You can eat an entire elephant if you cut it into small enough pieces. That well-worn advice is worth remembering; it helps us through those times of feeling overwhelmed … which explains why a collection of small elephants decorates my office. They inspired me as we moved into a new media center, implemented a new automation system district wide, and worked toward other major program changes. Are there similar daunting tasks in your future at your media center? Here are some more axioms, maxims, and just plain sage advice that may help you, whatever the task you’re facing.
Make it a nonprint place.
This was some good advice a friend gave me when I described the very traditional media center I inherited more than 20 years ago. The first changes were replacing a typewriter with the media center’s first computer, throwing out anything that suggested fashioned," and gradually adding audiovisual materials and equipment. Small physical changes and speaking a new language fostered changed perceptions and expectations, paving the way for more. The media center soon had its first of three computer labs and an automation system. Programmatic change followed. Consider the impact of physical changes and an updated appearance, you are in a similar situation. Today my friend would talk about ebooks, multimedia/collaborative production facilities, and a cool atmosphere for today’s multitasking, downloading, visually stimulated kids. There are still plenty of media centers and programs that need change. And there are many opportunities to be the person who can impact change.
You can have any kind of media program you want to have—or any kind of media program you and your principal want to have.
My principal wanted that traditional media center to change. He wanted it to be a place that kids wanted to be; he supported both physical and programmatic changes. He trusted me to do what needed to be done. "That’s why we hired you," he used to say. Principals are our powerful partners. Keep them in the loop on what you do and what you are thinking. No matter how supportive and interested, never assume he or she cannot fully understand what the program and your job are all about. Everyone views what needs to be done through a different lens. Tell your story often. Educate your principal so you can work together.
Teachers will be happy to get rid of the schedule; they’ll love the improved access.
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