Digital learning opens up an exciting and engaging world of possibilities for teaching and learning. Its impact in schools is reflected in changes in how learning spaces are designed and the introduction of new learning models for teachers and students. Innovative technologies have the potential to create transformative learning environments (Freeman, Adams, Cummins, Davis & Giesinger, 2017, p. 3). While there are myriad factors which impact on the relative success of digital learning environments (DLEs) in schools, I have learnt that the key is to embrace change and take an active role in its implementation.
Something that resonated with me was the importance of a unified voice and co-ordinated approach to digital citizenship in schools. In my first ETL523 forum posting I stated that educational change needed to be ‘led from the top and communicated clearly to teachers, parents and students’ (Riddle, 2018) but what I had not considered, were the practicalities of making that happen, or the role I could play in its implementation. Barry (2018, para. 6) notes that individuals can create change in their own classroom and in doing so can inspire others to create change. Indeed, as a teacher librarian, I work with all teachers and students throughout the school, so am in a pivotal position to lead elements of technological change. I started considering how I could take a more active role by working more collaboratively with teachers. I thought a starting point could be sharing technologies that I introduce in the library with teachers. This could be accomplished through team teaching, leading Professional Development (PD) sessions or facilitating opportunities for students to show their teachers what they have learnt. I also considered communicating in new ways to make the experience more immersive in the same way that throughout this module we have been invited to share opinions and ideas using a range of new digital tools.
My ideas about digital citizenship had initially been quite narrow in focus regarding cyber bullying, safety, copyright laws and privacy online. Making students aware of their legal and ethical responsibilities is crucial and I certainly learnt more about ways this could be embedded into the curriculum and the importance of implementing policies and student-friendly code of conducts (Forde & Stockley, 2009, p. 49 ).
However, my thinking broadened regarding the exciting possibilities of digital learning. A quote that resonated the most with me was ‘Students should do more than just survive in this digital society. They should create, innovate and thrive’ (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011 p. 41). I believe a barrier to realising this vision exists in some educational settings when access to digital learning is viewed as a privilege and not a right. This mind-set is often accompanied by threats of confiscating tools or blocking access if certain rules are broken. I believe that this approach, often punitive in nature, can come from fear because of a limited understanding of the digital world. As a result the focus is on safeguarding without looking at the potentials of digital learning. This issue of confiscation came up during a webinar in ETL523 and the ethical point was raised ‘would you take away a child’s ability to write if they had written something inappropriate?’. Personally, I feel the answer is clearly is ‘no!’ It is about learning how to work online in skillful, confident and appropriate ways (Lindsay, 2018) so that students can leverage the full potential of DLEs.
It helps perhaps to view digital learning as another literacy in which we want our students to be fluent (Spencer, 2018, para. 2). The skills of using and applying technologies is critical for preparing students for their future in a connected 21st century world. This need should therefore be reflected in curriculum design and delivery and supported by the appropriate infrastructure and teacher support to make it happen. As individuals, we also have a responsibility to take an active and proactive approach in our own learning, utilizing the opportunities of cultivating our own Professional Learning Network (PLN) so we can be models of digital citizenship for our students and continue to be lifelong learners.
Part A: Statement of personal philosophy: what do you think makes an effective teacher librarian?
It is my belief that the library is the heart of the school and the work of the teacher librarian can make a significant difference to student achievement. My aim is to encourage students to become enthusiastic readers, critical thinkers and skillful researchers. I am committed to making sure that children have a positive learning experience. I see my role as that of a guide, facilitating independent learning and helping students reach their full potential.
An effective teacher librarian has to meet the changing needs of the library’s users and take into account the ever changing pedagogical and technological landscape therefore I feel among the vital dispositions, skills and attitudes for a teacher librarian is to be reactive, innovative and reflective.
Part B: Critically evaluate your learning during the teacher librarianship course, focusing on three themes.
Theme 1: ICT use in the library
As the information landscape continues to evolve, so does my own learning and development. Interestingly, in my first blog post on this course, where I discussed the role of the teacher librarian, I did not mention Information Communication Technology (ICT) at all (Riddle, 2014a). I now however understand that its use and integration can be of pivotal importance for a teacher librarian’s practice and as a corollary, children’s learning.
Two readings in my first subject ETL401 particular stressed the importance of being a reflective practitioner who considers the current and future impact of technology and adapting to the changing learning environment (November, 2007, p. 44; O’Connell, 2012, p. 6). This was a significant learning moment as ICT use in the library till this point, was largely limited to using the library catalogue. As I progressed in this subject I developed a particular interest in ICT and in ETL503 (Resourcing the Curriculum), I started to consider the increasing expectations for children to present, assess and share their work in a variety of multimedia formats (Riddle, 2015). In a blog post, I stated that it was vital that teachers and students are provided with the resources to meet these needs (Riddle, 2015). However, at this point, though I agreed with the theory, it was not something that I was doing in practice.
