Summer is quickly winding down, and more teachers are starting to show up in the building. It gets more challenging to sleep at least seven hours a night because I keep thinking of things I need to do to prepare for the first days of school. I had a 3 hour meeting with the social studies/ history department last week. Did I remember to order all the novels the teachers requested? We have a 30 minute time slot with the teachers during building professional development, what should I share first? There is a library renovation currently in progress, have I planned everything correctly for my learning community? I had to help train new teachers with technology for 6 hours 2 weeks ago.
Does the paragraph above sound familiar? I want to take a few moments to share about the things that concern me most this time of year. I want to confess that I worry too much about things I cannot control as school begins. I hope that when I "fess up" to these items, it will make you realize you aren't the only one that struggles to get it all done during these last few days before everything rolls out! You aren't alone in your first of the year anxiety and concern!
I have been involved in education for 20 years this fall. I can't remember a year that I didn't worry about getting everything done before students get to school. In the 7 years I have served as a library media specialist, that concern is even greater since there are so many things to prepare.
My solution to this problem every year is to prioritize. I suggest making a list of items that must get done first, and then make a wish list of things you hope to get accomplished. Realize that you can't do it all. Take care of yourself these first few weeks on the job! You do not need to stay late in the library to work! You may think this is a good idea, but it will just wear you down when you need to be at your best the next day. Get plenty of rest in these days before students arrive. When they get on campus you will be serving them with their initial needs. This is frequently time consuming and mentally draining. During these first few weeks you will make first impressions with new students and staff. Those impressions last forever! Make their experiences valuable. When you do this you will have repeat customers. It doesn't take long for others to realize you have a service approach. This adds value to your library program.
As a teacher librarian, I have found that the first of the year and the end of the year always have the most challenges. Getting the program started with a bang in August and gathering all materials in May tend to be very demanding mentally and physically. Remember that what we do makes a difference to the entire learning community. We are leaders in the building because people look to us for answers and solutions everyday.
Make a goal to take care of yourself this year! Work hard at school and work diligently to disconnect from school on the weekends when possible! Exercise and do activities that you love just for fun in your off time.
I'm convinced if we all consider doing these things, it will result in a better year! If you can't sleep because you are thinking about all the things you have to do tomorrow, make a "to do" list for the next day. I have found this helps me sleep. Write it down and stop thinking about it until the next day! It's ok to be nervous the nights before the first day of school. This shows you have genuine concern for your work, and you want to do a good job. Stop worrying about things you cannot control.
Get excited because it is contagious! Every student and teacher that visits the library need the services you offer. You never know how you will make a difference. Have a great year!
Read what one of our students wrote about the library in "Not Just A Room With Books" here.