Final reflection

Critical reflection, blog post

I graduated from Charles Sturt University with a postgraduate Bachelor of Teaching two years ago and I’ve spent the two years since working as a casual teacher in Sydney.  I’ve been working at a local primary school for the past few terms in a learning support role, as well as the school’s preferred casual.  I enrolled in the Master of Education (Teacher Librarian) to concentrate on my biggest love in education, literacy.  My knowledge, however, of the role of the teacher librarian was extremely limited!  I hadn’t thought beyond library, resources, teaching and cataloguing of the library’s collection.  My early comments reflect the first glimmerings of understanding about what the role entails, including the role of technology in school libraries, collaborative relationships with teachers and the importance of advocacy within the school community for the teacher librarian’s job.

With what I now understand to be a limited understanding of the teacher librarian’s role in the school community, I’ve spent this year observing and questioning my school’s teacher librarian, gaining an appreciation of the role’s potential from an inspiring role model.  As well, the readings, activities and assignments requisite for ELT401 have contributed to a deeper understanding of the library’s place in the school community and the librarian’s role within it.  The forum has as well contributed to my knowledge of what a teacher librarian does.  This is what I have learnt:

  • I believe that the school library should be a place for children to enjoy books, whether paper or electronic.  To this end, it must be an enticing space, well maintained, with comfortable and creative corners for kids to take time out to enjoy the books around them.  It is also a learning centre, so it is important that the school library have access to computers, an electronic whiteboard and other ICTs.  Libraries are not ‘just storehouses for books’ (Frey, 2010). It is better described as ‘the temple of information, research and narrative.’ (Gibbons, 2013).

 

  • I believe that collaborative relationships with classroom teachers are important as they optimise student learning within the school’s program and take advantage of the teacher librarian’s role as the information specialist.  Collaboration becomes a mutually reinforcing partnership (Haycock, 2007, p. 28).  Planning with teams of teachers, the teacher librarian is more involved in “identifying objectives, planning activities, collaborative teaching and student assessment.  Involvement in assessment assures a greater stake in outcomes for the teacher-librarian.” (Haycock, 2007, p. 29).  I noted in an early blog post the importance of the Principal’s support for the teacher librarian, and believe that if school libraries are ‘instruments of school improvement’ (Haycock, 2009, p. 29) such support is critical.  As well, Advocacy by the teacher librarian for the role of the library in the school community is vital to maintain its relevancy to students and teachers alike.  For this reason, social media tools are vital to communicate and promote the teacher librarian’s role, as well as resources and equipment available to the school’s staff and students for use.

 

  • Guided Inquiry is an ideal way of utilising the teacher librarian’s specialist skills as part of the school assignment program.  Given the exposure of children to information, it is a way for children to navigate through multiple resources and formats to obtain good information (Kuhlthau, 2010).  Through Guided Inquiry, Quality Teaching can take place by the teacher librarian as a vital part of the school’s curriculum program.  The teacher librarian is in a position to actively participate in the planning and resourcing of all school programs.

A school library can be the focus of a school community and the learning centre of the school (Lonsdale, 2003).  It can be a welcoming and vital part of a good school.  It can be central to the assignment program and a place where Quality Teaching takes place.  The teacher librarian can act in a leadership role as the information specialist and through advocacy promote their role within the school community.  Armed with my new knowledge, I look forward to finding out more about the role of teacher librarian at CSU.

 

 

References

Frey, T. (2010). The Future of Libraries: an interview with Thomas Frey. Retrieved from: (http://www.futuristspeaker.com/2010/07/the-future-of-libraries-interview-with-thomas-frey/).

Gibbons, A. (2013). Beating heart of the school. Retrieved from http://heartoftheschool.edublogs.org/

Haycock, K. (2007).  Collaboration:  Critical success factors for student learning.  School Libraries Worldwide, Vol. 13, Number 1.

Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1),17-28.

Lonsdale, M. (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: A review of the research. Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research.

 

 

Blog post week 1

…I can see the role of TL as having an increasingly important role in learning for students.  As well as the traditional functions of teacher librarian, technology will continue to innovate the library’s services and a TL that embraces the possibilities of such change will thrive within the school community.  As well, the role of TL in collaborative relationships with teachers in curriculum planning and teaching is fundamental to the well-being of the school.

