Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Day in the Life: January 26, 2010

I've always wanted to participate in this project, but thought it would be impossible. I usually teach more than I did on this day, which made it a little more practical, but it was a fun exercise nonetheless.

(For the record, I'm the only librarian in a 1200-student 9-12 high school in north Alabama. I do have a full-time pararprofessional aide and student help throughout the day.)

5:00 Wake up, stew about day ahead, make some resolutions.

5:40 Leave the bed and get hurridly dressed in my typical "school clothes" -- cords and cheap Chinese cashmere sweater, hand-made driving moccasins I bought in Argentina, stripy knee socks.

Breakfast is a slice of toasted cranberry walnut bread & half a pot of Early Grey tea from Tao of Tea  in Portland my bestie sent me for my birthday. Don't know what I would do without my electric kettle.

6:20 Leave the house, which is expedited because of not having to scrape the windshield this morning. 42 degrees.

6:39 All the traffic heads into town as I head past the suburbs into my rural school. I pull into work & sign in in the teacher workroom.

6:41 Open the library, turn on the copiers, printers, laminators and wax machines. Log onto network, check my 4 email accounts (which I do really need to consolidate), Twitter, Google calender, & Google reader, which will all be up in browser tabs throughout day. Complain about incipient carpal tunnel on twitter.

7:10 1st student shows up to talk about video project for the state competition.

7:25 A faculty member pops in to return The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy and The Liar's Club by Mary Karr, two books from my office that I loaned her over the holidays after she expressed an interest in memoirs.

7:30 The library officially opens. 7:30-7:50 is our busiest time of the day. My para typically gets in between 7:30 & 7:40 -- she's not a morning person. We're juggling checkout with printing from students USB drives & letting them use our circulation computers to pull up their email to retrieve their homework since that's blocked under their logins. We have to write down every 5 cents (per day fine for overdues) and 10 cents (per printout or photocopy) that we take from students, which is hugely time-consuming.

Really quick reader's advisory: I have a conversation about The Confederacy of Dunces and suggest a couple other "New Orleans books" to one student and the Gemma Doyle books with another.

Students are bringing books in for checking in and out, and using the student computers to finish powerpoints and essays and also reading manga and looking at autotrader.com. One student is obviously accessing facebook, which the filter should be blocked for student logins. I have to break up some mild PDA.

I get into conversation about tea with senior boy. He has concocted his own peppermint/green tea blend. He urges me to try it, I agree to sniff it.

I get into conversation with Asperger's-spectrum kid about out foreign exchange teachers and speaking other languages. He says he has heard that these teachers often shift into other languages when leading class. I turn what I fear is a slightly xenophobic conversation to wishing I spoke more languages, and he shows off his rudimentary Japanese. He leaves with First 1000 Words in Japanese.

I also field inquiries about our upcoming Quiddich tournament, a student-run fundraiser planned for March. No, I do not know how they plan to get flying balls.

I look at some proofs of senior pictures and give my opinions.

7:50 Play Channel One.

7:51 I go to talk to self-contained special ed teacher about a particular student whose color printing is about to bankrupt the library. She is surprisingly accommodating.

7:55 I inform the assistant principal for curriculum about the special education negotiations. She confirms that the principal has told the department I am not to be pulled into their IEP meetings and to alert her immediately if they try to do so. We commiserate briefly about the death of one of our retired teachers in an automobile accident yesterday. His wife is still in the hospital in critical condition. They collided with a student from another high school in our system.

8:06 I begin brief blog post for AASL on award deadlines next week.

8:35 Developmental reading class comes in to check out books, which always required booktalking. Everyone wants Dear John. We have one copy with ten holds. I need to comb the used bookstores for more copies -- out of my pocket as we have no materials (or any other kind) of funds.

Show one student from the class the movie trailer for Diary of a Wimpy Kid on DVD I received at NCTE.

8:47 Post to AASL Blog.

8:52 Another students comes to me "needing help printing" when what he really needs is a file he can open. I typically convert about three Microsoft Works files to MS Word on a daily basis, using my old laptop from home since I don't have administrator access to install those converters on my machine. And though I show the students each time how to avoid compatibility issues in the future, they never seem to learn that skill.

8:58 Remember to donate $5 to YA librarian/tweep Kate Pickett's roller derby benefit for Special Olympics.

9:05 Asked to go to a joint meeting of all three school boards in our county regarding legislation allowing for charter schools in the state tomorrow night, but it conflicts with my hairdresser's appointment.

9:12 End of an era: moving the great red books, The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, to the storage room. Something went awry with our paper suscription from H.W. Wilson when I was on sabbatical, so we haven't received it in two years, and I just can't justify the expense considering only one teacher uses it regularly.

9:19 My para is working on discarding magazines, and I check Serials Solutions in our state databases for digital availability of The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Looks like we can eliminate the majority of those.

9:33 Discard 1953 Collegiate dictionary. For the record, this book does not include the word "oral" to say nothing of "oral sex."

9:25 Break begins, our second-busiest time of the day. Lots of circulation. I talk to a senior student about becoming a teacher (contrasting teaching English versus drama in terms of increased options), talk with another student about the teachers who have really been at the school for an extended period versus those that are just older, and to a third about the best methods for studying for the ACT.

I lend post-it notes to one student, who came in to rave about the ARC of Radiant Shadows, the new Melissa Marr I picked up at Midwinter.

