Happy summer, everyone!
I hope that this post finds you spending some of your summer off doing good work like our colleagues Christina and Tasha, traipsing about in the glens and gorges of Ithaca or sighting eagles in Washington. I too, spent three weeks treating my serious case of “tropical island rock fever induced wanderlust” with three weeks on the East Coast by visiting friends and family in New York, Rhode Island, Boston, and Maine that we haven’t been able to see in two years. On the way home from the East Coast, we stopped off and spent a week catching up with friends and former library colleagues in Los Angeles where we lived for 14 years. I know that there are many of you out there excitedly working on initiatives and projects that you want to implement next year, but very honestly, I just haven’t had it in me to think about my library at all for the last four weeks.
Things I have been thinking about instead of my library…
I’ve been back home here in Honolulu for almost a week now and yesterday I finally mustered the energy to go in and check on the library and pay some bills. It’s really interesting. I initially struggled with burnout pretty significantly during the spring of 2020 when we were in the initial COVID-19 lockdown and we were working completely from home. In October of 2020 we began a lengthy reopening process that saw us bring our PK, 1st, and 2nd graders on campus, then slowly bringing a grade at a time back to school. During this transitional time, middle school and high school faculty were allowed to teach remotely from home or to come to campus and teach remotely from their classrooms or offices. I choose to go to campus and work and teach from my empty library. This experience brought me to the realization that I am a person who is significantly influenced by my physical surroundings. When I was working completely from home my brain thought about the library 24-hours a day. My brain would not stop thinking about work–to the point that it was affecting my sleep. When I was able to return to my library space, the physical separation of my work space and my home space seemed to cue my brain to think about different things in each space. “Oh… We’re here in the library. It’s time to think about that news literacy module that we’re writing” vs. “Oh… I seem to be home now and there’s my bed so I guess I can stop thinking about work stuff and just worry about which of these characters might be Lady Whistledown…”
The experience of the last year and a half has made me realize that I need to pay much closer attention if I want to work with intention so that’s what I’m going to try to do starting right now in the space below. Please know that this is a first draft document…
Things I want to do with intention…
- Reset our Library Culture–I think we had a pretty good pre-pandemic library culture going in our physical library space. We typically were bulging at the seams with kids in the space before and after school, and we had a good number of kids in our space every period of every day. That being said, sometimes I think that we tipped further toward “student lounge” than I sometimes desired. While I was perfectly fine with the balance of work to socializing ratio we had going most of the time, I’d like to work to reset the culture in the space so that we’re pretty loose before and after school, but work on being a little tighter on the “this is a space for relatively quiet work, reflection, and contemplation” during the middle of the day. The fact that our space as been virtually closed to drop in access by students for a year and half is actually a pretty rare opportunity to reset our school communities’ perceptions and expectations for the library as a place. I don’t want to squander that!
- Build on “The Library is an Instructional Department” Mindset–Let’s be real, the pandemic has been hard and painful, but a silver lining in this experience has been that many more of our faculty colleagues have begun to see that the “Mid-Pacific Library” is ACTUALLY just as much an instructional program as it is a physical space. This is a mindset shift that I’ve worked to instill since I got to Mid-Pacific 7 years ago, but having an opportunity to able to work with teachers and their classes both synchronously and asynchronously WITHOUT A PHYSICAL LIBRARY SPACE seems to finally have helped a significant number of faculty let go of their pre-pandemic notions of what the “library” is; what the “library” has to offer; and what librarians know and can do! I’m hoping that we can continue to foster the new collaborations that emerged over the last year and a half and that these new “willing partners” will bring some of their friends along for the ride as well!
- Lead the Way on “Non-Discipline Specific Concepts and Competencies”–Over the last year and a half, teachers’ reality ALL OVER THE WORLD, has been that they just have not been able to teach all the content, skills, and competencies that they thought they were teaching in a pre-pandemic world. Going virtual, virtually overnight and then having to teach cohorts of kids that were socially distanced with some learning from home, etc. really forced teachers to ask themselves WHAT REALLY MATTERS in what I’m teaching. I’ve started asking our academic curriculum chairs’ group and other teachers we’ve collaborated with, “So, when your students are 35 and perhaps working in a field that might not be directly related to your subject what concepts, competencies/skills do you want them to remember from this course/project?” What I’m finding is that the resulting discussions have frequently produced opportunities for us to collaborate on instruction in the information literacy, media literacy, and news literacy spaces that seemingly weren’t as available to us in the past. I’m hoping to keep this question on the front burner with our academic curriculum chairs’ group in the coming year.
I’m sure there’s a lot more, but that’s what I’ve got for now. I’d love to hear what you hope to do with intention in the upcoming year. Please his reply and share what you’re thinking in the comments below!
Have a safe, restorative, AND WONDERFUL rest of the summer, all!
PS–Something I suppose I’m not super intentional about is that someday I’d like to have six pack abs, but… Alas… Carbs are SO DELICIOUS!!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