How Should Teacher Librarians Prioritise the Roles they play in the school?
As teacher librarians, we have the exciting task of being multitasking magicians with the various roles we play within the library; many of which goes unnoticed. So should we prioritise and how?
Herring (2007) believes that teaching and learning should be a top priority and that resources should follow. As a teacher, the Teacher Librarian builds upon and extends the student’s knowledge about the topics being covered in the classroom. He says that, “while the physical environment may contract, the information and knowledge environments created by the Teacher Librarian in collaboration with the teachers will greatly expand” (Herring, 2007, p. 40).
Purcell (2010) shares some common views with Herring; particular in her example of the study she performed. She says that by reflecting on how you spend your time, you will be able to identify barriers. For example she shares that, “if you see that 25 percent of your time is spent shelving and doing other clerical tasks, then you need to overcome this barrier to spend more time actively engaging students” (Purcell, 2010, p. 31). Whilst she admits that teaching is extremely important, like Herring, she feels that a collegial work environment is an integral role that the Teacher Librarian plays. She believes that it is vital for the Teacher Librarian to work with the entire school community to decide what should be taught and the resources purchased for the library. There are many misconceptions about what a Teacher Librarian does, the common view being that they “sit and read all day and occasionally check out books” (Purcell, 2010, p. 30). So by working collegially with the school community it promotes the profession, which will have a positive impact on colleagues and will hopefully begin to change this misconception.
As suggested by the article’s title: Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette, Lamb (2011) believes that a Teacher Librarian should not favour one role over another, rather approach each role equally and taking a bit from each “colour” on the palette: People, Administration, Learning, Electronic information, Technology, Teaching and Environments. Valenza (2010) shares her views on what the roles a Teacher Librarian play in a very extensive list, all of which are a vital contribution to the success students achieve throughout their academic journey. Most points from this list align with Herring’s (2010) view that teaching is the prominent role and the rest follow.
Are There Other Roles Played by Teacher Librarians
All four authors, Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza share common views on the roles played by Teacher Librarians. Herring (2010) shares that the Teacher Librarian’s roles are to be a teacher, librarian, information services manager, information literacy leader, curriculum leader, information specialist, instructional partner, website developer, budget manager, staff manager, and fiction and non-fiction advocate. Learning for the future (ASLA 2003) focuses on 3 particular roles of the Teacher Librarian: curriculum leader, information specialist and information services manager. Purcell states that a Teacher Librarian, “actively participates in various school committees and professional organizations” (Purcell, 2010, p. 32). With all that being said, it is becoming increasingly common in advertisements for permanent Teacher Librarian positions in schools, for the selection criteria to list extra curricula skills and experience wanted.
How do Lamb’s views on the Teacher Librarian Role Compare and Contrast with Those of Herring and Purcell?
Herring and Purcell believe that one area is more prominent than the other. Whilst they both recognise that there are many roles that a Teacher Librarian plays in the school, Herring believes that a teacher role is vital, while Purcell suggest a collegial work environment is paramount to make effective use of the library. Lamb is like the glue that joins everybody together with her analogy to the roles played by a Teacher Librarian is like a palette, each element is equally as important as the others. Even thought there are differences in their views about the most important role, they share commonalities in their views about what roles are played.
What existing tasks/ roles do you think you as a Teacher Librarian could give up in order to be as proactive as Lamb and Valenza want to be?
I honestly don’t believe I could give any role up. As stated in Purcell’s (2010) paper, “all of these roles – leader, instructional partner, teacher, information specialist, and program administrator are interconnected, one cannot be performed without the support of the others (AASL, 2009, p.18). I would however be smart about how I approach each task and manage my time effectively. Purcell had mentioned effective ways of ‘breaking down barriers’ such as establishing a student library team to help out with clerical duties, something that my current school librarian already does. Lamb and Valenza share some fantastic ideas and it would be challenging to juggle all of those roles and tasks, but as Purcell (2010, p. 33) mentions, “media specialist’s roles are constantly changing and they must be able to accept new tasks in order to perform their duties successfully”.
a) Do you see yourself fitting with the roles proposed by these authors.
Yes, I do believe that I can see myself fitting with these roles. I would take Lamb’s palette approach, as I believe that each role is equally vital for the library to run successfully. It would also be a goal of mine to work collegially with the teachers and hopefully change this misconstrued idea of librarians.
b) Would you change the order of the roles Purcell identifies e.g. should teacher come first?
