The Joy of Paraprofessionalism

I’ve been ruminating and fretting away of late, about the fact that I am now professionally qualified but am still “languishing” in a paraprofessional role. I have various reasons for this, not least of which is the fairly pants job market coupled with the fact that where I live there are many big fish in small ponds. My former mentor once described this city as “where ambition goes to die”; it’s a small city and very nice, all touristy-like, so people settle here, as have I. Competition for jobs here is fierce; when I pursued a PGCE umpteen years ago we were warned that we were unlikely to get teaching jobs here, the phrase that always crops up is “dead man’s shoes”. Well, that’s ok, it just means you have to try harder, and I do my darnedest. The main reason that my career is slow to get going just now is the fact that I’m a mother, I just can’t commit my whole life to the profession which can be tricky when so many can. But that’s ok too, that makes me a more rounded person and frankly we’ll all be working till we’re seventy by the time I can retire so I can afford to take my time. A wise chap once advised me to under-promise and over-deliver when I’d been guilty of the reverse in my fresh-faced keenness, I can’t say I’m completely cured of that yet (I did just accept an invitation onto another committee yesterday!) but I’m much more realistic about what I can and cannot do in the finite time and energy I have.

But what I wanted to take the time to do here was to take a step back and appreciate the benefits, I’ve experienced, of being a paraprofessional, after having been one since 2004 (yikes):

  • you get to talk to service users, which I love
  • you don’t have to worry about strategy and budget and five year plans and mission statements
  • you don’t spend all day on personnel issues
  • best of all: you get to handle the stuff!!!!!
Scarily, I actually want to start tackling points 2 and 3 but I mostly wanted to just pause and give thanks for the part of my career that has let me get my grubby (well, scrubbed clean) little hands on loads of really cool stuff. When I worked for three years in a museum library and archive I got to handle unique treasures, to the extent that sometimes I had to stop and take stock: I get to work with stuff every day that people travel halfway across the world to come and see! I also got to research and answer questions like this every working day and see the fruits of my labour acknowledged in published books. I always thought that was pretty cool. I got to talk to passionate researchers, who had all sorts of backgrounds and areas of interest, and cos I was using primary and secondary sources of information I got to edit Wikipedia entries authoritatively (which I also got a kick out of).
As I now work for a much larger library, my work is necessarily more specialised and narrow and perhaps a little strange in fact. The upshot of it is I get to look through hundreds nay thousands of journals and magazines, scouting for conference info to enter in the Index of Conference Proceedings. Obviously I don’t get to sit and read magazines all day, but I do get a shed-load of stuff across my desk, from the most arcane mathematical tracts to trade mags and I’m going to occasionally dip in to these treasures in coming months on here, so here’s the first:
 The Horn Book Magazine, a fantastic mag full of thoughtful articles on children’s literature and new book reviews. I immediately “liked” it on Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: