Observation Notes :: Book Fair

Last week, I took a personal day to observe and work the Scholastic book fair with my mentor. It was a fun and busy day, and I’m so glad I took the time to do it. I’ve noted a few observations from my day.

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  • It’s a lot of money to be responsible for. That feels intimidating to me. My mentor said that in actuality, it was significantly less money than she usually makes in a book fair. But, compared to the amount of money I usually manage as a teacher, it was significantly more.
  • Counting back change is harder than I remember it being. It’s a skill I know – and even teach in my classroom, but all of my third grade math skills went out the window when I was faced with a long line of parents eager to get their children back to class and to get on with their days. I had a whole new appreciation for math anxiety this morning. Thank goodness for a a register that told me what to do; It’s been a very long time since I worked retail!
  • A second grader asked, “Where are the books about black heroes?” Where are the books about black heroes? My mentor is working to consciously improve the diversity of our collection, but she explained that Scholastic chooses the inventory of the sale.
  • Parent volunteers are incredibly helpful. When I first moved from middle school to elementary school, embracing this help was new and challenging for me. But, in the last ten years at elementary school, I’ve learned to work with volunteers, and it has been a game changer. We are very fortunate to be in a school with such involved parents, and I saw what a difference they can make in the library today.
  • Teachers need support. When I got to the library this morning, my mentor was counseling a teacher on whether or not a book was an appropriate read aloud. She provided the teacher with documentation to support her choice.
  • There was a lot of down time. I don’t mean that my mentor was sitting around eating bon-bons all day. She was actually very busy  – even eating lunch at her desk, but the pace and the energy of the library was so much different than the classroom. As a classroom teacher, it is a little like being a circus performer. I am “on” all day. In order to maintain the attention of students, I need to be in performance mode almost constantly. In the library, there were windows of quiet, administrative tasks and intermittent spurts of instructional tasks, and regular interactions with [gasp] adults. There was time for one one one conversation with kids about what they were reading and what they wanted to buy. This was certainly not a “normal” day, but it did give me a glimpse of some of the differences between library and classroom life.

Today wasn’t a typical day in the library. The book fair certainly changes up the routine, but my mentor said that it was one of the things she never really learned to do in school, and I’m so glad I got the chance to come in and observer. I’m sure I’ll still need a ton of help when it is my turn, but I feel like I won’t be coming in blind.

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