June 20 – 1: “We consistently every single year avoid the apocalypse”

I’m stretching a little bit today to come up with three good things to post about. Not that I had a particularly bad day or anything – I’ve just had a very blah day. I went in to school today, largely to take part in a meeting of our school improvement team. A school improvement team is supposed to work on addressing some of the challenges facing a particular school by coming up with a school improvement plan. And ours is just very dysfunctional. It has a rotating cast of members, which means that half of every meeting is spent trying to catch people up to speed. Its meetings are always too short (today, we were given an hour – when what we were doing realistically needed a full day – but that’s all that the county was willing and able to pay for), and I feel like they’re never very productive. Mostly, we seem to end up rehashing the same know issues and what we’re already trying to do to address them, not coming up with many new ideas or improvements on what we’re already doing.

So I’m glad I’ve been saving this video as something to post about, because I needed to rewatch it today. It talks about how easy it is to get caught up in the negative, because disasters are often immediate and pressing, and not notice all of the positive things that are slowly but surely happening. And while the video is about macro-level problems, it also applies to the micro-problems at my school. Because, really, having this meeting today was an improvement over last year, when no such meeting took place and our school improvement plan was developed by persons unknown with little to no input from the staff. And there is progress being made on some of the identified issues at my school, for sure. It’s just less noticeable than the large problems that still face us.

 

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June 19 – 2: Free time during normal business hours

One of the things I love about the summer is how easy it is to get little chores done that have to happen during normal business hours. Today, I called and made appointments to take the dog to the vet, get my teeth cleaned, and get the oil changed in the car. All of which are hard to do outside of school hours. Normally, these kinds of tasks are easier for teachers, but because my school is about 40 minutes drive from my house, and my service providers are all near my house, it’s hard to get to them before they close.

I even have a hard time calling to make appointments during school.During the school day I’m constantly busy teaching, planning, and helping students. Then, once students leave, I’m wrapped up in trying to get things doen that I didn’t have time for during the day – writing e-mails, planning for the next day, making copies. Calling to make an appointment usually slips my mind until I’m on my way out the door, and then I’m usually rushing to try to beat the worst of the traffic. So it’s really great to have so much unstructured time during the summer to get these kinds of things done.

June 18 – 1: Working with students

Yesterday was most teachers’ last day of the school year, and the students wrapped up their year on Friday. So when I went in to work today, the building was almost empty. I spent my day being incredibly productive – I got tons of work done on my book purchases for next year, and also got some more cleaning and packing done. But it was a very lonely day.

It reminded me of one of the reasons I chose to be a school librarian: the variety that comes from spending your day working with people. I used to work at an office job, where I spent almost all of my time sitting at my computer, working on projects. And even though I shared an office, it was a very solitary job. I didn’t like it much. I got bored, and couldn’t focus very well, and ended up wasting a lot of my work day reading things on the Internet.

When I’m working with students, my days can be frustrating. They can be infuriating, or depressing, or any number of less-than-positive adjectives. But they’re never boring. Which is one of the things I really love about my job.

June 17 – 3: Light at the end of the tunnel

I am very nearly done with my school year. My students’ last day was Friday. Most teachers were done today. But as a librarian, I have more end-of-the-year stuff to organize, so I’ll be going in to work for two more days, plus joining a school improvement meeting on Thursday which is supposed to take an hour, but which I’m guessing will last longer. While I’m not quite done yet, I’m starting to feel like I might actually manage to get most of the things I’d like to do wrapped up before I’m off for the summer. Which is exciting, since before my super-productive day today I was feeling like there was no way that would be happening this year.

June 14 – 1: Students who are nerds

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been working on reading through and collecting data from my students’ end of the year surveys. (With 900+ students in our school and almost every student giving me a survey, it’s been a long process).

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about the survey is that I allowed the students to be anonymous if they chose, but I also had a space on there for them to put their names if they were comfortable. It’s nice when they put their names, because it helps me connect the data to a face and get to know my students just a little bit better. Other students just leave the name field blank, which is fine – I’d rather have them be honest with me than know who is filling out the survey. But most entertaining is when they fill in the name field with something other than their own name. I’ve gotten quite a few creative spellings of “anonymous” – I think “anatomyst” might be my favorite. (To be fair, it isn’t quite a 6th-grade-level spelling word). I also had a couple of students swap their names and fill it out for each other (which I only know because I noticed as they handed them in to me). My favorite so far, though, was a 6th grade student who filled it in as LeeRoy Jenkins. I’m glad to know that Internet videos from my college years are still being enjoyed by nerds who weren’t even in kindergarten when they were first posted.

June 13 – 1: Playing (school-sanctioned) hookie

So there’s a weather alert in my area for this afternoon and this evening that has had people all atwitter at school today. And apparently it’s severe enough that my school district has cancelled all activities for today, and also sent staff home early. (Students had a scheduled half-day of school, so we were told to leave once the students had left).

Leaving aside my thoughts about the ridiculousness of this “there might be a bad thunderstorm so we’d better play it safe” mentality, I am grateful to be getting a little extra free time this afternoon. No matter how much work may be looming over my head for the coming days.

June 12 – 1, 2 & 3: Caring

So today I’ve been struggling a little bit to come up with my three good things to post, because I’ve been preoccupied with finding out that one of my students is in a really tough situation, and wishing that there was a way for me to do more to help him. But part of the point of this blog is trying to focus on the positive, so here are three good things that I have been able to come up with:

1. Despite having some really heartbreaking things going on in his life, this student has been unfailingly pleasant and responsible every time I talk to him. He seems really mature for an 8th grader, and hopefully that will help him get through things and be successful despite the challenges that he faces.

2. We have a really fantastic guidance counselor at my school. When I called him today with a question about this student, he was totally on top of things and able to fill me in on a lot of details and provide advice about the situation. In fact, every time I have a concern about students who are lucky enough to be assigned to this particular counselor, he’s already had conversations with the student and the family and is doing his best to help.

3. Having my own support system of friends and family who I can call on any time to help me sort through things that I’m facing – whether it be something that is going on in my personal life, or, as in this case, challenges that I face in my professional life.