The other day, as I was talking about my new work as a high school yearbook advisor–or maybe it was about taking on some union duties–no, I think it was a discussion about me volunteering to chaperon a bus heading to a football game–a friend turned to me and asked, “Is there anything you don’t do at that school?!”
I’m pretty open about one of my career (and life) goals: to never have a “That’s Not My Job” moment. In other words, never to balk at those odd little (and big) things that come up in the course of my school library day, never to pass the buck or leave a student out in the cold.
So what’s my job?
First, I should be clear on a few things that, in fact, aren’t my job:
Being the school nurse (we have a school nurse for that!)
Being an assistant principal (we have assistant principals for that!)
Being the school police officer (are you sensing a theme yet?)
While there are certainly legal and professional consequences that can come with overstepping your bounds within (and without) a school or library building, there are also the more fuzzy consequences: are you stepping on someone’s toes? Are you alienating a colleague, or a student? Are you spreading yourself too thin?
And depending on the structure of your school or library, you might have very clear Not My Jobs that aren’t the same as my Not My Jobs. If you work as part of a team or have volunteers, interns or assistants, for instance, job descriptions may clearly prevent you from doing certain tasks. And if you’re in a public library, you may be thinking less about other employees in your building and more about outside agencies and professionals, like social workers, doctors and counselors.
Let’s be clear: taking on new tasks, or wearing new hats, can be fantastic. Your teens may see you in a new light, your colleagues may begin to view you as a leader in your building, and you may discover a brand new passion. …Then again, you might also get really burnt out, find yourself frustrated with parts of your “regular” job, or establish once and for all that you’re terrible at Dance Dance Revolution.
So, what’s my job?
Advising the yearbook
Volunteering at sporting events
Letting kids eat in the library during lunch
Listening to impromptu jam sessions
Advising the Gay Straight Alliance
Answering tattoo questions
Watching (and recommending) YouTube videos
Offering sound bites for video yearbook
Exchanging tweets with nerdfighters
Talking about how great Mike Birbiglia is
…And, you know, books and databases and stuff. That too.
What’s your job?