From Where I’m Sitting

I am sitting in a chair at the desk that will be my home base for the foreseeable future. The chair is not particularly comfortable but is a vast improvement over the ergonomic nightmare I had behind my last desk. On my to-do list is to consider bringing over one of the extra office chairs from my house; it’s just taking up room there, and I think I’d actually have room for it in this office, whereas it would have been too much in my classroom.

From this seat, I can see pretty much the entire library. The only blind spot is the tutoring table and part of the computer lab. I can also see out the impressive wall of windows facing onto McMillan; it’s trying to blow up a windstorm, but the sun is shining through the weather, making everything kind of soft and yellow-filtered. The sprinklers are on, and the wind is shattering the sprinkler bursts into ineffectual splatter patterns. There are green trees out there, blowing in the wind. There’s also a Taco Del Mar, a Jamba Juice, and two — two — Starbucks across the street. One of the saddest things about my last school was that there was no coffee anywhere nearby.

Behind me, on the floor, H is lying on a quilt making hooting little baby sounds that might or might not be in response to the Saxophobia CD playing softly in the background. In the last 24 hours he’s discovered that his feet are something that he can grab onto, although he doesn’t seem to be very good at catching them yet. At this point he still prefers his favorite toy: a lightweight burp cloth (basically a dish rag) or, lacking that, any handy piece of fabric that he can grab onto and cuddle up under his chin. I’ve been trying to give him some tummy time, but it’s become impossible; once I put him on his belly, he stays there for at most thirty seconds before rolling back over onto his back. He seems delighted at this new-found control over his life situation. Behold! I need not submit to the indignity of lying on my stomach if I choose not to!

If you’re in the mood for some metablogging, here’s a photograph of my desktop, in which you can clearly see this blog entry being written:

desktop

And here’s a picture of what’s behind me:

shelves

I probably need to go through the magazines, catalogs, and toppled-over binders on the right side of those shelves and figure out if I want/need all of it, and straighten it up a bit.

I’m going to have to figure out the whole pumping/storing situation. Those lovely office windows that let me see the entire library mean that the entire library can see me. Behind those shelves is another little area that I think I’ll be able to use as a private corner, but it’s going to involve signage and what seems to me to be an awkward conversation with my assistants. And these book carts are going to need to find another place to be corralled….

This is going to be a sea change but I’m looking forward to it. Yesterday, when I saw someone else’s name on my door at the high school, and when I took my keys off the lanyard and turned them in, I was feeling a little melancholy about the whole thing. But if there’s one thing I’m good at/bad about, it’s introspection; I know that it’s just hard to feel how much I’ll love this job because I haven’t actually started doing it. That’s why, even though I probably should have been doing laundry today, I came in to the library instead. It helps to be here, getting my desk together, daydreaming about displays and projects and promotions and even the day-to-day grind of it all.

These are good things. Now, as I wrap up this post, I’m holding H in my lap. Makes typing a little tougher, but then again, I have years of practice with pushy cats. (That said, I’ve never had a cat repeatedly kick the space bar or suck on my arm while I’m typing.) I can lean over and kiss the top of his head between sentences. On the far side of the library is a picture book section for special education students and other needs; H thinks it’s his section, though.

And now I’m all drooled on…. so I think I’m going to wrap things up for now. More to come. 🙂

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Transitioning

We’re (at least) halfway through the summer, so it’s time for me to get off my sit-upon and make the transition from being a teacher at one school to being a librarian at another. That means a lot of boxing things up and sorting things out (one of those jobs that seems easy enough until you walk in the room and discover how Sisyphean it truly is) in a room that is devoid of air conditioning. Bittersweet sort of thing.

It also means meeting with the erstwhile librarian to learn the ropes (or as much as I can learn without actually doing). I’m excited and a little overwhelmed — there is a lot to learn, and a lot I want to do that may constitute biting off more than I can chew. I have to ease into this whole thing and prioritize what I learn to do!

It’s a beautiful space. I’ve been in a couple of times with R and have been trying to settle into the idea that these are my new digs:

I need to get back up to speed on middle-level literature after several years in a high school. Fortunately, I have a great big room full of books written for middle school kids at my fingertips.

WatchedI started off by reading Wonder, a very good book recommended to me by the principal, a counselor, and the outgoing librarian. Really a beautiful book; I’m going to try to get R to read it, if he’ll find some time away from his computer-reading. I’d like to write about it here if I find the time and energy.

CrossedNow I’m reading Crossed (book 2 in the Matched trilogy, which I started with my book club). It’s suffering a bit from SITS (Second Installment in the Trilogy Syndrome) but I still want to finish the trilogy. I’ve got the third book on standby but may read something else in between, depending on how Crossed ends.

After that, I’m either going to read Palace of Stone (the sequel to Princess Academy, which I read on audio book a couple of years ago) or The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. And then I probably need to pick a good old-fashioned Book for Boys Who Don’t Necessarily Always Love Reading. Any recommendations from my teacher/reader/librarian pals?

I took a look at the fiction stacks and found that there are about 160 shelves (actually around 165, but some are very short and are made up entirely of very specialized series). I think I’d like to challenge myself to read one book from each of the shelves in the next year, which seems like an enormous undertaking except that middle-level books are pretty fast reads for me. If I really put my mind to it I could clear one a day, but I’m not going to hold myself to that since I know I’m going to have all kinds of responsibilities, duties, etc. with this job on top of being a mama.

