Tag Archives: teacher librarian

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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Problem Solving a real world situation in 7 steps

Using the 7 steps, outlined in the University of Pittsburgh’s, ‘Problem Solving’ comment on how you could solve the problem using the steps outlined.
Problem – Primary school. Relief from face to face teaching for classroom teachers is covered by the teacher librarian (TL). This means that it is difficult to plan any collaborative teaching opportunities with the teachers. You are also concerned that the students learning in the library may not be contextually relevant to their learning in the classroom. How could you approach this problem?

Step 1 Define and identify the problem

Opportunities to collaboratively teach with classroom teachers are difficult to arrange due to TL taking relief from face-to-face. Concerned about contextual relevance for students to their classroom learning.

Goal – try to create opportunities outside of relief from face-to-face time where collaborative teaching can occur. Create contextual relevance for students.

Step 2 Analyse the problem

Timetabling a big issue.

A lack of knowledge around the role of the TL and the purpose and benefits of their teaching in the Library exists.

Step 3-5 Identify, Select and Evaluate possible solutions

A staff meeting led by TL could occur where problem  is explained and brainstorming session happens to try to find solutions.

Step 6 Action Plan

Work with person responsible for timetabling to factor in opportunities for collaborative teaching.

Education program for principal, staff and parent community – an information meeting for staff and an information evening for parents and the wider community run by TL, a link on Library website with relevant information about the role of the TL and a flyer to go home to all parents.

Time factored into the school year (i.e. per term) for TL to plan with classroom teachers about context for learning.

Step 7 Implement the solution

Monitor feedback from all concerned in regards to the education program. A Possible survey could be developed to establish a growth in knowledge and areas requiring further address.

Monitor creation of opportunities for discussion, planning and collaborative teaching and collect evidence to support the benefits where successful collaborations occurred.

Resources:

Problem Solving. (n.d.). Home | University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved July 22, 2103 from http://web.archive.org/web/20130502065403/http://www.pitt.edu/~groups/probsolv.html

A critical reflection on how my view of the role of the teacher librarian has changed during this subject (ETL401)

In the first weeks of ETL401 Introduction to Teacher Librarianship we were asked to brainstorm and list what teachers do, what librarians do and what teacher librarians do. I had no difficulty after 21 years of teaching listing what a teacher does and the list was quite extensive however when it came to the teacher librarian I was a little bewildered. Beyond the obvious list of catalogue, shelve, resource and teach I had no real idea of what a teacher librarian (TL) did. Part of the reason for this is the fact that I have never been either a student or a teacher in a school that had a TL so my only experience has been of a librarian and the other part of the reason is that I have never really taken the time to find out what a TL actually does. I have been overwhelmed, intimidated, downright scared and excited as my study and readings have deepened my understanding of the role.

My own learning needs in relation to the knowledge required to fulfil the role of TL as media specialist have been daunting. I have always loved and been excited by information communication technologies and how they can enhance all areas of life but since having children I have not devoted the time I once did to keeping up with the latest developments and uses for technologies particularly in education. I posted on my blog, The Adventuring Librarian, about my excitement when learning how to access and use the Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) databases, “It has been an eye opening experience for me” (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013a), and about library curation using Pinterest, “I can see the benefits of using a social media forum … as a curation tool” (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013b). One of the challenges for me will be making the time not only to keep up with new technologies but to explore and learn them in order to explicitly teach the skills to others.

Beyond being a media specialist I have been intimidated by the incredibly large but essential role of TL as leader and advocate for the library in ensuring the continuation of the TL role through gaining the support of the principal and the use of evidence-based practice. Based on my own initial understandings of the role of a TL and further reading I can understand why many principals view the role of a TL as unimportant and easily expendable and I can see why TLs need to take the lead in making the principal an ally and helping them to see the importance of the role in the ‘big picture’ information literacy goals of the school. “They need to be strong, patient pioneers on a mission of meaningful change with their eyes firmly on the destination of a collaborative school environment” (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013c). I can understand too why evidence-based practice is so vital and how it can be used in many ways not only to inform practice but “to educate and inform those in power in order to successfully advocate for the needs of the students and the school library” (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013d).

Perhaps the component of the role of the TL that has excited and challenged me the most is that of the TL as developer of information literate students. Through my readings and research into information literacy (IL) I have come to realise the importance of these skills in a 21st century education and how they contribute to higher-order thinking  and develop life-long learning. In learning about the use of process models to assist in the instruction of IL skills I have reignited my passion for teaching and reaffirmed the reasons for incorporating these skills into the existing curriculum. “TLs are experts in embedding the skills of information literacy across the curriculum and teaching them explicitly through programs” (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013e). I certainly feel far from an expert at the moment but I am hopeful and excited about a future where I can work collaboratively with teachers to make a difference to the information literacy skills of the students in my school.

In 10 short weeks (which feel a lot longer) I can now add to my initial list: media specialist, curator, advocate, leader, evidence-based practitioner, developer of information literate students, collaborator and I hope life-long learner. I look forward to the continuing development of both this list and my knowledge and skills as I progress further in my studies.

References:

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013a, March 13). Library databases [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/library-databases/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013b, March 18). Library curation using Pinterest [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/library-curation-using-pinterest/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013c, March 25). The role of the teacher-librarian in practice with regard to principal support [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/the-role-of-the-teacher-librarian-in-practice-with-regard-to-principal-support/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013d, April 28). The role of the teacher librarian with regard to evidence based practice [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/the-role-of-the-teacher-librarian-with-regard-to-evidence-based-practice/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013e, May 14). Information literacy is more than a set of skills [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/information-literacy-is-more-than-a-set-of-skills/

The role of the teacher librarian with regard to evidence based practice

The current educational climate is very data driven and achievement oriented. Teachers are under a lot of pressure and are expected to get results and be accountable for everything they do or don’t do. Teacher librarians (TL) are under even more pressure with the current economy to prove that they are effective, make a difference and get results in order to demonstrate their value to a school and retain their position in the school. In order to demonstrate this value TLs need to collect and collate evidence and be prepared to utilise this evidence to defend their position and prove their worth.

Evidence based practice is the process of documenting how teacher librarians make a difference in learning. It demonstrates the direct link between the activities of the TL and improved student outcomes, a link not recognised by many educators despite studies proving the fact (Todd, 2003). Evidence can and should be collected in a variety of forms and from different points throughout the lessons. This documentation can include things like work samples, rubrics, journals, test scores, evaluations and anything that will show success in what was being taught. This evidence should then be used to make clear statements outlining what the students have gained from the lessons taught.

Evidence based practice is also vital for the TL in their professional practice of teaching information literacy to students. In order to assess the effectiveness of the lessons taught TLs should be collecting evidence, reflecting on what worked or responding to what was not effective in order to facilitate change and create continuous improvement (Eldredge, 2000 in Todd, 2007). The 21st Century sees an increasingly complex informational and technological world that students need to function effectively in and TLs need to take the lead in planning for a learning centre that will be dynamic, flexible and high-tech in order to cater for these needs (Hay & Todd, 2010, p30). Therefore evidence based practice is also about strategic thinking, working with the evidence gathered to inform effective practice. TLs as a specialist practitioner need to take control of their own professional learning journey through such things as seeking access to professional development, joining professional networks and associations and attending conferences (Hay & Todd, 2010, p37).

Evidence gathered in evidence based practice should be used to demonstrate accountability for what TLs teach as well as to advocate for improvements in school libraries. To do this evidence findings need to be shared with others in meaningful ways over time (Oberg, 2002, p10-13). The school principle has the greatest influence from a school level to facilitate change and evidence gathered should be used to educate about the role of the TL as well as to gain support for the role. Through gaining support for the role of the TL and school library such things as time for collaboration, budget increases to meet growing requirements and flexible timetabling, etc can be seen as beneficial and therefore as greater priorities.

TLs must use evidence based practice in their role as a professional for several reasons; to have positive proof of their worth and value, to inform their own practice and facilitate effective programs and to educate and inform those in power in order to successfully advocate for the needs of the students and the school library. Evidence based practice is a powerful and effective tool for a TL in a 21st century library.

References

Hay, L., & Todd, R. (2010). School libraries 21C: The conversation beginsScan, 29(1), 30-42.

Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement?School Libraries in Canada, 22(2), 10-14

Todd, R.J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievementSchool Library Journal.1st April

Todd, R. J. (2007). Evidenced-based practice and school libraries : from advocacy to action. In Hughes-Hassell, S. & Harada, V. School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, CY : Libraries Unlimited.