Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Fascinating

It's the word Spock used on Star Trek to express a certain degree of incredulity or bafflement.

As you know, I began my new job.  I am the library aide at two different urban elementary schools. Each school in the district has a librarian on site for nine weeks of the year.  The rest of the time the aides run the library.  At  my two schools there has been no librarian there yet and there has been no aide since the first marking period.  I was given two days of training at a school other than my own, most of said orientation came with the caveat, "It could be completely different at your school."  The woman informing me was not lying or exaggerating.

At one school I was given the entire first cycle to catch up on whatever record keeping backlog exists.  I couldn't imagine needing the amount of time allotted but I did, partly due to sheer volume of need and partly due to significant technological impediments such as not having the necessary access to software critical for the job.  Later I enhanced the impediment with a fairly impressive ID10T error or my own.  Oh, and my desk for both circulation and whatever other work I have is student sized and the library has been divided into separate rooms to accommodate other classes since we lack space.   Since doing that the students have not been able to have library IN the library.  Library went to them....on a cart.  The good news is the current principal wants the library experience restored to being IN the library....although other classes will still be there. 

I also found a lot of folks who just don't like to be asked questions or for supplies.  I was a little fearful for my safety when I dared to ask for manilla folders.  Finally, I found one teacher who said she was brand new to the district just this fall.  She said she and another new teacher are going to write a book entitled "Everything You Need to Know About Working Here but Were too Afraid to Ask or Didn't Even Know to Ask."  She offered herself as a resource for my questions but quickly let me know she probably wouldn't have an answer...she'd mostly be able to commiserate.

Initially I was told I'd be given time to catch up with the backlog at the second school as well before starting circulation.  Later that was reversed so I hightailed it over there this afternoon to dip my toes in the pool before  being thrown in the deep end.  I thought I'd start working on records.  Wrong.  I had roughly 400 books to clean up from all over.  Piles on desks, on tables, on shelves, in carts.  All in disarray.  The assistant principal apologized for the mess and said she had tried to gather things up for me, which I appreciated, especially since the assistant principal generally has more pressing duties than tidying the library.  Obviously, getting books checked in and put away took precedence over student records being accurate.  The good news at this school is although my circulation desk is again a child-sized model I do have a grown up-sized desk for other work.  Also, I was told the stockpile of nice soft tissues in the corner were for me, which was astonishing considering that just a mile or so away manilla folders were in such short supply I knew better than to even hope for tissues.

I am deeply grateful for the job.  I am thankful for the folks who have offered support in my befuddlement.  I am sure once I get a system working it will all be fine.  I just have to say my first few days have been.....fascinating.

19 comments:

Craig said...

I can just see you arching one eyebrow as you say, "Fascinating". You don't happen to have any Vulcan ears stashed away, do you?

Urban schools are just amazing, sometimes. . .

That corgi :) said...

Fascinating is probably not the first word you would use to describe these days, but you must have some sense of decorum in a public setting such as a blog. It is certainly interesting to say the least. Must be overwhelming too! I'm hopeful it will eventually all come together!

betty

Beach Bum said...

I've been friends with several different teachers and other people that work in schools and frankly do not know how they put up with all the crap they have to deal with on a daily basis.

One lady here in South Carolina had one of her students try to blow up the school several years ago.

In a far better world they would be paid along the lines of vast amounts of money we readily give to those who chase footballs and basketballs.

Bijoux said...

About a decade ago, we had a lot of overcrowding at the elementary school, so the music room became a classroom and they had music on a cart instead. Oh, the uproar! But, seriously, it is sad when a kid, learning to read, can't have access to the full library in his school! Especially in an urban setting, where the school library may be his or her only option.

Sailor said...

I have this vision of you whipping out a tricorder, in order to determine if there's signs of life in some of the supposedly sentinent beings that inhabit your strange new world of elementary school... ugh.

I couldn't do it- I can't even do SS with the littles, High School I can handle; but I sure couldn't handle that, either, in a real school setting.

I'm glad you have the job & all that, and hope it works out- and am totally in awe of the ability you, and others that have the skill, do with the kids.

Daryl E said...

soon the overwhelmed will morph down into whelmed an easier state to work in ...

haphazardlife said...

I have no doubt you will wrestle both places into submission. Everything will be running like clockwork in no time flat with you at the commands.

Uncle Skip, said...

Fascinating is my new favorite euphemism.

It reminded me of a joke I heard years ago and shall repeat on my blog... some day, if I remember.

Kat said...

The first few weeks (sometimes months) at a new job are always detestable. Hang in there. I'm sure you will have both places in tip-top shape in no time, and everyone will wonder HOW they managed without you in the first place.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I just know that soon enough it will all be old hat to you. But until then, yikes.

Stephen Hayes said...

The "break in period" at a new job can be anything BUT fascinating. But I think this job will be great once you get your footing. Live long and prosper.

Logophile said...

Oh man, it just isn't getting better, is it?
Wow, do they need you or what??
Go get 'em, Limey. I know you can have the whole thing whipped into shape in no time... once you get your printer ink and folders.
;)

Barbara Shallue said...

I was the library aide at our elementary school one year ages ago, thrown in with no training or experience when the previous aide quit. The district librarian worked at another school. I was on my own. It's still my favorite job ever and since I don't have a degree, it's what I aspire to again, with no luck so far! Hang in there and keep looking at the positive points!

(M)ary said...

Sounds like that one job is BYOD. bring your own adult sized desk

Dave said...

I enjoyed your story and sympathise with you. With luck it will all sort out eventually. I hope you stay positive and stick with it Michelle :-) - Dave

Hilary said...

I'm sure you'll get everything sorted out and begin to enjoy the job, along with your coworkers and students soon.

Strange how the budget is so different between schools. Are they in very different neighbourhoods income-wise?

Craver Vii said...

Spock would never have used the words, "bafflement" or "befuddlement." But when you say it with one raised brow, I can just imagine...

Leave It To Davis said...

It's amazing to me that you returned for a second day. They are truly lucky. Most of the people they hire in our office wouldn't have come back. They probably would have left when they saw the child sized desk. Just turned heel and run out the door!

I worked in the jr. high cafeteria here as a food service worker when my kids were in elementary school so I would be off when they were. I found it to be highly rewarding. The kids were great...the teachers, for the most part, were kind and treated us as human beings, and the office staff were the best ever! I would be willing to bet you will LOVE this job in the end and won't ever want to leave. Even with all the germs....you get so much in return from those kids...they are going to LOVE you!

Cricket said...

"Strange how the budget is so different between schools. Are they in very different neighbourhoods income-wise?"

Sigh. Those crazy Canadians with their universal health care and well-funded schools... it's a socialist hell-world, I tell ya.

Cripes.

Glad things are working out for you, though.