About a month or so ago, I was having a conversation with my principal and another teacher, I don’t even remember about what, but the conversation came around to end of school closing and when I’d be closing down the library for inventory. I joking said I’d been given permission to not do inventory this year. My principal looked taken aback and asked who had given me that permission. I then told him about this article I had read by Dr. Joyce Valenza about resolving to only perform activities that impact my own and/or student learning this year. I sent him the link to the article and highlighted the following passage:
This is the year to learn and share new skills. Retool. Update your practice. Improve your web presence. Expand your online instructional voice. Shake things up. Lobby for 2.0 tools as an intellectual freedom issue. Speak, write, blog, tweet, publish, invent, create. Publish your students’ work. Move yourself higher up on the revised Bloom’s taxomy. (In fact, investigate Andrew Churches’ Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.)
But don’t work harder, work smarter.
Stop doing some of the things that no one else cares about. Things that make no impact.
For instance, resolve not to:
1. Inventory. Yes, we do need to assess what is there and what is not, but do we need to do the whole collection or even part of it each and every year? Skip 2010. You have my permission.
In the past, I have closed the library during the last two weeks of school. The next to last week is senior exams (administered in the library) and the last week is underclassman exams. I use the time to complete inventory, prepare hold slips, and generally close down the library for the year. This year, instead of closing early, I’m considering remaining open right up until the last day of exams. I have even been toying with the idea of allowing students to checkout books for over the summer. I do it for teachers, why not for students? Should the book remain sitting unread on the shelves or be out in students hands? They need things to read in the summer, too!
I also figure if my Type A personality can’t handle not having done an inventory, I can work on it over the summer. I already come in once a week or so to take care of the mail (ie: get the Entertainment Weekly!) and can work on a section or two each week – in shorts and a t-shirt!
But this post isn’t really about inventory, it is in reaction to my reading A Nation without School Librarians: Shonda’s crisis map and thinking about all of the librarians out there being let go, of all the school libraries closing, and about the students who are, once again, the ones who will suffer.
I’ve been thinking and asking myself what can I do to make sure I and my library program aren’t on the chopping block (worst case scenario) due to all of the budget cuts being made by our district. Will my principal fight for me – if he’s given the opportunity? Have I given him reason enough to fight for me/my program – have I had an impact on student achievement and learning? If so, how? In this Internet age, why am I still relevant? Do people just think of me as the keeper of the books? Also, how are the other media specialist in my district perceived? Will their actions/inaction reflect back on me positively or negatively?
And then I circle back to Joyce Valenza’s words again: “Let’s focus on those things that make an impact on learners and learning.” I need to document and advocate for how I and my program are essential to my students and school. I need to answer those tough questions.
Photo Credit: FlickrCC “Question Mark” by Marco Bellucci