I’ve been meaning to write this post for the entire last year–but as we can tell I haven’t blogged at all in the last year. I was too busy surviving my new roll as a first year librarian! I was beyond thrilled to become librarian at my school last year. I have taught at my school for two years of kinder and two years of second grade. I never grew up thinking of an elementary librarian as an actual career option and I still am shocked to think that 5 years into teaching here I am. While I enjoyed my first year there are some definite draw backs to this position. And since this is MY therapy and I’m already back at this gig in a week I’m going to lay them all out! (I start school in July–on a semi year around track that I absolutely love.)
- It’s lonely– I’m social butterfly. I’m also a loner. Being a classroom teacher gives you the best of both worlds. You have a team all teaching the same exact thing. You can plan with them, collaborate together, pick and choose what you want to work on together. Then you can go back to your own classroom and do it yourself. You can shut your door when you need to- as easily as open it when you choose. Being in the library is literally its own ship–in its own harbor. My “team” is the PE teacher and the Music teacher. Needless to say, we don’t collaborate on much of anything. But they were very helpful in offering me advice my first year. I still felt very isolated. It’s just not the same as a grade level team.
- I miss my children! Not my own actual kids that I gave birth too (LOL) but the 25 same faces that I see every weekday for an entire school year. A classroom teacher develops a relationship with their students that no specials teacher can ever touch. I spent the entire year trying to master 600 + names. The music teacher has assured me that I will get over this — in 5 years! HA! She said we get the opportunity to watch the children grow and build lasting relationships over the years. I do believe her but this was honestly one of the biggest struggles for me my first year. I would go back into a classroom any day because this is what I really miss the most.
- Some of the work is very boring! There is literally nothing exciting about being in charge of textbook distribution. Or re-shelving books. And I can’t even complain about that part because I do have a part time clerk who does all of the shelving for me. But regardless there’s for sure a lot more busy clerical work than just reading and teaching.
- Your classroom is the hub of the entire school! This is both a positive and a negative. When I was a classroom teacher I was often barging into other teacher’s rooms to gossip, annoy, and socialize at the end of a long day. But now they all come to me. Everyone comes to me. Both adults and children. My “classroom” and “office” are literally open 24/7. Before and after school meetings and club are all held in the library. Having a quiet, peaceful area of isolation for that loner side of me is literally impossible. (Come to think of it this is literally my payback for bothering everyone else the last five years! I guess I should apologize to Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Wagner for the endless after school convos I subjected them too!)
- Time constraints are really hard. I want to dive deep into project based learning. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, yet the curriculum and standardized testing culture of the classroom always prevented this. I figured library would be a wonderful place to really fall in love with teaching again. Until I quickly realized 30 minutes is not enough time to do anything. Mainly because checking out books and finding books takes up a good portion of this time. I’m glad that my principal has given the green light for me to up library time this year to an hour. (Now I’m crossing my fingers that it won’t be too long!) As a classroom teacher you are able to stop doing something and change it the minute you decide it doesn’t work for you. You don’t have this freedom as a specialist teacher. An entire school is based around your schedule and you can’t just make changes mid-year. That was a hard pill for me to swallow! A lot of things I wanted to teach last year I simply didn’t have time to get to.
- Discipline is an entire new ballgame. I believe that when you form a solid relationship with a child they listen to you better. Or maybe you just know what tricks will work with them. But forming a relationship is a lot harder when you only see a student once every 6 days. SO figuring out discipline in the library feels like being a first year teacher all over again!
All of these negatives found me thinking one day of the end of last year, if I really should just go back into the classroom. I was thinking about what grade would I want to go back to? Kinder or second? I was thinking about this while I was rearranging furniture for the 100th time to accommodate our third book fair. And one of the teachers new to our school last year popped in and asked me, “Did you always know you wanted to be an elementary librarian when you grew up? Because you’re so good at it. Like you’ve been doing this forever.” That compliment made me decide maybe the library is where I need to stay. There are positives to being a specials teacher in the library as well:
- I don’t take grades. Not grading papers has really given me some extra free time at home with my family. I didn’t really take grades when I taught Kinder either and I actually think being a librarian is a lot like teaching kinder! I run around so busy all day long but once the day is over I’m done and can focus on family. When I moved up to teaching second grade I didn’t run around like crazy all day long, but I had a lot more grading, prepping, and planning outside of my school day. It was hard with three small children at home.
- I get to read all of the books I want without even checking them out. I literally have an entire library at my disposal and I don’t even have due dates. The new Harry Potter book? You can guess who got to read it first!
- Crazy students. Yeah I only have to see them once every six days. So there’s not many that I dislike because they come and go so quickly!
- More teaching freedom. I’m a specials teacher. I feel like for the first time in my teaching career, I’m able to sit down and look at the standards and not only write lessons but teach them how I want to! Our library curriculum is so broad that I feel like I have a lot of options and not many people really care how or what I do in the library. They just all seem happy I’m reading books with the kids!
- I get to be the heart of the school. It can be tiring being in the thick of it all 24/7 but it is also a lot of fun and very rewarding. Especially when you over hear your principal give a school tour and say, “This is our library, its like the heart and hub of our school.” 🙂 Onto year two!