Monday, 13 January 2014

The 'Quiet' Teacher Librarian

Two years ago I read Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking and smiled.  Finally I had discovered someone who articulated all that I struggled with.  Even as an adult, the notion that I had to present at a staff meeting was worrisome.  Worrisome, now that's an understatement.  I certainly couldn't eat before a presentation, there wouldn't be much restful sleep the night before and every waking moment the thought of the presentation would be lurking there in the shadows.

When I became a teacher librarian, I loved my new job instantly.  I love books and I was enamoured with the collaboration, the co-teaching and the conversations.  But after my first year in the library, I realized that there was a part of my job that I wasn't doing well - advocacy.  Suddenly, I realized that each year I would have to justify my budget and my job.  I knew that great things were happening in my library but that simply wasn't enough.  Others needed to know.  More importantly, decision makers needed to know.

I've worked hard on role as advocate for libraries and over the past years, my role has changed.  This school year I have tried to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and do more public speaking.  I've presented, twice, to our feeder schools about PBL.  I donned a Britney Spears headset and spoke about our PBL project at the AASL vendor's venue. And last week I assisted in a presentation at the Innovation in the Thompson Okanagan conference.

At the conference, I had 8 CNB student leaders who were spending the morning opener talking to teachers and administrators about their learning.  All 8 were nervously excited but I knew that they would do an amazing job and represent the school well and they did.  My students knew that I was presenting and were stunned when they found out I was nervous.  They flooded me with advice but one stuck out: "Just imagine you're talking to us.  You're never nervous teaching us, are you?"  I tried to explain that teaching adolescents is what I love and was quite different than talking to adults.  And then I remembered my grade 4 teacher, an amazingly talented teacher whom I adored.  After the first parent teacher interviews, my Mum asked me if my teacher's stuttering was distracting.  My response?  "My teacher doesn't stutter."

And now I know why.

It's okay that I'm comfortable teaching middle school students.  It's also okay that even the idea of talking to a room full of adults fills me with dread.  I'm slowly starting to make it something I am more comfortable with.

The next challenge?  Running a workshop for the February Professional Development Day.  Wish me luck.

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