Sunday, June 9, 2013

Do You Believe in Your Profession?

I am spending my Sunday afternoon checking out Web 2.0 accounts I had forgotten.  Trying to remember what email account I registered each under is a challenge in and of itself.  Thank goodness these tools can email me password resets so I don't have to remember those too!

One of the accounts I am revisiting is Evernote.  I plan to do a lot of reading and writing this summer, and I thought Evernote, with it's Chrome and Android apps, would be a good repository for my notes.  Once I logged in, I began going through my old notes to see if they are still relevant.  The first note, which I had labelled 'advocacy' caught my eye.  

The Four Myths of Self-Promotion by Kelly Watson was published in June 2010 by Forbes.  Aimed at the small businesswoman, the article encourages women to become their own advocates by negating the four top reasons not to self-promote.  Here is my Evernote synopsis from the article:

The Bitch Myth--"Self promotion will make me look arrogant."  There is a difference  in braggadocio and marketing strategy.  

The Princess Myth--"If I'm good enough, people will hear about it." Most people are too busy doing their own work to notice that of others.  This definitely includes those whose financial decisions could impact your future work. " Survival depends upon taking action to get noticed."

The Friends and Family Myth--"Others should talk about my accomplishments, not me." No can speak as knowledgeably about your work and your qualifications as you. "By delegating promotion to others, you're taking away your best opportunity to demonstrate your value."

The Martyr Myth--"You can't control what people think anyway." It's true that you only have one chance to make a good first impression, but you can build upon that reputation each day;  Let people see what you want them to see, and leave the rest of the stuff at home.

Bottom line: "The myths you believe often mask a deeper insecurity about the value you place on what you have to offer." If you don't fully believe in yourself, who will?
I believe these myths deserve great scrutiny by library media specialists.  Stereotypically, we are portrayed as shy, introverted and retiring.  This fits very few library media specialists I know, yet this is the perception that persists. So, against this handicap, I invite my media specialist friends to evaluate the degree to which they are defined by these myths.  I'll go first:

The Bitch Myth:  I don't find myself worrying much about being perceived as a bitch.  I think I am only touchy when on the defensive, a position I don't find myself in often.  I think by trying to be proactive with most projects, I am viewed as helpful, if not nice.  If people do perceive me a bitch, I would like to know why.  I may not change, but it would be helpful to understand the rationale.

The Princess Myth:   Cinderella, I am not.  If I were Cinderella, I would have been out of there the first time the evil stepsisters suggested I be their servant.  Still, I do hope that people think positively about my work.  The bottom line here, however, is that no one really knows what my work is.  The public only sees part of what I do.  This blog post, a small part of my attempt at library advocacy, is seen by very few and probably would not be viewed as an integral part of my professional responsibilities, although anything I can do for the profession is exceptionally important to me and hopefully, if my words have any influence,  will help ensure a library media presence in more places for many  years.  I cannot wait for folks to notice my impact when other agencies with more money are screaming for attention.

The Friends and Family Myth:  Okay, I buy into this just a little, because I know how much my friends and family support me.  Recently my daughter became offended when someone asked her if "her mother worked the same schedule teachers did."  Lora, bless her heart, righteously informed the person that her mother was a teacher, a National Board Certified Teacher at that!  I can't help but admit I was pleased.  Similarly when I was nominated for selection in our newspaper's 100 Most Influential one year, I honestly believe I got as far up as I did on the list because of my work with one of the editors children.

I do value the opinion of my family and friends, and my school families as well.  But again, most people do not know my job.  I need to market what I do so as not to be marginalized in any specific category.  When a parent asks, "Do you need to go to college to do your job, I am happy to tell them how much college I have had to do this job.  I explain to anyone who asks that you have to be a teacher first, and that librarianship is specialized training on top of that.  I don't mind letting people know other things I do to remain fresh.  As soon as I finish with this blog, I will use social media to tout its existence!

The Martyr Myth:  Please. Having gone through (and survived) as many RIF and transfer hearings as I have, I know better than to be silent.  I try to always be aware of my impact and to make everyone I work with understand that impact as well.  My work is too important to my students and teachers to be taken for granted or to be minimalized.  Remember that squeaky wheel that keeps getting the grease.  I am that squeaky wheel!

In conclusion, I advise all school library media specialists to keep themselves front and center in the conversation of our school communities.  What we do is important and with the implementation of Common Core State Standards, vitally important to our children and our schools.  Don't allow our profession to be minimalized.  Stand up and speak out!

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