21 February 2020 Share
Maybe it’s just because it’s been the month of ‘luuuurve’ and I’ve been reading all your wonderful suggestions about books you love and we’re heading into World Book Day – a day of excitement and joy for school library staff, teachers and pupils across the country - but I am feeling incredibly positive about what’s going on within the sector.
Twitter started it off, or more specifically, a year 7 boy in Eileen Armstrong’s school which she then tweeted about (more about this below), and it’s also been two years since I started at the SLA, which brought up all the amazing (and sad) moments from when I left school, and all the excitement of starting this new role. The pupils I left come to my mind on regular occurrences, and there are days when I really miss sharing my days with them. But they, and pupils across the country are what the SLA is all about; supporting you to support them and this spurs me on, and keeps my energy levels high.
I have recently had more than one piece of news which is incredibly exciting, but which (frustratingly for all of us) I can’t share yet, but which have had me dancing about the corridors (insert dancing gif here) and I have had meeting after meeting in which organisations and companies are doing thoroughly exciting things involving school libraries and I am excited for what lies ahead. There are so many people who care so much about the pupils we work with and for and who are changing things in their contexts.
I genuinely believe that school libraries are one of the most exciting, passionate, and impactful sectors to work in, but I also think that we often lose sight of that due to the day to day pressures, not to mention that working in schools can simply be utterly exhausting! If you’re having a slump, perhaps try something that will change it up – ask your line manager if you can do a storytelling session in a feeder primary; work with a different group of pupils; do something out of our comfort zone. It won’t solve your problems, but it may alleviate them for a while. And if you’re not in a slump, why not try this anyway? Who knows what doors it could open?
In fact, I think this positivity boost was actually started by seeing all the ‘Moments of the Month’ from our e-newsletter readers (members should be getting it automatically, but if you’re not or you’re not a member but interested in all things reading/research/school libraries you can sign up here: www.sla.org.uk/email-newsletter). Each month we’re giving you a chance to celebrate the moments that have made you smile, whether that’s a colleague, a pupil or something completely different! We had in more than we anticipated last month, so we made them into a video, which you can watch here: www.sla.org.uk/email-newsletter
And I’d like to keep this positivity going, and spread it wider, and include more people. I do sometimes wonder what the sector looks like from an outsiders point of view. When people search school libraries on social media, do they see the passion, excitement and impact that I know is happening? Or do they see something different?
One of the things I know which will keep the positivity going is the Pupil Library Assistant Award – the ceremony takes place in March, an Award the SLA are proud to support; it’s really effective at highlighting the skills and care that school library staff have over their pupil helpers; and I look forward to finding out more about the pupils and what they have achieved.
Now, we’re probably all thinking World Book Day – activities, reading, storytelling sessions and passion galore. And this year, we at the SLA and CILIP SLG invite you to celebrate World Book Day by sharing the moments that have had an impact. However you support the reading and learning in your school, if you have a moment that shows a change in attitude from a pupil or staff member, share it using the #libraryattitudes and #worldbookday, and of course you can include @uksla or @cilipslg as well. A lovely example is this tweet from Eileen Armstrong that started this blog:
“So the y7 boy who refused to set foot in the library in Sept has now read 67 books, borrows books in sixes and gives them a cuddle as he leaves. Told me the library is his favourite place and he could spend all day there. Winning them over one at a time!”
This had been liked 2,600 times last time I checked (showing school libraries do have supporters) and Eileen suggested we build on this by encouraging more people to share their stories. You can share moments where pupils or staff members have changed their attitudes about the library, research, learning or about reading and let’s celebrate each other, and give other people a chance to celebrate our work.
It doesn’t have to be a ‘big thing’; as long as it means something to you let’s share it; one of my ‘smile moments’ was when children used to show me their homework: a smile and a high five can go a long way for some pupils, and it shows they care. If you aren’t on social media but want to contribute email your moments to info[at]sla.org.uk and we’ll share them on your behalf (you can be anonymous if you want).
I don’t want to finish on a negative note, but given recent events perhaps we can all try to be more positive, to compliment people more, and boost the positivity of the people around us. Perhaps the WBD boost could be a year round feeling... and even if not, perhaps it’s worth trying for anyway?