I am starting to feel creative again. It has been almost a year since I wrote what you are about to read. I never posted it because I felt like I was being a bad librarian for feeling the way I did. I changed position about a year ago and the feeling and joy and love of being a school librarian are starting to come back. But please know that it took a long time to start to feel human again. This is from January of this year:
If truth be told, I have not felt like a PowerLibrarian for a while now, maybe two years. A lack of motivation has truly caused this blog to blog to be neglected. I feel like I've run out of gas. I have felt like the Power was draining faster than spiritual food, friends, family, conferences, EdCamps, FutureReady, social media, and my PLN could recharge this Librarian!
Call it overwork, burnout, a struggle to communicate, a lack of respect by administration and students, less than perfect working conditions (we actually had a work stoppage- let me tell you walking a picket line does nothing for your self-esteem), or just everything, including me, getting older. For the past 4 almost 5 years I traded my cozy elementary library for a beautiful upper elementary library with more empty shelves than books. I struggled keeping up with student demand for popular titles. We had fewer than 15 books per student when when I started. I got creative, held book drives, begged, borrowed, and spent my own money getting books into the hands of students. As I leave we are now well over the state suggested 25 books per student. I don't want accolades for doing what I love, getting students to read, I just want it acknowledged that being a teacher/librarian is two jobs. I am working two full time jobs with a below average salary and time constraints of one- doing the second job on my own dime and time. For the past 5 years I have taught as few as 31 and as many as 35 classes every 6 days while running the library and trying to bring the makerspace concept into the newly branded Libratorium.
I believe strongtly that every student should get the opportunity to make, do, and create in a safe place but providing that for as many as 900 students with little to no support takes its toll. Teaching as many as 6 classes a day (and give grades to students for projects, and classwork) and running the library with students coming at all times to do book selection is daunting. The worst is students demanding book selection while I am trying to teach or trying to put books away or catalog books (cataloging takes concentration but all students see is me sitting at the computer)- after all, I'm not really doing anything and I could easily check out a book for them. The worst of it is that their teachers keep sending them even though I have told them that I can't check out books while I am teaching. Lunch, what's lunch? I keep being told I am entitled to a duty free lunch, it does not happen- there is always someone comeing into the library for something. If I didn't teach all day I would not mind missing lunch once in a while but it is my only chance all day to go to the bathroom. If I had a clone or a full time aide things would be so much better.
I struggled for years with getting technology into the hands of my students (may I never see another powersucking netbook again), because any papers I created meant 800 or more copies. Who has time to make that many copies? Finally, a year ago came a cart of chromebooks exclusively for use in the library classes and I could stop killing trees and use Google Classroom! I promptly broke Google Classroom which was not built to handle 34 classes. I deleted the 34 classes and settled on 12 classes, a class each day for the 5th grade homerooms I saw that day and one 6th grade class for the 3 or 4 different teams I saw that day. Putting multiple classes in each of the Google Classrooms meant a little more work for me finding students when it came to doing grading but it worked. I switched it up this year and put each 6th grade team into one class cutting down my number of classes by 2! Fewer classes and it is easier when it comes to grading so many students.
I learned a great deal as I wrote grant proposal after grant proposal. Over the years I incorporated robotics, coding, and a makerspace complete with a 3D printer into the library curriculum. I decided to teach digiital citizenship via Google Classroom and student Tinkercad accounts.
Now at the end of this year, the joy is coming back. In a new school, with new students with new challenges, the joy is coming back!