Friday, April 27, 2012

The (Second) First Year

As May approaches quickly, I've been evaluating my first year in my new district. It wasn't my first time at the rodeo having taught for 8 years at a MS/HS, which made the transition much easier. Since I already had a personal system for record keeping, I didn’t get bogged down by trying to plan lessons and sort out how to deal with things like the budget and usage stats at the same time. This is a very academic district and they hit the ground running as soon as the school year ends. Even for a non-rookie, a new environment can be overwhelming at first. New faces, politics, curriculum, collection, etc., all need to be sorted out. Here are a few things that helped me make the transition a little easier:
  • Last year’s yearbook - I have learned faces and names, but haven’t put all of them together yet. By keeping last year’s yearbook on my desk I can quickly check names of people I just talked to (unless they are standing next to me and I have to ask to put their name on the schedule. Can get away with that this year, more embarrassing next year)
  • Claim the space - I quickly realized I was going to have to physically make the space mine for my sanity. I love decorating the library for holidays and changing the posters monthly. I bought new posters after throwing out many of the old ones that were left to try to get a younger atmosphere and put my stamp on the environment. Many people have commented on the ever changing decor and how much they enjoy it. It’s an easy thing that really makes the library feel like it is mine.
  • Change it - Remember that it is your library and it is now a blank canvas. You can do whatever you want. Just because your predecessor did things one way, doesn’t mean that you have to keep doing things that way. Give it a few months, though, to get a feel for how the building works before doing anything too drastic. There was an online scheduling system in place here and it lasted until October. I didn’t know who was working on what, classes were signed up at the last minute, not every teacher had a login to the wiki scheduler, etc., and I couldn’t check it every period to see what was going to happen next. I took it down and implemented a traditional plan book and now people have to see/email/call me to schedule. Now I know my schedule and can actually juggle more classes into the library than the spaces on the online schedule allowed.
  • Pace yourself - Realize that you can’t do a promotion for every event and figure out a new school in your first year. I focused on the classes and collection in the fall and then did a promotion for School Library Month (Books to Movies tie-in with Hunger Games) in April. Next year I’ll try to do something in the fall, as well. There are also a lot of  other changes that I want to make in the library, but I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn’t have to be done today.

What helped you adjust to a new library?

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