I love my job as a middle school librarian. Middle School students are energetic and entertaining. But, I was feeling lousy about work and things have been different since my mother passed away. Overwhelmed and disenchanted, I was depressed at having my assistant cut, wanting to be a good librarian, but feeling uninspired and worn out. How in the world would I be able to keep this energy level up in the library when I now have so much more work? The students have come to expect a certain level of customer service and I enjoy bringing that energy and level of excitement to my students everyday. It is what makes me love my job. It is contagious.
Not knowing how I would be able to make it all work, I put on a happy face and kept on with the daily grind. I spoke to my friend and colleague Ruth, who teaches English, about feeling so blah and passionless only to discover that she was feeling the same way. She said she was struggling to reach one particular class, and having frustrations getting them to write for her. We have done countless projects, presentations and parent nights together over the years and we feed off of each other's creative energies. I said to her, "I saw a call for presentations e-mail and felt terrible that I am not doing anything worth sharing!" She said she felt the same way. What to do? Usually when a teacher tells me he or she is looking for a new way to teach something I have tons of ideas to suggest, and enough energy and excitement to reel them in. Honestly, this is what happens when you don't go to conferences for two or three years.
The same day I chatted with Ruth, Cathy Jo Nelson sent out a reminder that there would be a T&L Virtual Cafe Webinar on Monday October 3rd. Ah, Cathy Jo! She has been my inspiration on several occasions. Her Facebook and SCASL listserv posts are great. Amazingly, she never stops pushing it out. The voice of Cathy Jo sounds something like this to me: "Hey! Check this out! Look! Over here! A great article, blog or app! You should try THIS!" A GURU-COACH, that is what she is for me.
I go to the T&L Virtual Cafe Webinar that Cathy Jo posted about. Tamara Cox and Tiff Whitehead knock my socks off. There's a great vibe going on there, and I needed that. Joyce Valenza was there! She inspired me at ISTE in Chicago years ago. I have been a big fan ever since. At this T&L Virtual Cafe webinar, one of the many awesome things I am introduced to is Comic Life. Wow! Such amazing graphics! So visually appealing! I can't wait to tell Ruth! That night, I could not sleep. I was too excited and inspired!
On Tuesday I sneak out of the library and burst into Ruth's classroom with loud excitement (during her planning time) to tell her I have found exactly what we need. I can tell she is a little skeptical because I am acting like a wide-eyed, sleep deprived, coffee fueled spaz talking fast and excitedly commandeering her computer. She looks at me like I am crazy. I show her Comic Life. Although Comic Life has been around a while, it is new to us. And, we're excited about it. We schedule the lab for her classes. The students love Comic Life and now not only are we both doing something exciting and worth sharing, but we are planning more exciting things like presenting our experience with Comic Life at the Spartanburg Writing Project's Fall Conference, and making cake pops at family write night at the library! The great thing about this inspiration is that it impacts not only me, but also two other teachers (so far) and ALL OF THEIR STUDENTS. Since I work with the entire student body, this inspiration will probably reach even more students. Everyone wins.
I still don't know how I will be able to make it all work, and maybe I won't be able to make it all work. That's okay. Things are changing. I am taking it one day at a time. Because of T&L Virtual Cafe and my collaboration with Ruth I FEEL better and my work feels more meaningful and worth sharing. And that's a start!