Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Transitioning Between Schools

I am so excited, because I have accepted a Media Specialist position at a new school! When I was in college, I really felt that middle school was my sweet spot for teaching, but as I have gone forward in my Media Specialist career, I have found that the elementary level really fits me best. I have worked at both the middle school and elementary levels, but truly have enjoyed the elementary level most. I am excited to start this new job in the fall at a Kindergarten through 5th grade elementary school closer to home. As I transition into this new position, I have been reflecting on the job transitions I have made in the past. What was hard? What was easy? What would I do differently and encourage others to do?
The hardest part of job transition for me is leaving behind the students I have come to love. Without any children of my own (read about that struggle here), I really do develop a love and attachment to these children. They are my kiddos and all I want is to see them succeed. I know that consistency is important for children and I hate that change seemed to be such a common thing in the schools I have taught in. These kids really needed to know that someone would be there to help them throughout their school careers. They needed someone to depend on, and I really tried to be that. When I chose to leave, I felt a bit of guilt at turning my back on these children. The hardest school for me to leave was Kennedy Elementary in Willmar. The students and staff there had created a true community. Everyone had a place they fit in and we were all working hard toward the same goal. I cried as I left the school that last day.
The easiest part of the job transition for me was knowing that the school I was going to would really fit the type of environment that I needed. Almost every job transition led me to a school that was a better fit for me. I loved my first year at Epiphany Catholic School. I was able to discuss the Catholic faith with students and incorporate it into daily lessons. I felt like I was truly making a difference in the same way that I felt our community had made a difference at Kennedy Elementary. I look forward to continuing to build up students at Pinewood Elementary this coming school year.
Finally, if I were to do things differently, what would my job transitions have looked like? As I reflect on this, one of the things I would do differently is be more selective on the jobs I chose to apply for. Each year when it comes time to get an updated contract I begin to panic that I haven't done enough to merit another year in my current position. I should have updated my bulletin board more. I should have followed up with parents more consistently. I should have... I should have... I should have... In my panic, I begin to apply for any open position I find. Now that I'm married and own a home, it has become anything within an hour of home. Prior to that commitment it was anywhere in the state. This lead to a lot of wasted time and miles driven. In the future, I plan on doing the best job I possibly can. If I do receive that pink slip, I'm going to apply for schools within a reasonable distance that will fit with my strengths. I know that I have plenty of great references, so I have no reason to panic.
 If you are looking for that perfect job, hold out for it! Don't apply for and accept a job you are going to hate! Apply to jobs you know you'll love. Put together a great resume. Research the school and do a practice interview so you can put your best foot forward. Spend a little money on the perfect interview outfit and set aside extra time to get ready. The right job will present itself at just the right time. It might mean that you have to work as a substitute for a year, but that can be a great learning experience and a foot in the door. I thought I had interviewed for every possible position when I finally got the call from Pinewood. After the interview, I am convinced it is a perfect fit. The wait is definitely worth it. Good luck in your job search,

Monday, June 15, 2015

Where do I see the Media Specialist/ Teacher Librarian Profession in 5 years?

As I interview for various jobs in my area, a common question is: Where do you see the Media Specialist profession going in the next 5 years? The common follow up question to this is: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Now I am the type of person that hates personal questions and tends to be sarcastic, so when I am asked things like this, my mind automatically goes to responses like: Well, I believe the Media Specialist profession will be going to Alabama. OR Well, books are going to die and so will librarians. Over the years, however, I have learned to hold back my sarcasm and answer with something a bit more genuine.
So where is it that I see the Media Specialist profession in 5 years? Well, unlike some people in our world, I do not believe that books will be going away anytime soon. I believe, that in 5 years, there will still be children and teachers coming to the Media Center to find print resources. I do, however, believe that the majority of the books housed in the Media Center will be for leisurely reading rather than information. I believe that the majority of our research materials will be coming from an electronic source. Electronic sources are easier to keep up to date and often either free or subsidized through state programs. With the majority of research sources going online, and new technologies entering the education field all the time, the Media Specialist will become more of a trainer and technology integrationist. The Media Specialist will spend more time on teaching staff and students how to use technology, especially how to do so ethically. The Media Specialist will collaborate more with classroom teachers to teach students critical thinking skills of evaluating and using information sources. It will be a fun and interactive position to be sure.
Personally in 5 years, I wouldn't mind doing a job like this. More interaction between staff, students, and the Media Specialist really excites me. However, I also have some personal goals that might mean I am not a Media Specialist in 5 years. My husband and I lost a baby a year ago through miscarriage. Since then, we have been fighting my body for the chance to have another child. If we are given that chance, my biggest desire is to be home with him or her. So answering the follow up question in interviews is hard. If I am still a Media Specialist in 5 years, then I definitely will be doing more staff development and technology integration. However, if I am a mom in 5 years, I hope to be home spending time with my babies. Of course, given that I am trying to get a job, I leave the second half of my response out.