Sunday, April 22, 2012

Things that make me love my job

I'm working on a few big ideas that I've been meaning to write about, but can't seem to make the time and brain space to write about them in the way I want to. It's been a particularly exhausting few weeks, and a time when it's been easy to focus only on what's not working and all the work still left undone. But on my walk this morning (after a glorious nine hours of sleep) I was thinking about some of the projects I've been working on in the last week or two, and realizing that while I am, at times, legitimately frustrated and discouraged, I do have a lot of things to be grateful for.

1) Signing with Texas

When I was at Computers in Libraries in DC, I heard Carolyn Foote speak about how teachers in her school were using iPads in their classes, and she mentioned how her school's sign language teacher was using Skype and FaceTime to connect to other schools. My ears immediately perked up; there aren't a lot of schools with ASL programs, but we have one--and a teacher who I thought would love the idea of connecting with another school. And I was right! Last Thursday the two classes Skyped, and I have no words for how awesome it was to watch these two groups of students connect.

L pass O
Learning the sign for El Paso

2) My students

Friday was the Day of Silence. I was at breakfast Friday morning handing out buttons to student participants, and ribbons and stickers to supporters. Of the 100 buttons we got last year, I had over 50 left over, so I didn't get any new ones this year. But I ran out of buttons, which is the best "problem" I could possibly imagine. I think I had about 70 ribbons, and now I only have two left. My first year here, one student participated in the Day of Silence. To see so many students from diverse social groups take a visible stand for the type of school they want to have gives me "hope for the future" warm fuzzies.

3) Momentum

I've been given the go-ahead to start planning some edcamp-style PD for our school, which is something I've been wanting to do for a while.

4) My colleagues, both near and far

In a year that's been incredibly busy, exhausting, and at times frustrating, I am incredibly grateful for the support and friendship of my colleagues. I am thankful that Twitter and Facebook and this blog and conferences and so many other opportunities have allowed me to connect with colleagues from all over the country. Those connections are invaluable to me both professionally and personally, but I am most grateful for the colleagues at my school who are "in the trenches" with me on a daily basis.

I am given almost daily reminders of how incredible the people I work with are. Their innovation and creativity and passion inspires me. I am so lucky to work with so many amazing people, and so grateful that they seek me out to share what they're doing in their classrooms.

As I've been struggling with some challenges in the past few weeks, they have been there without fail encouraging me, acting as a sounding board, and letting me know that they believe in me and in what I'm trying to accomplish. If you are one of those people (and I hope you know who you are), thank you. So much.

5) Optimism

Last week, half in jest, I posted that having examined the available options,  I had decided on relentless optimism. Mostly this has consisted of yelling the word "relentless!" every time I or anyone around me starts succumbing to negativity. It is ridiculous. But, I swear to you, it works. Both as a reminder to stay optimistic, and as a way to bring levity and stop the slide into dwelling on what's going wrong. I'm not quite ready to write a self-help book based on this experiment, but I highly recommend it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Do you ever come in here?"

We've just finished up Family Weekend at my school, a marathon two days of parent-teacher conferences and other events. Since I'm not a traditional classroom teacher, I only have a handful of formal conferences. I spend most of my time chatting with parents and directing them towards the right teacher's classrooms.

Fairly often during the weekend (and this has been true of every Family Weekend I've been here for) a parent will wander into the library with their student, and ask some variation of, "Do you ever come in here?"

It is usually not an idle question.

And regardless of how often I actually see the student in the library, I never blow their cover. Because most often the question is not really about how often they come to the library--it's about how serious a student they are. Serious students go to the library. And if that's the perception the student wants their parents to have of them--if that's the perception the student wants to have of themselves--I am more than happy to go along.

Do I think it's true that serious students go to the library? Yes. And no. I see very serious students who rarely come to the physical library, and not-so-serious students who are in there all the time. But there is, undeniably, a larger cultural image around library use and being "smart."

My thinking about librarianship and library as place has been shifting in very significant ways over the past few months. But this weekend reminded me that ours is not the only image we need to consider as we talk about the changing role of librarianship.