Saturday, 25 January 2014

Who's afraid of grade 9s?

Last blog post I was reflecting on Susan Cain's book, as well as the jarring nature of being an introvert who must constantly advocate for my program and in turn, my job.  Now as we are nearing the end of January (how did that even happen), I'm reflecting on the month that was and where to go for the rest of the school year.

At the beginning of January, I was invited to present with Glenrosa Middle School's principal, Jamie Robinson, at the "Innovation in the Thompson-Okanagan" conference.  Jamie was to speak for the bulk of the presentation about the movement towards Instructional Rounds and the impact that has had on his school, GMS.  I was to speak, briefly, about Project Based Learning (PBL) and the role of the teacher librarian in co planning, co teaching, and co assessing PBLs.  Certainly talking about PBL should be easy, because it is something about which I am passionate and know a fair deal.  I was also somewhat more at ease knowing Jamie was my co presenter because Jamie is not an introvert, far from it.  Indeed, if I faltered terribly, I knew Jamie could quiet easily step into my place.

In the end I got through it and really, that is all that matters.  I felt awful leading up to the presentation.  I was nervous, I hadn't been able to eat all day and I think I turned from ghostly pale to an unattractive ruddy red in 3 seconds flat.  Do I remember much about the presentation itself?  Not at all.  And after it was all said and done, I was proud of myself for doing it but I really didn't want to talk about it.

A week later, I was to teach a Social Studies 9 class about Napoleon.  The teacher asked that I just cover Napoleon's life and take no more than 60 minutes to do so.  I was expected in his class at 9:10.  At 9 I was in my library getting ready and I managed to mistakenly close my powerpoint rather than minimizing it.  And then I couldn't find the darn file anywhere.  I walked into the class at 9:10 with my draft powerpoint and some notes and started storytelling for the next 60.  When I walked out of that classroom I felt that teacher high that I'd nailed it and would just love to teach that lesson over again.

I know and love PBL but was scared stiff to present briefly to a handful of adults.  I'm no Napoleon expert but teaching 30 grade 9s about Napoleon was much, much more enjoyable.  My takeaway?  Over the past 18 months, I've really felt the pressure to move and I keep resisting.  Why would I move?  I would miss my students, my colleagues and my library.  Some people talk about being stuck in the middle but I know that middle school, especially this middle school, is the right place for me.

Where do I go from here?  Well, once again I've been reminded that I need to go back into the classroom more often and do more storytelling.  I also have a Call for Proposals sitting on my desk and I am debating putting myself through the torment of presenting at another conference.  Unfortunately, it's not a conference for grade 9 students otherwise I would have the paperwork already filled out.


  1. I'd invite you to come and storytell Joan of Arc. Now, she's a story! But you'd have to be ready for Friday.

  2. You should have come and talked to me! I think I could have done that one in costume.