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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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).

ETL401: Blog Task 3 – Is information literacy more than a set of a skills?

Is information literacy more than a set of skills that students are expected to learn?

Looking at the vast definitions of information literacy it can be seen how it could be assumed that information literacy is just about the mastery of skills. Broad definitions often reflect that information literacy incorporates confidence in the use of information and communications technology (Bundy, 2004), or is a set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyse, and use information (American Library Association, 2013).

Of course the acquisition of these skills is vital to becoming information literate, and they are the building blocks of information literacy, but further reading and understanding supports the fact the information literacy is far more than just a set of skills.

As a teacher librarian, part of our role is developing within students the skills to be information-literate, to be able to access the vast quantities of information we collect for them, to be able to process and understand the knowledge we provide for them, to be able to access and use the ICT equipment such as a computer, or the internet to find further information, and to be able to assess research and information for validity and worth. However, this teaching of skills does not encompass all of what is means to be information literate. Rather, it is the acknowledgement that information literacy is a transformational process within which students need to “find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes” (Abilock, 2004) and further develop higher-order thinking skills in order to engage in lifelong learning. So although the skills of information literacy are learned with the school environment, the knowledge and abilities gained are transferred further than the classroom and into the everyday life of living within an information and technological society.

Lloyd, Lipu, and Kennan (2010) discuss the ability of information literacy to ‘empower people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals’ and further discuss how being information literate is directly related to social inclusion within society (p. 7). This further supports the idea that information literacy is more than just a set of skills, rather a process that enables students to become functional, included, and contributing members of society.

Practically, we as teacher librarians need to be providing opportunities for students to be transforming their learning into lifelong learning. Giving them opportunities to engage in information literate practices that will be applicable and significant to the outside world. Can our students ‘just google it’ when they are out and about and looking to solve a simple problem, or answer a simple question? Can they assess the answers and information they receive for usefulness, relevance and validity? Can they produce their own information and contribute to online websites, blogs, and forums, and effectively convey their information and points of view? Information literacy incorporates the skills that will provide our students with opportunities, but it is through the transformational teaching of the skills, and the learning experiences that provide guided exploration in using these skills, that we are able to prepare our students to be active participants in a society dependent upon lifelong learning.

 

Abilock, D. (2007). Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. In Noodle Tools. Retrieved 13 May, 2013 from http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/ 1over/infolit1.html

Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. (2nd ed). Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). Retrieved 13 May, 2013 from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.caul.edu.au/content/upload/files/info-literacy/InfoLiteracyFramework.pdf

Lloyd, A., Lipu, S., & Kennan, M.A. (2010). On becoming citizens:  examining social inclusion from an information perspective. Australian Academic and Research Libraries 41(1). Retrieved 13 May, 2013 from http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=990498153481889;res=IELHSS

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

 

 

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).

 

 

References

ALIA/ASLA. (2009). Policy on guided inquiry and the curriculum. Australian Library and Information Association. Retrieved 22 March 2013 from http://alianet.alia.org.au/policies/guided.inquiry.html

Kuhlthau, C. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Retrieved 21 March 2013 from http://www.kzneducation.gov.za/Portals/0/ELITS%20website%20Homepage/IASL%202009/KN- Kuhlthau%5B1%5D.pdf

Lee, Virginia S. (2012). Inquiry-Guided Learning: New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved 22 March 2013 from http://www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p= 861722

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