Working on the Now

A few days ago, a student came up to me in the Library and casually asked, “Mrs. Clark, what do you do all day?” At first, I was taken aback. I thought, a) why does he care and b) can he not see that I’m busy 100% of the time!?!

But, instead of questioning him as to why he asked me that question, I smiled and told him that I spend my day serving students and my colleagues. I do things for people all day to ensure that their days are easier and that they have the resources and tools that they need. And, in the event that I’m not helping someone, I work on creating a library space that you want to come to.

He looked at me, smiled, and then satisfied with my answer, said, “Man, you’re a busy person!”

It’s funny to think of the question, “What do you do all day?” As a librarian, my schedule and my to do list is at the mercy of what my students and colleagues need. I might have a plan when I walk into the building in the morning, but my plan often veers in many other directions as people’s needs take the forefront.

When I created my PDP this year, I was in beginning of the year mode. The mode where we’ve just gotten finished discussing the crazy NC standards for school librarians. I focused on goals that I know are attainable, but also challenging. I thought about what I will be evaluated on and how I can make sure that the library program my assistant and I create shines. I created an online, digital portfolio (shared with all of my administrators) where I keep track of artifacts that help to demonstrate my mastery of each standard and its constituent parts. For the first month or so, I was so intensely working on this portfolio and my plan of action for making sure I have a good evaluation, that I got worn out and overwhelmed. I went into, what I like to call, the dark place. The place where that little demon makes himself comfortable and tells me that I’m not doing enough.

And then my student asked me, “Mrs. Clark, what do you do all day?” It really was perfect timing, even though he had no idea that his question was just what I needed. It stopped me and made me realize that I had been living and working in the later, rather than in the now. I thought to myself, “What is my goal?” And then I realized how easy it is to allow the state standards and an evaluation to get in the way of what’s truly important – our students.

I am not saying that standards and a good evaluation shouldn’t be a part of our thinking. I believe in planning with the end in mind; however, if that becomes our primary focus, we lose sight of our most precious asset, the reason we come to work everyday – the students who make our job possible.

While my goals have not really changed, the way I go about meeting them has. Instead of working towards pleasing the state with a good evaluation, I’m working towards pleasing my stakeholders; the students and colleagues that need me, everyday, all day.