How to embrace “Other Duties As Assigned” without burnout

Other Duties As Assigned –

Independent school world can be a challenge. The paradox of being in “business,” where students pay tuition to attend, is juxtaposed with being an altruistic educator wanting to make a difference and change the world. Unlike public schools, each school has a unique business model.

In my experience with private or independent schools, I have received only one-year faculty contracts that do not accumulate tenure or other assurances that come with seniority. Every arrangement I have received has variations of the dreaded “other duties as assigned.”  It seems that public school has similar clauses in their employment agreements. A basic search yielded several lists of ordinary and the more bizarre duties assigned to faculty.

The hats we wear

In my seventeen years at the same school, I’ve had wide-ranging roles; in addition to being the school librarian, I have found myself promoting diversity activities, organizing the prom, serving on the leadership team for ten years, guiding the capstone project, and managing the rites and rituals of graduating classes. During my tenure, I have worked under four different school administrations, each with their priorities and distinct ideas of a school librarian’s purpose. Fortunately, the school has a long history of valuing the library, and the new duties have never been a burden, though not always a fit.

When the other duties become more

Some of the other roles of educators go far beyond lunch or bus duties. In small schools and rural areas, librarians are sometimes asked to coach a sport, manage the yearbook, or teach core classes like English or Reading. This situation is a struggle between wanting to be a team player and protecting or preserving the role and importance of the school library. Ask yourself two primary questions when you take on more significant additional roles. Can I fulfill this without resentment and carry it out with expertise? There are many tasks in a school that align with library standards. Take a look at the Common Beliefs to see correlations for roles.

“Qualified school librarians have been educated and certified to perform interlinked, interdis­ciplinary, and cross-cutting roles as instructional leaders, program administrators, educators, collab­orative partners, and information specialists.”

My current ODAA

This year, I was asked to take on an additional role. So many teachers and librarians suffer from overwork and are stretched too thin, particularly since the pandemic. I have even seen some step away from education altogether. Knowing that burnout is a “thing,” I almost rejected the request. However, I know I was asked to step into this pursuit because I had demonstrated expertise related to my library work. The extra work was to help the school develop social media content. The work is primarily on Instagram, Facebook, and X/Twitter.

Social media has become a primary marketing and communication tool for private and public schools. Many schools have initially assigned social media to an intern or a newer, more inexperienced staff member, assuming that youth equals tech savvy. As school librarians, we know that although our young learners may be digital natives, they do not necessarily have specific technology skills.

Leading School Librarians

Feature students “caught with a book.”

A well-established library marketing or branding plan has helped inform my work in the larger school’s social media accounts. A singular resource that has helped me throughout this discernment process is Hilda K. Weisburg’s book Leading For School Librarians: There is no other option. Hilda addresses the fear factors, developing confidence and improving expertise. I believe this role can help me improve skills that I will use to market the library further. Another benefit is that it will demonstrate to my administrators that I am a team player. Finally, I found several justifications in almost all six Shared Foundations in the  School Library Evaluation Checklist.

“The school library supplements other school resources, connects the school with the global learning community, communicates with learners and with other educators, and provides 24–7 access to library technology-integration services.””Library personnel remain current and engage in continuing education activities to ensure instruction and activities reflect the most-recent developments in professional practices, information technologies, and educational research.”

Social Media tips and tricks

Social media is ever-changing. About the time one learns about a trend, it has run its course. I might end with a few practical takeaways. First, it is good to plan, but it is better to be flexible. Because every day brings new opportunities and challenges. Second, a picture is worth a thousand words. Look for the highest quality photographs and choose images that tell a story. Third, don’t be afraid to experiment.

I have tried many social media apps since taking on this new role. Canva is a staple, but several photo and video editing apps can help. I always do a trial before investing in an additional app. At the risk of criticism, generative AI is handy when making your posts concise. At the very least, use a grammar and spelling tool. I am currently experimenting with the app ChatOn, which is powered by ChatGPT API & GPT-4. This tool works with both texts and images to help craft social media posts. It helps with tone, emojis, and hashtags.

Example of enhanced post captions ChatOn app

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Author: Hannah Byrd Little

I’m a dedicated Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle, leveraging my background in higher education libraries to guide students through the crucial transition from school to college and beyond.

I am honored to have served as the AASL Chair for the Independent School Section in 2023 and am excited to begin my upcoming role as Director-At-Large for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) later this year, following my previous experience as a Member Guide in the AASL Emerging Leaders program. These appointments reflect my commitment to advancing library education and professional development on a national scale.

With experience in state-level leadership through the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL), including serving as TASL President in 2012, I bring a wealth of knowledge to my role. My educational background includes certifications as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, a Bachelor of Science in Communications (Advertising & Public Relations), a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies (Education & Information Systems), and a Master’s in Library and Information Science.



Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Technology

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