I don’t believe I would. I think that in order for the library to serve the school community to its full capacity, a Teacher Librarian needs to be a leader first, to promote the libraries facilities and to be proactive in collaborating with the school community. I then agree that the instructional partner role should be next as this is when the Teacher Librarian works collegially with the school staff to develop engaging and meaningful programs. By working together, students can engage in lessons that extend their knowledge of content being taught in their classroom through the use of resources only found in the library and access 21st century skills. Students are then able to make connections between content being taught which would then spark motivation. As Herring (2007, p.27) states, “school libraries do not exist in a vacuum and should not be seen as in anyway separate from the school environment”. So by leaving this role in second place, it emphasises the point that it is integral that the Teacher Librarian and the teachers collaborate together, then the teaching can happen.
American Association of School Libraries (AASL), (2009). Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs. Chicago: American Library Association.
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher Librarians and the School Library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp.27-42).
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. TechTrends (pp.27-37).
Purcell, M. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check Out BOOKS, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Connection (pp.30-34).
Valenzo, J. (2010). Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians. Retrieved 28th July 2014 from: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/
Decision Making and Problem Solving
We have been asked to use Ed Muzio’s – ‘7 Steps Problem Solving’ and comment on how we could solve the problem using the steps outlined.
Primary Scenario – Relief from face-to-face teaching for classroom teachers is often covered by the teacher librarian. This means that it is difficult to plan any collaborative teaching opportunities with the teachers. You are also concerned that the student learning in the library may not be contextually relevant to the learning in the classroom. How could you approach this problem?
1. Definition: What is the problem? – The problem is that the library has become a ‘fill in the time’ situation and has become isolated from the school community rather than be used to its full potential. The library is a fabulous resource, that when recognized could enhance student’s learning experiences.
2. Data Collection: What is going on? – With sporadic lessons and no clear goal set between TL and classroom teacher (CT), no real, effective learning and development can truly be expected. It would be like teaching a student how to read once a week and then expect them to 1. Retain the information, 2. Be passionate about it and 3. Make any true progress. There is clearly no connectedness so students aren’t able to determine the purpose of what is being taught, which leads to lack of motivation.
3. Cause analysis: Why? – The common misconception about TL’s, which is clearly defined in this scenario, is that they are just “RFF teachers”. With this being said it’s hard not expect that no progress would be made and results are poor. So why is this happening? Isn’t it evident? There is no clear communication between the TL and the CT. A breakdown in communication would lead to gaps in the curriculum, gaps that could be filled with meaningful, engaging and resourceful lessons that students would then be able to apply to other areas in the curriculum.
4. Solution Planning and Implementation – Approach the principal to collaboratively discuss the situation. Approach staff (don’t wait for them to come to you, take the initiative!) whether it is in stage or staff meetings and discuss the following key areas:
a) What do we want to teach? Make a decision on what the CT would like the TL to teach. Are there specific areas of the curriculum that the TL could teach so that there is a connectedness between the classroom and the library?
b) ICT? As the TL is an information specialist, their knowledge and skills would be invaluable and therefore would this be an area the CT would like the TL to teach.
c) Assessment. What assessment would the CT like to see happen that would also assist them when they are reporting on students and the particular skills that they possess. More often then not, the library is the only facility in the school with access to a class set of computers. So for a teacher to assess ICT skills are near impossible.
d) Regularly consult with the CT to receive feedback on lesson content being covered and the progress of students.
5. Evaluation of effects: Did it Work? – At the end of each unit, reflect on assessment as well as consult with the CT, support staff and the principal and discuss lesson content, content retention and engagement from the students. Have students participate in a brief survey that asks for their opinions on the lessons, what they liked, what they found to be engaging and purposeful and were they able to apply what they have learnt to other KLAs?
6. Standardization: How widely can we use this solution? – By attending Library Networking Meetings and building a relationship with fellow Teacher Librarians in the local and wider community, sharing ideas and seeking advice; this solution could be widely spread. Making sure that there is also consistency across the school community and that the goals and collaborative thoughts are clearly articulated among all involved.
7. Evaluation of process – By reviewing the assessment conducted, surveys completed and conversations had, a summary is made and clearly communicated to the staff. At the end of each term, the TL and the CTs come together either at separate, stage or as an entire staff meeting and discuss the success, areas for improvement and the future developments. This does not have to be a long process, so long as everyone has a clear understanding of content, style, assessment and purpose.
In conclusion, this process has enabled me to reflect on how I currently work with my TL at school. When broken down into 7 steps, it seems to be a much more manageable problem rather than an overwhelming, “where do I start” thought provoking situation. This course has definitely awoken me from my slumber and has only enhanced the idea that the library is a place of insightful, engaging and resourceful learning facility that should be utilised to help students to find purpose in what they are learning, connect it to other KLA experiences and develop skills that are “fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge based society” (International Association of School Libraries, March 28, 2006).
