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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.

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ETL 504 Assignment 1 Part A: Leadership, A Concept Map

Part A.1 Leadership Concept Map Part A.2 Critical Narrative

Leadership and how it is defined or recognised differs amongst many. The term and the execution can often be mistaken for management rather than someone who leads an organization, or in this case a school (Quality Leadership in Australian Schools, 2007). Leadership identifies two crucial aspects: WHAT style of leadership is executed (organizational theory) and HOW effective leadership is implemented (leading change). Teachers have already committed to becoming effective leaders just by choosing to be teachers themselves (Collay, 2008, p.28). So whether they realize it or not, they naturally develop a leadership style within their everyday teaching. They support and guide their students through their educational journey and this is succeeded through change. But for teachers to be true leaders, they must be reflective practitioners that are committed to life-long learning. The school context is continually evolving, so teachers must adapt and learn so that they can lead, and learn as they lead (MacBeath, J. E., & Dempster, N. 2009, p.49).

A starting point for leading change should be a moral purpose, accompanied by a shared vision (Dempster, 2008; Law & Glover, 2000; Winzenreid, 2010). Leading change requires effective management, but change also requires leadership. An effective leader is able to distinguish the difference. “Change management refers to a set of basic tools or structures intended to keep any change effort under control. The goal is often to minimise the distractions and impacts of the change. Change leadership, on the other hand, concerns the driving forces, visions and processes that fuel large-scale transformation.” (Kotter, 2011). The moral purpose amongst all schools should be that through learning, people’s lives would be enhanced or improved (Dempster, 2008). The vision set out by the leader is that of their own beliefs and values. However, it also has to reflect the values and beliefs of all stakeholders (Quality Leadership in Australian Schools, 2007). This purpose can be achieved through an enabling environment that is collaborative, built on trust, fosters teamwork, innovation and promotes problem solving. With that comes openness. But to succeed in both elements, communication is vital. Without effective communication, a leader is unable to make sustainable change that needs to be implemented effectively to enhance and improve student’s lives.

Don Tapscott (2012) identifies two different types of change: change that occurs within yourself as a teacher as you evolve with the demands of technology and the needs of the 21st century learners. The second being the change in values in order to implement change. To address the two, he has identified four principles: collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment. These principles are imperative to effectively lead. The leadership in the school stems from the principal. He or she is responsible for leading change, as the Teacher Librarian, staff and the school community respond to the decisions made by him or her. “Effective school leaders have expertise in building school and community capacity and collegiality” (Quality Leadership in Australian Schools, 2007). For example:

  • The Principal defines the vision for the school (transparency).
  • Through collaboration, the Principal shares the vision among school staff, students and the wider school community. He or she is who drives the change towards improving or enhancing people’s lives through learning (Dempster, 2008).
  • The Principal has a wide range of knowledge and skills that can be shared among staff to assist and promote quality teaching and learning (sharing).
  • Finally, the Principal empowers his or her colleagues by establishing long-term benefits.

However, while this demonstrates how a Principal effectively utilises these principles, Teacher Librarians demonstrate these principles in their role as a leader also.

There are many different leadership theories. When considering which leadership style is most suitable, there are conflicting opinions. Does a leader have to only portray one style of leadership? Or can a leader elect to possess various qualities that attain effective leadership? Transformational and instructional leadership styles are found to be comparable and many would argue that these two are the most suitable for an educational leader. As an instructional leader, the Principal is a resource provider, instructional resource, a communicator and visibly present (Smith, W. F., & Andrews, R. L. 1989). These four components are ideal for an educational setting and can also be represented in the leadership qualities that a Teacher Librarian possesses. As pointed out by Robert Greenleaf (1970, 1977), servant leadership emerges from a desire to help others, which is also a great quality or style for any effective leader. A great leader should work collaboratively, inspire, empower and share (Tapscott, 2012) rather than dictate a situation. When one considers the evolving educational setting and the current changes to the 21st century, there should be fluidity in the style of leadership, modifying the elements of leadership to suit different tasks and student cohorts (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005).  There should not be one-style fits all approach, particularly in an educational setting.

Effective leadership skills such as technical, problem solving, decision making and the five domains of leadership for schools: personal, interpersonal, educational, strategic and organizational that are highlighted in the Leadership Capability Framework (School leadership capability framework, 2006) are imperative to the outcome and success of sustainable change and overall operation of the school.

