ETL401: Blog Task 2 – The role of the Teacher Librarian with regard to Constructivist Learning and the Australian Curriculum

The expanding role of the teacher librarian, has grown to encompass a move towards Constructivist Based Learning. This type of learning places a greater emphasis upon the student as learner rather than the teacher as instructor.

The role of the Teacher Librarian changes from the relater of knowledge and learning, including learning and lesson directions, into a facilitator and enabler of independent learning through providing access to resources and setting tasks that guide students exploration and own research.

Inquiry Learning is a form of learning that provides opportunities for students to attain deep conceptual knowledge and is becoming increasingly recommended. Although a balanced form of instruction is still required from the teacher librarian, the effects of the knowledge and skills students are gaining provides evidence for the benefits of this learning style (Collins, T., Gaved, M., Mulholland, P., Kerawalla, C., Twiner, A., Scanlon, E., Jones, A., Littleton, K., Conole, G., & Tosunoglu, C., 2008, p3).

The teacher librarian uses constructivist learning to encourage students to manage their own learning, and to become accountable for their own education, whilst teaching them valuable higher-order thinking skills which will promote information literacy skill development and provide the platform for facilitating the teaching of the guided inquiry process and the learning of independent researching skills (Kuhlthau, 2008, p. 72) such as analysing, evaluating, and synthesising.

The teacher librarian needs to work collaboratively with the teachers in order to plan constructivist based learning experiences that combine knowledge of the curriculum, knowledge of individual learners’ needs and knowledge of information sources, resources and technologies. The careful planning for these learning experiences should incorporate the incremental presentation of knowledge and skills required so that students are able to attain an in-depth knowledge. (Australian School Library Association (ASLA), 2009).

The teacher librarian, with the knowledge of the school library and the awareness of the physical and digital resources available for teaching and learning, can enrich the curriculum by introducing the students to a rich learning environment (the library) outside of their normal learning environment, and hence expand their knowledge and learning styles and create and instil a deep understanding. Teacher librarians can enhance the curriculum by constructing learning experiences in which students are engaging within learning that incorporates and utilises current and cutting edge technology and places knowledge at student fingertips.

The teacher librarian, as a leader, may also engage within the development and creation of programs to support the Australian Curriculum. With expert knowledge in the field of resourcing the curriculum, it is also the role of the teacher librarian to maintain an expert knowledge of up-to-date pedagogy and practices (ALIA/ASLA, 2004). With the implementation of the new Australian Curriculum, the teacher librarian can program and design the curriculum for increased experiences of constructivist learning that incorporates learning that enhances and supports the information literacy needs of the students and school community.



Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)/Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2004). Standards for professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved April 28, 2013 from

Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2009). Statement on resource based learning and the curriculum. Retrieved 28 April 2013, from

Collins, T., Gaved, M., Mulholland, P., Kerawalla, C., Twiner, A., Scanlon, E., Jones, A., Littleton, K., Conole, G., & Tosunoglu, C. (2008). Supporting location-based inquiry learning across school, field and home contexts. Proceedings of the MLearn 2008 Conference. Retrieved from

Kuhlthau, C. (2008). From Information to Meaning: Confronting Challenges of the Twenty-first Century. Retrieved 22 April, 2013 from /file/fetch/ 30835148/Kuhlthau.FromInformationToMeaning.pdf


ETL504 Assessment One – Critical Reflection

When reflecting upon my understanding and practice of leadership in the school library, I considered my first posting in Module 1 of my ETL504 course in which I was asked to provide my understanding of leadership. My opening statement interpreted leadership as follows:

‘Leadership, in my opinion, is the process of influencing the attitudes, values, and behaviours of others.’

Although I still agree with my statement, I can see how my views and understandings are developing and maturing as I progress in my studies.

Presently, I consider that as a leader within the school library, the Teacher Librarian is an advocate for enrichment and growth. It is the responsibility of the Teacher Librarian within their leadership capacity to support and nurture lifelong learning. As a school leader, the Teacher Librarian works both singularly and collaboratively with teachers to resource effective and engaging teaching and learning.

A Teacher Librarian demonstrates leadership:

–          In collaborative program planning and teaching, creating and implementing vibrant, quality learning experiences that guide students in inquiry based learning that is multi-modal and media rich.

–          When supporting colleagues in the creating, resourcing and implementing of their units of work. Teaching them how to resource lessons effectively with technology, keeping them up to date with current and new trends in teaching and learning in a media rich environment.

–          Managing library programs, assets, services, and staff in order to sustain the school library to the benefit of the school community and constantly evaluating these according to changing school needs and goals.

–          In technical services and ICT. The Teacher Librarian is knowledgeable in resources, hardware, networks and networking, troubleshooting, trends, Web 2.0, website development and maintenance, and all other facets of the digital world in which we exist. She advocates and educates for others to be knowledgeable too.

