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Keep Your Cool You Stinkin’ School Librarian!

It’s that time of year again when I want to pull my hair out!  It’s the beginning of the academic school year, by far the busiest most nerve-racking part of my year.  Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to getting back, trying out new things, interacting with the students, but it’s those other things that make me want to bang my head against the wall.  I don’t need to give examples; you know what I’m talking about.  This part of the year is when I learn the art of patience and  control that makes me good to go for the rest of the year.  I know that if I can get thru these first couple of weeks then rest of the year will, hypothetically, feel like a breeze.

One strategy I’ve learned from my first year that helps me stay cool and collective is to read a funny, thought provoking, inspiring, or what I call “That happens to me too!” school librarian article on either a blog I follow or from one posted by Subel/Yutzey/etc. on the OELMA listserv.  Whether it be after school, during my theoretical lunch break, on the weekend, or whenever,  taking the time to do this allows me those few minutes to take a deep breath, smile, and then get right back into it with the attitude and energy I need! 


So with all this in mind, I decided to use this posting to hopefully provide you a “That happens to me too!” article.  It’s a small writing that will provide you with a few minutes to take a deep breath, smile, and then have the right attitude and energy to get right back out there and be the best that you can be.   


I’m going to try and set this up in categories…and yes, these are REAL! Feel free to use it to support the Common Core and the push towards Non-Fiction. (Prompts to the first to give it a lexile level or rigorously try to figure out the text complexity of it!!!)


Interesting Statistic:  
Did you know that 22.34% of classrooms will implode on the first couple of days of school?  Yes, it’s a fact!  If you don’t get that equipment, list of passwords, name placed on calendar as first priority for orientation, and/or books to a staff member that very first day their classroom will collapse from within and will forever be nevermore.  At least that is the impression I get from the emails all written in capital letters or containing 35 exclamation points.  Another clue is the big darting eyes, flared nostrils, and dropped jaw look when I tell them I have to do another request first, or someone else beat them to the chase. Don’t forget the dazzling theatrical scene, mind you I don’t normally do drama in the theatre but in this case it’s free, of two staff members explaining to the other why their situation is more important than the other.   Yep, 22.34%.


Hmmm….Um you…with your hand down:
Never ever call on the kid who hurls his hand in the air immediately after you ask a question…especially on the day you are getting evaluated. It is a sure sign that something bad or awkward is going to happen to you!  Let’s say for example, you’re doing a lesson that involves using last names to describe what job each student is predestined to occupy when they get older.  For instance,  if your last name is Baker then you are going to bake pies or something like that.  DO NOT call on the gunslinger to provide an example to the rest of the class.  Chances are his/her last name has a negative connotation tied to it. Now you’re stuck, on the spot, trying to think of something appropriate as an occupation for that last name.  Call on the kid who has their hand down…their last name is probably Baker or Carpenter. 


Did you know?:
Did you know that G stands for Ground (mostly likely anyways) when you are riding in an elevator in a school?  Neither did one of my new teachers for the first couple of days.  To her, the first couple of days it stood for Garage.  You’ve got to take advantage of situations like these for multiple reasons.  First off, it lightens the mood and environment.  These teachers have their heads on a swivel with the things they need to do and are often stressed out beyond belief. These moments  can provide some much needed humor.  Second, it’s kind of funny.  I wish I would have known what kind of car she drives so I could have watched her from the media center back windows that overlook the parking lot, in the morning looking for a way down into covered parking.  Third, if you do it the correct way with an obvious lack of malicious intentions, then maybe you can make a new work friend.  A work friend that is now willing to collaborate in a couple of weeks simply from your effort to reach out to them.  In this case, in my effort to lighten the mood,  she’s now on the schedule for September. 


Have you ever: 
Have you ever done pretty much the same thing every year such as handed out brochures about the different databases, such as INFOhio, that are available in your district?  Yeah, me neither.  (Smirk) Have you ever responded the same way to the same question asked by the same person every year?  Yeah, me neither. (Double Smirk) Ex: “Wow, are these new resources that you decided to offer our district this year on top of what we already get?” My response, “Um, no we had these last year.  There are just a few changes I wanted you all to be aware of…remind you to share them with your students.” Next year I am going to respond to the question with an accountability question of my own, “Now which ones have you used in the past?” 


Sometimes we are given more credit than we deserve:
I know what you are thinking, “Yeah, when Monkeys fly out of the zoo.” or however that saying goes.  Seriously though, I’m sure you can think of an instance where this has occurred.  I know I can.  So apparently I have the capability to change the layout, design, and overall functionality of a world-wide program. Yes, a program that thousands of schools across the USA use for educational purposes.  So when this company decided to change their program’s look and feel, I was given full credit for it.  My staff were not happy with the changes I supposedly made.  I was flattered to think that others thought  have such capability. It was an ego popper when I had to tell them that if I had that power I would probably be driving something a little nicer than a 2003 Ford Taurus with a broken air conditioner.  I did learn an important lesson here though.  If you receive notice that a change is going to be made make sure you tell everyone even if the change is highlighted/bolded by the creator for weeks before it happens.  Then provide instruction no matter how simple it might seem to you. 


Really?  Is that considered a Freudian slip?:
I hate this one!  A teacher and a student came up to me and asked the following question, “______ is planning on reading Fifty Shades of Gray over the Christmas break and was wondering if it was in her book level?  No stop there for a second!  We should probably all assume at this moment that the teacher had not heard or read this book.  At least I hope. Now before I give you my response, I want to put out an exclaimer that I use this response in accordance with many different situations where it wouldn’t have the same impact as it could’ve here.  I by no means intended to say it and had not realized what was said until sometime later.  I will say I had known what the premise of the book was though.   So I responded, “Hmmmm…I’m a little tied up at the moment and I’ll have to get back to you in a bit.”  Yep, enter foot into mouth!  Darn you Sigmund Freud.  I WAS a little tied up at that moment!  I was a little tied up on the phone with a parent AND the awkwardness of such a question.  I couldn’t think fast enough on how to respond so my normal response came fluttering out.  


So what are some of your finest moments?  Do any of these make you say, “Wow that has happened to me too!”?  If so, please respond!  After reliving that final one I could use a little bit of a smile myself, a chance to take a deep breath.  I mean really…who wouldn’t after that!