There's no way around it. The past few months have been little short of slap crazy.
Though still suffering daily and deeply by the loss of a library paraprofessional, I've been pleased with how well I've remained true to my new habit of letting go of the list.
The thing is (and this might be cheating a bit, but whatever), I still make a list. I make a list all the time...only now, my list is retrospective.
Instead of the list dictating my day, my day determines my list.
That may not seem like a big idea, but it has really sent some powerful ripples throughout my management of this school library. Rather than checking off item after item and using that as my measuring stick for a successful day, I pause whenever possible and scratch down what has already been accomplished. I forget things I've done, and most assuredly my day never ever turns out the way I had hoped or planned, but the essential change I've seen is that without question, the space is more patron-centered.
Without adequate staffing, I cannot meet every single student's or teacher's needs in a timely manner. That is impossible, given the laundry list of roles that I (and many other school librarians) play.
What I have decided to focus on is improving the quality of those limited services I can provide.
The New List has also become somewhat a journalistic and reflective review of how my time is spent. The New List has proven that entirely too much of my time is spent on tedious technical support, an element that is nowhere near my professional passion, training, or responsibilities as instructional and research specialist. Those were items formerly entrusted to the library paraprofessional...as well as laminating, creating display materials, making student/student aide/PTA/teacher ID badges, and just being another adult to help manage student aides as well as help meet the needs of the incessant stream of teachers and students who need problems solved. Now, because this position has been eliminated in my school, these tasks are most prevalent on The New List.
While I'm always grateful for reflective opportunity, what is most concerning about this New List is that its contents fail to demonstrate my capacity as a professional educator to impact my school through instruction in our library program. My best, most joyful days are those that I get to spend working with students in direct instruction...on those days I go home worn out but so joyful, simply from fulfilling my purpose.
The rest, in which I spend most of my time Googling computer errors and crawling under dusty desks to rewire network cables and trying to fix printers and projectors and interactive white boards...well, those days just suck the life out of me.
If I did not believe so deeply in education and feel such great passion for seeing it executed well, I would be heading for the hills as a public librarian and that is a fact, Jack.
The New List shows the harsh dent made in our school library program and in my role as a school librarian by the loss of our library paraprofessional. It helps me analyze how my time has been spent, and it also shows that despite all that I may have wanted to accomplish on a certain day, what always occurs is what my people needed (rather, as many as I can get to) the most.
What the experiment of The New List is teaching me is that, at the end of even the most frustrating and life-sucking of days, that is enough.