Emily WardLIS 505 Managing Myself InventoryIn three to five years I plan on working as a school media specialist in an elementary or middle school. Assuch, I will most likely not be managing many (if any) employees (with the exception of possibly aparaprofessional assisting me), so I will instead frame this more significantly as how I will manage myselfas part of a team of educators in the school.I. Skills to Learn The Art of Small Talk: To create a caring and personal environment for fellow employees, I need to be able to informally chat with them. As of right now, I do not feel very comfortable doing this. Grant Writing: I have very limited experience writing a grant proposal, based solely on the one page grant proposal written for my Youth Services class. I know that in order to fund any outside programs or special collections for the media center I will most likely need to solicit grant funds, and I would rather have some experience doing so before the need for money is desperate. From what I’ve heard, preparing a real grant proposal can be a lengthy and stressful process, and if I am preparing my first one in the midst of doing all my other responsibilities as a school media specialist, I probably won’t know how to efficiently manage my time. New Technologies: I think in a school library it can be easy to get stuck in your ways more easily than it might be in a different library environment. I imagine that with the sometimes overwhelming responsibilities of being a part of a school community, letting newer technologies slip past your radar can be easy to do. However, I think keeping abreast of what is going on in the technology world is an essential part of the school media specialist’s job, because the school media center may be the only place students are given the chance to explore these in a world that requires them to remain current. Although I may not adopt or purchase many of the technologies, I should at least remain aware of what could be applicable to students or necessary for their further success.II. Workshops to attendHere are workshops and trainings available to members of the Illinois School Library Media Associationduring the 2010-2011 year. I will look for workshops similar to these throughout my career. WebJunction Illinois workshop: This workshop introduces the basics of the online resource that can serve as a support system, a place to share and collaborate best practices and ideas, and a place to find resources to improve resources to students. Although the website is fairly intuitive, it would be nice to learn the real ins-and-outs of the resource to be able to use it most effectively and to participate in the collaboration. Rebecca Caudill Packet Creation Workshop: This workshop is provides a source of collaboration with other youth librarians around the state to develop a packet of information and activities for the 20 Rebecca Caudill books for the previous year. This is a great resource for librarians who
don’t have time to thoroughly read every book, who still want to encourage their students to actively participate in this experience. Wikis Go to the Library workshop: This is a workshop focusing on the development of a wiki for your library, and would be a great workshop to attend if my library’s website was non-existent, underdeveloped, or not currently as effective as I would like it to be. It would allow me to test the Wiki waters to know if this option would be better than what is currently being used, since I know very little about wikis currently. School Library Day workshop: This full-day session workshop allows collaboration with school librarians of all different levels from across the state. Topics covered by this workshop include collaboration, educational mandates, intellectual property, literacy, management, and technology. Summer School/Summer Camp for School Librarians: These workshops take advantage of the unique summer schedule of school librarians by offering 7-10 workshops throughout the summer months to work on specific issues central to school libraries, such as book talks, using new technologies, instruction, internet safety, collection weeding, grant writing, and more. Library Partnerships: Making Connections between School and Public Libraries workshop: This workshop looks at ways to develop and maintain collaborative relationships between school and public librarians that will benefit the users, by increasing budget, resources, and personnel to tackle programs.III. Know myself and self reflectionHow do I respond in certain situations? What are those situations? Is this something I can compensatefor or should I avoid such situations? Communication: Generally speaking, I’m a more naturally inclined listener rather than speaker. I often have a hard time speaking off the top of my head. Because of this, I am prone to becoming distracted while listening as I try to think of what my response will be. I have to remember that in order to more effectively communicate, I need to fully listen and not be so concerned with what I will say next. This will come into play obviously during reference interactions with students and staff, but also in interactions with coworkers and administrators outside of reference (such as staff meetings, interviews, or any conflicts that arise). Also, to compensate for this problem, I know I am a better writer than speaker. As such, I should write out what I need to say first, if possible, and communicate important messages in writing. Confrontation: For the most part, I try to steer clear of confrontation. I would rather stay quiet about something that is bothering me than be up