What a journey this has been over the last couple of months. I have been exposed to a wide range of resources and understandings that have prompted me to reflect and think critically on my initial understanding of the Teacher Librarian and their position/ role within a school. Prior to my studies in this subject my understanding of a leader was more aligned with a manager. This evolved and is evidenced in my assignment 1 blog post, which identified the key difference between management and leadership as vision (Browning, 2013; Byrne, 2014, April 4). Further development of my understanding of leadership involved the concept that leaders are people who are able to influence others.
I have been fairly quiet on the forums this semester, but I have been engaged in several readings and have been taking notes along the way, many of which I have only posted in my blog recently. From readings, I initially stipulated that good leaders make the effort to regularly engage with all members of the team. However, I now recognise that a good leader does much more than engage with the team – they listen intently (Minute MBA, 2012; Forsyth, 2009); have a deep understanding of themselves, of the strengths and weaknesses of each member and of the team as whole; they are effective in getting team members to share their vision and they learn with and from the team (Collay, 2011).
Leaders adapt, innovate and look ahead (Ben Brocker, 2012). They intend real change and develop mutual purpose. A great leader is aware and considerate of the members, purpose, resources, structure and tasks that make up the organisation (Bennett, 2001). Great educational leadership comprises a commitment to moral purpose, continuous learning and knowledge of teaching and learning, educational contexts, collegiality, and the change process (O’Donoghue & Clarke, 2009). This helped me to identify that teaching is learning and leading is learning. The better you teach and the better you lead, the more you learn, the more you have to learn and the more open you become to learning. Leadership and learning are mutually embedded, so that as we learn we become more confident in sharing with and learning from others. And as we lead we continually reflect on and enhance our learning (Swaffield & MacBeath, 2009).
I really enjoyed exploring the discussions of mission and vision statements. My prior knowledge of these two concepts limited my ability to distinguish differences. However, I feel I now have a solid grasp of the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement. A vision statement is aspirational and audacious (Johnson, 2010; Virtualstrategist, 2008a); it is future-focused (Charles Sturt University (CSU), 2014). While a mission statement is about why we exist and our core function (Virtualstrategist, 2008b). It is operative and drives everything you do (Johnson, 2010).
Clear communication is vital (Muzio, 2011; Rai & Rai, 2009). Bender (2005) points out that communication can be direct or indirect. Unintentional behaviours such as body language can communicate useful information. From my experience, effective communication is such a key skill and yet one that is often under-developed. Bender’s (2005) strategies for building effective communication provide useful reminders such as adjusting how you communicate to the situation you are facing, remembering to listen for what is being felt as well as what is being said and ending communications on a positive note. Communication is one skill that I am continually working on and I can see that as my communication skills improve, so too do my leadership skills.
It was during Module 6, Teacher Librarian (TL) as Leader, that I had my light bulb moment. Simon Sinek’s TED Talk introduced me to the idea “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it” (Sinek, 2010). This concept took my understanding of the importance of having a vision worthy of following further. I can be an inspiring leader firstly if I have a vision worth following, but secondly I need to inspire in others why my vision is important; why I am creating the change process, for them to come along the journey with me.
Leadership is vitally important in developing effective, innovative schools and in facilitating quality teaching and learning (Dinham, 2007). Super skills in communication, conflict resolution and negotiation are a must for great leaders (Levine, 2009). Fostering sustainable collaboration, believing in abundance, becoming open and being creative are just some of the key principles identified by Levine (2009) for conflict resolution. Decision making and conflict resolution should be viewed as negotiations rather than a confrontation (Shearouse, 2011). Above all, conflicts are an opportunity for growth (TerritoryProject, 2012). Handling conflict can be challenging and often requires a great deal of skill to navigate and negotiate effectively. Completing the conflict resolution questionnaire revealed that I am accommodating and co-operative but need to develop assertiveness. No surprises there.
