Thoughts from a teacher-librarian

Archive for April, 2014


Cancer schmancer

Tough times never last, but tough people do.  – Robert H Schuller

Today’s post is in honor of my little sister. She found out recently that she has breast cancer. It is in the early stages, so optimism is there, but so is fear. It is hard to know the right thing to say to her, so I pour my thoughts out here on this blog. Maybe I’ll show it to her, maybe not. Is a blog a cheap form of therapy? Perhaps.

My sister is 40. She had her first (and probably only) child 18 months ago. She had her first mammogram this year. That led to a second mammogram, and then a biopsy. Today she is having an MRI to check to see if there are any other areas of concern in her body. Her husband is there by her side; he’s a good man. I am at work, but my heart and mind is with her. I am praying for her to feel calm and peaceful during this MRI. I am claustrophobic, so the thought of being in an MRI chamber for an extended period of time is truly  frightening. I know she is braver than I am.

At some point today she will find out if there are any other areas that need to be checked. Then on Wednesday she meets with her team of caregivers who will lay out a plan for her treatment. The minimum at this point: a lumpectomy and at least 7 weeks of radiation. It seems odd to be rooting for a lumpectomy and radiation, but the truth is that is the best case scenario at this point.

People say you should count your blessings, and I do. The doctors found it early….thank God for mammograms. (Public service announcement: Schedule one for yourself if you’re a woman who hasn’t done so in a while. Don’t listen to the doctors who tell you it’s OK to wait 2 years in between. Do it EVERY year.) My sister has a loving family. Our parents live close by and are semi-retired, so they can be a big help whenever she needs them to be. She has good insurance. She is feisty, so I know she will fight like crazy to regain her health.

Yet I know she must be afraid. So I will do my best to control my emotions (my sister hates it when people get maudlin). I will tell her I love her, just like I always do, and tell her I’m here if she needs me. I will make boob jokes with her, listen to her swear and complain without judging, and make her favorite foods for her whenever I get the chance. It’s the little things that really matter sometimes.


Wow me with your sparkling personality

It’s that time of year again……interview season. After all of the retirees have given their notice, and some of the internal shuffling has slowed, school districts look at external applicants. This year I am staying put in my current position, and have been invited to be on the other side of the interview desk. I am helping look for the newest members of our library team. I am so excited (there is no sarcasm intended) because I like to think that I can spot a gem. Here are some words of advice from me to you, the potential new hire.

You obviously know how to draft a resume or you wouldn’t have made it through the initial screening. Your letters of recommendation are attached (glowing, of course). I have read all of these, and I have already cyber-snooped to find out about your online presence. I have a small impression of you. Now we are meeting face to face (or Skype account to Skype account). The interview team already knows the basics about you, so now is your time to show us your personality.

  1. Be friendly. Everyone likes a friendly co-worker. Look us in the eyes, shake our hands, smile. First impressions do matter. I care less about what you’re wearing than I care about your personality. I hope you like people……because your students are people, and they deserve a friendly teacher-librarian.
  2. Be honest. If you really prefer working with a certain level (i.e. middle school) it’s OK to say that. If you’re still working on your licensure, that’s not necessarily a deal breaker, just talk it through with us. Prefer to work at a certain school site or area of town? Let us know that (and why).
  3. Ask good questions that show that you have looked at information about our district. We feel a little bit flattered that you have taken the time to read about us or check out our web resources. That’s good preparation, and every teacher-librarian know how important good preparation is!
  4. Talk about (or show) samples of work that you have done with students. It doesn’t have to be high-tech, just creative & interesting. Think outside the box bit. We like fresh, new ideas; it keeps us motivated to learn more about you and how you can help us keep growing and learning as professionals.
  5. Show enthusiasm for something! Let us know about something (a hobby, one part of your job, a sport) that gets you pumped up. Positive energy makes us see your potential.
  6. Follow up with an e-mail or note that says something like, “It was so nice to meet you. I would love to work for your district because I am excited about……(refer to points 1 & 5 if needed).  I think that I could help you by…….”  Sell yourself, baby! This may be your last chance to tell us something about you that you forgot to say in the interview and will convince us to seal the deal.

Good luck with the interview process. I hope that our paths cross at some point and that you can wow me with your fabulousness! A district can never have too many fabulous teacher-librarians.


A positive attitude

Oh, yes, it’s that time of year. Everyone is hearing about reductions and reassignments for the 2014-15 school year. Add in the horrible winter that just won’t quit here in the Midwest and people are quite cranky. How do we keep a positive attitude and keep doing our best work? I wish I had the magical answer. Here are some things that work for me:

1. Be a little bit silly. I know a giggle (or a belly laugh) can do wonders for me. By this time of the year I certainly know who I can go to when I need to be silly and have some laugh therapy. Find ways to spend more time with the gigglers in your life. 

2. Focus on one thing at a time and do it well, then move on to the next thing. It’s almost like wearing blinders. In my case, whenever possible, I throw on my headphones and crank some tunes while I work on my computer! This keeps external distractions in cubicle world to a minimum. I dig into something and keep plugging away at it.

3. Get inspired by someone else. I follow a lot of great people on Twitter. Some of them post negative things (we all need to vent) but the vast majority share exciting news, engaging class projects, motivating articles, etc. I love to spend a few minutes reading posts from fellow educators who are working their butts off and finding joy in that.

4. Learn something new. This naturally follows item #3, because when another teacher/librarian leads me to a great resource/tool, I just naturally want to explore it. I have so many test accounts in things that I had to start a list. Yes, it can be overwhelming at times, but when you find a real gem that you know will help students or teachers, that is so exciting!

5. Share your positive energy with someone else. E-mail, Facebook, Google+, Twitter…..whatever your tool of choice is, spread the word. Say something nice to someone, or share something that you know they will love. It may or may not be work related; just spread a little joy.

6. Get a really good night’s sleep. Yes, my mother was right, this really does make everything seem a little less bleak.

One of my favorite tips from the book The Happiness Project is to act the way you want to feel. When you act happy and do things like smile at others, greet them cheerfully, give them a compliment, etc. it really does start to make you feel happy. 

A little vitamin D supplement or a glass of wine after work doesn’t hurt either 😉

Peace & love, people. May your day be full of happy moments.