Back to School Blues

***Disclaimer: If you’re looking for an inspiring post or great ideas, this particular post is not it. It’s more vent/rant/brain dump. But maybe you feel the same way at times and can know that you’re not alone.

I haven’t been very inspired lately. Kind of in a funk.

And I came to a realization. I struggle with the start of every school year in the library. I also struggle with the end of every school year. Once I’m in it, in some sort of routine, and really interacting with my students, all is right with the world. But the beginnings and ends of school years are hard for me! Even though, with my 9 month library position, I’ve only been back officially for a week. But I’ve been at work all day every day for three weeks now. And I felt completely overwhelmed and burned out before the kids even showed up.

Textbooks, lost library books from last year, teacher and student usernames and accounts, computers and projectors not working, issuing student and teacher IDs — dealing with all of these things at the beginning of the year seem to suck the life out of me. This is the time when I want to be gearing up for library programs for the year, finalizing things for my new self-check out procedure, preparing for upcoming class visits and projects, and planning for my brand new multimedia class/daily news show. I want to be excited and eager to kick off the new school year. Instead, I’m losing my mind over two new textbook adoptions and the rest of things on the never ending to do list.

I hate that moment when I’m hit with the all too necessary realization that I am not Superwoman. The fact that this has happened in my life a number of times is probably telling. The realization usually comes after I have a complete meltdown (which is also probably telling, but hey, I’m an emotional kind of girl). With the realization comes a paradigm shift. Like I said, this has happened before in other areas of my life. So here’s what I think I’ve come to realize this past week:

I can’t let myself get worked up about things that are either not my problem or not in my control. It is absolutely ridiculous for me to be more concerned and worried about the math textbooks than the math teachers, the people who actually need and will use them. I’m not saying that I’m not dealing with textbooks because it is part of my job, but I cannot let myself be consumed with solving all the world’s math textbook problems at the detriment of the rest of my job (and life). Someone else with more control of the situation or need for those books can come to a conclusion about how they need to be dealt with, and then let me know. Then it will be dealt with and I will NOT be stressed about it.

I have to prioritize things. I read 18 minutes by Peter Bregman in the spring, thought it was great, but I think I wasn’t ready for it. Well, now I’m ready! I have to put first things first. Dropping everything to do something that someone else needs done is not the best way for me to take care of business. Saying “Later” or even, gasp, “No” is very difficult for me, but I need to work on it.

Despite the way I’ve been feeling, I know it’s going to get better. I know things will calm down, the library will fill up with students, and I’ll be happy. I’m just ready for that time to get here!

Anyone else out there struggle with back to school craziness in the library? Does anyone else feel like textbooks are like kryptonite?? How do you cope with feeling this way?

14 thoughts on “Back to School Blues

  1. Yes!! I start back Wednesday and while I am so excited to be in a new school library, I am already having small moments of panic over getting my bearings and actually getting everything ready to go. I know I will feel 100% better once I find my groove. I am ALL about routine, so this summer has really thrown me off.

    I hope things get better for you soon. I know they will!

  2. I can definitely empathize with you, Tiff! I love my job when I am able to be the teacher librarian I am trained to be, not when I am consumed with textbooks. I told my principal when we met a while back that my goals are to be an exemplary teacher librarian and an adequate textbooks manager. I just remind myself as often as I can that I have to just get through the textbook part and give my real energy to my job as a TL. So, I do what I have to for textbooks; I don’t try to be a super star. One thing that helped a bit was moving textbook distribution to during registration instead of the first days of school. That is some more work for me during registration, but does mean that I get to convert from being a textbook warehouse into a library by about the third day of school, instead of it it being about a week as it was when I started my job at Mira Costa three years ago.

  3. Thanks for this Tiffany. I don’t have to deal with textbooks (thank goodness!) but the rest of this post could have been written by me. It’s comforting to know that even “Rock Star” librarians get the blues too.

  4. I am right there with you! We do textbook distribution over a week before school starts. Great idea in theory, but many of our students are on vacation now. I just finished three days of check-outs, and had over 350 students who didn’t attend. That’s over 1000 textbooks stacked up where our student computers should be set up. I guess it’s a blessing that I’m short about 300-400 textbooks that I have to borrow from other schools! I was about to write a blog post about this, but you expressed it so well, I can continue to watch baseball:) I’m not sure it’s a comfort, but you’re not alone.

