*FLASHBACK* Last summer. The beginning of the school year is rapidly approaching and it dawns on me…I’m going back to high school. I mean, yes, I am going back as a teacher, but that doesn’t quell me nerves. Honestly, it terrifies me even more. What if they don’t like me? How am I going to make the changes that my principal is hoping to see? Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh. Deep breath. Hold. And release.
Sure, my first four years of teaching were technically at the high school. But, I was a band director. As a band director, I automatically have something that bonds me to my students – music. Besides, I didn’t have to worry about the entire student body. Just the students who were enrolled in band. I got to be in my musically enhanced bubble and I rarely let my bubble intermingle with the rest of the campus. Going back to high school as the media specialist was a completely different ballgame.
My entire media specialist career up to that point had been spent at the elementary level. Everything I did made those little guys happy. I decorated with over-the-top themes and bright colors. We did lots of fun lessons. I read to them. I can’t do any of those things at the high school level. They would literally laugh in my face. They might even call me a…oh dear…dork. I really don’t need a repeat of my own high school days!
Okay, I might have been a little worried over nothing. The librarian who retired the previous year had been in her job for a long, long, long, long, long time. The library was an incredibly strict environment that actually discouraged students from coming in. Checking out books was a process similar to passing a bill in Congress. Talking within the walls of the library was quite the sin. People were actually scared to go in for fear of being yelled at.
I had a starting point. Don’t yell at students for coming in the library. Make book checkouts a much less painless process. Let students carry on conversations. Smile at students. Okay. That doesn’t seem so hard. But what else can I do?
So, I came up with a few changes to implement. I painted the walls. I ordered new cafe-style tables and chairs. Implemented self-checkouts with the iPads. And, of course, focused my book ordering on new YA fiction instead of continuing to cram in uncirculated nonfiction. Is it enough? Will I be able to get students to use the media center? Will these changes in environment and attitude be enough to bring them in the door and checking out the materials?
*FAST FORWARD* We are now at the end of the year. My library is always full of students. We tripled our circulation numbers. Students are working on Chromebooks all over the room and chatting happily with their friends. Music from my favorite Pandora stations are playing through the computer speakers. Oh, and the high school students do like my crazy decorations.
So, yes, I was overly worried about nothing. My first year as a media specialist at the high school rocked. And year two is going to be even greater. I’m not nervous this summer. I am excited. I cannot wait to embark on this journey. Just you wait.