–          As an advocate for the school library and its students. Promoting the library and its resources, and advocating for the further development and improvement of the library and its assets for the benefit and access of the current and future students and the greater school community. Promotes and nurturing a ‘whole school focus’ on information literacy.

–          As a participant in Professional Development. The Teacher Librarian is a lifelong learner always working at sustaining and maintaining high levels of professional knowledge.

–          As a representative in the professions of both teaching and librarianship. Promoting accessible literacy for all, supporting students in teachers through encouraging lifelong learning, creating and implementing vibrant high quality teaching programs and lessons, endorsing the services provided by the library, both school and public, forming partnerships with local school librarians and public libraries to encourage the networking of professionals and the sharing of ideas and resources.

–          As a living and breathing information specialist, advocating reading and researching, promoting investigation and discovery, demonstrating and encouraging a love of learning and endless nourishment the brain, supporting students in all attempts to unearth something new and set their expectations high.

–          When allocating and utilising school library budgets to support teaching and learning within the school.

Leadership for Learning: My Understanding

I understand leadership for learning to be the provision of effective leadership and guidance in order to facilitate excellence in learning.  The title ‘Leader(s)’, in my opinion, does not just refer to the most senior positions within the school community. It encompasses each principal, assistant principal, teacher, and curriculum/learning support individual as a leader in good educational practice. The contribution of each member of the school faculty leads to the results of the school as a whole and this is reflective of the quality of leadership and the value of learning within the school. MacBeath and Swaffield (2009) support this statement, putting forward the view of the importance of moving from the ‘old frame’ of thinking that ‘leadership is the few leading the many’ into the ‘new frame’ of thinking of ‘leadership as an activity’ or collective effort (p38).

Leadership for learning is about initiating changes that improve the opportunities of all learners to achieve well. Each leader may adopt a differing style of leadership within their role, but it is the cohesive effectiveness of each style with the sharing of common characteristics and goals or priorities that makes leadership and learning successful. MacBeath and Swaffield (2009) support my opinion stating that ‘leadership and learning … share common skills, such as problem solving, reflection, and acting on experience’ (p32).

Leadership for learning involves:

– Effective leadership that supports each person (and leadership style) who is working collaboratively to influence successful quality learning, teaching, and whole school achievement.

– Each staff member is accountable for their transparency in priorities, professional learning and development, and their approach to meeting the schools’ collective goals and priorities.

– Staff working collaboratively in strategic planning for future directions and priorities.

– Leaders promoting and supporting innovation and change, whilst constantly evaluating teaching and learning. Likewise, being involved in resource development for priorities. Initiating changes that improve the opportunities of all learners to achieve well.

– Leaders planning for, and supporting, inclusive learning environments that support all levels of student ability and promote learning that is rich in intellectual quality in order to support the improvement and performance of all students. Likewise, resourcing the curriculum appropriately to support the diverse abilities of the students. This point is supported by Moore (2012) who refers to the importance of ‘teachers adopting a wide range of teaching strategies and materials in order to achieve stated aims’ (p117).



MacBeath, J. E., & Swaffield, S. (2009). Leadership for learning. In MacBeath, J.E., & Dempster, N. (2009). Connecting leadership and learning: principles for practice. Retrieved 29 March 2013 from

Moore, A. (2012). Theories of teaching and learning. In Teaching and learning: pedagogy, curriculum and culture (2nd ed). Retrieved 29 March 2013 from

Teacher Librarians: Putting forward clear and palatable priorities.

It is important for the Teacher Librarian as a leader within the school community to effectively communicate his/her priorities. As a part of our role, it is crucial for TLs to be constantly highlighting and reinforcing the connection between school libraries and student achievement, the work we do that is a vital contribution to student learning success, and the role we perform behind the scenes in creating a rich learning environment full of wonderful resources that support the curriculum and enhance the school environment. In performing these duties our role encompasses a certain amount of advocacy. We are educating our colleagues and the greater school community in the importance of our presence and the existence of the library.

This requires a certain amount of planning and diplomacy in putting forward our priorities and being able to successfully gain what we require.

So, how can Teacher Librarians make our priorities both clear and palatable to the school community?

–          To begin with, TLs should be clear of their role and their vision for the direction and expectations they have planned for the school library. These should be portrayed and demonstrated constantly by the TL, and as a result, the TL’s priorities will be well known to the school community.

–          Become an advocate for your school library at staff meetings. Put forward items on the agenda to be discussed, open the floor for teachers, support staff, coordinators, and principal(s) to put forward their needs and expectations of the services the library and TL provides. This inclusion and collaboration will allow priorities and changes to be accepted more positively than decisions made without consideration of colleague points of view.