Of course, I might occasionally want to read a grown-up book, too… I’ve got Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: The World as Stage on hand, and in the process of weeding my home library I came across several books that I’d purchased ages ago and never got around to reading. Plus, as soon as I can get an affordable copy, I’ve got to read The Ocean at the End of the Lane. (Plus there’s book club — and I’m giving a little bit of thought to joining a second book club — so I have at least one outside book a month to read.) So I’m not going to formally throw down the “160 middle-level books before June” gauntlet or anything… but I’m going to sort of generally aim myself in that direction and see what happens. At the very least, arbitrarily pointing myself at different shelves will expose me to books I might not necessarily choose otherwise.

Ch-ch-ch-changes, or, How I Unexpectedly Became More Like Noah Wyle

Noah Wyle is The Librarian

As I approached the beginning of my maternity leave at Columbia, I negotiated with my administrators to take a 2/3-time contract the following year. This would allow me to come to work every other day (we’re on block schedule) teaching four classes instead of six; I could then stay home every other day with my baby, saving on child care costs (but more importantly, being with my baby).

(Because, you see, as it turns out, I wish I could just stay home with him entirely… I’m a wee bit addicted…)

Everything was all good to go. Then, the creeping blackness that is my district’s financial situation reared its ugly head, and the new new superintendent (three in one year! ah ah ah) put the kibosh on all 2/3-time contracts. This left me between a rock and a hard place: take a half-time contract, which would constitute a significant cut to my pay (because, on top of fewer salary hours, my benefits wouldn’t be subsidized as much), or take a full-time contract and make alternate arrangements for child care. I couldn’t really afford the former, and the latter — especially when I faced the specter of teaching five different high school classes, all but two of which would be entirely new content (and new lesson planning) — made me despair.

Then, in a beautiful Hollywood sort of plot twist, another window opened. Ryan’s school — LSMS, the first school I’d taught at full time — was going to need a librarian the following year, and they’d thought of me. It was a long shot; I lacked the necessary endorsement, so I’d have to weather in-district transfers, then officially-qualified applicants, and — if they still hadn’t found someone better — get approved by the district and apply for alternate authorization. I was hopeful, but didn’t dare set my heart on it.

To shorten a longer story: a couple of weeks later, LSMS called and asked me to interview. It was a good interview, and a couple of days later, I was offered the job.

So it turns out that I’m going to be a librarian.

awesome!

This is pretty awesome in a lot of different ways. On the practical end of things, I will enjoy a pay raise and employment in a more stable district, not to mention one where the newly elected school board is pro-teacher and the community is pro-education. I won’t be lesson planning or grading essays, which means that instead of staying at work until 5 and then coming home and being consumed with my job instead of my home life, I can be done at the end of the day and go home to be a mom and wife. Additionally, I’ll be carpooling with my husband now, which means that we’ll save a ton of money on fuel/wear and tear, and that we can put off buying a second baby-friendly car for a while.

On the less practical side, I get to BE A LIBRARIAN. Now, I know there is a lot more to librarianship than the romanticized notion any bookworm nurtures, but at the end of the day, I’m going to be paid to play with books. I’ll get to pursue my passion of connecting kids with something that will capture their imagination and open up their worlds. I’ll get to build bridges between students and information that, hopefully, will support them through the rest of their education lives.

I’ll also be in charge of the school yearbook (awesome) which comes with a stipend (double awesome). I’ll have a staff of two wonderful women who will help me figure out what the heck I’m doing. I’ll have to (get to) take some classes over the course of the next couple of years. Another lovely thing is that I already know a great many of the teachers and staff at LSMS, so while I’ll still be transitioning to a new job, I won’t be completely at square one socially.

It isn’t all awesome, of course. It is really extremely hard for me to walk away from Columbia. I have been happier there than in any other job I’ve ever held; I will miss my friends there terribly. I mean, I know that I’m not moving to another state or anything, but it’s different when you don’t see each other on a daily basis. Friendships don’t stay the same. I will also miss my students; they’re only in my life for a short time, four years at the most, but I do love my high school kids and will miss working with them. I especially regret leaving behind my ITE students; it’s been a rare gift to work with that crew of nerdy, brilliant kids. And it kind of sucks to have gone to all that work to develop courses like my Science Fiction class, only to walk away and leave it in the hands of someone who doesn’t really enjoy the genre. (The teacher they hired to replace me is — word of the day — awesome and I couldn’t be happier that they brought him in. It’s just hard to hand off your baby to someone else.) And there’s a small part of me that worries that I am in some way turning my back on something I’m “supposed” to do — that I’m giving up on the (hopefully good) work I was doing with teenagers.

At the end of the day, though, this was the right thing to do and I’m so happy (and slightly amazed) that it came to pass. It makes my future less clear; twenty years from now, will I be a librarian? an English teacher? a _____? But right now, I’m pretty darn okay with that ambiguity because the most important thing I’ll be is a mom, and this career shift is the best thing for me in that role.

Of course, now I have to pack up my classroom — no small task — and store my things, begin to learn how to be a librarian, and try to get the contents of my brain handed over to my replacement at CHS… yikes! I’ve been Pinning ideas and resources, and probably need to make a dedicated Pinterest account that I can organize better for library resources. I also need to start thinking about updating/rebuilding the library’s website with a dedicated URL and a platform that works on mobile devices.

I also need to get a big ole print of this photo made for my office (yep, I have an office):

Henry with Shakespeare

(He’s about two weeks old in this picture… amazing how much more he is at two months!)