Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pre-Practicum Musings: Final Visit

This week was my last pre-practicum visit. From a skills perspective, it was a little more on the administration side. The good news of the art show from a few weeks ago is that many new books were donated to the library. The bad news? The books need to be processed. But I'm a pro at this by now, so printing the book plates, adding the new books to the catalog and shelving them were no big deal.

It's always interesting to see which books people selected to donate - in a sign of the times, this book was one of the first to be selected which I was pleasantly surprised to see. When I was getting the books ready for display during my last shift, I hesitated for a minute because you never know what is going to offend some people, but I am glad that my hesitation was unwarranted (it helps that I live in MA, I suppose!).

I did have a chance for a couple of philosophical conversations that helped tie together some of the things we have discussed in my class throughout the semester:

  • Book Selection for All-School Read - This was an interesting "What Would You Do?" The school is considering Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman, which is a great little book that tells the story of a community garden in Cleveland, and how it changes the lives of 13 very different people. The issue came up with one of the subjects, who is a pregnant sixteen-year old who openly states how she wishes something would happen to her baby so that she wouldn't have to be pregnant anymore. The LMS asked me what I thought - remembering that the incoming 6th graders are 11 years old. My gut feeling - as both a future librarian and a parent - is that the inclusion of this vignette would not affect my decision to recommend the book. I'd use it as a teaching moment, and take the opportunity to have a discussion with my child about this character's feelings. It's also likely that many 11 year olds (and I'm generalizing here, but especially boys) might not even get it and would gloss right over this passage. TBD on what the school will decide on but it was interesting look into the influence (right or wrong) of parents on curriculum decisions.
  • Difficulty in Collaboration - We have talked a lot this semester about collaborating with content area teachers, specifically in the areas of information and media literacy. My classmates and I have talked a lot about ways to engage teachers, and make them realize we as librarians are valuable resources that they can tap into, and in most cases, I have observed teachers enthusiastically co-teaching with the LMS. But what do you do when a teacher actively, and definitively, rebuffs your offers? On the one hand, you can only do what you can do, and as long as you have made the effort, you can't force anyone to use the library, right? But on the other hand, what if the students are missing crucial instruction in research skills and avoiding plagiarism (based on the quality of their turned in work),and add in the complexity of the department head encouraging the LMS to make sure the teacher comes to the library? It certainly puts the librarian in an awkward, no-win situation. Putting myself in her shoes, I just don't think I could play bad cop and demand my involvement in this situation. If the department head forces the issue directly with the teacher, then I would do my very best to be accommodating, while teaching the skills as they should be taught. In the absence of a true mandate, however, I think I would just focus my energies on making sure that these students were getting proper instruction when they are in the library with other classes or on their own for one-on-one help.
And, that's it. For posterity's sake:

Today's hours: 2.5

Total hours: 25.5 (look at me overachieving!)

New pre-practicum to come in September...

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