Take details from two students needing rides to the Feb. 11 poetry slam to attempt coordinating carpooling.

9:40 Break over, announcements & the pledge of allegiance over the intercom. Preview instead of play Channel One for 9th grade academy. Find copy of MacBeth for student who had checked out criticism instead of the play. Another students comes looking for Beowulf recreationally, says she has discovered "a love for old literature."

9:50 My weekly senior economics class comes in to work on their MovieMaker globalization project. They are still in the research phase, using World Book and my delicious bookmarks if they are lucky enough to grab a computer. I have to throw a special ed aide off one of our 14 limping-along machines for student access, and he is grumpy with me.

Student comes in for The Secret Beach. Leaves with The Secret Life of Bees.

10:12 Take a call from the librarian from another high school in our district about state funding for library units and upcoming monitoring of our program by the state department of education. Unlike her school, we have more than 1000 students, which means our district is allocated the salary for a second unit, but our system does not place that person in the library. We are all hoping this will be addressed in the state monitoring visit.

10:15 Use Excel to some make flyers promoting our Feb. 11 Valentine's themed poetry slam. Our color printer is down, so I spend some time messing with that before xeroxing, all the while talking to a former student aide who has come up to have a heart-to-heart. She agrees to draw a jigsaw template for our tree-shaped whiteboard (idea copied from Chicago PL YouMEDIA).

10:40 Send email to a vendor who had promised to send materials for giveaways and goodie bags for the April 13 youth services preconference for our state library association's convention which I'm hosting at our school.

10:57 Signed up for the official day-in-the-life list as number 154.

11:11 Start copy-cataloging a half-dozen nonfiction books I reviewed for Gale/Cengage this month. I had attempted it yesterday, but couldn't establish a Z39.50 connection with LC. I'm happy because they will be our first 2010 copyrights!

11:13 Play Channel One.

11:15 Hunt down the ancient paper cutter missing from our workroom so student can cut handouts into quarters.

11:25 Grapple with spine label printer alignment before handing books to a student aide for property-stamping & shelving.

11:30 Show a new teacher where she can find discarded magazines for classroom use and stop her when she attempts to walk out with a portion of our old but not discarded National Geographics.

11:35 Call business supply place to set up a photocopier machine maintenance appointment

11:40 Assign a second student to even up corners on handouts that were not cut to my satisfaction. Find band-aid when she cuts herself.

12:00 I handle all the circulation for about an hour and a half while my para has lunch and then goes downstairs to cover another desk since one of the secretaries is out.

12:19 Eat lunch at the circ desk -- blueberry Chobani yogurt. Talk with student aide about our wildly divergent taste in leading men in movies.

12:27 Talk with calculus teacher about using the library this afternoon for registration space for local community college duel enrollment courses.

12:34 Read and express thanks to some of the responses to my twitter query earlier in day about preventing carpal tunnel

12:46 Write thank-you note to my assistant principal for Christmas gift, bread & butter letter for my friends who put me up overnight in Norwich, Vermont, last week.

12:50 Add a couple of delicious bookmarks about the pharmaceutical industry for Economics class.

1:00 History teacher looking for VHS tape of The Lost Battalion, we determine it is checked out to another faculty member. Find television and VCR combo workable for this teacher. Since this classroom's doorway is only 5'8", she can only use one of our dozen-or-so sets. And the powerstrip on that cart doesn't work, so I scrounge for an extension cord.

1:12 More reader's advisory -- novels in verse recommendation post-Ellen Hopkins. I suggest Sonja Sones and Margaret Wild.

1:18 Arguing with student about whether or not poetry slam should be juried this time, and if so whether teachers or students should be jury.

1:20 Then student, expressing distress about not having access to email, shares with all the assembled students how to get on facebook despite filters.

1:21 Play Channel One.

1:25 Proofread student's college scholarship application.

1:40 Para's 1st grandchild makes her 1st visit to the school. Little other than mass admiration ensures for next half-hour.

2:07 Score! Vendor send very nice email offering subscription & tons of swag for April conference.

2:10 Call former Social Studies department chair I'm hoping to recruit to judge student projects for our regional National History Day competition, Feb 26th.

2:21 Former student, now a discharged Marine, comes by to talk about difficulties with accounting course at community college. I try to give him some strategies to appeal to the instructor.
2:43 Student drops by to scope competition for next poetry slam. She won the last one.
2:49 Daily chat with awesome custodian about maintenance needs. He says it feels like snow out!
2:51 The freshman academy is out for the day, so a couple dozen student rush in to check books in or out before the buses leave at 3:05.
2:55 Teacher drops his two little ones off (we have a school bus transport faculty kids from the feeder every afternoon) for my afternoon babysitting duty while he watches the parking lot. They always play really LOUD computer games.
3:00 School's out for upperclassmen. Teachers leave at 3:30. Typically spend that half-hour restarting all the computers (because that seems to help prevent network connectivity issues in the morning) and zeroing my inbox and reader.
I know most of the day-in-the-library-lifers go until bedtime. Normally, I would go home and work on projects until my husband gets home about 6ish. He's jealous of my computing so I usually spend nights away from machines. But today I'm staying to work the gate at the 4:30 basketball game and plan on curling with my Robin Benway ARC in the meantime.
I do think I have the best job in the school!

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