  5. So very true! I think we spend so much time being indispensable…saying yes…and doing as much as we can to help out staff & students, we often lose sight of our library priorities. I’m determined to be more organized this year, prioritize what’s best for students & the library, and yes, say NO sometimes!

  6. Textbook responsibilities can be a real drain on a librarian’s time, and I don’t know how the actual process is handle at your school. BUT if you and your team are physically handing the books to the kids, it is a super chance to make a personal connection with all the students and promote the library at the same time. Alas some of the kids may never come to the library during the year. 🙁 How about a “library kind bomb” in each book? Okay, I may need to explain what I mean about a “library kind bomb.” It’s a slip of paper slipped/hidden somewhere in each book that promotes the library in some way. For example, in social studies books you could include a link and the password to an appropriate database with an added note that you are always ready to help with their research needs. Or it might be a coupon for waved book fine or a free color copy.

  7. Say it ain’t so, Tiff!
    You’re my role model of perkiness.

    It is hard to get back in the swing of things. So much to do. So little time.
    All feelings and frustration we experience.

    Hang in there! It will be great once October rolls around 😉

    You should see our school. One big total mess. We moved back and NOTHING is where it should be. I mean nothing.

  8. Swap out textbook frustration for “renovation” frustration at The Powers that Be making an awkward wall-less library space even MORE awkward with no thought for how it would affect us (and really, I’m trying to see their side … but all I see is the mascot on the floor and I’m sorry, that is not a good enough reason to block off the entry to the picture book section and force everyone to go through the teaching area as well as add a good extra 60-70 feet or so for browsing or reshelving in that corner). And 105 boxes of books in a pile in the middle with no one willing to help move them or reshelve. So I’m desperate for the kids to come back and that’s still 2 weeks away. They’re the only ones I want to see right now. 🙁
    Thank you for being willing to throw it out into the internets. It helps.

  9. Thanks for the great post, Tiff!

    I’m right there with you when it comes to stress and the impending school year. We’re opening a brand new school in Elkridge, MD this year and, despite best efforts by the construction crew, our school is not yet completed. Still slated for opening to students on Monday, August 25th, the construction manager made the staff evacuate the building on Wednesday on account to a couple of issues throughout the building’s construction that did not pass fire inspection. We’re now facing entry into our school on Tuesday, which is to say we’re going to be making up for nearly a week’s lost time. Combine this with the fact that we’ve got over 15,000 brand new books that are only part way through the process of being unboxed, ordered, inventoried, and shelved. In a way, I can see the god in this experience. It’s forcing me to make decisions based on priority and what needs to be accomplished before welcoming students. It’s challenging to have to turn your back on to-do’s that feel momentarily insurmountable, but the staff are unified by efforts to be ready to teach on Monday.

    Thanks for sharing this post. It’s comforting to hear others speak about their stress during this time of year. There’s so much excitement, but also good to know we’re not alone in sprouting grey hairs and accumulating record low hours of sleep.

  10. Thanks for posting this Tiffany.

    We’ve been doing some updating in my library this summer so my library is a complete mess right now – literally. I have no circulation desk right now (my new circulation desk was supposed to be delivered already, it’s still not here). They are painting the LMC as we speak, books are everywhere, boxes of weeded books still need to be deleted, many labels need to be changed, lessons aren’t made or ready, …the list goes on. And I’ve only NOT been at school for about a week all summer. I’m feeling the burnout already!

    Good to know it’s the same for all of us – we will all make it!

  11. I can SO relate to your post! Usually 2-3 wks before school starts, I get very melancholy and don’t want to go back. I feel rebellious and want to run away and hide! Like you, once I get there and see everyone and start getting ready I’m fine. Though my nerves do get s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d when everyone wants everything at once. Thankfully, I don’t have to handle textbooks! But 3 1/2 days of workshops & meetings (much of it in the media center), checking out tech equipment, open house @ 8:00 a.m., tech issues, and running out of lamination film (a crime apparently!). I finally got to work on getting the media center set up this afternoon and until 8:00 on Fri. night. Will be there part of tomorrow too. Glad I did a little bit earlier in the summer. All the “fluff” or decorations won’t be up by Mon. when my kiddos come, but the basics will be ready. In a few days though, we’ll all be in a routine. Best wishes to all for a great year!

  12. Thank you for this posting!!!!!! I am beginning my second year as a middle/hig svhool lubraian. I have been in both buildings througout the summer and am not ready at all! It is goid to know someone else feels similar.

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