Friday, May 20, 2011

The end of a long, strange school year

Looking back, this has been a long, strange year for me at school. It began with the defection of my chief instructional collaborator, the senior economics teacher, who left to become director of a local park. For four years, we had team-taught a documentary project where every student in the school was required to do research, practice citation, and learn to manipulate audio and video. I saw her classes every week, and stayed late late at night for lab time when the projects were due. It was part of the senior experience, and its loss meant that now we didn't even have anyone who could put together a senior slideshow without hand-holding. It gave me a lot more time to work on other things, but I realized there was no coordinated way to reach the number of students I was able to work with through her.

In January, we had the exciting advent of a second librarian. That has really helped both my stress and workload, and it is lovely to be able to confer with someone sitting beside me about their opinion on a professional topic. Plus, Carolyn's strengths and interests are entirely different from mine. She like desktop publishing, which drives me nuts, and doesn't hesitate to raise her voice to control behavior, something I have always been lax about. My favorite experience has been hearing her tell the parent of a graduating student that their child was irresponsible for having had a book out for four year and yes, they would be required to pay for the fine and the book. I am much more mealy-mouthed and forgiving.

Also, I think because of this third person behind the desk, it seems I don't have the same close bonds with as many students. I think, with three adults, there's more an "us against them," dynamic present.

The year itself was unusual in that we lost a week of instruction to winter weather, and then another to the catastrophic storms April 27. I would say about half of our school, students and faculty, are still suffering with either PTSD or depression. We got a state waiver so we don't have to make up those five school days, but it was really little consolation. The landscape on the drive out here is still scarred past recognition.

Even before our inventory, we were noticing an unprecedented level of theft. Since we don't have state materials funding, and haven't for three year now, so many of those books were the results of hard-fought grant funding, or brought back from conferences like ALAN, or purchased out of my own pocket. Those holes in the collection are causing me tremendous grief right now.

I won't be at graduation, I have a class Monday night so I won't even see my students at their happiest. What class? Well, regular readers will note that I have been allowed to complete my administrative credentialing, almost eight months after the beginning of the wrangling with the state department of education about whether or not I had sufficient teaching experience (shades of the L.A. Inquisition, no?), itself a draining process, even if it did shake out in my favor.

And I expect over the next year, that I will have more tough choices to make as I am forced to contemplate what I want to do next and the long-term viability of school librarianship as a profession, and try desperately to complete my dissertation

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