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.