I suspect many of you would answer the title question in the negative. I hear from many librarians who are feeling frustrated and exhausted, and while I understand their reasons, it causes me great concern. These symptoms, if prolonged, lead to burnout and that in turn results in not giving your best to your students and teachers.
But what can you do when you are overworked and under-appreciated? The answer begins with changing your mindset. When you change your mindset, you can start recognizing you are far more successful than you think. I am not saying you aren’t working under stressful conditions, but it’s how you react to them, how you internalize them, which can make all the difference in the situation.
Our new National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries refers to having a “growth mindset” which is the antithesis of a “fixed mindset.” It is defined as “people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. This view creates a love of learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (p. 276)
And you definitely need resilience to deal with what is on your plate.
You certainly believe that a growth mindset is important for your students. But how about you? You are working hard but are you working towards your mission, your purpose? Are you only seeing what you aren’t accomplishing and the negatives around you? That will only move you into a downward spiral.
I challenge you to define what success would look like. What do you think being successful with your students looks like? With teachers? With administrators? Your list likely has places where you haven’t achieved what you consider success. But look a bit more closely.
You are undoubtedly more successful with your students than you are giving yourself credit for. Has a student thanked you for your help in some way lately? What about any relationships you have developed with teachers? Has one of them expressed any appreciation for something you have done? Have you made any inroads with your principal?
I recently read an article by Jillian Kramer entitled 4 Myths We Are Taught about Success. This comes from the business world but there are strong connections to what we are dealing with every day.
Her first myth is one I have discussed before, “If You Are Good at Your Job, You’ll Get Promoted.” You are good, and no one is noticing you. True in the business world and true for us. And what does she recommend to change this? Build relationships – and focus on your next step.
The second myth, “You Must Start Young,” doesn’t seem to connect – but it does. The point is yesterday doesn’t matter. It’s what you do today. Where do you want to go? How will you get there? And then, start NOW.
The third is “You Must Kill Yourself to Succeed.” Some of you are trying that route. It doesn’t work. You feel like a martyr and you have nothing left for what’s really important in your life. Working late everyday is not a recipe for success. Try my mantra, “Everything will get done. It always does.” This really means if it’s a priority, you will make it happen.
The final myth is, “You Must Play Politics.” Guess what? In business and in our world, that kind of approach is obvious to everyone. Being a team player is not being a brown-nose. On the other hand, you do need to know what your stakeholders’ goals are, whether you are referring to administrators or teachers. That’s how you successfully connect your library program to what matters to them.
It’s easy to focus on all the negatives in our lives. Obviously, they must be dealt with, but when we bring them to close to our vision, we see nothing beyond it. I counter that habit by keeping a Success Journal. Each day I record whatever has occurred that makes me feel successful. (Such as completing my blog for the week.)
Learning to take a wider view will help you establish a more positive mindset, which will improve how you see your world and yourself. Ultimately, I hope you will discover you are far more successful than you thought.