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

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).

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