Technical skills are essential in a 21st century context. As the school environment evolves with the digital revolution, a leader must first be able to master the skill of technology to then effectively implement sustainable change. Whilst it is important that a Principal as the leader of the school acquires these skills, it is now required that a Teacher Librarian is also a media specialist, “librarians need to actively promote their role as CIO and influence the leadership of the school” (Hough, 2014).  Therefore, both the Principal and Teacher Librarian share the role of leading the school community in the area of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The school is an insightful, engaging and resourceful learning facility that should be utilised to assist its students to find purpose in what they are learning, connect it to other experiences and develop skills that are “fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge based society” (International Association of School Libraries, 2006).

Decision-making and problem solving are important aspects of leadership. The approach that leaders use for solving problems and making decisions contributes to the growth or dysfunction of a team (Leadership Management Development Center, Inc., 1997).  In an educational context, the leader works collaboratively with their staff to achieve their vision. They encourage their colleagues to solve problems by taking calculated, legitimate risks (Quality Leadership in Australian Schools, 2007).  Inevitably decisions shape and determine the future (State University of New York Press, 2009). Therefore the leader should possess the skill to both manage and execute decision-making and problem solving within their school to successfully sustain a collegial environment that epitomizes the moral purpose and vision the school upholds.

An effective educational leader also possesses skills that adhere to personal and interpersonal qualities. It is important that a leader is trustworthy, respectful and approachable. Communication is vital in upholding personal and interpersonal skills. Personal relationship skills are valued and they support their staff in achieving their full potential. Effective leaders encourage innovative thinking and possess emotional intelligence (Quality Leadership in Australian Schools, 2007). These qualities are reflected in the five domains in the Leadership Capability Framework. Without these characteristics, the school context would be dysfunctional. It would form boundaries that separate the leader from the school community rather than unite them together. The style of leadership will often reflect the skills that are utilised and ultimately determine the future success of the school in executing their vision.

In conclusion, leadership is not hierarchical rather a process and a product of the interactions between members of the school community and their situation. School leadership is not the sum of its individual leaders. School leadership is a system, a culture (Hargreaves & Fink, 2003).  It involves various elements and qualities that engage with promoting life-long learning, leading change and implementing a shared vision and moral purpose. Effective leadership requires distinguished skills that are derived from the leadership style depicted. While there are various styles, many are comparable and a leader will often execute qualities from a range rather than a specific leadership style.

References

Collay, M. (2011). Teaching is leading. Everyday teacher leadership: Taking action where you are (pp. 75-108). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Dempster, N. (2008). What do we know about leadership? In J. MacBeath & N. Dempster (Eds.), Connecting leadership and learning: Principles for practice. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from EBook Library database.

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.

Hough, M. (2014, July 12). Libraries as iCentres: Helping Schools. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access/access-commentaries/icentres.aspx

International Association of School Libraries (March 28, 2006). IASL Policy Statement on School Libraries. Retrieved from http://www.iasl-online.org/about/handbook/policysl.html

Kotter, J. (July 2011). Change Management vs. Change Leadership – What’s the difference?. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkotter/2011/07/12/change-management-vs-change-leadership-whats-the-difference/

Law, S., & Glover, D. (2000). Leading effective teams. In Educational leadership and learning: Practice, policy and research (pp. 71-86). Buckingham, England: Open University Press.

Leadership Management Development Center, Inc. (1997). Decision making styles. Retrieved from http://www.leadershipmanagement.com/html-files/decision.htm

MacBeath, J. E., & Dempster, N. (2009). Leadership for learning. Connecting leadership and learning: Principles for practice (pp. 32-52). London: Routledge.

Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Quality Leadership in Australian Schools. (2007). Curriculum And Leadership Journal: An Electronic Journal For Leaders In Education, 5(9). Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/leader/quality_leadership_in_australian_schools

School leadership capability framework. (2006). Professional Learning and Leadership Development. Retrieved from https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/proflearn/areas/sld/frameworks/slcf/slcf_more.htm

Smith, W. F., & Andrews, R. L. (1989). Instructional leadership: How principals make a difference. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

State University of New York Press (2009). Introduction: Leadership, Decision Making, and Unexplored Issues in Decision Making. Retrieved from http://www.sunypress.edu/pdf/61932.pdf

Tapscott, D. (2012). Don Tapscott: Four principles for The Open World. TEDGlobal 2012. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/don_tapscott_four_principles_for_the_open_world_1.html

Winzenreid, A. (2010). Towards an organisation theory for information professionals. In Visionary leaders for information. Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies.

