October 19

Back to the Future

This will be my last official post for 2019. I’ve finished everything! And I’m just waiting on the results for Assessment 2 in ETL504 Teacher Librarian as Leader, and ETL505 Describing and Analysing Education Resources.

This session has been a wild ride – I have really struggled to balance so many commitments. There was simply too much to do and it really impacted on my disposition toward uni, work and sport. This is something to consider for next year – if I do gain employment in Adelaide, I will be juggling commitments once more, and I need to be on top of it.

That said, I have just started volunteering in a library and I have really enjoyed the atmosphere. I can’t wait to do more!

Where will you be in five years time and how do you plan on getting there? What are some of the strategies you will put in place now to ensure a future career in school librarianship?

I think, based on my experiences this year, I would like to be working as a Library Officer or Assistant in a school or public library over the next five years, just to get more of a feel for the environment and daily operations. I don’t feel ready to be a Teacher Librarian (TL) yet. Besides, there are very few job opportunities here in South Australia, at this stage.

I will continue to volunteer this term, to get a strong grasp of library operations, and work really hard next year to finish my Masters with some good grades. Then, I guess I’ll see how I go from there.

 *   *   *

Congratulations on making it this far! Keep up the big effort!

October 7

ETL504 Assessment Item 2: Part B – Reflection

Post a reflective commentary on your blog outlining your understanding of leadership and leadership roles for the teacher librarian.

When I introduced myself to ETL504 (Murphy, 2019, July 21), I noted my desire to learn about leadership styles, and see how the teacher librarian (TL) fits into leadership. Looking back, I can see how much I have learnt about both of these elements.

Early in Module Two, I read Colvin’s piece on organisation theory (2000). This reading struck me as important, particularly the section about shared values.

… lots of people with aligned values constitute an awesome power.” (Colvin, 2000)

In my corresponding blog post (Murphy, 2019, July 24), I connected this reading to my work at Sundrop Farms. During the early stages of their operations, the management team were frequently reminding us about the company’s values, quoting them during toolbox meetings to inspire the crew. Although it was hard to instil the values in everyone, I felt a sense of unity among my co-workers as we wandered off each morning to start our days.

As I learnt about leadership styles, I discovered that shared values was a common theme. Developing a shared vision formed part of our strategy to tackle the disinterest amongst library staff in Case Study (CS) Three (Case Study Group 9, 2019, August 18). For CS Two, I recommended a review of the school vision in consultation with staff (Murphy, 2019, August 2). Again, in CS Four, my group aligned the library’s work to the school’s vision (Case Study Group 9, 2019, September 6).

Based on my experiences at Sundrop Farms, and in the group tasks, I can certainly see the value of a shared vision. In future, if I am employed in a library, this is something I would look to introduce early on, to give my staff and the library direction and purpose.

I was in CS Group Nine. My introductory comments in the forums (Murphy, 2019, July 21) held true – although I waited for other group members to make the first moves, I was ready to contribute my best work, and keep the CS cogs turning.

When blogging about CS Three (Murphy, 2019, August 27), I found it difficult to pinpoint a leadership style that came to the fore. However, when it came to CS Four, I realised that my perspective on leadership styles in a broader sense had limited my previous reflections (Murphy, 2019, September 13). I was then able to identify a number of transformational leadership qualities from both case studies, such as taking risks (Smith, 2016, p. 67) and showing concern for individuals (Moir, Hattie & Jansen, 2014, p. 36). I noted the absence of instructional leadership and Marika agreed, highlighting that “no-one is really able to trailblaze and lead the instruction from a place of relative expertise” (Marika, 2019).

Although the CS scenarios were hard to relate to without practical library experience, I found it useful to examine concepts within them, ready to apply in future. As a TL leading from the middle, effective communication between upper and lower organisational levels is critical (Farrell, 2014, p. 693). As such, communication was a concept used to address poor relationships and team culture in CS Three (Case Study Group 9, 2019, August 18). I saw this played out within our group, identifying the link between communication and improved work quality in CS Four (Murphy, 2019, September 13).


