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ETL 504 Assignment 2 Part B – Reflective critical analysis, blog post

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.

Image retrieved from http://www.studentsneedlibrariesinhisd.org/uploads/8/5/0/2/8502254/7364549_orig.jpg

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.

References

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

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ETL 504 – Module 5 – Strategic Planning

We have heard it many times before…the educational landscape is rapidly changing. But, what are we doing to manage the change and ensure that our students are receiving the best quality education possible?

We need to be future-focused. We need a strategic plan. Whole school, individual faculty, library service or individual teacher, we need a strategic plan to prioritise the busy-ness of our working lives and set targets for success.

I like these points from Nelson (2008). In the library, the strategic plan will:

  • define clear targets and establish procedures to track the progress made towards meeting those targets.
  • provide a framework for creating an organisation that can respond quickly and effectively to change.

One way forward is to use the futurist’s tactic of environmental scanning – S.T.E.E.P (halfpintofwisdom, 2011). That is, to consider social, technological, environmental, economic and political influences and change.

Image retrieved from http://thinque.com.au/sites/default/files/blog/Screen%20Shot%202012-09-01%20at%201.03.52%20PM_0.png

Applying S.T.E.E.P. to my own school situation:

  • some students need a social space at school away from the playground. We have no library at the moment, so it is a priority to build one and to incorporate social spaces where students can interact with each other using all of the resources available to them and in new and creative ways.
  • students want and will continue to want access to a wide range of digital resources as well as print resources. Provision of audiobooks, e-books and a range of equipment/technologies that enables students to demonstrate their creativity and critical thinking will be part of the future of the library.
  • the library will be a role model for responsible use of physical resources. The library’s impacts on the natural environment will be assessed and there will be an expectation that all users will help to manage such impacts.
  • economic and political concerns always influence library services. In the developing school where I work, it will be essential for the leader in charge of the future library services (once the building is constructed and such a position exists) to be a strong advocate for the integral role that the library and its diverse range of information services and programs plays in the school community. Even in a new school with a brand new state-of-the-art library building, there will be pressure to continue to justify the existence of a position for the teacher librarian and the library program within the school. Having a clear vision and communicating it effectively to the school community will be vital.

References:

Nelson, S. (2008). Part one: The planning process. Strategic Planning for Results (pp. 3-139). Chicago: ALA Editions.

halfpint of wisdom. (2011). Strategic planning for school libraries. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/halfpintofwisdom/strategic-planning-for-libraries

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ETL 504 – Module 4 – Communication Activity

You have developed a new digital literacy program that you believe needs to be used across the school. How will you communicate this program to your staff?

Image retrieved from https://educatingchurchill.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/collaboration-vs-solitude.png

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One thing that stands out in the scene setting of this scenario is the “program that you believe needs to be used across the school”. Is this the equivalent of the 1979 Camaro (Shearouse, 2011)? That is, to begin here with position/interests presented, seems to be beginning at the wrong place and potentially sabotaging an effective communication and implementation process.

As a rough guide, I would try to approach this scenario with the following points about the communication process in mind….

  1. Following the chain of command is essential (Bender, 2005). Speak to the principal to determine his/her view of what would be incorporated or what the priorities are for a digital literacy program. I would build my program proposal around some of these ideas if possible, as well as trying to incorporate some of the ideas, interests and strengths of other staff members.
  2. When presenting the program to staff, appeal to their emotions. This can be done by referring to the moral purpose of education, the importance of this program in preparing students for life beyond school and explaining the benefits to teachers as well as students.
  3. The formal presentation to staff needs to be supported by other formal and informal written and oral communication (Rai, 2009), ie. updates in the fortnightly library newsletter, casual conversations with staff about their views and actions on the program.
  4. Be nothing but positive. Seek out and listen to feedback. LISTEN. Be acutely aware of how things are going and peoples’ reactions (Forsyth, 2009).
  5. What else is happening for staff that could be a barrier to the effectiveness of the implementation of this program? ‘Understanding other people underpins success in being persuasive’ (Forsyth, 2009).
  6. If there are problems with implementation or getting staff on board, are the problems to do with noticing, or understanding or accepting the message (Rai, 2009)?
  7. Acknowledge and/or accept suggestions for modifications to the program to build collective ownership and foster growth.

References:

Bender, Y. (2005). Building effective communication. The tactful teacher effective communication with parents, colleagues, and administrators (pp. 3-18). White River Junction, VT: Nomad Press.

Forsyth, P. (2009). Understanding the process. Negotiation skills for rookies from rookie to expert in a week (pp. 11-30). London: Marshall Cavendish Business.

Rai, U., & Rai, S. M. (2009). Barriers to communication. Effective communication (Rev. ed., pp. 57-67). Mumbai, India: Himalaya Pub. House.

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.

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ETL 504 – Module 4 – Communication

This is worth sharing… it is from a book called Getting to Resolution: turning conflict into collaboration by Stewart Levine. Levine (2009) suggests that these 10 principles are the key to conflict resolution. I really like how he has juxtaposed these principles with ‘old’ thinking.

Old thinking New thinking
Scarcity Believing in abundance
Wasting of resources Creating partnership
Problems, issues, emotions Being creative
Fostering conflict Fostering sustainable collaboration
Righteous bravado, posturing Becoming open
Short-term adversary Forming long-term collaborations
Logic Relying on feelings and intuition
Secrecy Disclosing information and feelings
Winning Learning throughout the resolution process
Deferring to professionals Becoming ResponseAble

Image retrieved from Image retrieved from http://www.godecrandall.com/wp-content/themes/shell-lite/images/featured-image.jpg

Being positive, empathetic and approaching communication in a way that fosters development of productive professional relationships is so important in schools. Conflict resolution should be viewed as a negotiation process rather than a confrontation. A negotiation mindset suggests a win-win outcome, whereas a mindset of conflict resolution suggests that one party is more likely to get their way. Negotiation requires you to think about the needs of the other party, discover what their interests are, consider how to address both parties interests and find a resolution that will be satisfactory for all (Shearouse, 2011).

References:

Levine, S. (2009). Getting to resolution turning conflict into collaboration (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

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.