One way I achieved this was creating a Library YouTube channel in an after-school book club.
Landing page for YouTube channel
The idea for this connected my initial readings in this subject, developing understanding, and a statement from a teacher who told me that when discussing with children what they wanted to be when they grew up, one of them said “A YouTuber”. This was the first time she had heard this sort of response. Creating content on YouTube is now a viable career option (Johnson, 2017, p. 61) and I felt there was a need to support the skills associated with creating and uploading content in this way.
Below is the children’s first video
In YouTube Book Club, children became ‘content creators’ by planning, scripting, filming, editing and uploading book related content. I shared this with the school Principal and I then asked him to share it the rest of the school. This practice of sharing is supported by ASLA (Australian School Library Association) standard 2.6 which states that highly accomplished teacher librarians “model the use of ICT to their colleagues” and “work collaboratively with colleagues to improve student learning and engagement” (Australian School Library Association, 2004, p. 9).
Copy of e mail sent to the primary school by the Primary School Principal
The club was a success and the children uploaded five videos. However, the next step would be to ensure regular uploads. When critiquing Arizona State University Youtube page in a blog post, I commented on their lack of recent videos (Riddle, 2016) which can have adverse effects on engagement as people are more likely to unsubscribe to an inactive channel. The same would be true for the library channel. A future project that would be a logical next step would be to create a channel that could incorporate regular videos from the library with information sharing, guides and content created by the children.
A distinguishing feature of Web 2.0 are the principles of active users, interactivity, and user generated content (Schwerdtfeger, 2013, March 17). My Youtube channel is a good example of a platform that embraces these principles (Riddle, 2017). My interest in technology for library instruction led to me to attend a course recently on this very topic and to choose the elective subject INF 506 (Social networking for Information Professionals). The subject content in this elective as well as my experience during my Study Placement, developed my understanding of Web 2.0 tools as not just a teaching tool but as an important method of communication.
Two platforms which I developed as a result of my studies at Charles Sturt University was a library Twitter page and a Pinterest page.
Of particular inspiration to me during the Study Placement was the Marketing and Communications Team at the State Library of Victoria. Their presentation impacted on how I used Twitter in particular. The team used strategic marketing initiatives to celebrate and share what they were doing as well as attracting new visitors. I started having a more formalised structure to my postings and thought more deeply about what and how I would share. The marketing team stressed the importance of sharing across teams in the same institute. The literature highlights the benefits of this collaborative approach, which as discussed in my blog post, (Riddle, 2017) includes the opportunity to extend the reach of content (LePage, 2014) and to contribute towards a sense of community (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014, p.77). Some examples of this ‘cross-pollination’ can be seen below on my Twitter page. In one example I have written a Tweet @ a member of the Senior Leadership Team, in another retweeted the Secondary School Library tweet and in another included the school’s main Twitter page.
Theme 2: The role of the teacher librarian : Literacy
My first subject on this course ETL401 focused on the many overlapping and interconnected roles of the teacher librarian. I learnt that while the definition of this role can vary, professional standards and policies help to define and set high standards for the position. During some independent reading and research for the assignment, I was particularly interested in a UK government educational strategy document titled “Building an Outstanding Reading School” which connected to my readings on the instructional role of the teacher librarian. The article discussed the importance of celebrating and promoting a culture of reading. This was backed by research which highlighted the significant impact this could have on children’s achievement and development (Clements, 201, p. 3).
This reading in particular coincided with my annual professional development targets and I started thinking in more practical terms about how I could promote reading throughout the school. Our Professional Growth Targets had to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) and this helps to measure the impact of changes implemented and gives a specific time frame and sense of accountability. One of my targets was to develop the school’s first ever Book Week. This was done in collaboration with the teachers, SLT (School Leadership Team) and Literacy Coordinator. Activities included a Book Fair, DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) session and a decorate your class door as your favourite book character competition. In this competition all classes decorated their doors as the front cover of a book and the whole school got involved including the school Principal and administration! By the end of the week the whole school looked like a library!
While Book Week was a success I felt I wanted to increase links with the curriculum and to increase academic rigour connected to literacy. The following year, I expanded the activities to include a story writing competition using the platform storybird.com. Children in Years 4 and 5 were given their own accounts. The platform allowed them to write their own stories using images to inspire writing. They could also collaborate with classmates if they wished. Children went through the process of writing and editing to produce their own books.
During lessons, we connect to authors in real time by sending them tweets when we are reading their books. Children also take part in ‘author studies’ where we focus on one author for a period of time. Social media is used to promote the library and its activities and to engage with our students. One fun activity we did, was take part in the #extremereading challenge when children tweeted pictures of themselves reading in weird and wonderful places!
