Assignment 2 – Part B: Reflective critical analysis.
My view of the leadership role of the teacher librarian (TL) has changed dramatically since beginning my studies in ETL504. In my blog for Assignment 1 my view of the leadership role was mostly confined to the TL being a collaborator (Walter & Weisberg, 2011) and supporting the teaching staff to fulfil their roles within the classroom. Whilst I still feel this is a very important role and is crucial to the success of the TL particularly in term of establishing their credibility with other staff members (Haycock, 2007), and of great benefit to students (Lamb, 2011), I have advanced to see the TL as a leader in their own right, as opposed to a support person. As Combes (2006) points out, one of the major challenges for TLs of the 21st century is to establish themselves as leaders.
The leadership role of the TL encompasses many different areas. Asserting themselves as a proactive member of staff who requires their share of the school budget (Walter & Weisberg, 2011) is an area that cannot be overlooked. Of course in order for any school library to operate smoothly, its leader must understand and be competent in the day to day operation of the school library (Lamb, 2011), from the simplest tasks to the most complex. TLs also need to play a leadership role in promoting their library to the outside school community (Walter &Weisberg, 2011). Establishing themselves as the “go to” person in matters of curriculum change and development (O’Connell, 2011) and providing access to relevant information (Lamb, 2011) is a role where the TL can quickly gain credibility and support from the teaching staff. Perhaps the most multi-level role in my view is that of the TL as a curriculum expert who is up to date with latest technology (O’Connell, 2011). With the Australian Curriculum constantly evolving and changing (ACARA, 2013) this is a role that will require an innovative leader who is dedicated to promoting the vision of the library’s programs ( Lamb, 2011). Ongoing staff professional development will always be an important part of the TL’s role (Walter & Weisberg, 2011), to lead staff through the educational and technological changes of the 21st century.
Suitable leadership styles for a TL to adopt are many and varied. These include authentic and transparent leadership styles that encourages openness in sharing information to make crucial decisions, ethical leadership that models appropriate conduct to followers (Combes, 2006) and transformational leadership styles that “transform” follower’s behaviour to achieve the common goals of the organisation (Avolio et al, 2009). However regardless of the leadership style of the TL, earning the trust of your staff or team (Browning, 2007) is one of the most important factors that has stood out to me. In order for any major change within an organisation to be successful, staff must believe that their leader has their best interests at heart. This will ensure they can then make a smooth transition from the “known’ into the “unknown”.
I dare to dream that if the day should come that I am fortunate enough to be in charge of my own library that I will become known as a “transformational leader” who motivates and empowers their staff (Avolio et al, 2009). My goal is to establish a library that is the central hub of the school (Combes, 2006) and a learning centre that will encourage and create digital citizens (O’Connell, 2012) of the 21st century who become lifelong learners.
Avolio, B.J., Walumbwa, F. O., & Weber, T.J., (2009). Leadership: Current Theories, Research, and Future Directions. Published in Annual Review of Psychology 60, pp. 421-449; doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163621. from http://psych.annualreviews.org
Combes, B. (2006) Challenges for teacher librarianship in the 21st century: Part 3 – Status and role. Paper presented at the Libraries linking learning and literacies conference, South Africa, 8-11 August 2006.
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends:Linking research & practice to improve learning, 55(4), 27-36.
O’Connell, J. (2011). Learning without frontiers. Access, 26(1), 4-7. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access/access-commentaries/school-libraries-and-meta-literacy.aspx
The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2013). Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/
Walter, V. & Weisberg, H. (2011) Being indispensable: A school librarian’s guide to becoming an invaluable leader. ALA Editions:Chicago