This month of May, it will be ten months into my new role in education as a librarian. After more than a decade in the classroom, working at amazing schools, collaborating on grade level teams with amazing educators such as Esmeralda Ramirez, Karla L. Vargas, and Gustavo Pinoargote, I have been feeling…isolated. See, as a classroom teacher, you share your daily EVERYTHING with your teammates. You have this mind-blowing, crazy idea? You holler at a teammate which is lining up for something or the other at the same time as you, and you share, you plan, you put the wheels in motion STAT! As a librarian… well I’m the only librarian on campus. We can go on about grade level planning meetings, and many other instances when you collaborate, coplan, coteach, but I’ve spoken to other librarians and they feel the same way: isolated. It’s the nature of the position, the job, the day to day operations.
There have been little glimpses here and there that hint at a possible support network that could make the isolation less so, but nothing compares to TODAY, Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016; the first Reading Night I plan, organize, fundraise for, set up, and see through as a librarian.
I desperately needed teachers to run the stations I had created and was in a panic when I sent out an email asking for help and less than a handful answered. I asked our feeder high school for volunteers and found some that would help, but not enough to ensure that Reading Night would run smoothly. My best friend and co-educator Esmeralda Ramirez, who doesn’t work in our district, not only volunteered, but told me repeatedly to “breathe” (she tells me this often, but that’s a whole other post) that it would work out.
Here’s how it went down:
– Marie, one of our custodians, offered to pick up a cookie donation from Schlotsky’s before her shift started at 2pm.
– Amy, the Kinder TA, showed up at 3:45, more than one hour before Reading Night started, and took over setting up the Pringles Can Character Contest (about 30 of them, by grade level), so I could run and setup other stations.
– Ms. McCoy, kinder teacher, had come in to make her teacher book fair wish list and told me she was “mad” I didn’t ask her for help. I asked her to please pick up cookie donations at two McDonald’s locations and she did! She also came in way early and helped me set up more than one station, then worked the BookWorm Buddy Station.
-Mr. Alvarez, art teacher, did some heavy lifting and when I said “Aaaahhhhh I haven’t made the numbers for the Book Walk!”, went into the office printed the numbers and laminated them.
-Ms. Allen, music teacher, donated yarn (which I had forgotten to buy!) so we could have our Library Spy Maze and was also the sweetest it’s-time-to-go-home door bouncer ever!
-Mr. Stovall. I texted him to please help me create the library maze because I knew I wouldn’t have it on time for the start of Reading Night and although he had a previous commitment, he stopped by the library and set up the maze which was awesome, before he left. The maze station was ready for kids as soon as they walked in.
-Ms. McClendon, kinder teacher, tirelessly read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie… to groups of kiddos and made eating chocolate chip cookies and sipping chocolate milk part of her interactive storytelling.
-Ms. Ramsey, kinder teacher, ran the Book Walk in a way that puts Cake Walks to shame, getting kids and parents to play too.
– Ms. Nguyen tallied votes for the Pringles Can Characters the old school tally mark way because yours truly didn’t have time to come up with a more efficient way to vote. She was a champ for sure, writing down votes like a stock trader takes orders on the floor of Wall Street.
-Ms. Smith handled the Book Swap like a Mergers and Acquisition Pro, making executive decisions as to what a fair exchange was and leaving everyone happy in the process.
-Ms. Grisham who I’m pretty sure single-handedly donated at least 200 of our 500 books for Book Swap, and then proceeded to work the Walk in Pete the Cat’s Shoes Scooter Race.
-Ms. Dewberry surprised me today by telling me she would stay and help. She shared the Pete the Cat Station with Ms. Grisham AND kept the sixth graders busy when they were getting restless. (Personally, I think they just like having some extra time with their teacher!)
-Mr. Freeman finished his bus route and helped with the outside Minute-to-Win-It Genre Sort Station which wasn’t the easiest of stations because it was outside, it had an obstacle course, and kids were soooooooo excited to be running, hurdling and screaming during Reading Night.
-Ms. Chen, I know testing is coming up and she’s been stressed, but she made the Fairy Tale Sketch-Who? super fun and gave kids a chance to try out a Pictionary-type game which most of them have never played before.
-Ms. Anderson, first grade, got kids excited about the book character button making station AND was so excited to see families from her class spending time at Reading Night.
-Ms. Wemple worked tirelessly, next to Ms. McCoy, at the Bookworm Buddy Station, and didn’t bat an eyelash when we ran out of “worm” beads and I found…LETTER BEADS!, which brought a new wave of “beaders” to their table.
-Ms. Rodriguez and Ms. Gayle, fifth grade, had little pre-schoolers and big sixth graders weaving through our Library Spy Maze to win posters which they presented with such flair they made it seem kids were getting a Royal Proclamation.
-Coach Mac let me borrow his P.E. equipment and tie-wrapped together hula hoops to make our obstacle course fun and familiar for our kids.
-Mr. Pierotti, assistant principal, expertly cleared the crowd when it was time to go and get ready for PTA and Orchestra Performance. He also transported over 30 Pringles Character Cans without breaking a one from the cafeteria back to the library.
When it was all said and done, everyone pitched in and pick up was over in a heartbeat!
This is the”feeling” I want to “Hold On” to, although the isolation will probably always be there, when it really counts, when it’s for our kids, I am not an island, I have a group of loving, caring, dedicated teachers and staff that will stand united with me to make the love of literacy grow in our children.
(To listen to Triumph’s Hold On click here. )