things i can control, things i can influence, and everything else

It’s been a mean couple of weeks. The kind of weeks where I’ve dreaded coming to work.  The kind of weeks where it feels like the hits just keep coming. The kind of weeks where I’m wondering if this is the new normal and the new normal might not be sustainable for me.

I keep reminding myself there are a few things I can control, a few more things I can influence, and a whole mess of things I can’t do much about.

In an attempt at feeling somewhat more in control, I’ve jumped head first into a few independent projects. I started researching incentives for reading and was directed to Stephen Krashen by the one and only Melissa Depper. The original impetus was going to an outreach site and being asked “What do I get for reading this week?” every time I visited, but I’m quickly realizing this research has relevance to the ongoing SRP/SLP/SRC Revolution. Are we actually doing the exact opposite we intend to do when we incentivize reading? One of my favorite things to say I “do” in my job is motivate kids to read because reading is the best. If reading is the best, why do we give kids anything to do it? Shouldn’t we be spending our summers allowing kids to read whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want and providing a ton of readers’ advisory help? Instead of labor intensive programs, shouldn’t we be offering book talk sessions for all ages (oh, man. I just thought of this idea and our SRP programming is already SET for this summer!) so kids can be introduced to books of interest to them in a fun way? I mean, there’s RESEARCH here, people, actual research!

I also picked up “Tools of the Mind: the Vygotskian approach to early childhood education” by Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong. After much consideration and much helpful advice from my fabulous twitter PLN, I’ve pretty much decided to forgo an MLIS in favor of an advanced early childhood education degree. I love school aged kids and I love working with them, but I have a passion for early childhood literacy and I am hopeful I will be able to continue working in a public library setting with a degree like this. I won’t be able to be a library director when I grow up, but quite honestly, my interest in management has waned.

Which brings me back to things I can control, things I can influence, and everything else.

I can control what knowledge I have. With that knowledge, I can influence and hopefully inspire people in my community, but the everything else part? I’m ready to to be done worrying and stressing and let it be everything else.

I have a history of melanoma and I just found out I have yet another spot that needs to be removed asap. Making it even more fun, it’s on my foot. MY FOOT! Which most likely means a longer recovery time. My already understaffed team is going to have to cover my storytimes, programs, outreach, and desk time for I-don’t-know-how-long-yet and I hate that it’s because of me. I don’t exactly have the best role models when it comes to taking the time one needs to recover and couple that with recent staff reductions, the guilt I feel over this could be crippling. But you know what? I am a valuable employee, but I am not essential. I’m not. What is essential is my health. I have watched employees literally work themselves to death by ignoring health issues and putting their job’s first. Miss Erin is going to put her health first and come back armed with many Mister Rogers’ episodes watched, many books read, and all ready to tackle SRP2015.

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3 thoughts on “things i can control, things i can influence, and everything else

  1. I’m so happy you finally figured out what you want to do, and that it’s early childhood education. That’s something you can use in the library, but there’s a wealth of other places that need strong EC professionals as well. I never regretted my education degree; I use what I learned every damn day.

    And I’d love to talk ZPD and other Vygotskian stuff anytime. I identify as a social constructivist and that’s why my thought since I started working here is “why are are we giving away stuff for expected behavior?” I really think that providing prizes for reading 1) rewards kids who ALREADY think reading is fun and 2) reminds kids who aren’t all that into reading that reading is a chore they should be compensated for.

    It sucks that you have so much going on, but hopefully your new (or renewed) passions can help you through this difficult time.

    • Thanks, Sara! And depending upon when this surgery all ends up happening, I may still manage to sneak into your course. Learning seems like a great way to spend some time recovering!

  2. Erin, Wow, you have been moving! Early childhood education may be as valuable as the ‘masters in library science’ for someone committed to working with youngsters… Check the syllabus for the program of your choice to be sure. I would like to think the program has some decent flexibility that would permit you to receive credit for a course or two that might not be in the normal syllabus, e.g. Children’s literature survey course for older kids, child psychology, and, just maybe, a management course to help one cope with adults (you will always have coworkers or parents in libraries… to say nothing about furthering one’s self understanding.)

    Of course you must take all the time your doctor recommends for recuperation… Don’t short change your long term health which some people do thinking they are just indispensable to their work place… And problems can come up later that take them out of the work place. So listen to your doctor. And think about some really great book talk approaches for kids… Time will be well spent… And preparing yourself for a somewhat different future relationship with young readers to assuage any ‘guilt’ you build up while recuperating. (Well, who wants to be bored after all?)

    I confess I never understood the necessity of ‘rewards’ for doing something that is a such a pleasure for so many if only they find a book of interest… Of course we must understand that some kids have roadblocks to enjoying reading: difficulty concentrating (distractions at home or brain disfunction)… dyslexia…and… well, you get my point. Libraries may serve well by creating activities that introduce kids to books they might not have heard about… and environments that encourage them to spend time with literature (which I must admit can be digital as well on paper). Libraries got hooked into competing with other summer time activities as well as other libraries to prove their value / worth to their communities. Tax payers do expect some evidence that their money is well invested… however, the challenge is not to have ‘head counts’ but participation in valuable events – which could be online as well as in person. Think about that one!

    Sent from my iPad

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