Start a new relationship with a teacher or other staff member. Remember, we are in the relationship business. Consider deepening an existing relationship. Get to know that person’s interests outside of school. You may find you have common ground, discover an “expert” who might help you with something you are doing, or add a dimension to someone you already know. Are there any students who are library “regulars” whom you don’t know? Strike up a conversation with them. Learn what their favorite app is or whether they are into gaming. I found my students to be some of my best teachers. Don’t limit yourself to the school scene. Is there a relative or friend you haven’t spoken with in some time. Is your only contact with them on Facebook? Try an email and set up some face time. Resolve to add at least one person a month to your relationship sphere. (This is one of my resolutions for the year.)
Keep Up With Trends
Read one professional article every month. Vary it. Don’t only look at library literature, be familiar with what administrators are saying. You can find blog posts and articles online. Find and explore one new tech resource or app each month and think how it can best be used. Would it be helpful for a classroom teacher? Which ones? And again, remember your students. Ask them what they are reading or watching on YouTube. You’ll be amazed at the relevance of what they enjoy.
You don’t grow unless you try new things. A favorite quote of mine, attributed to James Conant, is “Behold the turtle who only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.” Whether you decide to launch a book club for students or tackle an Hour of Code, you need to something that makes stakeholders aware of the contribution your program makes to the school community. Even though you may be doing a Makerspace or have another project going, you need to do something more. Once something is in place for a while people take it (and you) for granted. If an idea doesn’t immediately come to mind, put out a request for ideas on your state association’s listserv, on a Twitter chat, LM_NET, or join my School Librarian’s Workshop Facebook group and ask there. Choose the approach that works best for you. Whatever your choice you will be amazed at the suggestions you get back. (I am doing this as well. I will be giving my first AASL webinar this spring. This is new for me and I’ll announce the date as soon as I know it.)
Volunteer for Leadership
For many, this might come under the heading of stepping out of your comfort zone, but it deserves special mention, and you all know it’s my passion. Too many of you feel so burdened you can’t see how you can fit a leadership job into your life. You haven’t explored the possibilities. No one is saying you have to run for president of your state association (although that’s a goal to have for the future). You can .volunteer for a district committee. That will bring you into contact with a broader group of people—and give you an opportunity to “build your relationships.” Can you help with an initiative your state association is taking on? Again, you don’t have to be the chair. Being an active, contributing committee member is a good start. The same is true for national associations, which also now permit virtual members on many committees. One AASL committee that I am on does all its business via conference calls.
I’ve mentioned this before and will probably continue to do so because this is something with such a tremendous payoff, in many ways. You get a lot of positive attention when you get a grant or award. Even small grants such as those given by your local education foundation make your administration more aware of you and what you do. They always appreciate it if you can bring in “free” money. Then there are the ones from the national associations. Here again is the link to the grants and awards from AASL. You have one month to apply for this year’s awards since most have a February 1 deadline. Don’t think they are out of reach. See what has won previously and pick one to try for this year. If you can’t make the February deadline, start to work on the application for the next year.
This is a typical new year’s resolution, but it also applies to your leadership abilities. Do you need/want to lose weight? Kick a habit? Exercise? Stop saying you don’t have time. Take time. It’s a priority and you deserve it. Once you have chosen what you will do, make a plan to ensure you stick with it. Join Weight Watchers (my favorite) or another program. Sign up at a gym and take a class. Find a yoga or a dance group and join. Choose something that appeals and doesn’t sound like punishment. Enlist a friend to join you. You will be more successful that way. The healthier you are, the better you will like yourself, and the easier you will find it to take on other new roles.
Don’t spend your life being a worker bee. You are a human being not a human doing. Always make time for your hobbies, personal reading, and going out with family and friends, or whatever you love. This will rejuvenate you for all the things you have on your plate. Put it on your list if you can’t “remember.” Schedule the time for you. As I said last week, you need to make room for joy in your life – and it won’t happen unless you make it a priority.
Resolutions are easily made and forgotten even more quickly as life intrudes. You don’t have to try all these resolutions but you should pick at least two – plus the last two. Then keep track in print, on a spreadsheet, or a Google doc to record what you have done. How many times did you exercise? Which relationship did you develop? If the resolution was important to make, it’s important to keep. The record will help you hold yourself responsible.
Which ones will you choose? What other resolutions are you making? And what help can our community offer you?