–          Initiate an open line of communication; be it through email, online, suggestion slip, or verbal, where colleagues are able to put forward ideas/suggestions and gain knowledge of what is happening in the library. Decisions and priorities made with reflection upon the communications of others allows the school community to see the transparency of the TL and this will enable the acceptance of these decisions.

–          Consider the creation of a ‘Friends of the Library’ group which can be similar to the P&C group but focuses upon the needs of the library and works towards increasing the positive image of the library within the school community.

–          Create a School Library Charter of which includes the assessed needs and expectations of the school community and recognises and states how the school library will meet these.

–          Keep school library website up to date with accomplishments and goals that have been met, as well as explanation of the future direction the library is taking. Create Term/Yearly reports upon what has been accomplished by teaching and learning within the library, as well as any significant library developments.

Todd (2003) put forward that ‘when teachers and school librarians work together, principals and the school board see firsthand evidence of your value. And when teachers see that you make a difference in student learning, they become your biggest advocates.’ I believe that my strategies support this statement, that the collaboration in the initial stage of prioritising can create more positive outcomes in the way the TL’s priorities are accepted.



Todd, R. J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. In School Library Journal. Retrieved 28 March 2013 from



ETL401 Blog Task One: The Role of the Teacher Librarian in implementing Guided Inquiry.

In preparing students for lifelong learning in the rapidly developing information environment, teacher librarians need to be constantly searching for ways to engage our students in 21st century learning. Guided Inquiry is ‘a way of learning that meets the many requirements of the curriculum through engaging, motivating and challenging learning’ (Kuhlthau, 2007, p3). In order to successfully implement guided inquiry learning, the teacher librarian and teachers must work collaboratively to appropriately scaffold learning for their students.  This method of learning provides opportunity to ‘tailor learning experiences and opportunities, resources and processes to the needs and abilities of each student’ (ALIA/ASLA, 2009) and according to curriculum outcomes.

If we specifically focus upon the role of the teacher librarian in practice with regard to implementing a Guided Inquiry approach, we acknowledge the skills that a teacher librarian has within both teaching and information services. The teacher librarian’s role starts with the understanding of the curriculum outcomes and knowledge of the values that the students are required to take away from the Guided Inquiry learning.

The teacher librarian then begins the planning of lessons (perhaps again in collaboration with the teacher) and starts upon resourcing the learning experiences, selecting and utilising a variety of resources that are based on information literacy and are ‘combined with the rich resources of the school library and the wider community in a collaborative and supportive learning environment’ (ALIA/ASLA, 2009). This is where the value of the school library as a digital media infused learning environment and a ‘site of student learning, rather than of traditional scholarship’ becomes evident (Lee, 2012, p6).

Kuhlthau (2007, p. 32–33) discusses the importance of teacher librarians creating three separate learning environments called spaces when planning for Guided Inquiry learning. The first space, utilises students’ local and cultural knowledge, including Web2.0. The second space incorporates the school curriculum – the goals and learning outcomes of what is being taught. Students then engage in learning and research that creates the third space, where students use out of school knowledge to make sense of the curriculum. This enables students to engage in discovery, inquiry, thinking, and metacognition.

The teacher librarian creates significant teaching and learning experiences that develop deep knowledge, and skills that are relevant for use in the outside world. Through expert knowledge in the curriculum and its resourcing, the teacher librarian is able to support and guide their students through their learning encouraging higher order thinking and sustain and develop knowledge in the information search process which ‘allows students to become aware of their own processes and allows teachers and teacher librarians to frame the task, and to bring together learning in a meaningful way,’ (ALIA/ASLA, 2009).




ALIA/ASLA. (2009). Policy on guided inquiry and the curriculum. Australian Library and Information Association. Retrieved 22 March 2013 from

Kuhlthau, C. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Retrieved 21 March 2013 from Kuhlthau%5B1%5D.pdf

Lee, Virginia S. (2012). Inquiry-Guided Learning: New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved 22 March 2013 from 861722

Who guides selection? The difference in roles between a Teacher Librarian and Teacher.

There is significant difference between the teachers’ and teacher librarian’s role in selecting and using resources. Whilst the teacher can suggest or request items they may need or want for their class, the teacher librarian has a greater functioning knowledge of the process of selection with a focus upon the priorities of the school as a whole.

Primarily, the selection of resources is a systematic process. There is a standard way in which the teacher librarian has to select resources.
Each school should have a functioning collection development guide. It should also have a procedure for the selection of materials. These are used to allocate funds wisely and to make sure that the budget is being spent in the most appropriate way.  The teacher librarian’s job is to be aware of these procedures and adhere to them so that suitable resources are provided for all students. The teachers have not been trained in collection management and may not have an understanding of the process of material selection, or be aware of the budget and constraints that are placed upon this selection procedure. Teachers do not have the knowledge of the acquisition process. For example, the suppliers/book sellers the school uses, what may be on standing order, the priorities of the school, the designated budget for each area of the collection etc.

