Sunday, August 21, 2016

Where Have I Been?

It is no coincidence that the last time I posted was April of 2015.  Sixteen months ago, I embarked upon an intensive journey toward a NYS School Administrator License.  Last summer, I spent 3 weeks living in a dorm and attending classes from about 8:00 am until 6:00 pm (sometimes 9:00 pm!) every day. I then had online coursework and a 500-hour internship, as well as several more weekend residencies to complete over the course of the school year.  I am currently finishing a second, 300-hour internship to meet requirements to take the School District Leader NYS exam.  One of the reasons I chose this program was because I could continue to work as a full-time K-6 librarian and Lead Librarian for my district, but it left me little time for reflection and creativity in the library.  I am very excited to be wrapping up this program so that I can re-focus on what I love: being a librarian! I am happy to say, however, that I will not be the same librarian I was before.

Going through this program and seeing the inner workings of a school district has given me a fresh perspective.  I am very lucky to be working with a principal who is forward-thinking, mindful of equity issues, and who is willing to let me take things on.  Unlike almost all of my peers in the program with me, I never had any desire to be a school principal or superintendent.  My goal in pursuing this licensure was to help me be a better librarian for my school, and a better Lead Librarian for my department and district. I did spend a lot of time, however, learning to think like an administrator; to analyze the effects of events and decisions on the wide range of stakeholders that are impacted by the day-to-day routines of a school. I used to wonder why anyone who loved teaching would become an administrator.  Now I understand that a good administrator has the ability to have a positive impact on an entire school culture.  I understand the appeal of wanting to bring positive change to a larger group.  Where some teachers feel their hands are tied, an effective and thoughtful principal has the ability to be a true change-agent.

So, for a millisecond, I thought that this was possibly a career move I should consider.  But I learned about myself in this program, too. I learned that many of the issues facing school administrators are already important to me, both as a librarian and as a human being.  I learned that a major issue facing students, for a multitude of reasons (financial, language barrier, access to technology), is access to information they can understand. A strong, well supported, library program can help with that.  I learned that an administrator must be a champion for social justice issues for students. A strong library can help with that by providing safe, welcoming spaces and information for each and every student in the school.  Family and community relationships? Yes, librarians can do that.  Differentiated instruction? Pushing teachers' instructional practices into the 21st century through inquiry and effective use of technology? Increasing engagement through student choice? Done, done, and done!  The concerns of a school administrator are the concerns of a 21st century school librarian.

I am more passionate than ever about the role of a school library in education today, and I can't wait to take on the school year.

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