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/.

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The Communication Process Scenario

How would I successfully communicate the implementation of an exciting new program into the school?

In approaching the communicating of a program to my fellow staff, I have considered the ‘Communication Process’ film clip on YouTube (reference below), observations of colleagues in communication/strategy delivery meeting settings and my own experience as a participant in staff meetings and professional development. In my opinion, reflection upon each of these factors can give a somewhat more clear perspective as to how you can successfully encode and transmit a message initially.

1. Sender:
Organise and plan the environment in which the message is to be transmitted. I have found that even the layout of seating can be a distraction in a presentation/meeting. I would try to set my seating out in a horseshoe/curved style facing the presenter. That way the attention and focus is upon the front where the message will be communicated.
Create a platform for the message that will be conveyed. I would perhaps send an email, both informing the staff of the upcoming delivery of a presentation concerning an exciting new program, and creating/generating some interest in the program. This may include a small insight into what is to come at the presentation – something exciting to gain interest and create a positive outlook towards the program.

2. Encoding:
Plan a presentation that contains positive information about the program. In my opinion, you need to really believe in what you are presenting. As discussed in the ‘Communication Process’ clip, people will accept your opinion based upon your body language more so than what you are verbalising. If you really believe in and embrace the qualities of this new program, you need to portray that with your body language such as open arms and positive gestures, rather than arms crossed or hands on hips etc. It is also beneficial to speak with a positive/passionate voice, and as openly as you can with plenty of eye contact.

3. Message:
Prepare a presentation that is accurately targeting the group you are presenting to. I would centre the presentation around the use of the program and how it will help/improve teaching and learning, how it will be a valuable resource for teachers and students, how it is better than the alternative/what is already in use. I would fill this with specific references to, and knowledge about, specific teacher’s needs. Reference what the teachers are currently/have previously taught and suggest how this program would be able/could of been able to assist and support to enhance their programs.

4. Decoding:
Allow time throughout the communication/presentation of message for the receivers to interpret and decode the message. Take time during the course of presenting to question the receivers on their understanding, ask if they require further clarification of what is being said. Contain information that is presented so that the receivers are not overloaded with information.

5. Receiver:
Be aware of the environment, recognise ahead of time any factors that may inhibit colleagues from receiving the message. Assess and plan for the mental state of the receivers and ensure that they will be engaging in the presentation at a time that they will not be preoccupied. Remove any distractions (I once had a colleague teacher who would disengage from any meetings or professional development if there was pencils/pens and paper around for her to doodle with), save any supporting documents or notes for the end of the presentation.

6. Feedback:
Assess and consider the feedback you are receiving during the presentation/communication. I would be looking for ways in which to hold the attention of my colleagues through creating an engaging presentation, however, if there is still people who are distracted yawning and somewhat disengaging, pre-plan ways to shake up the presentation to refocus the receivers upon the task. Involve them in some way, ask them for examples of their experiences that could be improved by the new program. Tell amusing and engaging anecdotes that relate in some way to the program and the benefits of its implementation. Have multimedia that can engage and support your presentation if possible. Have back up directions for the presentation to take if you need to reengage staff so that your message is successfully understood and received.

 

 

Mattalanis. (2012). How the Communication Process Works [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=q6u0AVn-NUM Minute MBA. (2012, November 13).

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