The school year is about to begin, and it will be an interesting one. I have been a teacher librarian for 7 years in practice and after this year I will be taking some time to concentrate on my own research and studies.
I have been enrolled in a Teacher Leadership program since Summer of 2008, and am finishing my second master's this year. My studies have been wonderful, exhilarating, and life changing and I don't want to stop. By definition, I guess this makes me an intrinsically motivated lifelong learner. And yet despite these flow like feelings I am increasingly frustrated (on good days) and downright ambivalent (on bad days) as a result of living two connected but separate academic lives.
In addition to my ongoing research and studies, I crave MOST of the activities and responsibilities inherent in my role as a high school librarian. And while my job and my scholarship are intricately woven together and seamlessly whole at times this is not always the case. The daily battles I fight on behalf of my teachers and students (access, funding, technology integration, and relevant instructional practices) suck the life energy out of my being as if I were Bella and bad educational policy was a vicious coven of nomad vampires. If I am to remain productive, creative, and, well, fun to be around, I can no longer serve two masters.
My year begins with an interesting dilemma that makes me think of Chris Cruncher's novel, Deadline. Ben Wolfe, the protagonist, has a year to live and must decide what projects will fill his remaining days. Unlike Ben, fortunately, I am not dying a physical death nor am I keeping my time limits secret from everyone around me. Like Ben, I need to decide how best to devote my limited resources. I have a lot of thoughts on this matter, but only two rules.
- I must intrinsically enjoy whatever I devote myself to achieving this year. Why? Because this means whatever I leave as my tangible legacy to the school will be AWESOME!
- Everything I do during my contacted time MUST be student centered. Each goal must begin and end with a litmus test of how to best to create optimal learning environments and structure individualized learning opportunities for all of my students, no exceptions. Given it is a school of 3000 teens, well, "enjoyable" isn't exclusively synonymous with "easy."
So, if you had one more year as an employed school librarian, and you knew it, what would you do with your time?