Thoughts from a teacher-librarian

Archive for May, 2014

Unexpected encouragement

Isn’t it nice when you are slogging along in your work and out of the blue someone sends you a really encouraging message? My most recent experience was a thank you e-mail in response to a screencast tutorial that I had shared with a group of co-workers. One of the recipients took the time to write me a little note about how much she appreciated it and how it would help her in her work.

*Time it probably took her: 2 minutes

*Time I will feel joyful about it: the rest of the day (at least)

It’s a good reminder to me that I should take the time to respond to people who have shared important/useful information with me. A “thank you” in any form is not only good manners, but it may be a huge boost to that person & their energy for the job that they are doing. It says, “You are valued!” While I am not one who needs tons of cheerleading comments, it sure is nice to get one when it is least expected.

I once had a principal who was so good at this type of thing. He was very visible around the building & had great rapport with the kids. It wasn’t unusual to see him pop in and out of the room while you were teaching. Sometimes you would find a little notepaper in your mailbox with a comment like, “I love how expressive your voice is when you read to the kids. Way to model enjoyment of reading! The students were captivated.” He was specific and sincere. I saved every one of those notes & looked at them more than once during the course of the school year. No wonder he is one of my favorite principals of all time; the personal touch really sticks with you! I know I was not the only staff member to receive these missives. He also took the time at staff meetings to give out a rose (or 2 or 3) to someone who had gone above and beyond that week….just to show that he had noticed. He would tell the story and we would all smile and clap as that person received their surprise award. What a special memory.

Do you keep a file with compliments you’ve received? If not, please start one immediately. I refer to it as my “Rainy day folder” and I pull it out when I need a lift. This recent e-mail reminded me that I should start an electronic rainy day folder, too. You never know when you’ll need a little boost! Apparently I did today, but I didn’t realize it until I had received that brief e-mail.

I intend to begin a new habit: giving at least one very sincere compliment to someone each day (in writing if possible). The “in writing” part is important so that people can look back at it and feel the joy all over again. I have some wonderful co-workers and I shouldn’t let them forget that they are valued.



The summer recharge

I am lucky enough to work in a job that gives me some time off in the summer. When my son was little this was invaluable bonding time with him. I guarded my time off carefully and tried not to commit to very many activities for myself. Now that he’s older (and doesn’t care quite so much about spending tons of time with me) his perfect summer day is probably:

  • sleep until he wakes up without the alarm (anywhere from 10am-noon)
  • eat something and watch some TV
  • chat with friends via text or social media
  • play Minecraft
  • go to sports practice
  • take a swim
  • eat a whole lot more
  • watch TV before bedtime

On a good day he might get dressed and go hang out with friends for awhile. He is a bit of an introvert, so I think he craves some alone time each day. I try to give him some space and just let him be. I usually get him to fit a chore or two into his schedule. Sometimes he’ll accompany me on a few errands. Beyond providing him with food and occasional chit-chat, I am not an integral component of his day. This is his way of recharging. So now that my summer is not all about “Mommy time” what is on my agenda for recharging my battery?

Some old co-workers have asked me to play 9 holes of golf once a week. I am really not that good at golf, but I know if I play regularly I can get a little bit better. Plus, the good news is that none of these ladies is a golf pro either. (Sorry, people who have to play behind us!) None of us is totally caught up in the competitive aspect of the game. It’ll be good to be outdoors, in the sunshine, getting some exercise and chatting with some good friends.

I will be attending a national ISTE conference. I am so excited! I have always wanted to attend one of these; I’ve heard it is an amazing experience. I hope to get lots of good ideas to share with other library media specialists in my district. 

There are some days when I change out of PJs and into my swimsuit and coverup, then basically stay in them all day. Eventually I shower and put my PJs and robe back on. These are the days that I will not be leaving my house/yard. I aim for at least one day like this each week. There is something so blissful about puttering around the house, yard and pool area. Of course, I jump in for a swim occasionally. I am usually heard uttering, “This is the life,” several times during the course of days like this.

I will read some adult novels. It seems that during the school year I am immersed in children’s and young adult lit. I really enjoy it, but it will be nice to concentrate on a longer, more challenging text. I will visit the public library for some of these titles. I do love that place, and I don’t get there much during the school year.

I will go for daily walks with my husband. He works from home, and doesn’t always take a break away from his desk. I leave him alone for the most part, but last year we started the daily walk and both enjoyed it. Sometimes we take a dog along, other times not. We talk to each other about all sorts of things, away from the distractions of home.

Just typing about these things has made me feel more relaxed. I am smiling at my computer right now 🙂

Hang in there, school librarians! The countdown is on. I hope that your summer is full of whatever brings you joy.

The Bitter Nut

The library staff members in my district recently held a party to honor the people retiring from library jobs this year. It was intended to be a night of celebration and fun. We met after hours at a public facility to have drinks, socialize and eat dinner together.  Then we sat back for the official program: recognition of the retirees and their years of service. Most retirees had a colleague introduce them, give a little speech about them, and then would take the stand for a few words of their own. There were stories, tears, some laughter….. probably typical of any retirement party. Then came person X. (I thought about calling her “She who shall not be named,” in a nod to Harry Potter.)

Person X went to the podium, pulled out a sheaf of papers, and proceeded to give a long list of all the grievances that she had with employees past and present. Many people in the room made her list, even though she didn’t  say many names, just job titles. It was a rude farewell address; she basically said that she was smarter than anyone else and had been treated badly because of it. Wow…..what an ego. I am a new employee this year and don’t know her well so I was quite taken aback. What a horrible way to exit.

I have to say that even though I barely know X she was in my thoughts as I drove home. I hope that I never lose perspective so completely. I could see from the faces of many people in the room that they were shocked and upset at X. Is that the lasting memory she really wanted? Did she feel victorious when done?

A wise co-worker summed it all up for me this morning. She said that on the way home after the party she also kept thinking of this person with astonishment. She said that over the many years she has known X she has sometimes had issues with her, but always kept a cordial relationship and admired X’s special talents. She said the party was like eating a handful of almonds and really enjoying it and then the last one you pop into your mouth is a bitter one. It takes away all of the pleasure you had in eating the first ones, which were so yummy. She said that X was the bitter nut. How true!

How sad to choose not to have anyone else speak about you fondly. How sad to choose to use your farewell address as a time to “get even.” I think that many people will remember her with distaste now.  Perhaps some will feel sympathetic, but I can’t quite get to that point. It was pathetic.

X, you bitter nut, good luck to you in your future endeavors. I hope that you learn that happiness comes from within, and that you can’t always blame others for your dissatisfaction. You get to choose how you face each day. Thanks for the reminder to choose a positive attitude!