The article “Building an Outstanding Reading School” particularly focused on the importance of reading frequently and for pleasure. During my time in the school we introduced after-school parent borrowing to encourage parents to come and borrow a book to read with their child.
It was also a great opportunity to promote the concept of following the child’s interest when it comes to making choices. I feel strongly that children need to find their way to get ‘hooked’ into reading and that while we have a responsibility to expose them to a variety of genres we should never force our choices onto them. Another way I tried to facilitate this was through regular exposure to a variety of texts during read-aloud sessions and to making sure there was sufficient time in the library lesson for not just browsing but also reading. Children today in many schools have such a busy schedule that it could be easy for a book to be checked out and remain in their bags. Having time to read a few pages in a relaxing environment I found was a catalyst for some reluctant readers to be reeled in.
Research has demonstrated the significant influence teacher librarians can have on students’ learning (Bush & Jones, 2013, p. 4) but we need to also be aware that it is difficult to conclusively measure this impact and therefore be cautious in interpreting results which may for example reflect correlation and not causation. Other studies have focused on positive outcomes when the teacher librarian works with staff (Morris, 2007, p. 24; Haycock, 2007, p. 25) and I believe it is perhaps best to see the teacher librarian working at the centre of the school in collaboration with staff and parents to improve student achievement.
My desire to create lifelong readers was put into practice by understanding how students learn. This knowledge is on-going and as a result of my own research and workplace knowledge. These two strands are noted in ASLA Standard 2.1 ‘Understand how students learn’ (p.3). Practical application and reflection is vital in order to grow as a teacher librarian. This involves considering what works and adapting according to technological and pedagogical change and over time differences in how children learn best.
Theme 3: Leadership and management
When I started this course I felt I had a clear idea about the management expectations for a teacher librarian. In a blog post I stated that these centred on managing a budget, sourcing and ordering appropriate materials, timetabling, running inventories, cataloguing, processing and analysing data as well as managing staff and volunteers (Riddle, 2014b). However, the concept of leadership was less tangible to me and was not something I had felt was particularly significant to the role. Indeed, until this point I had not really considered my own leadership capacities in my role as teacher librarian. I think the reason for this, is that the position is not always a formal leadership role within a school hierarchy. Though this can vary globally and from institution to institution, this lack of consensus perhaps impacted on how I initially perceived the role.
In a blog post I stated that through my studies “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” (Riddle, 2014b). The concept of instructional leadership (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005, p. 18) was of particular interest to me and I felt I could see quite clearly where I could play a more pivotal role in leading elements of teaching and learning across the school. In a blog post I reflected that this could be best achieved by “working in collaboration with a hierarchy of personnel throughout the school” (Riddle, 2014b).
This developed in practical terms when I took over responsibility for coaching children for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Readers’ Cup competition.
The role involved working initially with over 200 children. In order to get as many children as possible involved I invited the whole of Year 5 and 6 to take part in an internal heat prior to selecting the children who would compete. This made the process fair, open to everyone and most importantly got more children enthusiastic and excited about reading and the festival. There were then weekly meetings with the two selected teams over a five month period.
The role meant I was collaborating with the children, their parents, the class teachers, SLT and the four other staff members who would be acting as mentors to the children. On a practical level, this meant being highly organised and utilising management skills. On a cognitive level it meant being strategic, planning and prioritising. Most important though was utilising social and emotional leadership qualities. Kotter (2013) stated that efficient leaders need to have a clear vision (para. 8.) so that others are motivated and inspired towards a common goal and shared vision of success. This is also known as transformational leadership (Browning, 2013, p. 14) which focuses on the intrinsic human motivation to succeed (Tedx Talks, 2009, July). Something that indicated to me that the children were intrinsically motivated was that they never once asked me what the prize was until the day of the competition! Similarly, the staff I worked with, and the mentors in particular remained on board throughout the whole process. Their support and shared enthusiasm played a key role in the teams’ success.
The children were competing against over 300 other teams, reached the Finals and were then placed 1st and 2nd. It was a wonderful achievement for the children, school and for me professionally, it was one of my highlights during my time in the school.
I felt this was enabled by the school culture of collaboration and the fact that I had already been in the school for a number of years meant that I had the trust of the children and my colleagues. Most importantly, I strived to create a learning environment where the children felt appreciated and inspired
Me with the Readers’ Cup Teams for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
Another example of me taking on an instructional leadership style role, leading elements of teaching and learning across the school was when I worked in collaboration with the art teacher to run a Creativity Workshop for teachers. We ran the session four times to cater to all staff. I disseminated information I had learnt from a workshop on creative writing, storytelling and visualization and adapted it to the context of classroom and specialist teachers.
