Teacher Librarian as Leader

At the beginning of this year I started my studies in the Masters of Education in Teacher Librarianship and will admit to be completely naïve about what was actually required in the role of teacher librarian (TL). When asked, in the first few weeks of the course, to list what a TL does I could only list four things: catalogue, shelve, resource and teach (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013a)! Looking at this list now makes me laugh out loud at how little I knew and how far I have come in my learning in under a year.

Perhaps one of the most important roles of the TL is as leader. TLs need to be leaders in many different ways. They need to lead staff in policy development, curriculum knowledge and implementation, resourcing, professional development and teaching and learning. They need to lead by example in keeping up-to-date with and informing others about pedagogical initiatives, best practice, latest technology innovations and their own personal and professional development. They need to have a clear vision for the library and be able to communicate this to the community in a way that inspires innovation and change, motivates and empowers others. They need to build positive relationships with all staff, students and the school community so as to work collaboratively and effectively with all. They need to advocate for the library in word and deed via marketing and promotion of the services, functions and happenings in the library.

Just a small list, really …

In this subject, ETL504 TL as Leader I have been able to think deeply about the different types of leadership for different purposes as well as about the qualities that make an effective leader. In my blog post, Critical reflection on leadership (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013b) I reflected on leaders I have worked with in the past and the traits (both positive and negative) that they possessed that made them effective or ineffective. I noted the strengths of one particular leader in building relationships and acknowledging and empowering others, strengths that I hope to emulate in my role as a TL. I also noted the weaknesses of another leader in not sharing the leadership and utilising the expertise of others when facilitating change in the school.

A librarian needs to be a leader of innovation who can help to facilitate change in the school. Perhaps the most powerful learning I have embarked on in this subject has been in the creation of a vision and strategic plan for the library over the next three years. A vision by its definition means an instance of great perception, esp. of future developments (dictionary.com). As innovators and change agents TLs need to keep abreast of the latest innovations in technology and teaching in order to create a vision that can inspire and motivate. In order to work towards this vision there will need to be changes in the school. Many people are resistant to change which can make the job very difficult. An inspiring vision that can be communicated to staff can go a long way to motivating change.

I have had to critically look at myself and the skills I possess and those that I lack in order to ascertain the kind of leader I would like to be when facilitating change. How I can communicate the vision in a way that includes, inspires and motivates all involved so that they too wish to embrace change in order to work towards the vision not as followers but as equal participants. In the blog post, Innovation and change (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013c) I focussed on the work of Schifter (2008) as he discusses the management of change in schools. I drew on an example of ineffective change management and will keep this in the forefront of my thinking as I work to lead change in the school.

I ranted about evaluation and assessment in my university experiences in a blog post from semester one (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013d) and asked why we couldn’t be given assessments that were practical and useful in our professional lives. I’m very happy that this assessment has been one that has been interesting, motivating and quite enjoyable because it is something that I will actually take to the principal and hopefully use in my school.

References

Schifter, C. (2008). Chapter 14. Effecting Change in the Classroom Through Professional Development.  Infusing technology into the classroom: continuous practice improvement (pp. 250 – 279). Hershey: Information Science Pub.

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013a, May 26). A critical reflection on how my view of the role of the teacher librarian has changed during this subject [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/a-critical-reflection-on-how-my-view-of-the-role-of-the-teacher-librarian-has-changed-during-this-subject-etl401/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013b, August 19). Critical reflection on leadership [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/critical-reflection-on-leadership-2/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013c, August 5). Innovation and change [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/innovation-and-change/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013d, May 3). Rant about evaluation and assessment in my university experiences [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/rant-about-evaluation-and-assessment-in-my-university-experiences/

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