Saturday, March 14, 2009

li-bearians v Librarians

I’ve been a fake TL for over half a year now. The question yet again in my teaching career has come back to who do I want to be as a teacher or in the current circumstances who do I want to be as a teacher librarian?

On Friday I shaved my head bar a wee Mohawk (Beckham style – there is even a blog devoted to his hair and it was here I found the picture to guide those with the shaver in hand) for Shave for a cure. So, I have totally blown the stuffy librarian role which is just as well considering I never wear skirts, let alone a twin set to work (pearls, one day, maybe).

The thing that blew me away was how excited the students were and how quickly word of mouth was travelling. Random yr 7s popping in to the library to ask if I was really going to do it, a year 10 girl gave me $10 – not just promised, but handed over the cash! Next week when the kids get to see it will be more interesting.

As will the reaction of staff. My theory with hair has always been that I don’t really care because a) I can’t see it and b) it grows back soon enough. I will be especially interested to see the reaction of one of my library colleagues who I shall dub here Mrs Shadow. I don’t think she’s been paying attention to conversation around her (nothing new there) and it will come as a shock. She’ll most likely have an opinion on how a teacher should look at school too but nothing she’ll say to my face.

I realised something on Friday, I wanna be King of the Kids! I want to be a person they like enough to chat with, an adult they can trust, a person they can have fun with, joke with, someone they take seriously and respect. I don’t need to be cool, I want to show them that they can be themselves (my example is a bit weird and kooky) and still be liked. That being themselves is the best they can be.

Last year I fell into supervising a circus skills class for girls in yrs 8&9, this year I have joined the year 7 band again after 20+ years. I am lucky our head librarian encourages these possibilities as well as taking sport teams to competition and camps. They have been great for getting to know the kids.

I want to be a Librarian not a li-bearian. What’s the difference? I see everything I don’t want to be wrapped up in the mispronunciation label of li-bearian. They are great shaggy ancient bear types who go shh… who can’t help you do the simplest thing on a library computer or know the quirks in the system well enough to tell you how to get around them… who aren’t really in a school library for the kids… who want the kids to change - be “good”, be more academic, work harder, be less sporty…who don’t read adolescent fiction… who are about their power over students rather than their power to help… who think the teachers come first… who can’t say no… li-bearians think they couldn’t possibly – what? It doesn’t matter as long as they think they can’t do it, learn it or make it happen.

li-bearians are show.

Librarians are substance.

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