When I started becoming a connected educator I found it so cool that I was able to connect with the people I admired and learned from. It was so amazing that I was able to tweet and connect with my librarian heroes like Shannon Miller, Gwyneth Jones, Joyce Valenza, Nikki Robertson, Jennifer LaGarde, Tiffany Whitehead and many more. Then I started to get to know them as friends and learned that they were no different than me. They struggled at times and doubted if they were doing the right thing. It made me realize that I was no different then them.
All too often we idolize people and think their lives are perfect and that is not the case at all.
Here is my story - A little over 13 years ago I started out my career as a librarian. I had yet to finish my schooling and had no one to mentor me. I totally learned on the job. This was way before Twitter or social media and because of that it was much harder. I was also the only librarian in my school, so I had no one to turn to. After two years I left the job to have my son and then after a few years I started back as a part time librarian at the high school in my town. I worked with two other people and I found it difficult.
One of the people I worked with was a total old school librarian who never wanted to change anything. We were supposed to do things like we did 20 years ago and if you tried to change anything it was met with tons of resistance. The librarian was also not very nice to the students and it was hard to watch. No matter what I did it seemed to be wrong and I was not treated very well. There was also no consistency in the services we provided and teachers would avoid having that person teach their classes. There were even times when I was yelled at in front of the students and I really considered quitting. Luckily that person retired, and I thought I would now be able to do things I wanted to do. Well, that was not the case.
As much as I tried, the other librarians and I could not get along. There were numerous reasons for this some of them because of me. It became clear that it would not work out for all of us to work together. After much soul searching and help from a dear friend I made the decision to move to the middle school.
At the time I thought it was a demotion. I thought I was a failure and was labeled by many as uncooperative and hard to work with among other things. It was one of the hardest times in my life because I started to believe what others were saying about me. I gave up believing in myself. I lost all confidence in myself. I was lucky to have the support of a few friends and family members who did believe in me and helped me through this time.
It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I was able to run the library liked I wanted to. I was able to try new things and experiment. I did not have to answer to anyone but myself and it was great! It was also around this time I started to become a connected librarian and that opened up another world for me. I started to learn from and connect with other librarians and teachers from around the world. I started to share with others what I was doing. All of that made me into the librarian I became.
At the end of the last year I made to choice to move to administration. I now supervisor librarians and multimedia teachers. I could not pass up this opportunity. I like what I am doing now, but I really miss being with the students... I am not sure I made the right move. I still have my doubts that I made the right decision but I am going to give it a try. We have to be able to try something new and be willing to take a risk. I am in the process of doing that right now. Who know how things are going to turn out but realize I am far from perfect.
Elissa Malespina is the Middle School Teacher Librarian in Somerville and a Presenter, Author and much more. The views are my own. Find my full resume above.