In my first forum posting in this module, when describing my understanding of leadership I stated “I understand leadership in terms of motivating people to work towards common and shared goals. Leadership involves setting high expectations for these goals and providing the environment and management structure for these to be achieved throughout an organization. For leadership to be effective in a school it needs to be shared following a distributed leadership model. In order for this to work, clear guidelines of roles and responsibilities should exist” (Riddle, 2014). While I had an overarching idea of what leadership could and should look like I had not up to this point considered seriously my own leadership capacities in my role as teacher librarian.
Working through the module I gained a greater depth of understanding of the scope of leadership possibilities and was able to reflect on areas where I needed to develop. I began to see far more clearly the distinction between managing and leading and started to understand that an efficient leader needs to have a clear vision that colleagues are motivated and inspired to work towards (Kotter, 2013, para. 8.) but must also take on the role of ‘manager’ overseeing operational responsibilities. I feel that the key to success as a teacher librarian is balancing both aspects.
I had a clear idea on ‘manager’ responsibilities within the role. In my blog I stated “In terms of managing, the TL has responsibility for managing a budget, sourcing and ordering appropriate materials, timetabling, running inventories, cataloguing, processing and analysing data as well as managing staff and volunteers”. However I hadn’t considered leadership in terms of leadership for learning and what can be described as instructional leadership, (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005, p. 18) leading elements of teaching and learning across the school. It became clear when working through the module about strategic planning and change management that the teacher librarian has the potential to play a pivotal role in implementing educational change by working in collaboration with a hierarchy of personnel throughout the school.
Don Tapscott’s video made me reflect on the teacher librarian’s role on leading technological change and the idea of sharing in relation to the collective good of society. I stated in a blog post that “It’s important to remember that the idea of sharing information and ideas globally and instantly was the primary driving force behind Tim Berners-Lee’s pivotal development of the world wide web in 1989 and the internet protocol HTTP system that drives it. Berners-Lee’s genius was putting together several already existing strands of computer/information technology and creating – and giving away, the Internet to the world” (Riddle, 2014, para. 5.) This ties in with how users’ expectations and behaviour have changed, which teacher librarians need to plan for and accommodate. In my school, one way in which children are being encouraged to share their work in different ways is through the website ‘Lend me your Literacy” (LMYL). This is an interactive site where children become published authors and share their work with the world. Children receive feedback on their work via comments from other children and adult guest commentators.
It was with the focus on technological developments, educational change and the physical learning space that I really began to reflect on the next steps in the library’s development. The strategic planning assignment was a very real and practical exercise for me and something I thought deeply about. It is extremely relevant to my current situation in my school as we are planning to move to a purpose-built library space in two years. However, meanwhile we need to adapt the current library space and curriculum to become more relevant to the changing needs of the school as a whole.
One of the major changes recommended in my report was regarding the implementation of a coordinated approach to the teaching of information literacy and inquiry-based learning. This directly linked to a school priority of embedding guided inquiry, the need for which was highlighted by our most recent school government inspection. Another change I recommended was regarding the creation of a virtual learning environment (VLE). The school is currently creating this for classroom teachers, students and parents and it is a logical next step to include the library in this space. Inspiration for how this could be used came from looking at the existing structure in school. I gained ideas of potential format, content and functions by visiting other library websites.
The future library involves a visionary, adaptive and flexible approach to realising a learning space that supports the needs of 21st century learners. It follows the Learning Commons Model which is described as a “physical and virtual space that helps today’s learners engage in more meaningful ways through exploration, experimentation and collaboration” (Koechlin and Loertscher, as cited in Kindschy, para. 3). Creating an environment conducive to learning involves strong leadership skills and a clear vision to ensure the school community is striving towards a common and shared goal of student success, achievement and wellbeing.
Kotter, J.P. (2013, January). Management is (still) not leadership [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/01/management-is-still-not-leadership/
Kindschy, H. (2014, September). Five things you need to know about the Learning Commons Model [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://clcd.com/features/th_learning_commons_model.php
Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. In School leadership that works: From research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Riddle, K. (2014, July 15). What is your understanding of leadership? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL504_201460_W_D
Riddle, K. (2014, August). A reflection on Don Tapscott’s Tedtalk [Web log post]. In Kate loves books. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/kate/
Tedx Talks. (2012, June, 28th). Don Tapscott: Four principles for the open world . Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/don_tapscott_four_principles_for_the_open_world_1
The very nature of the teacher librarian (TL) role means that both managing and leading is essential to the position. This is recognised by the Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information (2004) Library standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians, which includes both ‘library and information services management’ (2.3) and ‘leadership capabilities’ (3.3) among its expectations of professional practice.
In terms of managing, the TL has responsibility for managing a budget, sourcing and ordering appropriate materials, timetabling, running inventories, cataloguing, processing and analysing data as well as managing staff and volunteers. Leadership possibilities in the role are dependent on a number of factors including senior management and staff’s expectations of the position, the culture of collaboration which exists in the school as well as the TL’s own knowledge, skills, disposition, attitude and ability to influence.