International Association of School Libraries – http://www.iasl-online.org/about/handbook/policysl.html
Muzio, E. 7 Step Problem Solving. Video – Bnet.com.
The following websites have been explored throughout topic 3 and are fantastic!!!
Education Services Australia: http://www.esa.edu.au
Australian School Library Association: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/resource-based-learning-curriculum.aspx
Educational Origami: http://edorigami.wikispaces.com
21st fluencies: http://globaldigitalcitizen.org
Weaving a Personal Web: http://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/viewArticle/524/257
Project Based Learning Explained: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMCZvGesRz8
The Buck Institute for Education’s PBL for 21st Century Learning: http://bie.org
What is PBL? http://bie.org/about/what_pbl
10 Tips for Assessing Project Based Learning: http://www.edutopia.org/10-tips-assessment-project-based-learning-resource-guide
Design Your Project: http://bie.org/object/offsite/pbl_online_org
What Is Connectivism? http://elearnspace.org/media/WhatIsConnectivism/player.html
As a qualified primary school teacher of three years, I have become increasingly inquisitive. I am forever feeling as though what I do is never enough and I want to provide my students with the best education possible. Education is so crucial in todays society, and as their teacher I feel very relied upon, as I should.
In my first year of teaching I decided to go out west to Goodooga Central School. This school is located in the very remote part of NSW, about an hour past Lightning Ridge. With a 100% Indigenous population and a school of 40 kids (primary and secondary) it was an amazing experience that I will always be grateful for. I taught stage 3 and had 9 students. The experiences I had and the things that I learnt were truly amazing. I have found that we take so many things in life for granted and it really made me appreciate the simple things in life a lot more.
For a long time I have felt that literacy is vital to student’s success and have begun to crave more skills and knowledge within this area. In collaboration with the brilliant mind of my current TL, I began to realise that TL is the path for me. With technology fast advancing and students whom understand and value it, I have incorporated it into my everyday teaching. However, I feel restricted in my knowledge and therefore am very excited to explore this throughout the TL Masters course.
Though studying again will take some getting use to.
– Melissa 🙂
My Understanding of Leadership
The definition of leadership is the action of leading a group of people or an organization, or the ability to do this. Therefore my take on this would be that a leader is someone to look up to. They encourage, support, and motivate those around them. This is crucial for anyone in the role of teacher librarian. I am not a teacher librarian myself, but I do aspire to be one sometime in the near future. Through readings from other subjects as well as collaborating with the current TL at my school, the TL is, “the glue that holds everyone together”. As a leader they collaboratively work with teachers to effectively resource the curriculum, lead the school in the promotion of literature as well provide information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge based society.
As I am not a TL nor AP and only a teacher of three years experience; I have not had many opportunities to show leadership. However, I do believe I am a leader within my classroom as I lead my students to success each day.
My Leadership Style
After completing the Leadership Styles Quiz my results are as follows:
Your style of leadership is democratic, a.k.a. participative. It is considered as one of the most effective leadership styles in ideal situations. As the name suggests, democratic leaders consider the suggestions and opinions of group members and involve group members in the decision-making process. But they make sure that the final decision is taken by them while being in sync with the majority. This kind of leadership motivates the followers and encourages the group members to participate in the process. It ultimately improves the creativity and productivity of the members. It is one of the ideal leadership styles in an education system.
I was very pleased with my results. Particularly as I am only new to the profession, I still have quite a lot to learn and therefore I listen to my colleagues and seek advice to further improve my teaching practice. I feel as though as I gain further experience in the profession I see particular traits forming that are of servant leadership. As pointed out by Robert Greenleaf (1970, 1977), servant leadership emerges from a desire to help others. I have seen this within myself as I have the urge to help others succeed. The issue with this, as mentioned by my AP supervisor, is that I burn myself out too easily and there is also the concern that people will take advantage of me. However, in the role of TL I believe this to be an effective leadership style that I myself would want to continue to value. As a TL you are there to support teachers, resource the curriculum, give advice and listen attentively to the areas of need from colleagues; all skills that in my view are of servant leadership.
