ELT401 – Assignment 2
Part B: Critical reflection
To say my understanding of the role of a Teacher Librarian (TL) has changed since beginning this subject would be an understatement. Viewing the TL from afar, as a classroom teacher, my understanding of their job was that their main job responsibility was to check out books, (Purcell, (2010). My studies to date have not only opened my eyes to this, but a plethora of new terminology, terms such as “Guided Inquiry” (GI); previously the only context I had heard GI used in was related to food!
The first revelation for me began in the first learning module, upon reading the twelve “Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians” published by the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). (2004). There was no mention of “checking out books” here, instead the following comprehensive list:
– Lifelong learning
– Information literacy
– Curriculum and pedagogy
– Assessment management
– The learning environment
– Lifelong Learning
– Teaching programs.
Subsequent study modules went on to expand on these areas. I will attempt to condense the wealth of information I have discovered regarding the key elements of the TL’s role as that of:
-Curriculum designer and collaborator
-Information services manager and specialist
-Creator and publisher
One of the most important concepts I have learned so far, is that of Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) and her Guided Inquiry (GI). This model of ISP was developed over several decades of studying student’s thoughts, actions and feelings as they were involved in research projects, (Kuhlthau2004). It addresses three key areas of:
– Feelings (affective);
– Actions (physical).
If I could choose one area in which I would like to make a difference in a school, it would be by implementing this GI approach. Kuhlthau has reinforced to me the importance of collaboration and communication between the TL and the teaching staff, to ensure the success of this, or any new program. As she point out, “Teachers and TLs experienced in collaborative team teaching have a good basis for implementing this flexible team approach”, (Kuhlthau, 2010, p.21).
Another area that has stood out to me is the importance of gaining the principals support. Principals are the key figure in charge of programming and budgeting within a school. (Rosenfield, R. & Loertscher, D, 2007) advocate the three key ways to gain principal support are:
– Build profession credibility
– Communicate effectively
– Work to advance school goals
Subsequent readings have proven to me how central our role is to the good of the school and its students. Students who are exposed to a comprehensive library program benefit greatly and their achievements exceed those who have limited access to their school library, (Walter & Weisburg, 2007). One of our challenges is to demonstrate that it will be to the student’s detriment if they are deprived of what they learn in the school library under the directions of a skilled TL.
My studies so far, have to me, been similar to a long journey; at times fast and exciting; other times slow, with a few roadblocks. My learning journey continues each day, through the vast array of university study materials, information from the internet and with my volunteer work at a local school library and discussions with the TL. Like any new journey, it is exciting and daunting at the same time. Despite the late nights, tears and overindulgence in chocolate (and I suspect there’s much more it that to come), to sum up my journey so far, in the words of the late great Bob Marley, “Though the road’s been rocky, it sure feels good to me”.
Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians.
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century :
Kuhlthau, C., Caspari, A., & Maniotes, L. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.
Kuhlthau, C., Caspari, A., & Maniotes, L. (2012). Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.
Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st-Century Learners.
School Library Monthly. 26(5). 18.
Purcell M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.
Rosenfield, R. & Loertscher, D. (ed.) (2007). Towards a 21st-century school library media program. Scarecrow Press Inc. Lanham, Maryland.
Walter, Virginia A.; Weisburg, Hilda K. (2011) Being Indispensable: A School Librarian’s Guide to Becoming an Invaluable Leader. ALA Editions, Chicago.