Tag Archives: leadership

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/

Critical reflection on leadership

I have been teaching for over 20 years now and in that time have experienced many different leaders both as principals and in other leadership roles within the school.  I have been in different leadership positions myself within the school and have had very little specific knowledge about leadership styles until this semester of my studies. I have however been able to observe within myself and others qualities that make for positive leadership and qualities (or lack of) that detract from leadership.

In ETL504 Teacher Librarian as Leader I have been able to delve deeply into different theories and styles of leadership and start to discern what it is that makes a good leader. Up to this point in my career I had been able to see the effects of good leadership and ineffective leadership but was not always able to pinpoint exactly what it was that made the person so effective or ineffective. I have learned that leadership is a complex and multifaceted role with many concepts and abilities that must operate together in order to be effective and positive and create a school culture that fosters happiness, satisfaction, commitment and motivation.

One of the leaders that I have worked with and most admire is a principal that I used to have (since retired) whom everybody loved. One of his greatest skills was in building relationships with others in all areas of the school community and recognising people for every little effort or achievement that they made. This man knew the name of every student, and their parents and often grandparents, in that school and called them all by name when he spoke with them. He made everyone feel special, empowered and acknowledged in a way that made them want to do the best they could for him and for themselves. Our staff was a team, we laughed, cried, celebrated and commiserated together and enjoyed coming to work every day. He is someone who I think of when considering how to handle a situation and someone who I will try to emulate when my turn comes to be in a leadership role again.

On the other hand I have worked with another principal who in the space of only three years was able to turn a happy, enthusiastic and social staff into a group of mostly isolated individuals who were not so happy to be at work, who felt dictated to rather than being part of a team and who rarely got together in the staffroom, let alone socially outside of work. This man, through the qualities he lacked, has taught me the importance of utilising the expertise and experience of others on staff as well as acknowledging the efforts of all, the benefits of shared leadership and collaboration and the essential ability of relationship building and social skills.

Being in a leadership position, as a teacher librarian is expected to be, is a daunting task but one that I feel more confident in approaching as my studies continue and my knowledge broadens. I hope that in the future I can be a leader that others describe as effective and that I can empower others to be leaders too.