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Accountability and Research Topic 2

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Image retrieved 2nd August 2014 from http://designurge.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/6a00d8341c5c2253ef01538e0ac5cd970b.jpg

It has become clear at the completion of this topic that the teacher librarian’s priority is to promote an environment where students can become and grow as successful learners. In order for this to happen several others factors need to addressed: Teacher and teacher librarian collaboration, library maintenance and management and a promotion of literacy in all forms.

These priorities can be made clear through proactive measures such as attending staff and stage meetings, actively seeking professional development in other key learning areas (particularly now that the new Australian curriculum is progressively being implemented), organising events such as: book week, premier’s reading challenge and author visits, engaging students to partake in roles within the library e.g. library monitors, hosting your own workshops to share your expertise in the areas of ICT and assisting teachers by resourcing the curriculum.

The need for modernisation would also be integral. The school community needs to see the teacher librarian as a leader and as a media specialist it is ideal that they are the ones to lead the school community into the 21st century. By reinventing the library, you are also changing the tired old perception that libraries are just about books and the librarian just sits behind the counter and once in a while scans a barcode.

With a proactive approach that is both helpful and inviting, you can make your priorities both clear and palatable to the school community.

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Advocacy – Principal Support

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This topic’s readings were very interesting, there are some differing views on what is the most important role of the Teacher Librarian and there is also some commonalities. Upon reflection, I feel as though the Teacher Librarian is an integral part of the school community who embraces change and leads the school into the 21st century. I now have a better understanding of the roles Teacher Librarians play in schools and have much more respect for them. Something I feel is lacking from most teachers in schools.

I have not yet been in the role myself as a Teacher Librarian, however I have some perspective on how Principals perceive the role as Teacher Librarian. At one primary school I was at, there was a newly appointed young TL. The principal was very supportive and promoted her knowledge and expertise to the school staff. At a central school in Western NSW, even though it was a school for both primary and high school students, only the primary sector had lessons with the TL and even accessed the library. This however has been the only school I’ve known to have library sessions separate to RFF, where I team-taught with the librarian. The principal was not overly engaged with the TL and seemed to only interact with her when she approached him. Finally, at the school I’m at now, the library runs lessons as part of RFF time. The principal is supportive of our TL. Our TL is very proactive and organises a range of events to promote the library and literacy. However, I think the current principal perceives the role of TL as an RFF teacher.

Image retrieved 2nd August 2014 from http://www.nea.org/assets/img/pubToday/1005/1004-Express-Principal.jpg

Image retrieved 2nd August 2014 from http://www.nea.org/assets/img/pubToday/1005/1004-Express-Principal.jpg

I agree with Farewell (1998) and Haycock (2002) that the principal plays a vital role as teacher-librarians and the principal share leadership and both promote a shared vision.  As the leader of the school, the principal naturally is the person that the school staff looks up to and therefore for the majority, staff respect the decisions made by them. Therefore, if you have a principal who is passionate and supportive of the library, collaboration between teacher and teacher-librarian will be strongly promoted. As Haycock (2002, pg.32) states, “collaboration is not easy. But it is the single professional behaviour of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement”. After all isn’t that what it’s all about?

So what can I do when I am a teacher librarian?

  1. If the principal is not inspired to promote a shared vision, I would take a proactive approach to show how the library can be used to lead the school community into the 21st century and reveal its true potential.  Establish a shared vision and promote a collegial environment.
  2. Promote the library to the rest of the school community but reinventing the library to be a place of inspiration.
Image retrieved 2nd August 2014 from http://cultureofcollaboration.edublogs.org/files/2013/05/scrabble_collaboration_sized2-1osfr5l.jpg

Image retrieved 2nd August 2014 from http://cultureofcollaboration.edublogs.org/files/2013/05/scrabble_collaboration_sized2-1osfr5l.jpg

As Hough (2014) states, “librarians need to actively promote their role as CIO and influence the leadership of the school. School libraries need to evolve into iCentres, which houses the knowledge-based resources essential to modern learning and schooling. The iCentre will need to provide students and staff with a ‘one-stop shop’ for all resourcing of technology and learning needs on a daily basis”.

References

Haycock, K. (2002). What Works: Building a Collaborative Learning Communities. Teacher Librarian, 29(4)35.

