Tag Archives: librarian

The “Tough?” Decision to Stay in Education

Recently an award-winning educator made a difficult decision to leave teaching after 6 years. You can view the entire Washington Post article here. I can empathize with Josh Waldron. At more than one point in my career I asked myself, “What am I doing here?” I even strongly considered taking a one-year leave of absence to teach at an Amish school just for a change. However, the potential loss of health insurance for my family during that time kept me from going that route.

Back to Josh Waldron. He addressed five key areas/issues in education.

  1. Tear down the hoops. In other words, teachers are spending far too much time on unnecessary tasks that supposedly monitor growth and performance.
  2. Have a plan for the future. Quite often schools are simply in survival mode and are not planning for sustainability. This has quite a bit to do with teacher salaries, curriculum, etc.
  3. Scrap obsession with flawed assessments. I hear you loud and clear.
  4. Build a community that supports education. More on this later…
  5. Fairly compensate educators. See #2.

While I completely empathize with Josh, I feel as if I need to present another viewpoint in support of staying in education.

1. Recognize the hoops and make choices. Let’s face it, no matter the industry, a worker will most likely face “hoops”. These are seemingly benign tasks meant to satisfy the whim of a person or group that sees a particular need. Are they frustrating? Yes. Are they necessary? That’s debatable. When I left the classroom after 15 years and headed for the school library world, I expressed my concerns to my principal. I felt as if I was never with my class…in my classroom…focused on learning. I looked back in my plan book to count the number of uninterrupted five-day weeks during my last year in the classroom. I’m talking about five days in a row with no standardized testing, no convocations (sorry, Ronald McDonald), no 2 hour delays for professional development, etc. During that particular school year, I counted exactly four uninterrupted five-day weeks. I’m sad just thinking about it eight years later. But I recognized my growing frustration with those “hoops” and chose to leave the classroom for the library.

2. Have a plan for your own future. If you can’t see yourself in education for the long haul, do what Josh did and get out while you are still young and marketable. I made some big changes during my career, but they all involved staying in education. I chose to return to night school and summer school after 5 years in education and  earn a Master’s Degree in elementary education. At the time, I was able to earn a higher salary with a Master’s. Also, my first teaching job was in first grade. I knew I’d go nuts staying in that grade forever. I patiently waited and was able to move to a 4th grade position after seven years. I loved teaching 4th grade. But during my 8th year of teaching 4th graders, I started to lose that spark. I recognized it for what it was and accepted it. I chose to leave the classroom after 15 total years, got a second Master’s Degree (online while continuing to work) and switched to the library position I currently hold. Embrace change. You might surprise yourself.

3. Recognize that there will always be obsessions in education. It seems to be an unsaid rule that there will be obsessions for the latest “tricks of the trade” in education. After 23 years in education, I’ve witnessed that proverbial swinging pendulum. Remember the old portfolio days for educators? I think it was in the early to mid-90s when we had to develop portfolios as educational tools for educators and students. Guess what? Two years ago I had to build a portfolio for my yearly evaluation. Best Practices, block scheduling, open classroom concept, independent study, curriculum mapping, Common Core, etc. The list of obsessions could go on forever. Testing is the current trend. Our days are filled with acronyms…NWEA, ECA, ISTEP, AR…and on and on. I just keep telling myself, “This, too, shall pass.” However, in order to see a trend go by the wayside, a person needs to be willing to stick it out. If that’s not for you, get out now.

4. Build a community that supports education. I feel fortunate in this regard. I am in a conservative community that, for the most part, values education. Do we see more parents at a basketball game than at parent-teacher conferences? Yep. At the high school level, do we have a very active parent athletic booster club but no parent-teacher association? Yep. We certainly have our shortcomings. However, on several occasions, I’ve had parents come up to let me know they are praying for our schools. I am thankful.

5. Fairly compensate educators. This is an age-old issue that will most-likely never be solved. I currently hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s Degree in Elementary education, and a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology specializing in school library media. I will most likely never earn more than $65,000 per year. That is a fact. But you know what? I knew that fact and accepted it when going in to this profession. My wonderful husband has helped me realize that I should never complain (it’s a Biblical thing, too). Look at the perks of my job:

  • bad weather delays and/or cancellations
  • professional development
  • at least 8 weeks off in the summer
  • 2 weeks off at Christmas
  • 1 week off for Spring Break
  • current contract hours are 8:00-3:30

My husband is in the water-quality industry. He has a good job working for a small business owner. He enjoys his job. However, he has to go to work even in a travel emergency. He’s only gone to a few professional development workshops during his 20+ years with the company. And after these 20+ years, he currently gets a little less than 3 weeks off per year for vacation time. I am not going to complain. We have a family insurance plan through the school, and I’ve been able to set money back for retirement. However, if your demographics and spending needs are forcing you to live paycheck to paycheck with a teacher’s salary, get out now. If you want to stay in education but make more money, look at going into administration, technology, or move to an area of the country where the cost of living may be more feasible for you and your family.