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ETL 504 Assignment 1 Part B: Reflective critical analysis, blog post

My Leadership Concept MapThroughout this course we have been exposed to a variety of different authors who provide various outlooks on what leadership in schools looks like. By reviewing the course modules it is clear that leadership can be identified in two crucial aspects: WHAT style of leadership we execute (organizational theory) and HOW we execute effective leadership (leading change). I have never really thought about myself as a leader until now. Initially my opinions on leadership were more aligned to managerial qualities rather than someone who collaboratively works with their school community to execute common established goals. I now see how misguided my perspective was.

As I am not an acting Teacher Librarian in a school as yet, I have often asked myself, when the time comes, where do I start? Through the exploration in my concept map (above) as well as the various readings throughout the course so far, I have found that a starting point for leading change should be a moral purpose accompanied by a shared vision (Dempster, 2008; Law & Glover, 2000; Winzenreid, 2010).

No matter what the moral purpose or shared vision is; it can only be achieved through an enabling environment, as shown in my concept map. Without a collaborative environment that fosters teamwork, promotes problem solving, encourages innovation and is built on trust, the school context would become dysfunctional and segregated from one another making it impossible to achieve anything. This has also made me question whether or not this may be the reason why people often have a misguided view on the role of Teacher Librarians. Perhaps their leadership qualities are not effective and lack motivation? In many schools I have found that Teacher Librarians feel defeated by the overpowering view that they are just someone who takes the “real” teacher’s class once a week and scans barcodes.

Don Tapscott’s (2012) four principles: collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment I find are imperative to the role of the Teacher Librarian, and perhaps the solution to changing the diminishing view of Teacher Librarians. The Teacher Librarian defines the vision for the school, particularly in the area of ICT and Literacy that is collaboratively agreed upon (transparency). Through collaboration the Teacher Librarian shares the vision among school staff, students and the wider school community. He or she is who drives the change towards improving or enhancing people’s lives through learning (Dempster, 2008). The Teacher Librarian has a wide range of knowledge and skills that can be shared among staff to assist and promote quality teaching and learning (sharing). Finally the Teacher Librarian empowers his or her colleagues by establishing long-term benefits that are sustainable and reflect the current context of the school. I say this because the digital education revolution has redefined the way we learn and teach. It is crucial that the Teacher Librarian and teachers evolve and adapt with the changes, rather than block and ignore. I believe the Teacher Librarian is qualified and the most appropriate staff member to lead the school community in this area.

There are many different leadership theories (as seen above).  Upon reflection, I personally believe that transformational and instructional are comparable and therefore these two are the most suitable for the Teacher Librarian. Having said that, I have found traits of servant leadership in my own teaching practice as I have the desire to help others (Robert Greenleaf, 1970, 1977). I also believe that after reading the leadership theories in Marzano, Waters & McNulty (2005), it clarified for me that I also use situational leadership, modifying my style to suit different tasks and student cohorts. I do think that this is an important style Teacher Librarians need to consider as they teach multiple classes, all of whom possess different learning styles and personalities.

In conclusion, there are many differing views on the “superior” style of leadership that should be executed. I feel as though each style has desirable qualities, therefore I can’t seem to pin point one particular style that I portray. As I have found, there are multiple. The style in which is chosen reflects the skills in which we use. This ultimately determines the success of achieving the goals that we set. I look forward to learning more and I am interested to see what my views on leadership are at the conclusion of this subject. Already I have changed my mind a million times.

References

Dempster, N. (2008). What do we know about leadership? In J. MacBeath & N. Dempster (Eds.), Connecting leadership and learning: Principles for practice. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from EBook Library database.

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.

Law, S., & Glover, D. (2000). Leading effective teams. In Educational leadership and learning: Practice, policy and research (pp. 71-86). Buckingham, England: Open University Press.

Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Tapscott, D. (2012). Don Tapscott: Four principles for The Open World. TEDGlobal 2012. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/don_tapscott_four_principles_for_the_open_world_1.html

Winzenreid, A. (2010). Towards an organisation theory for information professionals. In Visionary leaders for information. Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies.

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Collaborative Curriculum Programs ETL 504 Topic 3

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Image retrieved 13th August 2014 from http://betterboards.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/leadership-web.jpg

Have you been able to identify any particular element of leadership practice in collaborative environments, that has made you stop and think about the practical professional opportunities that you may like to explore or adopt in your school? What sort of approaches would you like to explore in the future?