Hough, M. (2014, July 12). Libraries as iCentres: Helping Schools. Retrieved August 2, 2014, from http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access/access-commentaries/icentres.aspx

Farewell, S.M. (1998). Profile of Planning: A study of a three-year project on the implementation of collaborative library media programs. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Florida International University, Miami.

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The Role of the Teacher Librarian – Some Authors’ Views – Topic 2 – ETL 401

How Should Teacher Librarians Prioritise the Roles they play in the school?

As teacher librarians, we have the exciting task of being multitasking magicians with the various roles we play within the library; many of which goes unnoticed. So should we prioritise and how?

Herring (2007) believes that teaching and learning should be a top priority and that resources should follow. As a teacher, the Teacher Librarian builds upon and extends the student’s knowledge about the topics being covered in the classroom. He says that, “while the physical environment may contract, the information and knowledge environments created by the Teacher Librarian in collaboration with the teachers will greatly expand” (Herring, 2007, p. 40).

Purcell (2010) shares some common views with Herring; particular in her example of the study she performed. She says that by reflecting on how you spend your time, you will be able to identify barriers. For example she shares that, “if you see that 25 percent of your time is spent shelving and doing other clerical tasks, then you need to overcome this barrier to spend more time actively engaging students” (Purcell, 2010, p. 31). Whilst she admits that teaching is extremely important, like Herring, she feels that a collegial work environment is an integral role that the Teacher Librarian plays. She believes that it is vital for the Teacher Librarian to work with the entire school community to decide what should be taught and the resources purchased for the library. There are many misconceptions about what a Teacher Librarian does, the common view being that they “sit and read all day and occasionally check out books” (Purcell, 2010, p. 30). So by working collegially with the school community it promotes the profession, which will have a positive impact on colleagues and will hopefully begin to change this misconception.

As suggested by the article’s title: Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette, Lamb (2011) believes that a Teacher Librarian should not favour one role over another, rather approach each role equally and taking a bit from each “colour” on the palette: People, Administration, Learning, Electronic information, Technology, Teaching and Environments.  Valenza (2010) shares her views on what the roles a Teacher Librarian play in a very extensive list, all of which are a vital contribution to the success students achieve throughout their academic journey. Most points from this list align with Herring’s (2010) view that teaching is the prominent role and the rest follow.

Are There Other Roles Played by Teacher Librarians

All four authors, Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza share common views on the roles played by Teacher Librarians. Herring (2010) shares that the Teacher Librarian’s roles are to be a teacher, librarian, information services manager, information literacy leader, curriculum leader, information specialist, instructional partner, website developer, budget manager, staff manager, and fiction and non-fiction advocate. Learning for the future (ASLA 2003) focuses on 3 particular roles of the Teacher Librarian: curriculum leader, information specialist and information services manager. Purcell states that a Teacher Librarian, “actively participates in various school committees and professional organizations” (Purcell, 2010, p. 32). With all that being said, it is becoming increasingly common in advertisements for permanent Teacher Librarian positions in schools, for the selection criteria to list extra curricula skills and experience wanted.

How do Lamb’s views on the Teacher Librarian Role Compare and Contrast with Those of Herring and Purcell?

Herring and Purcell believe that one area is more prominent than the other. Whilst they both recognise that there are many roles that a Teacher Librarian plays in the school, Herring believes that a teacher role is vital, while Purcell suggest a collegial work environment is paramount to make effective use of the library. Lamb is like the glue that joins everybody together with her analogy to the roles played by a Teacher Librarian is like a palette, each element is equally as important as the others. Even thought there are differences in their views about the most important role, they share commonalities in their views about what roles are played.

What existing tasks/ roles do you think you as a Teacher Librarian could give up in order to be as proactive as Lamb and Valenza want to be?

I honestly don’t believe I could give any role up. As stated in Purcell’s (2010) paper, “all of these roles – leader, instructional partner, teacher, information specialist, and program administrator are interconnected, one cannot be performed without the support of the others (AASL, 2009, p.18). I would however be smart about how I approach each task and manage my time effectively. Purcell had mentioned effective ways of ‘breaking down barriers’ such as establishing a student library team to help out with clerical duties, something that my current school librarian already does. Lamb and Valenza share some fantastic ideas and it would be challenging to juggle all of those roles and tasks, but as Purcell (2010, p. 33) mentions, “media specialist’s roles are constantly changing and they must be able to accept new tasks in order to perform their duties successfully”.

a)  Do you see yourself fitting with the roles proposed by these authors.