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I have felt my lack of experience as a TL limited my contributions in the forums. Although I have been an avid viewer of the forums, I have been a limited contributor. I am looking forward to upcoming practical experiences in a school library where I am looking forward to seeing varying degrees of leadership from the TLs. I have enjoyed exploring and creating a vision for a 21st century library. Valenza (2010), Sullivan (2011) and Hay (2014) presented many innovative and functional ways to create physical and virtual spaces in the library to cater for 21st century learners and establish the library as the central learning space in the school. I look forward to running my own library, where as TL, I can lead from the middle to create a library fitting of my vision.
Ben Brocker. (2012, March 22). Leadership theory and critical skills [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzAzhiEsZtY&feature=player_embedded
Bender, Y. (2005). Building effective communication. In The tactful teacher effective communication with parents, colleagues, and administrators (pp. 3-18). White River Junction, VT: Nomad Press. Retrieved from EBook Library database.
Bennett, N. (2001). Power, structure and culture: An organizational view of school effectiveness and school improvement. In A. Harris & N. Bennett (Eds.), School effectiveness and school improvement: Alternative perspectives (pp. 98-122). London: Continuum.
Browning, P. (2013). Creating the conditions for transformational change. Australian Educational Leader. 35(3), 14-17.
Byrne, R. (2014, April 4). ETL504 Assignment 1B Reflective Critical Analysis. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://librarylearnings.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/etl504-assignment-1b-reflective-critical-analysis/
Byrne, R. (2014, May 4). Leadership for Learning. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://librarylearnings.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/leadership-for-learning/
Charles Sturt University (CSU). (2014). Strategic Planning: Vision and Mission. ETL504.
Collay, M. (2011). Teaching is leading. In Everyday teacher leadership: Taking action where you are (pp. 75-108). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Dinham, S. (2007). Leadership for exceptional educational outcomes. Teneriffe, QLD: Post Pressed.
Forsyth, P. (2009). Understanding the process. Negotiation skills for rookies from rookie to expert in a week (pp. 11-30). London: Marshall Cavendish Business.
Hay, L. (2014). Anatomy of an iCentre:In theory and practice. [Keynote address]. International Schools Librarian’s Knowledge Sharing Workshop. Jerudong international School, Brunei Darussalam, 21-22 February.
Johnson, B. (2010, May 12). What’s the Difference between Mission and Vision? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2MyaROgMo0
Levine, S. (2009). Getting to resolution turning conflict into collaboration (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
MinuteMBA. (2012, November 13). Let your ears do the talking: How good managers listen [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nk1VnXTC1_I
Muzio, E. (2011, June 8). 7 step problem solving [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bZXDGQSuF9I
O’Donoghue, T. & Clarke, S. (2009). Teachers learning and teachers leading. In Leading Learning: Process, Themes and Issues in International Contexts. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
Rai, U., & Rai, S. M. (2009). Barriers to communication. In Effective communication (Rev. ed., pp. 57-67). Retrieved from Ebook Library database.
Shearouse, S. H. (2011). Reaching agreement: a solution seeking model. Conflict 101 a manager’s guide to resolving problems so everyone can get back to work (pp. 195-214). New York: American Management Association.
Sinek, S. (2010). How Great Leaders Inspire Action. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action
Sullivan, M. (2011). Divine Design. How to Create the 21st Century School Library of Your Dreams. Accessed from http://www.slj.com/2011/04/buildings-design/divine-design-how-to-create-the-21st-century-school-library-of-your-dreams/
Swaffield, S. & MacBeath, J. (2009). Leadership for learning. In J. MacBeath & N. Dempster (Eds.), Connecting leadership and learning: Principles for practice (pp. 32-52). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from EBook Library database.
TerritoryProject. (2012, August 13). Conflict resolutions strategies video [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpnh9EECMOg&feature=player_embedded
Valenza, J. (2010) A revised manifesto. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/
Virtualstrategist. (2008a, July 9). How to Write a Vision Statement that Inspires. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioY-YS
Virtualstrategist. (2008b, July 1). How to Write a Mission Statement. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLF47BA7BC6BDA46B1&v=XtyCt83JLNY