Colvin, G. (2000). Managing in the info era. Fortune, 141(5). Retrieved from https://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2000/03/06/275231/index.htm?iid=sr-link1

Farrell, M. (2014). Leading from the middle. Journal of Library Administration, 54(8), 691-699. doi:10.1080/01930826.2014.965099

Marika. (2019, September 14). Re: Case study four [Blog comment]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/danielm/2019/09/13/case-study-four/

Moir, S., Hattie, J., & Jansen, C. (2014). Teacher perspectives of ‘effective’ leadership in schools. Australian Educational Leader, 36(4), 36-40. Retrieved from http://www.minnisjournals.com.au/acel/

Smith, B.S. (2016). The role of leadership in creating a great school. SELU Research Review Journal, 1(1), 65-78. Retrieved from https://selu.usask.ca/documents/research-and-publications/srrj/SRRJ-1-1-Smith.pdf

September 23

Case Study Five

The theme for Case Study 5 was an increase in funding for the library and a resulting fallout between the Director and other department heads. Again, this case seemed somewhat narrower than the previous one.

In the end, I chose to focus on something practical to address the under-utilisation of library staff and physical and digital library resources – implementation of a Library Assistants program. My group members researched library resource promotion, growing the reputation of the library through collaboration with teachers, and steps taken to repair the relationship breakdown between department heads. We also included a brief discussion about shifting leadership style from transactional to transformational to avoid future relationship breakdowns.

At this stage of the course, I felt the least motivation to apply myself during this case study. With the major assignment looming, and another topic to tackle, as well as work and sporting commitments, I was not as eager to dive into the scenario. I am feeling very tired!

Can you identify a leadership style/styles that came to the fore?

Once again, I noticed elements of transformational leadership and servant leadership come to the fore. For example, positive and encouraging comments were left at the bottom of each wiki page, and when things went awry at one point, people showed a lot of understanding and simply got on with the task.

How do you feel you were able to participate (or not)? What did you find easy/difficult in participating in this way?

During Case Study 3 and Case Study 4, my group followed exactly the same structure, and this proved to be very effective. This time, though, two things changed, both of which affected my participation and the ease with which the case study process happened.

Firstly, one group member was busy during the second week of the process, so chose to move ahead and try to get her contribution finished well before the deadline. Great! Of course, planning to your own schedule is important, and getting in early made the rest of the group get stuck in as well. However, I was a little late to the party – by the time I checked the wikis, so much work had been done by others that all I had to do was reflect briefly on the case and choose an issue to research that somebody else had listed. I just felt as though I hadn’t contributed to the brainstorming phase.

The second happening that impacted on the case study was the change in process. Usually, we would follow this structure:

  1. Set a schedule.
  2. Brainstorm superficial and deeper issues.
  3. Draft individual responses.
  4. Post individual responses, edit, and streamline to create one logical response.

As soon as we strayed from this workflow, it became confusing. I was unsure which wiki we were working on at certain times. Fortunately, as we moved through the process, the group realised what was happening and fixed the problem. I suppose this highlights the importance of a clear operational plan!

September 13

Case Study Four

The theme for Case Study 4 was a tightening budget. It was now expected that the library budget be justified against educational outcomes, after being based on tradition and previous allocations for many years. On first inspection, I found the case to be somewhat narrower than Case Study 3. I was glad that each member of our group was able to identify something to research.

I chose to focus my research on evidence-based practice. My group members researched outcomes relating to digital learning, linking the budget more closely to curriculum and student learning, library promotion, and school vision.

Can you identify a leadership style/styles that came to the fore?

I’ve been reflecting upon my previous Case Study wrap and I’m wondering if my perspective on Leadership styles in a broader sense limited my answer to this question. I claimed that it was difficult to identify a particular leadership style based on only a few interactions … I said this because in my head, I was thinking: okay, a transformational leader has a future focus and they’re going to draw up a strategic vision for the school with key stakeholder involvement and build a team that is committed to achieving the goals of the school. Oh, and an instructional leader also has a long range focus and includes other people in decision making and they are going to visit classes to help teachers develop their practice. So, how could any of this possibly be evident in case study groups?

Now that I think about it again, it is possible to identify traits or characteristics of different leadership styles within the case study group, and now that we’ve completed our second round, this should be even easier!

During the production of Case Study 3 and 4, I saw a number of transformational leadership qualities. For example, taking risks (Smith, 2016, p. 67) – some people were unsure as to whether they were writing something that made sense, or that answered the question, but they still posted their work. In the wiki comments and emails, I often saw concern for individuals (Moir, Hattie & Jansen, 2014, p. 36). When group members commented on how they were super busy, or sick, for example, replies were full of understanding, concern and well wishes toward that group member. Also, by setting up a shared work schedule, we were effectively setting a group goal, to which we all committed (Smith, 2016, p. 67).

