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Decision Making and Problem Solving – Topic 1 – ETL 504

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).

References:

International Association of School Libraries – http://www.iasl-online.org/about/handbook/policysl.html

Muzio, E. 7 Step Problem Solving. Video – Bnet.com.

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Leadership Theory – Topic 1 – ETL 504

My Understanding of Leadership

 The definition of leadership is the action of leading a group of people or an organization, or the ability to do this. Therefore my take on this would be that a leader is someone to look up to. They encourage, support, and motivate those around them. This is crucial for anyone in the role of teacher librarian. I am not a teacher librarian myself, but I do aspire to be one sometime in the near future. Through readings from other subjects as well as collaborating with the current TL at my school, the TL is, “the glue that holds everyone together”. As a leader they collaboratively work with teachers to effectively resource the curriculum, lead the school in the promotion of literature as well provide information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge based society.

As I am not a TL nor AP and only a teacher of three years experience; I have not had many opportunities to show leadership. However, I do believe I am a leader within my classroom as I lead my students to success each day.

My Leadership Style

After completing the Leadership Styles Quiz my results are as follows:

Your style of leadership is democratic, a.k.a. participative. It is considered as one of the most effective leadership styles in ideal situations. As the name suggests, democratic leaders consider the suggestions and opinions of group members and involve group members in the decision-making process. But they make sure that the final decision is taken by them while being in sync with the majority. This kind of leadership motivates the followers and encourages the group members to participate in the process. It ultimately improves the creativity and productivity of the members. It is one of the ideal leadership styles in an education system.

I was very pleased with my results. Particularly as I am only new to the profession, I still have quite a lot to learn and therefore I listen to my colleagues and seek advice to further improve my teaching practice. I feel as though as I gain further experience in the profession I see particular traits forming that are of servant leadership. As pointed out by Robert Greenleaf (1970, 1977), servant leadership emerges from a desire to help others. I have seen this within myself as I have the urge to help others succeed. The issue with this, as mentioned by my AP supervisor, is that I burn myself out too easily and there is also the concern that people will take advantage of me. However, in the role of TL I believe this to be an effective leadership style that I myself would want to continue to value. As a TL you are there to support teachers, resource the curriculum, give advice and listen attentively to the areas of need from colleagues; all skills that in my view are of servant leadership.

Leadership Style Within My School

After reading (Marzano, Waters & McNutty’s, 2005) article, Constructive-transactional Leadership, I found that the instructional leadership style resembled that within my school. 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. The principal at my current school demonstrates these qualities as she ensures that she communicates effectively through staff meetings and emails. She informs staff and keeps us up to date with activities that are happening in the school and also any changes that may be occurring within the department itself i.e. policies and procedures that have changed etc. As a resource provider, she listens to any concern or needs that we have and will provide a solution/resource as best as she can keeping align with the budget. As an instructional resource our principal will inform us of any in-service training available and will conduct any training we feel is important for our school with the staff. Our principal regularly comes into our classrooms and engages in social events with staff, is always in the staffroom at recess and lives by her saying, “my door is always open”. This view is enhanced by my results from the Stephen Covey xQ survey with some areas of concern that surprised me. With an overall score of 69%, there is definitely room for improvement. Accountability (do we account to each other for our commitments?) stood out most, as it was the lowest score with 47%. To no real surprise commitment scored 93%, as I do believe I am extremely lucky to work in an environment with passionate teachers, who like me, strive to provide engaging, exciting and motivating learning experiences for our students. As a result of this data, I feel as though the current leadership style within the school is transformational. The four I’s: Individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealised influence are described by Bass (1985, 1990) to be the factors in which the transformational leadership model is characterized by. From the results of the survey, each of the four I’s have been clearly identified.

To conclude, from this weeks reading about leadership styles I have learnt a lot about my own style, the leadership style within my school as well as the leadership I would like to possess when I become a qualified and working Teacher Librarian.

Resources

Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/Read.aspx.

Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press.

Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass and Stogdill’s handbook of leadership. New York: Free Press.

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.

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).

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