It’s the beginning of August, and while most of us are trying to hide from the heatwave hitting the country, many of us also already have our sights set on fall.
As I prepare for this upcoming school year, I am feeling a mixture of emotions. There’s the hum of anticipation that happens as I look forward to the chances to connect with students and colleagues. And, to be honest, there’s also extra weight this year as I contemplate the many challenges we are facing as a profession.
If anything, the last three years have taught me that it is impossible to predict what will come next. Despite the uncertainty of what may lie ahead, I know one thing to be true. Being a school librarian is one of the best jobs in education, and it is one that has brought me immense joy.
One of my favorite podcasts signs off with one of their personal mottos, “It’s a fun job, and we enjoy it.” As tv writers in Hollywood they found it easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind and stress and forget how much they love what they do. (Happier in Hollywood Podcast)
I think that can also be incredibly easy for us to do as school librarians, even before the difficulties that have presented themselves in the past several years. We have to remind ourselves that our job is FUN as well as hard, and that we are here because we do enjoy it.
As this year unfolds, I want to be sure that I am focusing on finding joy in my school librarian journey, both in my role in my school and also as a member of the AASL Board of Directors. While we know that the road ahead may be bumpy, at our very first meeting this past June I gave each member of the 2023-24 board a coaster to help remind us that we are here to support the many members of this joy-filled profession. And while the work we are doing may feel heavy at times, there is also joy to be found as well. I keep mine on my desk at home as a gentle reminder and where I can see it while I am on Zoom calls or conducting other AASL business.
I also want to assure you that this isn’t a rose-colored glasses kind of situation. I don’t want to ignore the importance, and sometimes difficulty, of the work I am doing in my school library and for AASL in supporting learners in my community and across the country. But, I also do not want to let the day-to-day weigh so heavily on me that I only want to cocoon myself in soft-blankets and binge watch Hallmark movies and HGTV (which is sometimes what my self-care looks like 🙂).
It is important to acknowledge moments of joy and gratitude so that we can continue to do the vital work despite the adversity we may be facing. At the Right to Read Rally at ALA Annual, Becky Calzada, AASL President-Elect, shared a tip for how she looks for the bright spots amid the storm clouds. She talked about how she keeps a journal of the positive moments to acknowledge them and to be able to look back at them in times of difficulty. I am going to take that suggestion to heart and keep a journal of my own to help me make sure I am focusing on finding joy each and every day. And, I’m going to do it with a fun Baby Yoda pen as a gentle reminder that this journal is to be filled with gratitude and joy and should not feel like a burden.
As I fill out my calendars, get our library spaces ready to welcome students, and connect with fellow teachers to plan collaborative lessons, I am focusing on the possibilities while considering the challenges that lie ahead.
The teens sometimes are boggled by the fact that us old people need signs to remind us to find joy or to laugh or to take a moment to breathe. As I close out this post and get ready to welcome the new school year, I am going to leave you with one more sign. I picked this up on clearance and immediately knew I needed it for our school library because it truly is the happy place for many of our learners and also definitely is for me. The school library is and always has been a happy, joy-filled place, and I want to remember that as I tackle the day-to-day work that makes it so.
And, I would like to invite all of you to our first AASL Town Hall of the year Finding Joy in the Journey on Wednesday September 13th from 6:00-7:00 PM CST. Click on the link to register in advance. Our conversation will center around Finding Joy in the Journey and the many things that bring us joy and ways we plan to acknowledge that joy this year. I hope to “see” you then!
Author: Courtney Pentland, AASL President 2023-2024