One of my Professional Growth targets was connected to building the capacity within my team. This follows a distributed leadership model which focuses on teams rather than individuals (Harris, 2004 as cited in Harris and Spillane, 2008, p.31). In a blog post, I reflected that this leadership style was present in my school and stated as such, I see myself as part of a “dynamic organization with many moving parts” (Ailshie, 2013, para. 4 as cited in Riddle, 2014b). A major advantage of this structure is that it utilises the expertise present in a team (Ailshie, 2013, para. 9). I was very lucky to work with two talented and hardworking librarian assistants. During the academic year I kept a focus on building on their skills through providing opportunities for team teaching, shared lesson planning, feedback, professional dialogue and external Professional Development opportunities which we attended as a team or they attended solo and took responsibility for disseminating the learning. In my Appraisee Review the comment was made “Kate has a flair for coaching and the development and growth of her team is evident” (Evidenced In Professional Growth review image under Theme 2).
Part C: An evaluation as to the extent to which what you have learned during this course will assist in developing your skills and attitudes as a professional teacher librarian.
From my experience, there is a great deal of variance on how the role of the teacher librarian is perceived and carried out. The ASLA/ALIA teacher librarian professional standards help to set benchmarks and expectations for the role.
The first standard refers to ‘Professional Knowledge’. While I am already a fully qualified teacher and had a solid background in teaching and learning, this course developed my specialist knowledge of information literacy, resources and ICT in particular. Standard 1.1 states that excellent teacher librarians “understand the principles of lifelong learning” (Australian Library Association, 2004, p. 2). Although I previously knew what this concept meant, I feel I now have the skills to enable this to happen. Resourcing the curriculum appropriately, following children’s interests and promoting a culture of reading throughout the school were all ways I attempted to achieve this. Professional knowledge from the course is key to enabling change because theory and research can validate certain decisions rather than relying on a ‘hunch’ that you are making the right judgement. Speaking from a viewpoint that is based on professional understanding and experience is also important in terms of gaining the trust of your colleagues and school community.
ASLA/ALIA Standard 2 is concerned with ‘Professional Practice’ covering the areas of learning environment, learning and teaching, library and information services management and evaluation. New ideas and concepts gained from observation and exposure to theory means I am continually changing and adapting the environment to best meet the children’s needs. This was particularly relevant to my context of working in a very small space which presented certain challenges. My studies and experience at a study visit to Methodist Ladies College Library (MLC) in Melbourne made me think more about having adaptive and flexible spaces. This has impacted, for example, on how I select furniture. I now prioritise furniture that is moveable and can be configured in different arrangements. I think of the potential of a space to enable exploration, collaboration and discovery. The MLC school Principal described the library as an ‘inquiry lab’. This concept has been supported by discussions into maker spacers in school libraries throughout my course. This in turn has enabled me to think more broadly when conceptualizing how best a space can be utilised.
The third ASLA/ALIA Standard concerns ‘Professional Commitment’. I feel this is crucial to being a successful teacher librarian. In particular the desire to want to continue learning by active participation in “education and library professional networks” (3.4). Learning from observation and dialogue with other information professionals has been some of the best professional development I have experienced and something which I would like to continue by creating more opportunities to visit other school libraries. Professional commitment to me also means working in a cycle of reflection and change, remaining open-minded to new ideas and practices. Sometimes this involves taking risks and making mistakes but it is part of the cycle of evolving as a teacher librarian and not remaining static.
Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information Association. (2004). Evidence guide for teacher librarians in the highly accomplished career stage. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information Association. (2004). Library standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians.
Browning, P. (2013). Creating the conditions for transformational change. Australian Education Leader 35(3), 14-17.
Bush, G. & L. J., Jones (2013). Professional dispositions of school librarian. In Dow, M., School libraries matter: views from the research (pp. 1-17). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.
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.
Morris, B.J. (2007). Principal support for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 23-24.
November, A. (2007). Space: the final frontier: a leading tech advocate imagines a media center fit for 21st century learning. School Library Journal, 53(5), 44.
Riddle, K. (2015, April 7). Annotated resource list for curriculum topic – Ancient Egypt. In Kate loves books. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/kate/2015/04/07/annotated-resource-list-for-curriculum-topic-ancient-egypt/
Riddle, K. (2016, December 16). Arizona State University Youtube and Web 2.0 tools. In Kate loves books. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/kate/2016/12/16/arizona-state-university-web-2-0-tool/
Riddle, K. (2017, January 22). Evaluative report – Part A. In Kate loves books. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/kate/2017/01/22/evaluative-report-part-a/
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.
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.
The very nature of the teacher librarian (TL) role means that both managing and leading is essential to the position. This is recognised by theAustralian 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.
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.