A Day in the Li(fe)brary

I worked at a new school yesterday. My friend is the v.p. and was in a jam. I never want to work extra shifts the last two weeks before Christmas - I have fourteen pounds of butter and six rolls of wrapping paper on my table waiting for me to work some kind of magic, and I really enjoy my barely-there work schedule at this time of year - but I always do, because stuff happens and people need time off, kids generally hate missing library, and extra money is involved and I like buying presents.

8:30 a.m.: I met the office manager, who was really lovely. She showed me around the whole school and told everyone we passed "we have a librarian for the day!" The staff room door was newly painted and not labelled, so she told me it was the second door on the left.

8:45 a.m.: I was settling in in the library. For once I had the presence of mind to email the tech support woman and make sure there was a login for the library software (it's called Alexandria, isn't that cute? I think it's cute) because there's nothing worse than the kids being all happy that there's a substitute librarian and then you can't get into the system to check their books in or out.

9:00 a.m.: First class. I had to pick a read-aloud, which is always a little stressful. It has to be short enough that they don't get bored, simple enough that everyone can follow, and preferably funny so they don't just sit there staring at you. I picked one called That's Not Santa, wherein Santa loses his red suit and tries on various other outfits for the elves, including long johns so it has the word 'underwear' in it. This was fully as big a hit as I hoped it would be, so that was satisfying.

9:15 a.m.: There is an announcement asking Mrs. Zanzibar's students to return to their classroom.

9:30 a.m.: Second class of kindergartners. They are darling little snot factories, and there is no library office with a sink in it. I realize I'm going to be dashing to the washroom to wash my hands a lot.

10:00 a.m.: I try to find the staff room and miss the right door and get totally lost.

10:30 a.m.: There is a "high-behaviour" class that comes in to exchange books and then plays ukuleles. They are learning "Oh Christmas Tree" and they play together and then whoever wants to play it alone has a chance to. The ones that play random chords and sing tunelessly and the one who plays perfectly and sings like an angel make me tear up equally.

11:00 a.m.: I am having a really lovely day, but I'm worried about poor Mrs. Zanzibar, whose students are still being asked to come back to her class.

11:15 a.m.: I meet a really lovely supply teacher with a British accent and help her figure out the class's library procedure.

1:00 p.m.: A boy comes in with his class but spends the whole library period under the big table. The teacher tries to get him out, with no success. At the end, he comes up to me and shows me what he has picked up from under the table: string, elastics, candy wrappers, a big paper clip and a small round jingle bell. He says he'd like to keep the jingle bell, which is fine with me.

1:30: Another class comes in with two boys who won't settle down and keep talking and lifting up tables. I am a pretty big believer that there aren't many bad kids, just a lot of kid who don't know how to manage their emotions and express themselves effectively, but sometimes it's really hard to keep this at the front of my mind, especially when they seem to think their bad behaviour is HILARIOUS. I do a lot of deep breathing.

2:00: The substitute teacher brings her class in. They want a story and the one I've been reading seems a little young for them, so I find a Canadian Jingle Bells book ("Dashing through the snow on a rusty old ski-doo" etc"). I start reading it and then the teacher says "it seems like you could sing this book!" just as an observation, which naturally prompts a few kids to start chanting :"sing it! sing it". So I do. It is an experience akin to the first time I sang the Happy Birthday song when waitressing at Red Lobster. I have a pretty good singing voice. Jingle Bells (and the Red Lobster Happy Birthday song) are not terribly demanding. The surprise and delight of the teacher and the students were all out of proportion to the feat. But then I asked the kids to sing the last couple of choruses with me and they did, which surprised and delighted me in turn. It was just a silly thing that had a huge rate of return on investment.

2:30: Something called a Jingle Jangle Parade came through, and it was loud and happy and jingly and Christmassy and a lovely near-end to the day.

3:00: As I'm walking to the office to deliver my timesheet, I hear a ten-ish year-old girl say "I have only one request - *belting out* Pour some sugar on meee". Then, as I turn to see a horrified eight-ish-year-old boy staring at her, she says reassuringly "it's a song".

I'm going back next week. Looking forward to it.

My tenses are all over the place in this post, and I'm too lazy to go back and fix it all. I need to get home and wrap some butter or something.


Magpie said…
you have a blogroll! swoon. i miss those.
D said…
This has all kinds of happy seeping out of it. Thanks for the uplift.
DaniGirl said…
Delightful, every word.
Busy Bee Suz said…
How very fun! Thank you for taking me on this day at the library. It was one of my favorite places while in school....no stress, no math, etc... ;)
You roll with everything so well. Happy baking, or wrapping, or both.
StephLove said…
Sounds like a fun day.
I couldn’t be happier that my library does have a sink. But the one I had the previous two years was in a portable so I didn’t have a sink or a nearby toilet which meant I had to really plan out my bathroom visits. It also meant I am now a huge fan of hand sanitizer and have the BIGGEST bottle that I could find on my library counter. Also! Yes! The snot. Oh the snooooot. There’s one little girl in grade 1 who produces a prodigious amount of it always and always insists that she doesn’t need to blow her nose. Oh yes you do. You really really do. I’m grateful that my library classes are only 50 minutes each week when I consider the snot exposure to the younger grades.
Poor Ms Zanzibar!

This sounds equally festive and also exhausting. I didn't even think about the need for a sink but of course. Ewwwww. Kids are so germy.
Ernie said…
So much fun!! I used to substitute teach. Oh there were some days!!! I ended up preferring the junior high. Oh my gosh- I feel like I could be in that library. And the kids got so darn wiggly the closer it got to Christmas. And you even sing!! Well done. Good luck wrapping your butter. Thanks for the laugh.

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