I hesitate on confessing this next post: let the stone-throwing and those-without-sin meeting commence now.

The past few years, (and really few–I’ve only been teaching for a short time) I’ve enjoyed the role of Curriculum Leader. Some call it Department Head. This job has never been defined for me per se; no rubric or framework from the district. The process involves a lengthy application, the willingness to do it, and a small stipend. I have carved out my own path by creating curriculum, running and organizing the Language Arts meetings, filing meeting minutes, gathering resources, sharing and collaborating on all sorts of creative solutions to help our students grow and think. I work with amazing colleagues–smart, funny, and who “get me.” One colleague suggested that my room and manner of teaching was like being in an almost-scary part of a Tim Burton movie. My colleagues know my moods and understand when there is a call-to-arms I am ready to fight for and with them on our students’ behalves. And though this measurement is proven to be somewhat hollow, up until last year we demonstrated great growth in the standardized testing of our students. Last year’s, and perhaps this year’s, story of data unfortunately may be different, but that is a post for another time.

(Get to it, Kelly – what did you do?)

Of all the lofty, ambitious goals I have challenged, and succeeded, as Curriculum Leader, my one nemesis, THE BOOK ROOM, continues to thwart me. The BOOK ROOM is, well, full of books. We adopted a new literacy curriculum (I proudly served on that committee), and have worked closely with the district on choosing more books, organizing, maintaining, etc. I have requested a bar coding system, but no go. I have asked that the books be part of the library collection. No. We have tubs of novels for units (which I helped create, including the Journey of the Hero, and the Conflict/Pacific Northwest unit), old literacy books, book sets, etc. This storage room also houses ASB merchandise. During one of the transitions of schools, somehow boxes of very, very old paperbacks were sent to us. This was probably three years ago. I sorted them, took out ones that I thought were still relevant, in good condition, offered them up to anyone who would take them, asked, repeatedly, if anyone wanted them. I had one taker.

The BOOK ROOM still needs to be cleaned out. In a pique of frustration, I went in there yesterday morning to discover the same shopping cart full of the paperbacks no one claimed. Enough. I am overwhelmed as it is, and it was time to clean house. Looking over one more time, made the (impulsive) decision to recycle them (there were about 40 misc junk paperbacks).

Let the flogging begin.

Someone saw them, and sent out notices that there were books in the recycling can. Flurries of emails and face-to-face communication later, many of these books were rescued, stoically, by other teachers, I am hanging my head in deep shame, and we are moving on. Should I have lugged the boxes out to my truck to take to Goodwill? Probably. I had even toyed with the idea of using them for hand-made book projects, but they weren’t fit for even that. (I am an artist first and foremost, and am a pretty good judge of materials.)

I’m not sure why it took my drastic, impulsive act of clearing the decks to get everyone’s attention. Those boxes have been offered up many times, and were in the BOOK ROOM for years. I’m on my eighth or eightieth time to reorganize and catalog that room. (And for the record, it is like a dungeon in there: no iron maidens or shackles, but as stuffy and gritty as a small storage room can get.) I’m feeling a bit betrayed, too, I must admit, kind of little-red-hen-ish. I asked people if they wanted to help bake the bread, yet until I threw the moldy bread out….

In any case, I cherish books, and have every book I have ever owned. I have spent over $4500 on my own classroom library. Why a box of old paperbacks has me spinning, well, I think I just need to let this one go. Next time I’ll put deadlines on emails and action items. But perhaps my colleagues will also see that I have a “clear the deck” mindset too, and take me at my word.

Comments? Insults? Eye rolling?

Be my guest.

Theme song for this post: All My Life by the Foo Fighters: