Being a student again

I’m going to do something I haven’t done for a very long time. Starting on Monday, I am beginning a library management course (on library buildings). Soon I will be throwing around terms like HVAC and looking up building codes and pestering the life out of the Maintenance Supervisor at my library. But I’m a little worried about this. Although I regularly attend conferences and go to workshops and webinars, this will be the first time since 1982 (you do the math, if you’re inclined) that someone will have expectations of me in a class setting. It’s an asynchronous online course, so I’ll have to find time to do the reading and the homework. I’m going to have to…what’s that called again?  Oh yeah…focus.

The thing is, I know from being a children’s librarian and a parent that being a student is HARD! Just the other night a family came up to the desk with worksheets in hand. The mom, who had limited English, wanted help understanding what a “consonant blend” is. I looked at the worksheet, figured out what it was looking for, and gave her an explanation. She and her son then sat down, and then the little guy (about age 6) came back with the packet. They had faithfully found words with the right consonant blend (an s blend, an l blend, etc) but sadly, they were not the words on the sheet in the sidebar.

So, I helped him erase the words, and he went back and worked for awhile and then came up again with only a couple of lines done, because they couldn’t understand the meaning of the words well enough to be able to match the right words to the sentences. So, we worked our way through the sheet, and got almost finished when we came to the question “Which word would you use if you were giving directions?” And there was no good answer to that question. There just wasn’t. I called over my colleague and she looked, and also couldn’t come up with an answer.

This child now must be the intermediary between me, his mother, and his teacher, to try to explain with limited English why he has a random word in that space. This is the kind of thing that kids face every day in school. It’s frustrating and very hard, because a whole lot of their success depends on their finding not just a good answer, but the answer that matches the one the teacher is looking for.

So I’m kind of worried to be starting a course at this point in my life, when I feel reasonably successful. I think it’s going to knock me down a peg or two, and that’s okay. At least I will have a better idea of what my young patrons are going through every day.

Wish me luck!

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