Well a lot of you asked about what it has been like student teaching and so I thought would give you a little glimpse into my current placement by giving you a list of various tasks I have done during my two weeks there.
- pulled historical fiction books for 6th grade
- book-talked (gave mini “what this book is about and why you should read it” speeches) to 4 classes of 6th graders and helped them pick out books
- cleaned-up and re-labeled periodical shelves
- prepared how-to lesson for online databases as a part of Ancient Egypt research
- taught brief section on how to use NetTrekker and World Book Online to 6th graders
- designed new book display
- conducted book conferences with 8th grade students about SSR books
- participated in on-the-fly book advisory with both students and teachers
- helped shelve/organize book shelves (regular maintenance)
- copied and collated Research Round-up packets
- helped troubleshoot TitlePeek issues and contact Follett’s Tech Services hotline
- created “Catalog” signs for two computers
- processed and cataloged new books
- re-cataloged and processed books from the “repair” cart
- took down Halloween book display
- assisted with Ancient Egypt classes and answered questions on note-taking and book needs
- created list of 20 or so good Great Depression sites for an 8th grade teacher
- cutting out and gluing together a 3D paper dragon head for our display on fantasy books.
So as you can see there are a lot of small random tasks that all fall under the role of school librarian. While my favorite part so far has been the chances I have had to talk to kids about books and help them find good ones, I also like a lot of the other random parts of the job especially processing new books. I think I might be becoming a bit of a catalog nerd after all. So far I think I have been really lucky to have two really good placements – schools that have excellent libraries and excellent librarians to go along with them. Although working in both of these wealthy (my second one more than the first) predominantly white schools also present some interesting examples of the huge, scary and tragic differences in the quality of schools and education for different kids. Over the summer I spent a week observing at a predominantly Hispanic school on the south west side of Chicago. Despite a cramped room, jam-packed schedule and a whole range of English language knowledge, the librarian was full of energy, caring and brilliant little tricks of how to keep the attention of 30 squirming kids all at once. And while the kids at my current placement are also great and the librarian equally dedicated, you can’t tell me that advantages like an average class size of 17 and laptops for every student don’t make a different to the overall quality of education.
When it comes time to look for jobs, I know I will probably be looking for anything and everything, but the vast differences between cash-strapped city schools and wealthy suburban schools are huge. I am not saying that teachers who choose to work in schools with good buildings, supportive principals and abundant supplies work any less hard than teachers who work in much poorer schools, but I think this issue will be something I think a lot about during the coming years of my work as a school librarian.