Subscribe to SLJ
Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

The Rumors Are True

This year I’m headed to the classroom. I’ll be teaching fifth grade reading, language arts, and social studies at the same school where I was the librarian for the past 3 years.

Why? I’ll just grit my teeth and remind everyone that sometimes upholding the values of intellectual freedom and the best interest of the students carry costs – like the wrath of an administrator who has the absolute power to reassign teachers to any classroom for which they are certified.

Now what? This year I plan to keep my eyes open for school library positions or Ph.D. programs elsewhere while I become the absolute best, most connected fifth grade teacher possible who helps her students succeed.

The first thing I unpacked in the classroom was the computer and connected it to the digital projector and internet. Second, I unpacked 1/10 of the books I intend to introduce throughout the year. I need to purchase many more book shelves including face-out spin-arounds in order to display a portion of the other titles. Third, I put up motivation signs. Fourth, I signed up for Scholastic Book Clubs. Fifth, I opened the teacher guides and looked at state standards. Then, I panicked on how to setup the pacing guides. Sixth, I began preparing innovative technology connections to inspire readers.

The good: I have wonderful teacher colleagues who share everything from resources to discipline strategies. My students will be excited and become the best readers I can help them to be. My friends will help me pace instruction since I demand high standards of attempting tough challenges, being creative, and learning how to survive socially in middle school.

The bad: I will be in the same building where I helped create the largest collection of nonfiction titles in Nashville, but I won’t be able to work with every student like before. There are a few more items in this column, but to prevent my eyes from suddenly springing leaks, I have decided to focus on the good.

Interestingly in the fourteen years I have taught as a library information specialist (AKA school librarian) in Nashville, I have had grades PreK-4, and 6-8. To remember teaching fifth graders I’ll have to think back to my time with DoDDS schools in Germany and with the super-talented teachers at Sherwood School in Highland, Park, Illinois. I wonder if Carl Berg and Martha Henderson are still teaching because they were inspiration fifth grade teachers.

Readers, I am still a librarian. That is my profession, my passion, and my love. I will continue to review books and actually have several presentations on “Making Nonfiction Exciting to Tweens and Teens” planned for this fall.

Since I haven’t been in a classroom since the four-year old program on Fort Campbell, Kentucky, fifteen years ago, I will be seeking a great deal of help. I hope this experience will help me become a much better librarian for the future.

If you see me on facebook or in person, please note that sometimes my demeanor may seem as if I have been banished from paradise (the library), but I intend to create an alternate world of library love in a fifth grade classroom. Wish me well and stay tuned for updates.


  1. You class will be lucky to have you, but at what cost to the rest of the school? Save us all from “the wrath of an administrator.”

  2. Alice Yucht says:

    for your own sanity, decide now how you will deal with the teachers who will still come to you for library services, even though you’re in a classroom, AND with the new librarian who will have to cope with your legacy and continued presence in the school.

  3. Lisa Von Drasek Diane Chen says:

    I do feel sorry for the new librarian as it will be her first year out of library school. I believe she has many years teaching experience including some with the administrator, so she will do well. I’ll try to be supportive but stay out of her way so she can establish her own routines. I wish her all the best.

  4. susan norwood says:

    You have been treated unjustly. While I know that your 5th graders will reap the benefits of your knowledge and dedication, the 6th-8th graders will miss you. Obviously, the adminstrator isn’t considering what’s good for ALL of the students. I have left the school where we were together, in hopes of finding a more supportive atmosphere. I know you will find something better. It will be interesting to see if the library is the vital place it was. Please keep us posted in future blogs.

  5. Nancy Dickinson says:

    Diane, I love your attitude. You will be a great 5th grade teacher. And you are right. This experience will make you a better librarian. But I still can’t believe this is really happening. Scary!!! I wish you the best!

  6. Diane,
    The world of education….it’s a multi-billion dollar business. As I have said often, “Teaching is the peace corp job of the decade.” The revolving door of schools. Sometimes changes result in attitude changes by the administration….the effects of your movement to the classroom may result in students wishing for more from the new librarian. Teaching is a full time job…just like a librarian is a full time job. Embrace the change, collaborate with the librarian, share your knowledge and love of books, and always remember — I’m here for the students!

  7. In the last few years I have at times taught either 6th or 8th language arts grade half the day and worked as the media specialist the other half (right).

    Focus on the positive. Your students will love your knowledge and passions and benefit greatly from it. I had parents tell other parents – if your child is a reader put her in Mrs. D’s class! What a great chance to put your knowledge of student research into action and all the great learning tools/resources you know about. You will also find that developing close relationships with your students will be very personally rewarding. And the other teachers in the school respected me more as a fellow teacher who did the same job they did. I learned a lot that helps me as a media specialist.

    And if you move on somewhere else, these positives will help you talk about this year in your career.