What misgivings I have regarding the role of TL in the future are based on the perception of the TLs role within school communities.  There is the potential for the role to be overlooked by schools; for this reason, the TL must also be an advocate for the role and educate school staff and their communities in how the library and the TL contributes to their school.

 

Blog post – How I understand the role of the teacher librarian

…This includes a deep understanding of the role of ICTs in lifelong learning, an understanding that the TL is in an ideal role to promote within the school community.  O’Connell (2012) suggests that library services can be reinvigorated by acknowledging and promoting Web-based and mobile device enabled tools for “communication, interaction and information dissemination through text, images or sound”.  The author proposes sharing images on Flickr, Twitter and being included on News Feed.

Blog post –Principal support

Principal support

The effectiveness of the library within the school community is dependent upon the leadership and support of the teacher librarian by the principal.  This manifests in a number of ways.  To begin with, the physical isolation of the library can be the teacher librarian’s biggest hurdle to overcome in terms of being a vital participant in the school community (Lamb, 2011, p. 14).  Lamb (2011) suggests that such isolation can lead to occupational invisibility for the teacher librarian.  The support and collaboration of the school’s principal can mitigate the library’s physical isolation by supporting the library and the teacher librarian’s role within the school community.  Furthermore, Lamb (2011) goes on to say that supportive principals outlined their expectations for library use and expectations of teachers’ involvement in the library program (p. 14).  They also expressed an understanding of the value of the library program and information literacy generally. They created the “context and structures” that enabled the principal, teacher and the teacher librarian to work collaboratively, allowing flexible scheduling for teacher librarians, which ensured the library program was integrated into planning and evaluating structures and encouraged teacher librarian’s personal and professional development (Oberg, 2006, pp. 8 & 15).  Hartzell (2003) notes that principals can support libraries by seeing the potential of the library and librarian and change the role to maximise its potential usefulness.  Such support by the principal is provided to the teacher librarian’s role through policy guidelines that acknowledge the partnership role of the teacher librarian within the school community.  Planning with teams of teachers, the teacher librarian is more involved in “identifying objectives, planning activities, collaborative teaching and student assessment.  Involvement in assessment assures a greater stake in outcomes for the teacher-librarian.” (Haycock, 2007, p. 29).  There is a trend towards what Lamb (2011) terms “leaner” schools (p. 35).  To fully utilise a teacher librarian’s role by the principal in leaner times, a focus on inquiry, creativity and digital citizenship is vital.  The teacher librarian’s chief goal should be to enable students to become lifelong learners and the author suggests the teacher librarian’s job description should stress a connection with student achievement and curricular goals as studies support teacher-teacher librarian collaboration for improved student learning, and improved communication between teachers, the principal and teacher librarians (Lamb, 2011, p. 25-35).  Mattesich et al (2001) report “the relationship includes a commitment to mutual relationships and goals; a jointly developed structure and shared responsibility; mutual authority and accountability for success; and sharing of resources and rewards” (in Haycock, 2007, p. 26).  To this end, the development of clear roles and policy guidelines by the principal will aid the adaptability of collaborative groups.  As well, and an extension of the above factors, is the expectation by the principal of open and frequent communication between staff members and the establishment of informal and formal communication links which should be maintained, with clear goals and objectives for curriculum units that are communicated to partners (Haycock, 2007, pp. 29-30).  Finally, the principal’s support is evident by the provision of resources and sufficient funds, staff, materials and time, as well as skilled leadership to achieve the desired level of curriculum involvement by members of staff (Haycock, 2007, p. 31).

 

REFERENCES

Haycock, K. (2007).  Collaboration:  Critical success factors for student learning.  School Libraries Worldwide, Vol. 13, Number 1.

Hartzell, G. (2003).  Curriculum and Leadership Journal.  (2003).  Why should principals support school libraries?  Retrieved fromhttp://www.curriculum.edu.au/eader/why_should_
principals_support_school_libraries

Lamb, A. (2011).  Bursting with Potential:  Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette.  TechTrends Volume 55: 4.  Retrieved fromhttp://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/detail?sid=5ba3d972-40b7-4dee-b70b-2970148ef3fe%40sessionmgr4003&vid=1&hid=4114&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=60840783

Brletic Elementary – Library to Learning CommonsOberg, D (2006).  Developing the respect and support of school administrators.  Teacher Librarian, 33, 3.  Proquest Central.  Retrieved from search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/

 

 

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