I'm breaking up with my list.
No, seriously. Mostly Type A, I am as beholden to the list-making habit as a person can be. My A list and B list and Master List of Lists drives my day, it dominates my thoughts, and it guides my interactions (or lack thereof) with those around me. I am a person who is absolutely drowning in distractions throughout the day, and my list is the one measure I can count on to help me determine whether or not my day was a success.
I'm an accomplisher. Are you like that? I mean, I really derive a significant amount of satisfaction from achieving personal goals...regardless of how trivial or how huge they might seem. Earning an Ed.S degree or making it to a teacher's room to troubleshoot their document camera...both worth pretty much exactly the same in my task-oriented heart. They were items I got to check off a list and that list, dear friends, is my trophy case.
That's the pretty half of my list habit story.
Let me tell you about the ugly half.
I am ashamed to admit this, but this steadfast devotion to my dejected list means I tend to value it more than the people that list represents.
My Native American name would be She Who Gets Things Done. I am the one who you give the important projects to. I am the one who can plan an event with minimal assistance, assemble major publications with few (if any) flaws, and design effective professional development sessions.
I am the one you can trust to Get.Things.Done.
But I'm just not sure that's important. Do you? I'm really examining my practice, and I have to say...I am not sure Ultimate Efficiency is worth the price I've paid for it.
Yesterday was one of our first teacher work days, and already I am drowning in all that needs to happen before students walk in the door Monday morning. Equipment malfunctions have always been a huge thorn in my side, (likely to worsen this year now that library aide positions have been eliminated across the district). I take offense with how all this mindless troubleshooting takes precedence over details a professionally trained school librarian should really be able to focus on...which is instruction, ethical use of information, fostering an appreciation of literature, and the research-based support of instruction in each content area.
So I'm tired. Already.
But despite my very good reasons for being tired and chained to my list, I am so embarrassed to admit that when (yet another) teacher came in to ask me a question yesterday, I barely looked up at her from whatever Very Important Thing I was working on. I heard her and half-heartedly responded, but I didn't really communicate well with her.
You know what I think is important? Really important? Helping people. Looking at them and hearing their needs and responding in the way that they need me to. That is a foundation for all I believe about my profession.
I cannot control lack of support staff. I cannot control lack of funding for school libraries (this will be year 5 or maybe 6 with $0 for school libraries in our state). I cannot control the fact that our building is wretchedly old and it leaks like a sieve and my air has been broken for weeks and most every piece of equipment (even the refurbished "new" stuff) is sub-par. I cannot control that most teachers at my school need help troubleshooting their technology equipment, nor that this tech maintenance isn't even close to being a tiny piece of what I believe to be a core value of school librarians.
What I can control is not permitting a dumb list make me a heartless person.
This year, I'm abandoning list-making as I know it. Instead of keeping track of items that I have determined are vitally essential and therefore other people have to wait while I work on my list, I'll be focusing on the people. I will be tracking, but I'm going about it in a way that, I suspect, will really revolutionize the way I serve students and teachers.
It will be an adventure in stretching well beyond my comfortable thought processes and behavior patterns, but honestly...I am not sure there's anything to lose here.
This may not be my most creative year. It probably won't be my most efficient year. I probably won't make it to all the leadership meetings for librarians, and if I do, I probably won't contribute much. I probably won't even stray far beyond the walls of my school.
I honestly don't have any predictions for how this little experiment of mine will go. I do know that it will be the year that I really, truly, intentionally, put people first.