I work in an international British curriculum primary school. The leadership model follows a distributed leadership structure and as such I see myself as part of a “dynamic organization with many moving parts” (Ailshie, 2013, para. 4). I work with all staff and students across the school, so building the trust of colleagues, and working collaboratively is key. Issues with the TL role can include misconceptions of what the position entails so it is vital to articulate a consistent message concerning the library’s vision, values and expectations (Minkel, 2002, p. 48).
Professional development can have a significant impact on leadership opportunities (Hackman & Wageman, 2007, p. 46). This year I attended a course on creativity and storytelling which I then disseminated to colleagues in a workshop. As a result, some of the techniques I learnt extended beyond the library and into the classrooms with further connections made by sharing the children’s work on twitter (@PSlibraryDIS). This domino effect made me realise the power of what Donham (2005) describes as leading through influence (p.299). This increasingly reaches beyond the school (Hadfield, 2007, p. 259) to include citywide library network meetings, international librarian electronic networks and Teachmeets. Within the school, further leadership responsibilities include leading literacy events, school committees, collaborative planning sessions in addition to leading the library team of administrators and volunteers.
The TL combines a number of leadership styles. As an information specialist, TL’s provide expert knowledge, resources and instructional guidance to support all students and teachers. As such they can be described as ‘instructional leaders’. Within the context of educational change, TL’s need to be adaptive to and proactive in instigating change. This can include for example, leading the introduction and use of new technologies across the school. These transformational leadership capabilities require up to date knowledge and expertise and the strategic thinking skills of planning, prioritising and implementing. In my school, I create action plans aligned to school goals in order to plan next steps for the library’s development. I agree with Hargreaves (2007) who states “The past should be a motivator and not a museum” (p. 231). I want any change to be sustainable, so try to look critically at existing structures to see what works and what can be developed.
TL’s have the potential to have considerable influence by leading from the middle, reflecting on current practice and striving for continuous improvement. To do this involves being collegial, strategic, motivated, innovative and seizing opportunities whenever they arise.
Ailshie, L. (2013). Building leadership at multiple levels, grounded in guiding tenets. In State collaborative on reforming education. Retrieved from http://tnscore.org/building-leadership-at-multiple-levels-grounded-in-guiding-tenets/
Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information Association. (2004). Library standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Donham, J. (2005). Leadership. In Enhancing teaching and learning: a leadership guide for school library media specialists (pp. 295-305). New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.
Hackman, J., & Wageman, R. (2007). Asking the right questions about leadership: discussion and conclusions. American Psychologist, 62(1), 43-47.
Hadfield, M. (2007). Co-leaders and middle leaders: the dynamic between leaders and followers in networks of schools. School Leadership and Management, 27(3), 259-283.
Hargreaves, A. (2007). Sustainable leadership and development in education: Creating the future, conserving the past. European Journal of Education, 42(2), 223-233. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3435.2007.00294.x
Minkel, W. (2002). Librarian a leader. School Library Journal, 48(10), 46-49.
Our school had a change of school director two years ago and he came with a very clear focus on leading our school from a ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ grading according to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) school rating system. The director has a continued focus on implementing change with the desired outcome of overall school improvement. He is extremely clear on the expectations, desired outcomes and next steps for the school as a whole which is a feature of the ‘constructive transactional leadership’ style (Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2005, p. 14). This type of leadership is associated with others being included in the management process and connects to what Elmore describes as a distributed model of leadership (as cited in Marzano et al., 2005, p. 22) whereby responsibility for leadership and management is distributed throughout the school. In my current school this includes a hierarchy of director, principal, vice principal and phase leaders as well as management responsibilities given to teachers leading year groups and curriculum subject areas. In addition to this, opportunities to build leadership skills exist through taking part in ‘teaching and learning’ curriculum sessions and leading professional development sessions.
Within my role as a teacher librarian and working with my colleague, I think I display traits of ‘situational leadership’. In this type of leadership the level of assistance and leadership style relates to an individual’s motivation and ability levels. The librarian administrator I work with is an extremely proactive, forward-thinking, motivated and hardworking individual. This means I can trust her to carry out tasks or start new initiatives. We work very closely together and spend a lot of time discussing decisions and forming action plans.
I took part in the Xq questionnaire which assesses leadership styles. It takes into account attitudes and behaviours in relation to the organization, team and the individual. Six key principles of leadership assessed in the questionnaire overlap with many of the principles highlighted in Marzano’s article on leadership. Results from the questionnaire showed my commitment to the school and team to be high as well as personal motivation. However scores for accountability were low and this is making me think about how to start measuring impact within my team.
In the ‘Leadership style quiz’ I came out as a ‘delegative leader’ which makes sense to me in relation to who I am working with at the moment. Trust can be placed with my librarian administrator because they are highly capable and we also work well as a team. If I had completed this quiz in relation to another working environment however, I think the results would have been very different which fits with my theory that I take a ‘situational leadership’ position within my role as a teacher librarian.
Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works: From research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved July 15, 2014 from http://www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/Read.aspx.