Since I started my job in August, I have wanted to blog about my first year as a librarian. I have not kept up with that goal. Time got in the way, with professional and personal situations. After all, educators say the first year as a teacher is the hardest. And, boy, are they right. Life got in the way, but I’m here now.
I had all these ambitious goals for my library the first few months. I wanted memorize the new Common Core curriculum and formulate collaborations and lessons. I wanted to develop more library programs and tech ideas. I wanted to research a Dewey-free library and write a research plan to implement in the next few years. Let’s just say that reality brought me back down to Earth. I have put some of my ideas on the back-burner because other tasks have taken precedence.
Renovated Library, But 20,000 Books To Unpack
I was fortunate to have a renovated library when school started. New tiled floor, new paint colors, new tables, new chairs and a new circulation desk. That also meant unpacking more than 20,000 books and digital materials, plus setting up my library in less than four weeks. With enthusiasm and lots of coffee, I went into my library that first Monday in August. Only the shelves were in the library. Hundreds of boxes of books and materials were in the hall outside.
Somehow I managed to change the physical space of the library and unload every box. I still have two storage areas to de-clutter, but I had to learn to prioritize. I completed a weeding project within my first month of school. I want to complete a bigger weeding project in the next year or two, but that first month of unpacking boxes helped me become familiar with my collection. Though it was hard labor in 90 degrees, it was worth it.
In mid-August, I took a two-day break for new-hire orientation. Around 30 new teachers in the district came together to learn policies. This was information overload. I never really had to deal with W-2 forms, health insurance, beneficiaries, flex-spendings, etc. I learned the difference between 401 and 403b. We had a boatload of paperwork to fill-out. I was so nervous I would make a mistake on the paperwork, so I went line-by-line to fill out the information. Luckily, my mother and sister are teachers, so I went over paperwork with them.
The speakers at orientation told us we would have a roller-coaster of emotions the first year. Each few months would have a new feeling: anticipation, survival, rejuvenation. Right now, I’m entering the rejuvenation phase.
I also had other questions. Where do we submit time cards? Where is the mailroom? Where is the copy machine? Where is the faculty bathroom? What is my email? How do I submit grades? What is the WiFi password? Where do we park? Where do I get an ID badge?So many little questions. In my district, we are assigned a mentor to help with these questions. My mentor has been so helpful this year. She is kind and knowledgeable, as well as part of the special-area team.
I see more than 600 students a week, from PreK to sixth grade, with three to four sections per grade level. Students come in for 40 minutes per special. We have about a 30-minute lesson, with a 10-minute book exchange. Each class is different, each student is different. I have about 2/3 of names memorized, but still working on the rest. I’m still learning the personalities of students and classes. Some grade levels are more outgoing, while others are extremely laid back. Classroom management is a work-in-progress. I’m still learning techniques, but 90 percent of classes are excellent. I’m lucky in that aspect. We have a community that does care about its students.
Holy, cow. I have never attended more meetings in my life than these past few months. Besides faculty meetings bi-weekly, there are PBIS, SIT, special-area, library department and data-driven study group meetings. Not to mention meetings with teachers on a daily basis.
One part of my job I did not anticipate was testing falling into my department. We do STAR reading, math and early literacy every five weeks for K-6 and SRI during library special three times a year. I’m taking the lead at my school for scheduling, administering tests for specific grade levels, pulling parent home letters, completing test makeups, compiling data for my administrator and providing tech solutions if something isn’t working during a test. I had to learn two content management systems quickly. Our school has been selected to pilot another assessment in the spring, and that has fallen under my department, as well. Though this is work I did not expect, I’m excited to learn the ins and outs of assessments as we complete more data-driven instruction strategies.
Common Core and APPR
My district has fully implemented the CC for K-6 and a new evaluation system for the 2013-14 school year. I didn’t have anything to compare these two situations to, but there are some days I feel like I’m barely floating. There is so much information for both systems. I’m finally developing a library curriculum and collaborating with teachers for CC, and still learning the fine details of APPR (which has so much paperwork). I’m looking forward to my second year as I will have a full year under my belt of experience with CC and APPR.
Let me put it straight: Graduate school did not prepare me for all the acronyms I learned the first few months:
- F & P
- CCLS or CCS
- and many more
I’ve learned to convert lexile levels, DRA scores, F & P guided reading levels, AR levels and IRL levels. That is one of my personal accomplishments this so far.
So, there is my update for the past 17 weeks. I’m going to make a point to blog more. When I started my job in August, I felt like I was barely swimming, but now I’m floating with swimmies. There is so much testing, a new curriculum and new evaluation system, but I’m learning. I realized I can’t accomplish all I want to in the first year. I need to get to know my school, community and students. I need to focus on one day at a time. But, I have the foundation strongly built for what I want to see my library become in the next few years. It’s going to be an excellent and exciting journey.