93. Abject failure
Enneagram 3 woes, a couple of good books, and a third kid (<--clickbait)
What I’m up to
I’m back at my usual Saturday cafe, ignoring my homework in order to write this.
We’ve been overcome with wave after wave of flu-like illnesses but, fingers crossed, are on the mend.
I now have a 15-year-old! Crazy.
I’ve been so busy (fun-busy) in the library, I almost forgot we’re heading to the Philippines next week!
I’m grateful for Saturday mornings.
What I’m reading
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl González - not what I expected from the title. I expected the book to be about an old lady on her deathbed, reminiscing about her life. (Lol.) Instead, it’s about a pair of high-powered siblings (one a wedding planner, one a congressman) and their absentee mother-turned-radical, who abandoned them to devote her life to the cause of Puerto Rican independence. It’s good.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano - I picked this up because I usually try to read a couple of fiction selections from Obama’s reading lists (it’s how I discovered my fav, Ted Chiang!). This one’s a real tear-jerker. It’s about family, about what tears* it apart and what keeps it together. I did feel emotionally manipulated at points (I was resentful that I shed so many tears!), but it was worth reading.
*no pun intended
Currently working through Hamlet again for AP Lit.
What I’m thinking about
I’m taking a class called School Library Management right now, and it’s the most directly relevant course I’ve taken in my life. Everything I read and create for the class is immediately usable at work. It’s great!
I’m realizing, however, it’s hard to take a course like this as an Enneagram 3.
At work, I have different types of responsibilities - maintenance-type responsibilities (for example, making sure all books are shelved properly), spontaneous responsibilities (helping a teacher pull books on a subject), and project-based responsibilities. The first two are pretty easy to identify; the third, however, is wide open and essentially self-generated.
Here’s what I’m learning about myself: if I hear of a good idea, my impulse is to feel like I must do it — now! The list of things I could do is instead a list of all the things I should be doing if I don’t want to be an abject failure.
In the last module of this grad class, I had to read this “manifesto” of a school librarian. You better believe my brain immediately turned the bullet points into a checklist of all the things I should already be doing.
What should be inspiring instead becomes overwhelming.
(My grad school prof read my reflection on this manifesto and thinks I’m crazy. “No wonder you are overwhelmed!!” she said, with two exclamation points.)
Now that I’ve realized this about myself, here’s what I’m going to do to combat this:
Create a mission statement. This will help me prioritize ideas.
Make a one-year and five-year plan. I currently have a month-by-month plan, but it functions more like a record of the things I’ve done and want to do rather than a strategic, backwards-designed plan.
Create an Advisory Board. We have a student advisory board (LSAB!), but it is comprised of high school students and essentially functions as a club. I want to identify a group of a handful of stakeholders (a teacher, admin, parent, secondary student, ES student?) who share my vision for the library and can offer feedback and suggestions for what projects will benefit the library the most.
What I’m learning
I’m also taking a class on the theory and practice of teaching reading, and it’s made me question how I’ve taught reading thus far.
It boils down to this: teaching reading skills is meaningless if we lose sight of the purpose of reading.
WHY do I want kids to be able to read well? So they will actually want to read.
Mark Twain puts it well, “The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them” (qt. in Young, et al, 2022).
The authors of the passage that pushed me down this path of thinking ask, “what good is it to learn to read if in the process one does not also develop a recognition of the importance and utility of reading in one's life?" (Young, et al, 2022, emphasis mine).
Ultimately, I want my students to know how to identify metaphors not to do well on their AP Lit exam, but because knowing how to recognize literary devices makes text more interesting and thus, more enjoyable, and thus, more relevant.
I want my students to be literate so they can know the feeling of being seen when a poet captures a feeling they once thought was theirs alone.
I want my students to read so they know what’s going on in the world; being informed can then be a step towards working for positive change.
Of course, enjoyment is often tied to a feeling of competence, so yeah — I’m still teaching my kids those skills. But I want to do a better job helping my students enjoy, nay, luxuriate in the power of words.
Related: one of my favorite poems, a poem I’ve taught every year ironically but now teach sincerely.
What I’m digging
I’ve been reading Cup of Jo for almost two decades, and she’s always been the blogger I love the most. Here’s something that popped up when I opened Substack this morning:
I have never struggled with making mothering my whole identity, but I have struggled with feeling panic that this childrearing stage of my life is rapidly coming to a close. I have wanted a third kid ever since we had Lucy. Could it be that I’m just… trying to put off death?
What I’ve saved
I suppose we can find beauty anywhere. (Kottke)
Until next time,
Tracey, D. H., & Morrow, L. M. (2017). Lenses on reading : an introduction to theories and models (3rd ed.). The Guilford Press.