Prior to undertaking ETL401 I was of the opinion, as would many educators I believe, that the role of the teacher librarian (TL) was primarily related to collection development in resourcing the curriculum and providing recreational reading materials. I also believed the TL’s other primary role was in helping students with referencing and warning of the evils of plagiarism. Shortly after enrolling, in order to prepare for the unit, I examined the NSW DET Library – Policy. It sounded much more complex and I was a little bewildered about how I would fulfil the role description at Context 3.1 ‘Teacher-librarians collaborate with teachers in the planning, implementing and evaluating of teaching and learning programs, including the integration of Information Communications Technology and literacy’(DET NSW 2005). How did TLs go about this and in what context?
It soon became apparent that this was a common theme in TL role statements when Module 2 got underway and we studied the roles of the TL. These role statements reinforced the teaching role of TLs in teaching information literacy in collaboration with classroom teachers. Although I wrote about this in my initial blog, I was still unsure at that stage how exactly I could successfully implement this (ALIA/ASLA 2009 ; ASLA 2004). In addition, the role statements seemed never ending and I was unsure how one person would be able to meet all those expectations. I was able to appreciate, however, that TLs were expected to be information specialists and I was able to talk about that role in my initial blog entry. That was a role I was familiar with due to past experiences with TLs helping me both as a student at school and later as a teacher. (Purcell 2010).
It was when we began delving into Module 4 that the collaborative teaching role became clear to me: through the implementation of information literacy models (Eisenberg 2008 ; Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari 2007). It explained much, but still seemed to me like a daunting task with many possible barriers. In addition, I had never heard of, or seen one in operation. I could clearly see, however, the educational benefits of this approach. Furthermore it tied in nicely with my socio-constructivist educational philosophy and I was pleased to be able to base one of my blog topics on constructivist learning (Gordon 2010).
It was also apparent how much the teacher librarian role has changed, and will continue to develop, since the event of the information age (ALIA/ASLA 2009 ; Coombes & Valli 2007). As educators, we are tasked with preparing today’s students for living, learning and working in this rapidly changing digital landscape. The focus has now shifted to teaching students critical thinking and problem solving skills (Hay & Todd 2010 ; Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari 2012) Again, I have learned, in the course of this unit, that this too can best be achieved by collaboratively teaching using information literacy models (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari 2007).
Evidence-based practice was another important aspect of the role of a teacher librarian that I had never considered before undertaking this course. As teachers we are advised to plan to include self-reflection as an important part of students learning to increase metacognition (ACARA 2013). Our readings have shown that it is equally important that we, as educators, are also reflective practitioners to help improve our teaching and learning programs and practices (Purcell 2010 ; Todd & Hay 2010). By undertaking evidence-based practice we can also make our contribution to student learning more visible and raise our profile in our schools (Todd & Hay 2010 ; Oberg 2006). Yet again, IL models come to the rescue to help with evidence-based practice. A most helpful tool has been developed by Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinström using the Student Learning Through Inquiry Measure (SLIM) toolkit which has been developed to be implemented within a Guided Inquiry design framework (2007).
While I admit I am still a little overwhelmed by the multifaceted an constantly changing role of the teacher librarian (Herring 2007), I also feel a sense of excitement by all the possibilities and my look forward to my journey as a Teacher Librarian. In the course of this unit I have been well armed with ample information, advice, guidelines and scaffolds from this unit to help me to address many of my roles as a teacher librarian. This has empowered me and increased my confidence as I now know how I can make a vital contribution to my school and how I can prove that I do.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2013). Reflecting on thinking and processes. Sydney. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/critical-and-creative-thinking/organising-elements/reflecting-on-thinking-and-processes
Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2009). Retrieved from: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/teacher-librarian-qualifications.aspx
Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Australian School Library Association. Retrieved from: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Combes, B. & Valli, R. (2007). Fiction and the 21st century: A new paradigm. Cyberspace, D-world, E-learning: Giving libraries and schools the cutting edge. The 2007 IASL Conference and Research Forum, Taiwan.
Gordon, C A 2010, ‘The culture of inquiry in school libraries,’ School Libraries Worldwide, vol. 16, no. 1, pp.73–88.
Hay, L., & Todd, R. (2010). School libraries 21C: The conversation begins. Scan, 29(1), 30-42.
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). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
NSW DEC,. (2005). Library Policy – Schools. Department of Education and Communities NSW. Retrieved from: https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/curriculum/schools/libraries/PD20050221.shtml?query=Library+policy
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.
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(3), 30-33
Todd, R.J., Kuhlthau, C.C. & Heinström, J.E. (2005), SLIM: a toolkit and handbook for tracking and assessing student learning outcomes of Guided Inquiry through the school library. Centre for International Scholarship in School Libraries at Rutgers University. Retrieved from: http://cissl.rutgers.edu/images/stories/docs/slimtoolkit.pdf