September 7, 2014

This school year has plopped me into the throes of academic testing stress in a way that my chosen profession has normally exempted me from, even though I have been in education all my career life: librarianship is a more individual job than most classroom teaching roles. But this year I am full-force into the classroom teaching as well. While I would likely have never opted into this level of working stress, there are some intriguing [and potentially useful] musings that it has prompted to begin rolling around in my brain.
The main one surrounds types of intelligence. I have always advocated for teaching that caters to different types of learning styles, so that in itself is not new to me. What is, however, is the suspicion that my career choice stems from this theory, in a perhaps unusual way. I’ll attempt to explain . . .
I tend to be a relatively kinesthetic learner so, as much as I am able, I try to be involved in activities that support this—thus my role as Cross Country coach.
I also love music and, parallel to this, languages. So I teach French.
I did not know I was very interested in Math. But I can do it. And there was a need. So I teach middle school Math.
An interesting outcome of this combination is that fact that I now have a small group of students following me from one activity to the next; it has proven to be fascinating, and inspiring, to watch the different gifting that end up being displayed.
One student, for instance, began the year acting up daily in Math. He displayed no interest whatsoever in the material, but found every imaginable opportunity for goofing off. I had already seen the same scenario in French class. It did not seem to be out of any desire to be disruptive, mind you: simply an inability to focus. Or so I thought. Then he joined Cross Country. We were already a week into the season when he joined, so he missed much of the introductory portion, instead just jumping into a combination distance and speed workout. Rather than complain, as he customarily would do in classes, I saw a new side of him. In his denim shorts and gym shoes, he set his jaw and kept ahead of the others, sticking right with me the entire practice. It was the epitome of focus for the task at hand.
Later, I was able to share this with his parents, who put the information to good use to encourage him in both running and studying. The positive enforcement has, I believe, contributed to the improvement I have seen in the classroom.
So what does this have to do with librarianship? In short, I think that libraries support a whole lot more diversity than one might initially realize. And I think that people of all different aptitudes and sorts can find a “home” in a library. One of the things I’ve been doing with my library classes is studies in genres. If you think about all the different types of books that have their own category, it should make one pause before labeling anyone as “bookish.” I mean, if a shelf of books is devoted to practical guides for athletes, another to wordless comic books, and another to poetic waxings, one can’t be too surprised to find library-dwellers of all sorts [shapes and sizes, too?].

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