ETL504 Assessment Two – Critical Reflection

At the beginning of this session as I approached ETL504 Teacher Librarian As Leader, I had a somewhat misguided idea about the role of the Teacher Librarian as a leader. The quite basic view I held was of the Teacher Librarian being a leader for the students, explicitly demonstrating tasks from within the library that would educate her cohort to be functional library users.

The greatest surprise for me was realising that the role of the Teacher Librarian involved so much advocacy. Proving that we need to be here, that we contribute significantly to the needs of the students and the goals of the school. Why is it that the role of the classroom teacher is not as often in the spotlight? Why is it that the teachers’ contribution is assumed to be significant with little justification?

Tapscott (2012) made a statement that frequently resonates with me – particularly when I am thinking about how I see myself being a leader within my school. He stated ‘…create a rising tide that can lift all boats’ and I feel that this can surmise the role of the teacher librarian as a leader. We are consistently performing our own teaching role, while taking on the work of others. We are leaders for innovation and change, supportive of embracing change and new technology and available to educate anyone (be staff or student) on what is new and how it works. We are a model for collaborative teaching approaches (Belisle, 2005, p75) and inquiry based learning. And we do all of this for the benefit of our students and our school.

Leadership isn’t just being a role model. It is also about planning and organising. Curriculum leadership is a considerable part of being a teacher librarian.  We are leaders in trying to foster the implementation of professional high-quality teacher learning in fields such as collaborative teaching, inquiry-based learning, and ICT (Goodnough, 2005, p88). We lead for change, always looking ahead, always preparing and being ‘in the know’ of what is coming further down the road, and not just for our learners, but for our colleagues and ourselves (Valenza, 2010). Teaching is leading, when we consider designing and facilitating learning and instruction as a form of educational leadership, therefore collaboration is leading when we reflect upon the use of professional collaboration to improve classroom instruction and learning (Collay, 2011, p110). These significant roles of the Teacher Librarian as a leader.

Effective leadership requires efficient and purposeful communication. Teacher Librarians demonstrate leadership through the effective use of communication to build relationships and network with other professionals, to propose strategies and to gain support, to fortify collaborative partnerships for teaching and learning. Proactive, positive, and respectful communication skills are necessary for successful school leadership (Bender, 2005, p2).Through the use of effective communication, Teacher Librarians are leaders within our professional learning communities.

When I look back to the first critical reflection from assessment one, and my first explanation of how I would define a leader, I can recognise the significant change in my opinion of leadership and how Teacher Librarians fit within that role.

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

Whilst the above quote is still completely true, it is not as simple as merely ‘influencing’ change in others, but about how the leader creates and maintains influence through the possession of other crucial skills such as integrity, trustworthiness, transparency, and flexibility. Successful leadership is also achieved through accountability, and in a school environment, this tends to be a shared accountability. Twenty-first century school leadership does not just accept the principal as the sole leader of the school. It recognises the importance of each contributing member of staff performing their own leadership roles that contribute to the success of the school (MacBeath, 2009, p137).

I will be using what I have learned within ETL504 to become a leader within my library, my school, and my profession.

 

 

 

References

Belisle, C. (2005). The Teacher as Leader: Transformational Leadership and the Professional Teacher or Teacher-Librarian. School Libraries In Canada, 24(3), 73-79. Retrieved 27 May, 2013 from http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/16746531/teacher-as-leader-transformational-leadership-professional-teacher-teacher-librarian.

Bender, Y. (2005). The tactful teacher effective communication with parents, colleagues, and administrators. White River Junction, VT: Nomad Press.

Collay, M. (2011). Everyday Teacher Leadership: Taking Action Where You Are. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Goodnough, K. (2005). Fostering Teacher Learning through Collaborative Inquiry. Clearing House, 79(2), 88-92. Retrieved 27 May, 2013 from http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/30182117?uid =2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21102046633763.

