Friday, July 31, 2015

Backlash and Body Issues

I'm currently reading Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman. I will let you search out a more thorough summary if you choose, but the short version is that a formerly overweight teen, Lara, attempts suicide after an incident involving Facebook. Just like with Butter by Erin Jade Lange, reading a book about weight/body issues causes me to reflect on my own.

I was spared any bullying about my weight in school, although I was teased for developing early and for being a nerd, the latter now being a badge of pride.  I had self-image issues though, wanting to have one of the teeny size 2 model bodies. Of course, now I wish I could go back in time and hug my younger self and tell her she was beautiful as she was.

From age 17-21, I began the journey to obesity. The destinations included genetic factors and traumatic life experiences, but there was also a sedentary lifestyle and very bad dietary choices. I turned 37 this year.  I can't change the former, but If I refuse to change the latter, the consequences are going to be things I can't live with, quite literally, in fact.

This week, we received an email from school personnel to send in our shirt size. Even though I lost 44 lbs. during the school year and based on the way my pants are currently fitting, maybe a few more this summer, I almost listed the same size as last year. Why do we have a fixed mindset of our body image? And a negative one at that? This is clearly one of Lara's problems in Backlash, but even as an adult, I am susceptible to the same thinking. It seems ridiculous to put it this way, but I have taken the leap and listed a smaller shirt size. Sometimes the biggest backlash we have to overcome is the one from within.

Friday, July 24, 2015


So this post is inspired by Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp), a 7th grade teacher in Wisconsin. She wrote a blog post, I Would Be a Liar. in which, she talks about her popularity and reminds us that everything is never about us, it is always about the kids. This is a wonderfully humble position, but #EDUheroes, it IS about you. You inspire us, you keep us going, you make us better teachers for our kids, as well as being tremendous educators to your own.

As rewarding as it can be to be an educator, there's a dark side. It can be heartbreaking and soul crushing. Hundreds of teachers cannot handle it, and leave the profession. Such a thing can happen even 12 years in. This past school year, my job changed drastically. I went from a 33% to 100% fixed schedule, and I lost my media assistant, becoming responsible for shelving all the library books. My budget for purchasing books was slashed by 80%. In the current economic times, this isn't out of the ordinary, and you're expected to adjust and keep going. My adjustment was particularly hard because I started having debilitating migraines, causing me to miss many days of work.

I often felt overwhelmed, and most of all guilty, feeling like I was letting my students down. I seriously wondered if it was time for me to walk away from being an educator, even though I wanted to be a school librarian from the time I was a little girl.

Even though that teacher light dimmed in me, it never went out. I still read the Nerdy Book Club entries everyday and I read tons of kidlit books like always. John Schu, @MrSchuReads, with his 25,000+ followers, somehow noticed that I wasn't posting on Twitter and would send me DMs to check on me. I needed to find a piece of information from Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller (@donalynbooks). I reread the whole book just so I could hear Donalyn's voice speak to me about reading.

Sometime in February the information about #nErDcampMI started coming in from Colby and Alaina Sharp, two more #EDUheroes who teach in Parma, MI. The day after my birthday, March 16, Mr. Schu posted about Scholastic #ReadingSummit and I signed up that very day. It was survival mode the rest of the year, but I didn't quit, looking forward to seeing my #EDUheroes in person. Being around my nerdy friends (old and new) at #nErDcampMI lifted my spirits so very much. I was excited to meet Pernille. Her nerdtalk brought the house down, and then she led a session on Day Two that helped inspire my sister Amy Ralph (@lehmanac), also a librarian, to share her current frustrations and to start her own blog. #ReadingSummit was another celebration of the love of reading and further cemented my commitment to my job as a librarian. I bought books, was given books (partially under duress) and even gave away books. It was glorious.

Never underestimate your impact! I'm not going to be a Pernille, Colby, Donalyn or John. Even if you only have a few followers, you can still be a #EDUhero to someone, and you may never even know it. Yes, we are here for the kids, but we also need to be here for each other so we can be here for the kids. Thank you all for being here for me.