I forgot how hard it is to start at a new school, how long it takes to build those relationships with the students. I forgot how hard I worked at my old school to make sure those kids knew that I cared about them. I was used to the rhythms of affection and tough love that surrounded me there. I was already a part of my students’ successes and failures. At my new school, I came in ready to like them and to teach them about nerdy things I love like almanacs and what a good PowerPoint presentation looks like. But they don’t know me yet, and it takes a while to build that mutual respect. I forgot that’s where I have to start.

In talking with my supervisor yesterday, I realized that I have been so busy that I have neglected to set up those systems, that intentionality that made working at my old school such a joy. The population at my new school is different, but, in the end, they need the same things that all kids need: affirmation and affection. So I am thinking hard about making those connections and taking the time (oh, there is so little time and so much I want to teach them!) to include those in my daily routine.

I started a project today with a class that has been a challenge to me, one that will have them telling me their stories. In order to make that happen, I wrote my own version, which we read during class time today. I don’t want to jinx it, but it was the best time I have ever had with that class. They had lots of questions about my stories, and they were eager and ready to share theirs. If there is one thing I believe in, it’s the power of story. Today we were able to create a space to share our stories, to share our lives. I hope and believe that, along with some of the other efforts I have planned, will make a difference.

I am lucky to have a job I consider meaningful, lucky to be able to help students make connections between their lives and the books and information we have available to them. It is easy to forget that stories are a part of that: reading, living, and telling good stories. Today reminded me of what I wrote back in the spring about my affection for “Two Tramps in Mud Time” by Robert Frost:

My job is certainly not play for mortal stakes, but I do like to think that some of what we do in the library is soul-shaping, and that the connections students make with books and ideas have something to do with heaven and the future. I would like to thank Robert Frost and Madeleine L’Engle for teaching me how important it is to do something that you would truly care about whether or not it was your profession. I am glad this is mine.

The Arm of the Starfish

Linking with Claire, Kelly, and Sarah as a way to think about storytelling.

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