March 9

Assessment Item 1: Online Reflective Journal Part B

Reflecting on your experiences as a teacher before you became interested in working in a school library, write about your understandings of the role of the TL in schools.

My teaching career began in the small Victorian town of Murrayville. If, travelling by car, you take the fastest route to Sydney from Adelaide, you’ll hit Murrayville twenty minutes after leaving South Australia. I grew up in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, so moving to a town with a population of less than 300 people (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018) and teaching my very first class was an eye-opening experience. I felt very isolated and homesick.

My unit in Murrayville.

My unit in Murrayville. (Source: Author)

As such, I cannot recall a great deal about the library, except that the librarian was a parent of one of the students in my class and she only worked part-time. My class would visit the library once a week. Students were allowed fifteen minutes to browse and the librarian scanned barcodes at the front desk. She would also advise students on appropriate book selection and help me put together a pile of non-fiction books relevant to our classroom theme.

I understand this to be a more traditional part of a TL’s role – assisting students to find the right book, modelling the use of the library’s digital loan and search systems and supporting classroom teachers with the selection and acquisition of non-fiction resources.

In July, after six months in Murrayville, I moved back to South Australia and began relief teaching in Port Augusta. There are six primary schools in town, as well as the Port Augusta Special School, Port Augusta Secondary School, two private schools and an area school about 40 minutes away.

Port Augusta from the Water Tower

The view of Port Augusta from the top of the Water Tower, an iconic town landmark. (Source: Author)

As I gradually visited each of the primary schools in town, the value placed upon their libraries quickly became obvious. Generally, libraries were tucked away. Unlike the Murrayville Community College library, and the library at Burra Community School (where I completed my fourth year practicum), the libraries were not busy research and discovery hubs. More often, they were a mess, uninviting and soulless.

Perhaps this is where my desire to become a TL began. When I walked into those libraries for the first time, I wanted to open the curtains and put in new furniture and stick big posters up on the wall and make exciting displays!

For the sake of this blog post, I’ll focus on the library at Willsden Primary School. It was at this school that I took on three different contracts and got to know the librarian. Again, she was a parent of two of my students. When I asked her about being a librarian, she told me she had no qualifications. She simply worked in the library as an SSO and gradually learnt information management skills along the way.

During my time at the school, the library’s collection underwent a major transformation. This is the second distinguishable part of a TL’s role – managing the school library collection. When the principal realised that parts of the collection were quite dated, and in some cases totally useless, a committee began sifting through, choosing which parts to keep and which parts to throw out. The collection was completely updated and reorganised to suit the needs of the school.

I do feel that my understanding of Teacher Librarianship is somewhat limited by my experiences. Beyond the facets of the role mentioned above, I think that TLs manage the physical library space, teach students to be library, ICT and information literate, manage Book Week celebrations and/or events and keep themselves and other staff up-to-date with the publishing industry, technology, current teaching pedagogies and the curriculum.

Reference

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2018). 2016 Census QuickStats: Murrayville. Retrieved from http://quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/SSC21833

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Posted March 9, 2019 by murphda75 in category ETL401 Intro to Teacher Librarianship

2 thoughts on “Assessment Item 1: Online Reflective Journal Part B

  1. alana.wheeler1

    Hi Daniel,
    I too have had an experience in a small school (on a casual day) where there was no TL, instead the CRT took the students to the Library. I saw chaos. It was so disheartening as only three of the thirty students borrowed and most of the other students were playing board games. Reflecting back, I wonder if this was a reflection on the CRT not valuing the Library as a space and therefore the students didn’t either or if it was because the CRT was simply way out of her depth. There seems to be so much more to being a TL than I first thought, which is okay, I am looking forward to learning it all.
    All the very best with your studies!
    Alana 🙂

    Reply
  2. Judy O'Connell

    I found your reflection post to be a really interesting read because of the personal touch of the professional journey you have been on. What an experience, and how tough it would have been for you when you were homesick and managing your teaching. Like many others you have not seen super libraries in action, but your study will turn you into a different kind of TL – I know that! Even so, you have already touched on so many of the important areas of the TL role. I hope you enjoy your study. Nice blog, good use of images, categories, and creative commons. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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