Monday, January 5, 2015

Snow Apologies

It's that time of year again. It's time for us to realize that school may be cancelled due to inclement weather conditions.  Snow. Day. It has come to my attention, repeatedly, that people outside of the school community may begrudge me the glee that accompanies such days.  I've kept silent. My opinions have been kept to myself. I've bitten my tongue. Until now.

Some of my best childhood memories are of snow days. My dad was a teacher. When we'd hear the phone ring in the wee morning hours, we knew we could sigh deeply, snuggle under the heavy quilts and sleep a little longer. Oh, that phone call.  Sweet bliss. My snow day glee continued when we awoke to homemade hot chocolate and peeked outside to see mounds of white powder just begging to be disturbed. And disturb it we did.  As one of five children, I would join my siblings in building forts, snowmen, igloos, snowballs and tunnels. We'd stay outside until our exposed wrists became red with cold, our toes became numb and our fingers shriveled with a wet chill. We'd run in, red-cheeked, to stomp off our boots, shed our wet gear and warm up. Mom would pop our clothes in the dryer while we began to gain feeling in our extremities. Then we'd head out again or curl up on the couch with a book (my personal choice). I. Loved. Snow. Days.

I still love snow days.  The phone call is now a text message or recording, and I receive it the same time as everyone else who attends school or works there. It is still a pleasure. The days of me frolicking in the snow (who am I kidding--the days of me even frolicking) are over, but the thrill of the snow day, for me, remains.

There are many perks that you may get in your job. I don't get many, but, yes, I get snow days.

I don't get to just "call in sick" when I have a fever, though. I trudge into my desk and spend at least an hour planning substitute lesson plans, worried about making sure the material and specific skills get covered in my absence. I've done this with fevers and between spells of vomiting.

I don't get to earn a salary commensurate with my education, either. Don't get me wrong--I love what I do. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in elementary education, a Master's Degree in elementary education and a Master's Degree in library and information science.  That's three degrees. 8 years of college. Hmmm...isn't that the same amount of education required of some doctors and lawyers?

I don't get to eat. I inhale. 20 minutes is the maximum amount of time I've been allotted in all of the 23 years I've been teaching. Look around you at your next family gathering. The ones who finish first out of habit, work in education.

I don't get bathroom breaks. I have developed a bladder of titanium.  I acknowledge that this is not good for my body, but leaving second graders alone in a room isn't good for ANYbody. I've adjusted to this and often squeeze in a potty break during my extensive lunch "hour".

I don't get to spout off on social media regarding policy, peers, administration or other people's kids.  I like to think I wouldn't do this anyway, but such an indiscretion could cost me my job (not to mention the respect of many). I had a principal once who told his staff that ANY time you talk negatively about a child, you're wrong. They're children. You're the adult.  I've tried to remember this, because it's true.

I don't get the "same schedule as my kids". Anyone who believes this should probably spend some time visiting with any one of the teacher's kids who stay and entertain themselves for hour upon hour after 3:00 p.m. each day.  They belong to a special club of kids who give of their parents' time on behalf of everyone else's kids. They are the ones tattled on...constantly. They're the ones who have no secrets from their parents. They're the ones who REALLY love snow days. And they deserve them even more than their parents.

I recognize that I DO get other perks. That's only fair. I don't deny you your Christmas bonus, your company car, your expense account, your tax write-offs, your paid travel, your company discount. Don't get those? Even the knowledge specific to your job is a perk. My friend in medicine has ready access to diagnoses and people to prescribe antibiotics on a Sunday. My cousin at the Grand Ol' Opry meets celebrities on a daily basis. I get snow days, summers "off" (that's a whole 'nother blog), $2.32 school lunches, Christmas vacation, etc. If the kinds of perks teachers get appeal to you, JOIN US! We welcome enthusiastic, innovative, energetic, intelligent movers and shakers ready to change the world.

That unexpected, out-of-my-control hiatus from the day-in and day-out schedule is a perk of my job.  I welcome it (yes, even on the day after Christmas vacation). I celebrate it. And yes, to you, it may seem like I'm bragging about it. Maybe I am. But every job has its perks. One of mine is having a snow day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Policies Manual

by Marjorie L. Pappas/links edited by Suzan Durnell
Marjorie L. Pappas, Ph. D., is an Associate Professor at the School Library and Information Technology Online Learning, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. E-mail:
Suzan Durnell is a Library Media Specialist at El Dorado Springs Elementary in El Dorado Springs, Missouri.
School library media specialists often post messages on LM_NET and other state listservs I monitor, requesting examples of information that I used to maintain in a management manual when I was a school library media specialist. I started my manual when I was a student in the organization and administration course we all take in library science programs and I kept it current with information gleaned from conferences, workshops, and networking with other school library media specialists. Manuals are easier to maintain today because of networking through listservs and the Internet. In thinking about the requests for information related to policies, job descriptions, cataloging, resource acquisition, etc., I decided a virtual version of this traditional paper manual might be an interesting and useful concept.
My concept of virtual is paperless. Virtual manuals can be maintained without the challenge of adding pages and adjusting page numbers. Virtual manuals can include hyperlinks to information located on the Web. Before starting the development of my manual, I thought about who might access the manual besides the school library media specialist. Library assistants, volunteers, and, occasionally, substitutes should all be able to access this manual. Also, the library media specialist should be able to access the manual when working at home. The best way to achieve that flexibility is to post the manual on the library media center's website or on the school's network, assuming the network is Internet accessible. If a library media center website or network is not available, the concept is still feasible, but a little more challenging, because new versions would need to be loaded on separate computers. Once this decision has been made, the next step is to scan and/or key-in the existing information related to the specific library media center. Following are sections and weblinks to include.
Some policies need to be written to fit the unique needs of a specific library media center, for example, circulation policies that establish the time periods books circulate and the cost for replacing lost books. Other policies, like copyright, are based on federal legislation. Links to Web-based copyright information will be useful to supplement local policies.
The school library media specialist's job description should be posted, but it also would be useful to link to job descriptions for student and parent volunteers. The Web provides examples of job descriptions for this section.
The purchase of resources and technology for the library requires access to information about producers and jobbers.

Examples can help school library media specialists develop the forms for use in the library media center. This is a section that can be developed over time.
School library media services in larger school districts have developed excellent portal pages. These portals provide school library media specialists with both instructional and management resources and tools.
These virtual manuals and portals enable parents, community members, and other school library professionals to view how school library media specialists manage media centers and teach students to gather and use information. Now all we need is a portal page to the portals.