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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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

 

 

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

The Role Of A Teacher Librarian – What do we do?

When asked to consider what sort of a role I can see myself fulfilling as a Teacher Librarian I had a difficult time refining my response. Upon creating my list I found that we Teacher Librarians embody so many skills and have many expectations placed upon us regarding our role, our duties, our knowledge. The expectations can differ from person to person, professional to professional. A parent defines Teacher Librarians one way, a Principal another, and each places emphasis upon differing aspects of our roles that they see as more important.

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(We don’t just do loans and catalogue searches, you know!)

Casting aside the expectations of others I can put forward the Teacher Librarian I wish to be.

RoleOfTL

Herring (2007) stated that the ‘role of the Teacher Librarian is a multi-faceted one’ (pg 5) and in completing my information graphic on the role I see myself fulfilling, I know why!

Within my teaching career so far, I have had contrasting views of how Principals perceive the role of the TL. Within a Catholic School in NSW, I saw a Teacher Librarian who was well supported by the Principal and her colleagues. RFF time was taken by the Assistant Principal so the TL was able to teach and plan collaboratively with her colleague teachers. Ample time was given for planning, assessing, and reporting; and library time was recognised as a time for rich learning. In contrast to this, at a school I worked at in QLD, they did not employ a Teacher Librarian at all. Instead, each class teacher would take their class to the library for borrowing and perhaps a story. The library was not used as a place for learning. There was nobody to advocate for the importance of the library. The Principal did not see this as detrimental to the school and funding was spent elsewhere.

In order to change the perceptions of those who do not understand the important role a Teacher Librarian performs, I suggest that we:

–     Continually promote the library as a rich teaching/learning space. Share resources with colleague teachers, demonstrate in your teaching and lessons how the library is a quality learning environment where students are able to approach learning in ways that they are unable to in the classrooms.

–     Constantly engage within Professional Development. Keep well-informed of advancements in your field and revolutionise the school library to keep up to date with these changes. Demonstrate teaching and learning experiences, and the school library itself, on the school website. This will give the whole school community, and the broader community, the opportunity to see the value of the work Teacher Librarians do.

 

References:

Australian Schools Library Association (2012). Policy: Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved 19 March 2013 from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: Charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. TechTrends, 55(4), 27-36.

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.

Valenza, J. (2010). A revised manifesto. In School Library Journal. Retrieved 19 March, 2013 from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

Seven Steps to Problem Solving: Primary School Scenario

Relief from face to face teaching for classroom teachers is covered by the teacher librarian. 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 problem.
The definiton of the problem within this scenario is the lack of teacher collaboration. Due to the teacher librarian teaching during the class teacher’s RFF time, the teacher and the TL are not having enough time for collaborative planning and working together. As a result, learning in the library is not seeming to hold relevant to the learning occuring in the classroom.

Step 2: Analyse Problem.
Assess the previous situation and the expectations that have been placed upon the TL. Areas that should be investigated involve:
– Is there a history of teacher and TL consultation time being implemented? If so, has enough time been allocated for these consultation so that effective planning can occur?
– Had there previously been joint planning (programming and assessing) between the teachers and TL? If there had been a previous habit of joint planning, what led to the breakdown of this?
– Does the principal/coordinators appreciate the importance of collaboration? Do they allow enough time for the joint planning to occur?

Step 3: Identify Possible Solutions.
1. Make time to speak to the teachers about the problems. Either at a staff meeting, stage meeting, or one on one if necessary. Put forward the idea of the library time being more smartly used and ask them in what ways can library time help with teaching content from the class. Suggest that some topics/learning experiences may be well/better suited to library time.
2. Discuss with principal(s)/stage coordinators the importance of allocation of time to the planning of collaborative teaching between the teachers and TL. Ask for their support in promoting the library and the TL as a significant learning environment in which the students are engaging within rich learning experiences.
3. Organise and allocate some time to regularly meet and discuss content/issues/scope and sequence etc. Even if this is just a ten minute chat while making a cup of tea, this helps towards a better collaboration between the teacher and TL.
4. Identify the teacher and the TL’s teaching content. What curriculum content will the TL be teaching in the future? How is this content significant to the learning the students will be engaging in within the classroom? How will content be assessed etc.

Step 4: Select the best solutions.
I would select all of the above solutions as I believe that each one is vital in working towards the solving of the problem.

Step 5: Evaluate solutions.
I would develop and assign weights to each of the possible solutions. And then prioritise the implementation of each one according to how it rates when compared to the other solutions.
I would then consider the advantages of each solution to assess relevance and importance. I would consider:
Are there any disadvantages to the solution?
Do disadvantages outweigh advantages?
What are the long and short-term effects of this solution if adopted?
Would the solution really solve the problem?

Step 6: Develop an action plan.
I would action my solutions in the order above (in the identify possible solutions section). I think that this would be the appropriate way of approaching the task.
I would put a time frame in place of when to start actioning the solutions. For example, it would be an easier accomplishment to begin with engaging with the teachers for collaborative planning, and getting the teachers into the habit of meeting regularly to discuss learning. So I would discuss my ideas and plans with teachers, principal(s)/coordinators first.
If it is early within the term and the teacher(s) are happy to begin straight away then I would start to implement my changes to the teaching content immediately.
In order to effectively action the curriculum content solution however, there would be pre-planning needed for term-long units of work. In this instance I would plan to begin in the new term, whilst still supporting current classroom learning.

Step 7: Implement the solutions.
After the action plan/solutions have been implemented I would be vigilant in monitoring the solutions in action. For example, are the teachers still making time to chat? Is the learning more contextually relevant now? Are the students getting more out of their learning/activities/experiences within library time? Have we been allocating enough collaboration time?
In monitoring the results, I will be able to evaluate if I successfully solved the problems. Were my solutions apt? Were my expectations realistic and attainable?

 

Problem Solving. (n.d.). Home | University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from http://www.pitt.edu/~groups/probsolv.htm