What I Wish I Knew

Reading blogs if little else inspires me. It forces me to go deep and really think about my professional practice and my interactions with students and staff.

Leanne Jones, in her blog Shelf-Consumed, offers ten insights on what every new librarian should keep in mind.

Here’s my list based on Leanne’s wisdom:

#2 Kids above all else. It feels good to also know that what you are doing in the library and how you approach every day should be seen as essential. Your interactions with the students is paramount. Why bother becoming a teacher-librarian if the students are not your top priority? Who needs an overpaid book-shelver anyway?

#9. I do not fear leaving my footprint. Sure, I faced two years of barbs, sarcasm, and innuendo by staff members, but it didn’t deter me from making drastic (and much needed) changes to the school library environment (bye bye dated encyclopedias; massive culling of the fiction section? you bet cha’!). I mean why would you take over someone’s room and leave up their wallpaper and paint colour if you didn’t have, too?

#4. Don’t try and fake ’em out. I’ve really grown to appreciate the ‘fakar’ ability that kids possess–if you haven’t read it, don’t booktalk it. And I recognize the reason to just go home and read and night (tied to #3 below). At the same time, I will NEVER apologize for booktalking the books that are my favourites and that I love to read.

#6. The library is a shared space. It’s multi-purpose room. And I tell every freshmen the same thing: this is not my library, it’s yours, and I’m just really, really, really lucky that I get to come here for nine hours a day and hang out! Yeah, baby!

#3. Drop everything at the end of the day. Admittedly, like many of my passionate and professional teacher-librarian colleagues, I struggle with this. Go home and just read a good book (and I know that School Library Journal doesn’t count!). Some days I know it’s what I need to do, but I don’t. To be honest, I truly believe that this is one of the perks of being a teacher-librarian: I can (if I so choose) leave my work at my workplace. This is a work in progress. It’s OK to leave with a shoulder bag filled just empty Tupperware in it. It should be a good feeling and not one of guilt.

OK, my own two cents:

#11 The principal is your ally. But, you have to be in their corner, too. Bad mouthing the boss behind their back never really does you any good.

#12 Regular self-assessment of your program and your practices is key in order for the program and my professional abilities to improve and best serve the school community.

#13 I do learn from the kids as much (or often more) than I might offer at times. And that’s OK, brother!

#14 Recognize that collaboration is really only a means to a specific end; it’s not the goal in and of itself.

#15 Understand that there will be detractors on faculty. But who says that you have to work with everyone? Find those key teachers that share common visions and passions and run with it baby, just run!

#16 The teacher-librarian is a school leader; and as such should be involved in policy making at the school and district levels.

#17 Lead by example and develop a strong and effective professional/personal learning network. It is about lifelong learning that we are modeling, no?

#18 Recognize that it’s OK to say “No”. Balance is key. Without it, not much else gets done. Or done effectively.

My fellow teacher-librarians, what would you add to this list?


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