home invasion

My mind is filled with stories from the news over the years- some from even before I had kids- of some of the horrible things people do. And I’m in a constant state of fear.

The other day my son told me he didn’t want to go to church camp because last year he couldn’t make any friends. That broke my heart. How dare people not be friends with my boy! He’s amazing! My 3 year old and her “best friend” at daycare had a fight on Friday and the little girl told my daughter “You’re not my best friend anymore”, and she sobbed all the way home.

When my kids are scared, and I tell them everything is fine and they’re safe, I feel like I’m lying. I mean, 6 year olds were murdered at their own school. How can I promise them they will be safe when these things happen?

So these worries, they range from hurt feelings, which is minor I suppose, to devastating violence.

How do I deal with this? How can I help my children know their value when other kids try to take it away? And how do I protect them from evil?

I don’t know, and it makes me crazy.

Moms out there- do you have these problems? Am I normal? Is this too much? How do you balance the worry with peace and calm?

I wish I knew…