Throughout this semester my view on the role of the Teacher Librarian has dramatically changed. Before the commencement of this degree, I (like most) didn’t understand or know the extent of the role that the TL plays in the school. Being a classroom teacher of minimal experience, I have not been exposed to the daily tasks of the TL and therefore didn’t have a level of respect for them as I do now.
A TL’s teaching role is an integral one which sets us apart from the rest of the library and information services staff. Statistics show that TL’s commence their careers as classroom teachers, and then look to obtaining professional qualifications in education and librarianship. In this regard, as Herring (2007) states that the TL takes opportunities to teach in the library context, extending what is taught in the classroom.
The Teacher Librarian’s role is not limited to being an information specialist, or a teacher, but further includes the support and implementation of the vision of our school communities through advocacy and building effective library and information services and programs (ALIA & ASLA, 2004). What advocacy looks like in the school context involves the Teacher Librarian being always aware of opportunities to develop strategies and possibly influence decision making for the betterment of the students, the school library, and the profession. With the twenty-first century proving to be a rapidly changing technological world, the role of the Teacher Librarian is to continue to be aware of, and implement, new strategies and approaches that advocate for the meaningful and beneficial existence of the school library and the Teacher Librarian (Bonanno & Moore, 2009; Waldron-Lamotte, M. 2014a).
When commencing topic 2, I was greatly influenced by the readings on Principal Support. Before beginning the topic I had not giving a single thought to the TL/principal relationship necessary for the school library to be successful, but I got the message loud and clear… collaboration cannot happen without the active support of the school’s principal and if the library and TL doesn’t have the principal’s support, well, they need to do something about that (Waldron-Lamotte, M. 2014b). As Haycock (2002, pg.32) states, “collaboration is not easy. But it is the single professional behaviour of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement”. After all isn’t that what it’s all about?
My initial thoughts when delving into the Inquiry Learning topic were negative and resistant. I look back and I think it was more the unknown and the initial complexity of the topic that caused this reaction. However after reading the many articles, as well as completing the last assignment, I have found that Inquiry Learning it definitely integral in today’s educational setting (though I would have assumed many classroom teachers and TLs are already actively engaged in teaching this to their students – regardless if they are following a set model or not).
Examining IL models as part of this task highlighted the benefits of using IL models in research tasks for students. I now understand that information literacy skills are an important part of the inquiry process and this is something that I need to teach more explicitly in my lessons and in collaboration with class teachers. Bundy (2004) further reinstates this, by stating that students recognise the need for information, can locate information, analyse the reliability of the source, critically evaluate information and use information effectively (Waldron-Lamotte, M. 2014c). I have worked in three different public schools now; and whilst all of those schools have a whole-school literacy program, none of these are effectively teaching Information Literacy and Guided Inquiry Learning. When I become a TL, I will endeavor to implement a school-wide literacy program that allows the proficient use of an IL model that caters to the dynamics of that school. Herring’s PLUS model is my preferred model at this point of my learning for its use of acronym, transferability and way of developing synthesise of information in students.
I have been pleased with the significant amount of reflection I have been able to engage in whilst studying this course (even
though I have been unable to attend any of the online meetings – I have kept my blog rolling). Not just because Teacher Librarians engage in reflective practice to increase their effectiveness (Purcell, 2010) but for the reason that it has allowed me to better understand how to successfully perform the roles expected of me. With the death of my Nan half way through the semester and the emotional toll it has had on my family – I am proud of myself for forging ahead.
The Teacher Librarian holds a significant leadership role in promoting and supporting teaching and learning within multi-modal, multi-literate twenty-first century learning environments. Whether we are planning collaborative or individual teaching programs, creating and enhancing quality teaching and learning environments, performing library management duties, or advocating for the implementation of new programs or improvement of facilities, we are doing it for the opportunity to enhance and improve student learning and achievement. I look forward to the day when I can put what I have learnt into practice. Though just because I am not a TL yet, doesn’t mean I can’t implement change!
Australian School Library Association (ASLA) & Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). (2004). Library standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/TLstandards.pdf
Bonanno, K., & Moore, R. (2009). Advocacy: reason, responsibility and rhetoric. Australian School Library Association (ASLA). Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/advocacy/ School-library-advocacy.aspx
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 from http://www.library.unisa.edu.au/learn/infolit/Infolit-2nd-edition.pdf
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). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies Charles Sturt University.
Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33. Retrieved from http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/55822153/all-librarians-do-check-out-books-right-look-roles-school-library-media-specialist
Waldron-Lamotte, M. (2014a). OLJ ETL 401 Blog Task 1. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/melissawaldronlamotte/2014/08/11/olj-etl-401-blog-task-1/
Waldron-Lamotte, M. (2014b). Principal Support ETL 401 Online Learning Journal Blog Task 2. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/melissawaldronlamotte/2014/09/08/principal-support-etl-401-online-learning-journal-blog-task-2/
Waldron-Lamotte, M. (2014c). ETL 401 OLJ Blog Task 3 – Information literacy is more than a set of skills. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/melissawaldronlamotte/2014/09/29/etl-401-olj-blog-task-3/