MacBeath, J. E. (2009). Shared Accountability. In MacBeath, J.E., & Dempster, N. (2009). Connecting leadership and learning: principles for practice. Abingdon, OX: Routledge.

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

Valenza, J. (2010). A Revised Manifesto. Never-ending Search. Retrieved 27 May, 2013 from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/.

Teacher Librarians – Responding to resistance towards Collaborative Teaching

Although the benefits of collaborative teaching approaches seem impossible to reject, there are still teachers who feel a need to resist and oppose any collaborative approach perhaps due to feeling the need to assert their own capabilities. This is something I have seen and experienced in quite a few schools.

From the literature and readings, and personal experience, it can be understood that leadership plays a significant role in the embracing and implementing of new ideas and initiatives into the school environment. Strong leadership is required to build and sustain a learning organisation, including the creation of positive conditions and opportunities at the school level (Cibulka, Coursey, Nakayama, Price, & Stewart, 2003, p. 1). The culture of learning within the school needs to enforce and embrace the continual professional development and self-reflection of its teachers. If the principal can support this mission, then the implementation of collaborative teaching can become easier to promote and accomplish. Strong principal support, is a major contributor to the success of fostering collaboration between teachers and teacher librarians (Haycock, 2007, & Montiel-Overall, 2008).

The teacher librarian as a leader in the school community, needs to be an advocate for collaboration. She/he needs to demonstrate leadership skills and expert knowledge, and attributes such as flexibility and the ability to compromise, respect and understanding (Haycock ,2007; Monteil-Overall, 2008, cited in Williamson, Archibald, & McGregor, 2010). Perhaps start by taking small steps with the teachers who resist, such as offering and sharing some valuable resources the teacher(s) may not know about, offer the use of the library to enhance their teaching and give support while the teacher is using these facilities/resources. This can provide opportunities for viewing the teaching styles of the teacher(s) and allow for the adaptation of your approach to support those styles.

Building a collaborative relationship can take time, network with these teachers and build them up towards collaboration by taking small steps. With each success, a new step can be introduced. A positive relationship will be a good foundation for openness and receptiveness to change.

Show the teachers and principal evidence that a collaborative approach works. Give examples of student achievement, show samples of the learning experiences that are rich in information literacy and supportive learning environment due to collaborative approaches. Produce models of results in situations where collaboration is working, both within the school, and from other schools.

 

Cibulka, J., Coursey, S., Nakayama, M., Price, J. & Stewart, S. (2003). Schools as learning organisations: A review of the literature. National College for School Leadership, UK. Retrieved 16 May, 2013 from http://217.140.32.103/media/F7B/94/randd-engaged-cibulka.pdf

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35. Retrieved 16 May, 2013 from http://collaborate-inservice.wikispaces.com /file/view/Critical+Success+Factors.pdf

Montiel-Overall, P. (2008). Teacher and librarian collaboration: A qualitative study. Library and Information Science Research, 30(20), 145-155. Retrieved 16 May, 2013 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S074081880800011X

Williamson, K., Archibald, A., & McGregor, J. (2010). Shared Vision: A Key to Successful Collaboration? School Libraries Worldwide, 16(2), 16-30. Retrieved 16 May, 2013 from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=14d65926-830b-436b-8e8e-fc03916a59a8%40sessionmgr112&vid=2&hid=127

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 http://www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=355852&echo=1&userid=75%2bPOA257%2f1ZaNWG7TLUwA%3d%3d&tstamp=1360490936&id=087020FA33867E19826CBD9075923A9F82493CAA

Moore, A. (2012). Theories of teaching and learning. In Teaching and learning: pedagogy, curriculum and culture (2nd ed). Retrieved 29 March 2013 from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/docDetail.action?docID=10568483

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.

 

References

Todd, R. J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. In School Library Journal. Retrieved 28 March 2013 from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA287119.html

 

 

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…

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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 http://on.ted.com/Tapscott