Friday, April 4, 2014

Why I Became a Teacher-Librarian! #WhyLib

On Friday, March 28, 2014, all-star teacher-librarian John Schu shared a thought on Twitter about going to the school library.  A group of other all-star teacher-librarians joined the Twitter conversation about going to the school library and how we found our way to becoming teacher-librarians.  From that conversation, it sparked blog posts, a padlet, and more about why we became a teacher-librarian!

And, so, a hashtag was born! #whylib !

Check out the #whylib padlet and these all-star teacher-librarians' blog postsabout why each one became a teacher-librarian.

April is the perfect month to share our stories about why we became teacher-librarians, because it's School Library Month!  It means even more to share our stories on School Librarian Day (April 4, 2014)!

Here is my story about how I became a teacher-librarian...

This is my tenth year as an educator.  My first year I served as a Title I Reading Associate at Clarion-Goldfield Elementary.  While I would have loved a job right out of college, I am actually grateful and appreciative that I started out in this particular position!  I learned so much that year!  The summer between my first and second year of teaching, I earned my K-12 reading endorsement.  It was completely meaningful and beneficial to have one year's experience as a teacher to apply to what I was learning that summer, and then be able to implement it that following year, my second year of teaching.  My second year I was honored to be hired  as a one-year long term substitute Title I Reading Teacher.  That was my first official year as a teacher, and I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED that year!  After the year was up, it was time to start interviewing for another teaching job, as the Title I Reading Associate position was cut and the long term position was up.  I was lucky, fortunate, and blessed to be hired as a K-12 At-Risk Teacher at CAL CSD in Latimer, Iowa for my third year and fourth year.  In addition to K-12 At-Risk Teacher, I also taught 7th-12th 2nd Chance Reading and 7th-8th junior high school exploratory Careers.  During my 4th year, I got married and moved from Clarion to Rockwell.  While I learned a lot and enjoyed my experience at CAL, I wanted to find a job that was closer to my new home.  More importantly, I was seeking a job that served students in at the elementary grade level, as my bachelor of arts degree from University of Northern Iowa is elementary education, and elementary students are more "my style."  A friend of my husband's family, who is a teacher in Mason City, informed me (spring of my 4th teaching year) that there were a few teacher openings at the kindergarten and first grade levels.  So, I interviewed for those kindergarten and first grade teacher positions.  When I received a phone call from Martin Gordon, (retired head of human resources for the school district) indicating that others were hired for the open teaching positions, I admit I was completely devastated. At that time, I wondered if I would ever have a classroom position, or even something solely at the elementary level.  However, during that phone call, Mr. Gordon immediately offered me an interview the following week for the open elementary teacher-librarian position.  I wasn't sure I had heard him correctly, so I asked him again to repeat what he just asked about the elementary teacher-librarian position.  He once again offered an interview for that particular job position.  I was shocked.  I can still remember gently telling him that I wasn't properly endorsed and not sure if I would be fully qualified.  He reassured me that the district is looking for the right fit and a willingness for someone to work to earn the proper certification.  So, I interviewed.  I will also never forget, during the interview, admitting that my only technology experience was working with a computer on a limited basis and an overhead projector.  I made sure to quickly add that I am a eager, passionate learner, and, more importantly, I embrace technology.  Currently, in my sixth year as a teacher-librarian, I can't help but take a moment to reflect every now and then, especially when I write my yearly reflection for my individual professional growth plan.  I still can't believe how much I have grown from my original limited technology knowledge and experience to currently being beyond eager and driven to learn about the newest, latest, greatest, hottest, etc. tech tools and resources.  My friends and colleagues like to tease me about becoming such a "tech geek."

I was beyond ecstatic when Dr. Humphrey (retired Jefferson Elementary principal) called to inform me I was hired as the elementary teacher-librarian!  I remember joking with him that I am no longer a "Little Cyclone." You see, I am a 2000 high school graduate from Ames High, which is a rival of Mason City.  I went on to inform him that "I am now proud to be a "Mohawk."  I will always remember Dr. Humphrey laughing and saying, "Welcome to the Mohawk family!"  So, that is how I became a teacher-librarian.  Little did I know, at that time, how much I would LOVE this job and how much I would grow a teacher-librarian, educator, and person.  I LOVE how my role as a teacher-librarian allows me to create, connect, collaborate, inspire, share, encourage, etc. both staff and students.  I believe I have the best job in the world.  Now I can never imagine being anywhere but in the library as a teacher-librarian.

In the meantime, one may be asking what about being properly certified for the teacher-librarian position.  I am proud to inform, after this spring semester, I will officially earn my K-12 school library media education endorsement.  I plan on completing two more classes (research methods class and thesis paper class) this summer to earn the master's degree in library media education.  I am completing my coursework through Minnesota State University Mankato, and have had the honor and privilege of completing all but two of my courses under Dr. Deborah Jesseman.  Her classes have helped shape me into the teacher-librarian I have become.  I appreciate her guidance and leadership, and am grateful for all she has done.

As I wrap up this blog post, I am searching for the perfect ending to this post, and I can't seem to come up with it.  So, I read other teacher-librarians' blog posts on #whylib.  Perhaps, the perfect ending to this post is to reinterate what Andy Plemmons wrote in his blog post .

There are so many librarians and educators who push me to stretch and grow as a librarian. The librarian community is particularly inspiring.  There are so many educators within our profession doing amazing work.  "Each year, I add layers onto my own role as librarian and new layers onto our library program because of these great people."  "Each year I understand more about using technology to consume and create, and how digital literacy weaves together with so many other kinds of literacy" (Plemmons, March 29 2014, blog post).  There’s no way I could name them all, but just to start, I give so much thanks to the following all-star teacher-librarians who inspire me!  A special thank you shout-out to Shannon McClintock Miller, Kathy Kaldenberg, Christine Sturgeon, Ernie Cox, Sandi Ellis, Melissa White, Arin Anderson (my sister-in-law and a teacher-librarian), Chelsea Sims, Kate Lechtenberg, Kelly Reinhold, Kenya Arrants, Alyssa Calhoun, Miranda Kral, Bob Follmuth, Cheryl Carruthers, Jane Frizzell, Jean Donham, Dr. Deborah Jesseman, John Schu, Buffy Hamilton Jennifer LaGarde, Matthew Winner, Sherry Gick, Shawna Ford, Jennifer Reed, Jenny Lussier, Okle Miller, ….the list goes on and on.  Each day, I connect with someone new and my understanding of library grows.  About a month ago, I tweeted out the following, which I completely believe with my heart, and so it I will end it with this...

How/why did you become a librarian?  What path or winding road did you travel before you arrived in the library world?  Blog about it and post with the hashtag #whylib on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever you connect!  I can't wait to learn more about all my librarian friends in my PLN.