Sunday, December 15, 2013

Peanuts, Libraries and Making a Difference!

My previous post relating that we are more than the sum of our scores and evaluations really struck a chord out there. I know this isn't exactly the "Common" of "Common Core", but we really do share similar experiences, no matter what demographics our schools reflect. It's encouraging to remember, though, that we're all in this together! (cue the "High School Musical" soundtrack!)

I've been a Peanuts Fan since i first saw "A Charlie Brown Christmas" when it originally aired on TV. I went to school the next day with almost the same excitement I had for seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan for the first time. Television history! Shaping and molding me into the person I am today. You know, that's when we had maybe 3 channels, 1 television, so I appreciate parents who were into all elements of pop culture. Of course Saturday nights watching Lawrence Welk as a family was another matter! But my dad would imitate Joanne Castle, the bouncy piano player, and we'd all get to dance around the family room. BIg Fun on the Prairie. But I digress. 

This week, as many of us are enjoying some of the more fun aspects of our jobs, here's a little food for thought. Let's lay aside our concerns and apprehensions about whatever might be going on. Take a little break friends and digest the following. Oh, and if it looks familiar, it's from something I wrote back in March, 2009. Kind of like a "BFTP" (Blast From the Past) that Doug Johnson writes that never seem to go out of date!

The following is based on the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip. See how you do on this quiz:
1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman Trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America Pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize. 
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. 
Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners .

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

How did you do?  Easier?

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care. As Media Specialists, friends, spouses, parents, and children, we are those people. Wherever you find yourself in the evaluation process, continue to be that person to someone and know you're making a difference.  

Have a great week and stay grounded, Difference Makers!


Sandy Penvose

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Stay Amazing, Librarians!

A recent post in Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog featured the following letter to students from an unidentified elementary principal that went home with student state test scores:
We are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you-- the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do. They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day. They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school. They do not know that you have traveled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends. They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best... the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. There are many ways of being smart."
It was something that really struck me as so true for what we are facing these days. Our students and our schools are so much more than the scores reveal. And add to that list, we Media Specialists. 

I know we've all received ratings which aren't what we expected or are lower than what we thought we performed at. Or our value added score combined with our written evaluation score resulted in a different rating than we hoped for. Whatever your situation, it's important to not let the words or labels affect your overall self esteem and sense of worth as a teacher and Media Specialist. I'm not saying that the recommendations or areas to focus on aren't legitimate, but don't let the process deflate you. When I have students that "want to stay all day" in the Media Center, I know I'm highly effective at something! When students want to come every day for the books we've studied in classes, I'm making a difference. When my principal comes pays me a visit first thing in the morning, just to "drink in this great atmosphere", I almost forget about my scores! No, make that I DO forget about them! 

So, to re-word a few items from that elementary principal's letter, your evaluators don't know all of the talents and skills that you possess that can't be graded or evaluated, yet add more value to your family and friends, along with your students and teachers, than any rating ever could. As a friend told me this week, when I was feeling less than stellar,  "Keep doing what you're doing. You know what's right for your kids and your staff. Stay amazing and inspiring, no matter who notices". 

Have a great week and Stay Grounded!

Sandy Penvose