ETL401 – Part B Critical Reflection

How my view of the teacher librarian has changed during the subject

During this semester I undertook 3 subjects. You may be asking why this is relevant to a summary of this subject alone. For me the learning done in this semester of study has crossed between subjects. Research for one has lead to ideas in another and vice versa and all have affected my view of the teacher librarian role. Although I think very little has changed of my overview of the role certain aspects have become clearer. Originally on my blog (Petterson, 2016) I defined a TL’s role as information service mangers, a creative force and a learner and leader. These are all still correct and accurate definitions of a TL but through research done for the assignments and my own readings of discussion forum posts and posting myself this knowledge has only increased.

I now see the role of a teacher librarian as much more complex. In my assignment I defined the role of a TL as an acronym (TRAILS) teacher, researcher, advocate, information specialist, librarian and supporter each heading having its own long list of roles and responsibilities. Academics and organisations (ASLA, 2004b;  ALIA,2004; ALIA & ASLA, 2014) produce enormous amounts of information and lists for us to follow, however, I still believe that the role of a TL should be defined by the needs of the school in which they work.

One thing I was not surprised by but rather reminded of is the role of a TL within inquiry learning. Somewhere along the way of my career inquiry learning became something I saw as nearly unachievable. Working in the UK and as a casual mostly I saw very little evidence of best practice and inquiry learning skills being taught in classrooms. This course has encouraged me to use inquiry learning more and to become an advocate for its implementation (ASLA, 2014a). The benefits of teaching students 21st century skills far out weigh the hard work required to begin this journey. (Braxton, 2016)

Another thought that has been struck home is the importance of working with the teachers in our school even if it is one by one. I was fortunate enough to before moving to Dubai work in a school with an amazing librarian. She actively sought out staff and educated them on her role in the school. Which could only be done through the support of our principal. She was given enough room to be independent while also working collaboratively with staff to give students the best tools and information she could. We need to be advocates for our jobs and remind teachers why we are a vital part of the school community.

Finally, although not explicitly taught in this subject I have realized how alone the role of teacher librarian can be. Studying online is a new and confusing concept for me and keeping up with the different means of communication has been challenging especially with the added challenge of 3 subjects I set myself. However, from reading others comments and looking at others blogs we do not have to be alone. Teacher librarians are everywhere on the internet when you know where to look and who to ask for help and advice which is incredibly encouraging for a young aspiring librarian.

References

ASLA. (2014a). Advocacy: reason, responsibility and rhetoric. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/advocacy/school-library-advocacy.aspx

ASLA. (2004b). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Australian Library and Information Association [ALIA] & Australian School Library Association [ASLA]. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Australia Education Union [AEU], ALIA, ASLA. (2014). Joint statement on school libraries and teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/Joint-statement.aspx

Braxton, B. (2016). The presenter’s hat. Retrieved from http://500hats.edublogs.org/2016/08/14/the-presenters-hat/

Petterson, S. (2016, July 27). ETL401- Assessment 1 [blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/spetterson/category/etl401/

ETL401 – Assessment 1

Reflecting on your experiences as a teacher, write a 500-word piece about your understandings of the role of the teacher librarian in schools.

What do I think the role of a teacher librarian is?

                        Miracle Worker and Jack of all trades

In my experience teacher librarians have so many roles that vary slightly in each school and each circumstance that it is often hard to identify exactly what the role of a teacher librarian is because it covers such a large array of jobs that combine so many different aspects of the educational system.

Firstly, teacher librarians (TL) are information service managers. Australian professional standards clearly define TL’s as information specialists placed in schools to educate students about information literacies. They also educate teachers on how to best utilise resources available to the school both online and physical present (ASLA, 2014). As a result TL’s need to have a wide and varied knowledge of their resources and most importantly know where to find out information if they themselves do not know it immediately (Purcell, 2010).

Secondly, they are a creative force. Teacher librarians need to be constantly challenging themselves to find creative ways to encourage lifelong learning and a love of reading in children. They need to creatively link resources together for teachers and students. They need to be creative about the environment they provide for students to study, relax and work in. (McMeekin, 2013)

Thirdly, they are a learner and leader. TL’s need to be always learning about new technologies and resources in todays complex multimodal environment. Libraries are no longer just books they encompass the online environment and often include resources beyond books that students can borrow e.g. musical instruments, laptops, video cameras. They are leaders and teachers because we need to be teaching and sharing this information with our colleagues and encouraging them to do the same for their classroom environment. This can take the form of mentoring, running classes or just chatting to other staff and building professional relationships. (Lamb, 2011 & Valenza, 2010)

Finally I believe that teacher librarians need to be community outreach advocates. By this I mean that teacher librarians often have a unique ability to run after school clubs, to meet and share with parents and to build community partnerships. These can be beneficial for the students to learn outside the classroom and to encourage parents and community members to get involved in there local area. (Brown, 2010)

References

Australian School Library Association [ASLA]. (2014). What is a teacher librarian?. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/advocacy/what-is-a-teacher-librarian.aspx

Brown, J. (2010). Community outreach in school libraries. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/ilyhwqahpmzc/community-outreach-in-school-libraries/

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialists palette. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 55, 27-36. DOI: 10.1007/s11528-011-0509-3

McMeekin, M. (2013). 27 Things your teacher librarian does. Retrieved from https://anethicalisland.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/27-things-your-teacher-librarian-does/

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, 29, 30-33. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/detail/detail?sid=1494c574-6d79-4540-824d-947a33aec09e%40sessionmgr106&vid=0&hid=123&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=eric&AN=EJ907292

Valenza, J. (2010, December 3). A revised manifesto [blog post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

My initial thoughts on “What is a teacher librarians role?”

What teacher librarians do is a hard question to answer because they do so much. In the lead up to beginning my training as a teacher librarian I had to think about the role and whether it was something I would want to commit to. For most of my life I’ve been surrounded by teacher librarians as my mother took on the role while I was in primary school. I also know quite a few people now undertaking training in librarian roles. It seems all of a sudden everyone wants to be a teacher librarian.

So what do they do? What is there purpose in the school?

Well… for the record here is what I think now:

  1. to inspire
  2. to develop research skills
  3. to support teachers
  4. to develop resources within the school
  5. sometimes the technology guru
  6. literacy specialist

In coming weeks Im sure that my ideas will change and develop. These are just my initial thoughts thrown out into the cosmos and are still very vague. How do I go about doing all these things? How dod I develop these skills? How will they change over the years? I have a lot of questions and I look forward to investigating all these thoughts buzzing around in my head.