As stated earlier in this course, I relate to the instructional leadership style. I believe that it would be the most effective style to utilise within the school community. As stated by Collay (2011, p.28) “choosing to become a teacher at all is an act of leadership”. So whether we realize it or not, we naturally develop a leadership style within our everyday teaching day to support and guide our students through their educational journey. It is how we choose to lead that is the most important.

It has only been since participating in this course that I have become aware of the different leadership styles, because until now, I’ve honestly never really thought about it. As a result of reading the papers and articles I have become informed about the various styles and have now begun to form my own opinions about each. I have also reflected on my own teaching practice and have found that I portray a mixture of both instructional and servant leadership. I think it is important when collaborating with the school community that the characteristics highlighted in the instructional style of leadership are evident. As an instructional leader you are a resource provider, instructional resource, communicator and visibly present (Smith, W. F., & Andrews, R. L. 1989) all of which are imperative in a collaborative environment.

As a new scheme teacher and only three years into my career, I am still trying to find my feet and I am constantly updating resources, knowledge and skills in order to provide my students with the quality education they all deserve. In the future, as a leader I will continue to move in the direction of instructional leadership. As a teacher I will provide my students with an abundant amount of quality, engaging resources that are relevant and up to date so that it supports the teaching and learning within the classroom. As an instructional resource I will continue to develop my knowledge and skills to ensure that I can provide my students with a quality education. As a communicator, I will keep my students up to date with opportunities that arise in the school and will effectively communicate any information necessary to them as well as to their parents. As an instructional leader I will make myself visibly present and provide and safe and supportive learning environment and ensure that students know that I am very approachable which will come as I develop a rapport with them. Naturally, these characteristics will be present in my classroom whether I label them or not and will also be fostered in the wider school community.

References

Collay, M. (2011). Teaching is leading. Everyday teacher leadership: Taking action where you are (pp. 75-108). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Image retrieved 13th August 2014 from http://betterboards.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/leadership-web.jpg

Smith, W. F., & Andrews, R. L. (1989). Instructional leadership: How principals make a difference. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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Leadership for Learning ETL 504 Topic 3

leadership-quotes-cool-images-300x126Leadership for learning is defined as “principled influential interactions arising from, and resulting in, valued learning” (Macbeath and Swaffield, 2009, p.49). As teachers we are leaders in our classrooms. Our students rely upon us to guide and support them through their educational journey. But for us to be true leaders, leaders that are worthy of this title we must be reflective practitioners that are also committed to life-long learning. Throughout previous modules and stated in other courses I am currently undertaking, technology and the way we teach is continually evolving, as such we need to constantly adapt to new environments, methods of teaching and learning as well as the resources readily available to engage and motivate our students. So therefore, as stated by Macbeath and Swaffield (2009) “leaders need to learn and learners learn as they lead”(p.49).

Leadership for learning also encompasses collaboration and communication as a way to support life-long learning. Students are able to access these skills modeled by their leader (teacher) and therefore effectively enhance their learning experiences. After reading Trilling and Fadel (2009) it is clear that these skills, together with inquiry, develop effective problem solving skills in students. Leadership for learning all about offering various teaching and learning opportunities and methods to ensure the needs of ALL students are met so that each student can access their learning effectively. By doing so they are continually engaged and will be successful learners whom continue to develop and strive to achieve their best.

How does this definition connect to instructional leadership?

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. An instructional leader is someone who collaborates effectively with their school community. Instructional leadership can be described as the process of reflecting on outcomes and collaborating with others when learning. As Marzano (2005) shares, the leadership style that is evident in ‘leadership for learning’ is reflected in the characteristics of an instructional leader; the teacher guides and supports their students through their learning experiences while fostering and maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment.

References:

Image retrieved 13th August 2014 from http://picsndquotes.com/quotes/leadership-quotes/attachment/leadership-quotes-cool-images/

MacBeath, J. E., & Dempster, N. (2009). Leadership for learning. Connecting leadership and learning: Principles for practice (pp. 32-52). London: Routledge.

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.

Smith, W. F., & Andrews, R. L. (1989). Instructional leadership: How principals make a difference. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Trilling, B, & Fadel, C. (2009). Learning and innovation skills. 21st century skills learning for life in our times (pp. 45-60). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.