Leadership Style Within My School
After reading (Marzano, Waters & McNutty’s, 2005) article, Constructive-transactional Leadership, I found that the instructional leadership style resembled that within my school. As Wilma Smith and Richard Andrews (1989) mention, instructional leadership has four dimensions. An instructional leader is a resource provider, instructional resource, communicator and visibly present. The principal at my current school demonstrates these qualities as she ensures that she communicates effectively through staff meetings and emails. She informs staff and keeps us up to date with activities that are happening in the school and also any changes that may be occurring within the department itself i.e. policies and procedures that have changed etc. As a resource provider, she listens to any concern or needs that we have and will provide a solution/resource as best as she can keeping align with the budget. As an instructional resource our principal will inform us of any in-service training available and will conduct any training we feel is important for our school with the staff. Our principal regularly comes into our classrooms and engages in social events with staff, is always in the staffroom at recess and lives by her saying, “my door is always open”. This view is enhanced by my results from the Stephen Covey xQ survey with some areas of concern that surprised me. With an overall score of 69%, there is definitely room for improvement. Accountability (do we account to each other for our commitments?) stood out most, as it was the lowest score with 47%. To no real surprise commitment scored 93%, as I do believe I am extremely lucky to work in an environment with passionate teachers, who like me, strive to provide engaging, exciting and motivating learning experiences for our students. As a result of this data, I feel as though the current leadership style within the school is transformational. The four I’s: Individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealised influence are described by Bass (1985, 1990) to be the factors in which the transformational leadership model is characterized by. From the results of the survey, each of the four I’s have been clearly identified.
To conclude, from this weeks reading about leadership styles I have learnt a lot about my own style, the leadership style within my school as well as the leadership I would like to possess when I become a qualified and working Teacher Librarian.
Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/Read.aspx.
Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press.
Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass and Stogdill’s handbook of leadership. New York: Free Press.
Greenleaf, R. (1970). The servant as leader. Indianapolis: Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership.
Greenleaf, R. (1977). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York: Paulist Press.
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).
Smith, W. F., & Andrews, R. L. (1989). Instructional leadership: How principals make a difference. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Whilst I am currently not in a Teacher Librarian role at present, this is a role I hope to one day fulfil. After reading and reflecting on the documents this week, and consulting with the current Teacher Librarian within my school, I became enlightened and very overwhelmed.
The ASLA Standards (Australian School Library Association) have listed the standards of professional excellence for Teacher Librarians within a broad framework of professional practice, professional knowledge and professional commitment. It is after reading the standards that fall under this umbrella, that you truly begin to appreciate and understand the complex and demanding role of a Teacher Librarian. The ASLA Standards describe the role as having two key components, a teacher and an information specialist. Librarians must evoke life-long learning, collaboratively work with colleagues, resource the curriculum, understand and collaborate with the school community, continually develop their knowledge of teaching and learning across the curriculum as well as their knowledge of information resources, technology and library management. If that is not enough; Teacher Librarians are also responsible for planning and budgeting the school resources.
The International Standards are very similar to our own National Standards. Teacher Librarians provide opportunities for students to inquire, think critically, draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, pursue personal and aesthetic growth, among many others. These skills are essential for students to learn as they will use them throughout their educational journey, “the school library provides information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge-based society. The school library equips students with life-long learning skills and develops the imagination, enabling them to live as responsible citizens” (International Association of School Libraries, March 28, 2006).
The SLASA Standards (School Library Association of South Australia) give an overview of our state standards. These standards divide the role of the Teacher Librarian into six categories; teaching and learning, leadership, curriculum involvement, management, literature promotion and services. These standards are also evident within the National and International standards.
After reviewing these standards it has provoked me to reflect on my own experiences within the school environment. I have found that teachers have a lack of appreciation for Teacher Librarians, and a common misconception among school staff is that Teacher Librarians are ‘just RFF (Relief from Face-to-Face) teachers’. This is obviously a terribly misguided view and the evidence that it is far from the truth is highlighted throughout the readings I have read this past week. “The school library functions as a vital instrument in the educational process, not as a separate entity isolated from the total school program but involved in the teaching and learning process” (International Association of School Libraries, 9 February, 2003). With the alarming concerns that with new budgets arising, the role of the Teacher Librarian will no longer be needed, it is clearly evident in these readings that this role is crucial to the school sector, as they are the glue that holds everything together.
Australian School Library Association – http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
American Association of School Librarians – http://www.ala.org
International Association of School Libraries – http://www.iasl-online.org/about/handbook/policysl.html
School Library Association of South Australia – http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html
This image was retrieved from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/06/awesome-graphic-on-27-things-teacher.html which is a fantastic website with interesting ideas on web tools and mobile apps for teachers and educators!!!
This is a blog by a high school TL. She has lots of great ideas and is worth a look at.
Another fantastic resource to get you started in a school library 🙂