Thank you, Josh Waldron, for your article and your opinions. While I was reading it, I was nodding my head in agreement the entire time. But then I realized that, if I was so much in agreement, why was I still in education? I needed to do some self-reflection. After really giving it some thought, I know that I am exactly where I need to be at this particular point in time. And it’s perfectly okay.

 

Currently reading: More Than This by Patrick Ness

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Filed under Librarianship, Rural Library, School Library, Teaching

Where Have I Been???

I have not entered a single thing on this blog since last July. Was I on my middle-age tour of the world? No. Was I sitting in solitary confinement for breaking a law of the Dewey Decimal variety? No. Was I sitting on the beach in Jamaica selling jewelry to fund my retirement. Sadly, no. So, what was I doing?

I was being a dedicated wife, mom, librarian, church member, accompanist, committee member, etc, etc, etc. I have been involved in something known as …wait for it…drumroll, please…LIFE!

Now that I am ready to take a stab at this again, I ponder what would not only benefit me (through this process of contemplative writing), but also what might benefit someone else who may read this blog (sadly, still no followers). But there is hope. I will be speaking at a conference in May, and I am seeing the importance of marketing not only myself but my library as well.

Here I am big wide world. I’m back.

Currently reading: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

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Am I nuts?

It’s the middle of July and suddenly I want school to start. Seriously???

Yep, something must be wrong. Or, is something right? Does that mean I am a truly dedicated civil servant? Do I miss my colleagues and students that much? Or am I so addicted to a routine that I crave a rigid schedule again?

In a way, it’s ‘yes’ to all of the above. I enjoy my job as a public school librarian. I enjoy conversing with adults and pre-adults. I enjoy routines.

Over the past few days my brain has been wrestling with itself. I’ve been thinking about how I will decorate the two showcases outside of the library. Then I think to myself, “Are you nuts? Enjoy the summer. STOP THINKING ABOUT SCHOOL!!!” But a little while later, the showcases pop back into my head. This happens when I’m weeding the garden, cleaning toilets, washing dishes, etc. Maybe these thoughts of school are my inner-child’s way of trying to get out of work at home.

Whatever the case may be, August 12th (Staff Day) quickly approaches. The students will enter our buildings on August 13th with their squeaky new shoes, new school clothes, backpacks filled with new notebooks, pencils, and calculators. I’ve got a couple of carts filled with new books, waiting to see the smiles on their faces.

Yep…I’m looking forward to it.

Currently reading: Clean by Amy Reed

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Quiet Supporter or Freeloader?

Being a member of a national library organization and a state library organization, I should be able to pat myself on the back for “being involved”. But am I really? Yes, my money goes to those that throw themselves into the ring on a continual basis. But what have I done? I fill out the occasional survey, read the magazines and literature when they come through the mail, and I keep an eye on the legislative issues relative to my job. But is that enough?

I have neither the time nor the inclination to enter the realm of organizational politics. So does that make me a freeloader? Am I just resting on the laurels of those doing all the work? Or, am I a supporter, quietly going about the business of all things school librarian? I’d like to think the latter.

Every now and then I feel a nudge to get more involved, but then I get more of a nudge to say ‘I’m doing enough for now’. Let’s hope that’s okay for the Library Grand Pubas out there in the library world.

Currently reading: The Sin-eater’s Confession by Ilsa J. Bick

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And Tango Makes Three…Seriously?!

Should I or should I not delve in the dark world or censorship? I’ve finally decided that my experiences need to be made known. If it helps at least one librarian, my trials and tribulations will not be in vain.

It all started a few years ago in September. The school year had started smoothly until I received an email from a librarian at an elementary school in my district. A school employee had heard about a book on a radio broadcast and wanted to have it removed from the library due to the subject matter. The “offensive” book was And Tango Makes Three.  Th0se of us in the children’s lit. trenches are well-acquainted with the book since it has received much press since it was published.

Back to the story at hand…the principal was approached by the school employee, agreed with said employee and told the librarian to remove it from the collection. Well…as any good librarian would know, this could not be done because school board policy was not followed. Papers need to be filled out and a committee needed to read the book and make a recommendation based on the findings. A book cannot be removed just based on one person’s opinion and the judgement of the principal.

Little did we know that the same problem was coming to light at another elementary school in the district. The disgruntled school employee’s spouse worked in the other building and also asked that the book be removed. However, that spouse went to the librarian first and was getting the necessary paperwork to fill out.

Oh, but wait…it gets better. In the meantime, back at the administration building, the principals were having a regular principal’s meeting (their timing was impecccable). They decided, as elementary principals, that the book would be removed from all elementary libraries in the district. Done deal. Let’s not even tell the K-12 Library Media Coordinator (me!). The superintendant okay’d it, and the job was done. The principals let their librarian’s know that afternoon. All of this took place in approximately 3 days.

To be continued…

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Filed under Censorship, Librarianship, Rural Library, School Library