The Road Less Traveled

These days, after the last 1.5 years in London, the Pacific Northwest is – once again – home.  Moving abroad and teaching overseas was a ‘Road Less Traveled’ moment.  And though I started on the overseas path with much frustration and lament, I grew to appreciate and love the opportunities it presented.  I am certain I’m a better human and teacher for taking The Road Less Traveled and embracing the life of an expat and international teacher in London.

I had no idea that The Road Less Traveled would continue to be relevant upon returning to the US.

You see, I knew that the part-time job at my former elementary school library was waiting for me.  However – surprise! – there was a new FT job at an elementary library in my home district.  (There were really 3 choices, but one wasn’t librarianship and was more easily eliminated.)  Two choices – two paths.  Which to take?

One choice – one path – seemed easy: the same school I’d taught in for 13 years, the same district where I’d build my name and reputation, the same students and community who’d embraced my adventure abroad and hoped for my return.  But that path came with new changes, notably different values and visions for the library program being articulated by building leadership. Sure, it was the same school.  But the longer I looked, the clearer it became that the path had changed: I would not be returning to the same job.

The other path was decidedly tougher: a FT librarian at an elementary school in a different district. It would be a bigger school.  More classes.  Less admin time.  Zero professional clout.  Learning a whole new district and curriculum. This path would keep me closer to home. It also came with admin who seemed supportive.

Add in the fact that I’d be a single parent for the first third of the school year, and a dilemma was had: part time but farther away?  Full time but closer to home?  Less respect for librarianship vs the potential for respect?

After much soul-searching and many sleepless nights, I chose The Road Less Traveled: the full-time job, the new school, the new district.  It wasn’t – and hasn’t been – the easy choice.  On days I feel overwhelmed and frustrated – which is usually 80-100% of the time – I remember the wise words of Frost:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I tell myself that taking this road will make all the difference because I will make a difference.  I tell myself that I have the ability to positively impact hundreds of new students. I know that I get to create a library that is inclusive, welcoming, and current. And reinventing what students and staff and families think when they see a school librarian is something I relish.

I am writing these words down, these thoughts of mine, because taking this less-traveled road continues to be hard.  The constant, never-ending work.  The newness of everything.  The fixed mindsets of colleagues.  But I know this choice will ultimately make all the difference.

7 thoughts on “The Road Less Traveled

  1. Ginny Vale

    For me, the road less traveled has always been more difficult, scary, time-consuming, intimidating, and rich with possibilities for new learning. And, in my life, when I look back at those crossroads for which I chose the road less traveled, I am amazed by how much I have grown because I made the choice. We ask students to take risks in order to learn, and the same is true for us adults, I can honestly say that I have never taken a risk that did not pay off (even if I didn’t recognize the payoff until YEARS later). Keep on growing, Arika!

  2. Donna Cantarella

    My apologies Arika, I am the person you blocked the other day because I did not have info in my bio and my account is private. I am an elementary library teacher. When I 1st joined IG I wasn’t sure how I was going to use it. Thanks to your nudge I have added some details in my profile but plan to keep my account private and continue to accept or decline requests to follow. I appreciate what you have shared in your blog and will continue to read. All the best.

    1. ajdickens Post author

      Hi Donna! I honestly don’t know if it was your account or not – there were over a dozen I deleted that day – but I appreciate you adding some details in your profile! If you email me your IG address, I’ll unblock you (searching your name is proving fruitless). Cheers! Arika


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