Furthermore, the teacher librarian has a broad knowledge of the entire curriculum and is able to assess the usefulness of each resource. The teacher librarian has formal training in collection development that will enhance student achievement, support student learning, enrich teaching and learning and add value to the library collection.

However, in discussing the differences of the role of the teacher and the teacher librarian in selecting and using resources, it is important to emphasise that a collaborative approach needs to be adopted. The teacher should be able to assess the usefulness of resources and make recommendations for new resources. This ensures that the resources are functional and useful to the teachers in the classroom as well as to the students within the library.

In my opinion, one of the best ways for collaboration is by having a request form of which any member of the school community can place a suggestion for order for the teacher librarian to consider. Whether the form is online, physical, or both, the request process needs to be supported with effective communication allowing the teacher librarian to notify the individual of the selection or rejection of an item and the reasons for the outcome. The request form can be simplified for the younger primary students, verbal requests could also be taken from the youngest school students.


I think I will leave you with this thought…


Leading For Change: Four Principles of Openness

Watch the following short talk about leading change (then you will understand what I am responding to!)

Don Tapscott – Four Principles for the Open World


Don Tapscott’s 4 Principles for the Open World can be applied to school libraries and teacher librarians as follows:

1.  Collaboration:    ‘Embracing change… view talent differently’ (Tapscott, 2012)

– Acknowledging that our students can often be, at times, more skilled at using current technology than their teachers. Teachers need to be looking beyond their current skills. We need to be incorporating current and cutting edge technology and media into our teaching. Our students are a generation of digital learners and users and we need to be actively engaging them in their education through embedding rich learning experiences that step outside the boundaries of the classroom. What can our students be teaching us?

2. Transparency:     ‘be buff, have good values and integrity’ [you are on display] Tapscott (2012)

In my opinion, a fundamental approach to build respect and trust is through always being transparent. Teacher Librarians are constantly in the process of changing perceptions. Our image is persistently changing. In order to verify our worth and usefulness to our schools we need to be open and transparent about our role, the tasks we perform, the importance of our presence within the school, the importance of our school libraries as a resource for the school and greater community. This can be achieved by, making it known that you are always approachable and available for any queries or help that may be required by colleagues, students, or parents. Keeping a digital presence within the school community and greater community; keeping school internet/intranet current and easy to navigate, this can be achieved with easy-to-search OPAC information, class work/project information and anecdotes, access to fresh and relevant resources, recounting significant events, promotion of services that the Teacher Librarian and school library are providing. Transparency is ‘the communication of pertinent information to stakeholders’ (Tapscott, 2012).

3. Sharing:     ‘…create a rising tide that can lift all boats’ (Tapscott, 2012)

In a world that is becoming increasingly competitive, people are quick to hide their knowledge, to keep things close to their chests so as to not be ‘doing somebody’s work for them.’ The saying ‘no one should get a free ride’ comes to mind as it is one that I hear often. But when education is changing to push student against student, school against school, and teacher against teacher, would it not make more sense to share the load in ways that are mutually beneficial to all who are involved and then share in the result?

Tapscott stated ‘embrace the commons’ (2012) and I interpreted this to mean that in understanding the power of what we have in common, we can share our knowledge for the benefit of all. Within our school libraries this can successfully be achieved through collaborative teaching approaches, the sharing of resources, the sharing of effective lesson plans, the promotion of individual skills, the sharing of assessment strategies and results, student information and teaching styles that are effectual.

Embracing the common goals that we share and working together to achieve them.

4. Empowerment:     ‘moving forward… the open world is bringing empowerment and freedom’ (Tapscott 2012)

Tapscott stated that empowerment involves ‘the distribution of knowledge’ (2012). Teachers and Teacher Librarians can share their knowledge to empower the students and schools. We can engage in collaborative planning and teaching. Perhaps approach the Principle and advocate for some time for the Teachers and Teacher Librarian to share their knowledge and plan learning experiences. This can empower the staff as a whole which will then reflect onto the students. We can also empower our students and parents/wider community by giving them access to, and teaching them to use, an OPAC on the school website. Give them access to their records at home. Perhaps have an online request form that they can suggest items that they would like to see in our library.


Through my understanding of these 4 principles I feel supported in leading change as it reiterates to me the importance of openness. In my opinion they are intertwined in the sense that through collaboration, transparency, and sharing we can achieve empowerment. The collaborative approach to our teaching and planning places Teacher Librarians in a situation where they can be transparent and expose their values, work ethics and skills. This will then build respect and trust with teacher colleagues. Once this respect and trust has been gained, we are able to share our professional knowledge, experiences and resources, and empower one another, our students and our school.


Tapscott, Don. (2012). Don Tapscott: Four principles for the open world. TEDGlobal 2012. Retrieved 19March 2013 from

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