Yes, I do believe that I can see myself fitting with these roles. I would take Lamb’s palette approach, as I believe that each role is equally vital for the library to run successfully. It would also be a goal of mine to work collegially with the teachers and hopefully change this misconstrued idea of librarians.

b)  Would you change the order of the roles Purcell identifies e.g. should teacher come first?

I don’t believe I would. I think that in order for the library to serve the school community to its full capacity, a Teacher Librarian needs to be a leader first, to promote the libraries facilities and to be proactive in collaborating with the school community.  I then agree that the instructional partner role should be next as this is when the Teacher Librarian works collegially with the school staff to develop engaging and meaningful programs. By working together, students can engage in lessons that extend their knowledge of content being taught in their classroom through the use of resources only found in the library and access 21st century skills. Students are then able to make connections between content being taught which would then spark motivation. As Herring (2007, p.27) states, “school libraries do not exist in a vacuum and should not be seen as in anyway separate from the school environment”. So by leaving this role in second place, it emphasises the point that it is integral that the Teacher Librarian and the teachers collaborate together, then the teaching can happen.

Resources

American Association of School Libraries (AASL), (2009). Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs. Chicago: American Library Association.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher Librarians and the School Library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp.27-42).

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. TechTrends (pp.27-37).

Purcell, M. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check Out BOOKS, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Connection (pp.30-34).

Valenzo, J. (2010). Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians. Retrieved 28th July 2014 from: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

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The Role of The Teacher Librarian – ETL 401 Topic 2

Whilst I am currently not in a Teacher Librarian role at present, this is a role I hope to one day fulfil. After reading and reflecting on the documents this week, and consulting with the current Teacher Librarian within my school, I became enlightened and very overwhelmed.

The ASLA Standards (Australian School Library Association) have listed the standards of professional excellence for Teacher Librarians within a broad framework of professional practice, professional knowledge and professional commitment. It is after reading the standards that fall under this umbrella, that you truly begin to appreciate and understand the complex and demanding role of a Teacher Librarian. The ASLA Standards describe the role as having two key components, a teacher and an information specialist. Librarians must evoke life-long learning, collaboratively work with colleagues, resource the curriculum, understand and collaborate with the school community, continually develop their knowledge of teaching and learning across the curriculum as well as their knowledge of information resources, technology and library management. If that is not enough; Teacher Librarians are also responsible for planning and budgeting the school resources.

The International Standards are very similar to our own National Standards. Teacher Librarians provide opportunities for students to inquire, think critically, draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, pursue personal and aesthetic growth, among many others. These skills are essential for students to learn as they will use them throughout their educational journey, “the school library provides information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge-based society. The school library equips students with life-long learning skills and develops the imagination, enabling them to live as responsible citizens” (International Association of School Libraries, March 28, 2006).

The SLASA Standards (School Library Association of South Australia) give an overview of our state standards. These standards divide the role of the Teacher Librarian into six categories; teaching and learning, leadership, curriculum involvement, management, literature promotion and services. These standards are also evident within the National and International standards.

After reviewing these standards it has provoked me to reflect on my own experiences within the school environment. I have found that teachers have a lack of appreciation for Teacher Librarians, and a common misconception among school staff is that Teacher Librarians are ‘just RFF (Relief from Face-to-Face) teachers’. This is obviously a terribly misguided view and the evidence that it is far from the truth is highlighted throughout the readings I have read this past week. “The school library functions as a vital instrument in the educational process, not as a separate entity isolated from the total school program but involved in the teaching and learning process” (International Association of School Libraries, 9 February, 2003). With the alarming concerns that with new budgets arising, the role of the Teacher Librarian will no longer be needed, it is clearly evident in these readings that this role is crucial to the school sector, as they are the glue that holds everything together.

Resources

Australian School Library Association – http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

American Association of School Librarians – http://www.ala.org

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

School Library Association of South Australia – http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html