front about it. The benefit to this is that I rarely blow up in someone’s face during a heated moment. The downside to this is that sometimes things need to be addressed, and as the manager of the media center, I will be the one expected to confront problems. A manager does not have the luxury of avoiding confrontation if the unit is going to run effectively. Often problems that are dealt with quickly, before they get out of hand, are much easier to resolve than when left to continuously develop. I will need to be aware of my fear in this area so as to counteract it. Collaboration: I have always felt that I do my best work when I do it individually. Through high school and college, I steered clear of group projects as much as possible. Learning at GSLIS has taught me some of the benefits of collaboration (since every class has had a group project). For
libraries, the best service can often be a result of collaboration. Especially in an elementary school setting, where the students are attempting to have a cohesive educational experience, it will be important to work with the classroom teachers so that our students are getting the most out of their time in the library. So although I may lean toward doing my own thing in my own space (since it’s likely I’ll be the only staff person in the media center), I need to remember to make connections throughout the school (and community!) to be able to best serve my students. Customer Service: I need to remember that serving students is my primary responsibility and should make my best effort to focus on individuals whenever possible. In an environment where I may be the only service point in a classroom full of students, it will be easy to feel overwhelmed and focusing on individual students’ needs will be tricky. However, I think that by showing each student that I care and that their question is a valid one, I will be able to more capably create an environment where learning, exploring, and curiosity is able to flourish, which I think is the heart of my role. Values: Peter Druker, in his article “Managing Yourself,” he mentions the importance of joining with an organization whose values don’t conflict with your own. When finding a job, I think I will have to definitely keep this in mind. In a school setting, the values of the community are just as important as the values of the school administration. As a pretty liberal-minded person, I know that finding a school where multiple opinions and viewpoints are encouraged and respected will be essential to being able to successfully do my job. As such, I’ve always assumed that I will end up in a public school setting, but even there, I will have to really take into account the values of the community before accepting a position.IV. Decision making, rationales, and outcomesI know that I have a hard time making decisions, but that I ultimately feel much better once a decision ismade. I hate choosing until I have every possible option laid out before me, because I’m worried aboutmissing something better. While on the one hand I believe that the best decision can be made when youare able to compare all options, I also recognize that sometimes that can be a never-ending process.Most situations don’t lend themselves to easily comparing every option. I will need to be aware of thisso that I don’t waste time, energy, and sanity waiting for the perfect decision, and instead just makeone.One thing that I know will affect my decision-making is the issue of fairness. Children are extremelyaware of what they think is and is not fair. I will have to make sure to remain consistent in handling anystudent issues, such as discipline, lending policies, and deciding what materials to collect. If a childnotices that their peer was able to check out another book even though they haven’t returned one(when the policy is one book at a time), this can result in big problems. Similarly, if one student lovesreading Girls Magazine and another loves reading Sports Illustrated and I choose to drop mysubscription to Sports Illustrated in favor of Girls Magazine, the SI reader will recognize this as unfair,even if I had a legitimate reason for doing so. Although I cannot cave to students’ every want and plea offairness, I have to make sure the decisions I am making are indeed fair and not favoring some studentsover others.To monitor this process, I hope to employ what Peter Drucker refers to as “feedback analysis.” As hesuggests, when making a major decision, it is valuable to document it and document what you think willhappen as a result of that decision. Then, nine to ten months later, he suggests reviewing your
predictions and comparing those predictions to the outcomes. This, he says, will show you some of yourweaknesses, and more importantly, your strengths. Focusing on making decisions that will play to mystrengths will give my students and other users the best service I can give them.V. Monitor the EnvironmentOne thing I think will be really important in my position is to establish an open dialog with the parentsand families of my students. I want them to feel a part of the media center community. Sending homecommunications with students, maintaining a blog, and encouraging feedback will hopefully create anenvironment where they feel comfortable with expressing their concerns and ideas. By involving thefamilies, this should allow me to find opportunities for community collaborations, head off any stressfulselection problems, and learn about the lives of my students outside the school walls.One interesting way I have found to monitor the internal and external environment of a school library isto provide online surveys. One school media specialist created three online questionnaire web forms forparents, younger elementary students, and older elementary students to fill out. These questionnairescover issues such as home access, events sponsored by the media center, collection, the public library,and approachability. I can imagine that sending a similar survey to the staff of the school would beequally as helpful. This data can provide me with areas I need to improve, statistics for advocating thelibrary’s importance in the school and community, and where my strengths lie.VI. What to readA. A list of readings that I came across in my class assignments that I would eventually like to read Chabris, Christopher, and Daniel J. Simons. The Invisible Gorilla. New York: Crown Publishers, 2010. Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2000. Melling, Maxine, and Joyce Little. Building a Successful Customer Service Culture: A Guide for Library and Information Managers. London: Facet Publishing, 2002. Page, Daniel. “The Importance of Nonverbal communication in Information Service.” Library Mosaics 15.6 (11), 2005. Surowiecki, James. The Wisdom of Crowds. New York: Anchor Books, 2005.B. A list of periodicals, websites, blogs, RSS feeds that I should monitor for relevant articles, etc. School Library Journal: This journal is one of the essential resources any school media specialist should monitor for programming ideas, material reviews, trends in school libraries, new technologies to be aware of, and other issues particularly relevant to this field. School Library Monthly: This journal provides tons of practical assistance in lesson planning in addition to its comprehensive archive of articles related to specific topics, such as advocacy, instruction, intellectual freedom, management, and current trends. Even more, it has a frequently updated blog and podcasts that comments on similar issues. Teacher Librarian: The Journal for School Library Professionals: Another core journal for those in my field, Teacher Librarian provides access to the most current research studies relevant to school media specialists, as well as articles and reviews similar in content to that of SLJ.
Read Roger: This is a blog maintained by the editor in chief of Hornbook, Roger Sutton. He comments on new books, selection issues, children’s authors, conferences and workshops, and whatever else he feels like ranting and raving about. A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet: This cool blog commenting on all kinds of techie, Web 2.0 stuff media specialists should watch out for also has an extensive compilation of online teaching resources for media specialists of any grade level (K-5, 6-8, 9-12).VII. Behaviors to avoid Buying Based on Placebo Effect: With a budget that will inevitably be too small, it is important to be as rational as possible when making financial decisions. While I am still undecided if the placebo effect is something to be wary of personally or not (because choosing the more expensive choice can sometimes physically make us feel better), I recognize that when making financial decisions that will affect more than me personally, placebos are not going to be helpful. The reason more expensive items can make us feel better whether or not they actually are better is because we know we paid more for them. Those using the collection I buy, however, will not know how much items cost, and thus will be unaffected by the placebo. Instead, additional resources will be sacrificed by the money I spent something that was not necessarily better. Grudge-Holding: I grew up in a family of grudge-holders. Recently I have discovered that grudge- holding much more significantly affects the grudge-holder than the person the grudge is held against. Grudges are pointless and a waste of considerable energy. Especially in the workplace, holding grudges against someone you will likely see daily can really disrupt the environment, both for those directly involved and for the students. Letting go of grudges quickly will allow me to minimize my stress and will allow me to perform my job better. Judging Students Based on Others’ Opinions of Them: Working in a school, I will potentially build a relationship with students that will last for several years. I can imagine that my opinion of a student could be easily swayed by their teacher’s, counselor’s, or administrator’s description of bad or good behavior. Despite someone else’s description, I should allow each student to enter the media center fresh and free from any biases. Doing otherwise would be unfair to the student and could potentially affect their entire educational or library-going career. Making Decisions in Heated States: As Ariely helped us learn, when in an impassioned state, we frequently make decisions we would otherwise never make. The decisions are often illogical and can affect us long-term. I can imagine myself getting most heated when interacting with frustrating students. In this situation, I will have to be especially careful to not make decisions that will affect either my job or the well-being of the students (such as unnecessarily embarrassing them in front of classmates, hurting them in anyway, or creating an environment that will put them off of libraries forever). To keep myself out of these situations, I will make an effort of walking away from particularly frustrating situations, taking deep breaths, or calling for backup if truly necessary. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that these students are children who may not know any better or who may be having troubling situations at home.