I think the main elements of instructional leadership are yet to come to the fore because it would be strange in this small, short group situation to give extended and instructional feedback about our research and writing.

How do you feel you were able to participate (or not)?

This case study was completely different to the last one. Although, I still felt positive about the interaction of the group members and my participation. This time, though, we were under a little more pressure because we had a tighter deadline.

When I clicked onto the Group 9 page early on I noticed that it was a little quiet. I decided that I’d do a bit of research while I had some spare time and create our first wiki page, the overview of superficial and deeper issues. I managed to find a few references relevant to the case but when I’d finished, I was worried that there wasn’t enough within the case for each person to be able to contribute successfully. I suppose this highlights the strength of working in teams. Once everyone else joined in, there were plenty of avenues of research to consider, and everyone brought different perspectives that I didn’t consider when I added my first bit of work.

What did you find easy/difficult in participating in this way (which will be new for some, if not many, of you)?

I still found communication to be difficult, jumping around between the wiki, the discussion board and email.

I found actual communication itself to be a little easier, now that the group is becoming more comfortable working together and there is a strong atmosphere of teamwork and commitment.


Moir, S., Hattie, J., & Jansen, C. (2014). Teacher perspectives of ‘effective’ leadership in schools. Australian Educational Leader, 36(4), 36-40. Retrieved from http://www.minnisjournals.com.au/acel/

Smith, B.S. (2016). The role of leadership in creating a great school. SELU Research Review Journal, 1(1), 65-78. Retrieved from https://selu.usask.ca/documents/research-and-publications/srrj/SRRJ-1-1-Smith.pdf

September 3

21st Century Learning

What is different about learning in the 21st century? Think about what has changed. Do we actually learn differently?

Clearly, technology has had a significant impact on the tools available for learning in the 21st century compared to the 20th. I have a long list of tech-based tools on my chart, and this is only what I gleaned from my readings. You could spend all day filling the chart with 21st century tools!

Technology has also impacted the locations of learning – now, we have virtual and physical spaces, and we learn within the context of global connectivity, not just the four walls of our physical classrooms.

Educational delivery and pedagogy has changed a lot, and it will continue to change. It’s always changing … try to keep up.

And of course, there are a lot of new terms that go with the new territory.

To answer the question above, about learning differently, I reflect upon my own experiences as a child growing up in the 90s. We had to learn how to connect what we learnt to the real world. We had to collaborate with other students, and be creative. We were involved in problem-based learning. We were taught how to find information using library systems. In fact, much of what we learnt is highlighted in the literature as 21st century skills, yet we were learning them in the 20th century.

I suppose what really has changed is the potential for technology to transform learning – we didn’t even have the internet at home until I was in my later primary years, and Web 2.0 wasn’t around until high school. These days, there also seems to be a greater emphasis placed on knowing how to learn, not just learning things.

Do we learn differently? Well, we do have a more complex universe to contend with, which requires more skills and attitudes. I think the process of learning is the same, as in, how kids actually begin to know stuff and the brain builds upon its connections. We just learn with different tools and teachers deliver the curriculum in new ways.

My Comparative Chart

Before 2000

2000 and Beyond


Blackberry, The Internet, Mobile phone, PDAs, Newspapers, Books, Catalogues, Digital cameras, Video cameras, Pen and paper


Twitter, Skype, Facebook, YouTube, Google, Virtual Reality, 3D Printer, Moodle, FreshGrade, Kidblog, iPads, eBooks, Prezi, Blogs

Locations for Learning:

Traditional classroom

Locations for Learning:

Global classroom, Virtual classrooms, Makerspaces

Educational Delivery:

‘Sage on the stage’

Educational Delivery:

Learner-driven, Learner-centred, PBL, Authentic learning, Place-based learning, Outcomes-based education, ‘Guide on the side’, Blended learning, 1:1 approach to teaching and learning


Rote learning


Synergise content and skills, Constructivist, Competency, challenge and problem-based learning, Trial and error, Experiential learning, Informed learning, Inquiry learning


20th Century Learning

Traditional Literacy

Resource-based Economy


Digital Literacy, Information Literacy, Teacherpreneurs, Information Age, Media Literacy, Technology Literacy, Data-rich, Artificial Intelligence, Entrepreneur, The Internet of Things, 21st Century Learning, Coding, BYOD – Bring Your Own Device, Digital Fluency, Information Landscape, Digital Natives, Knowledge Economy, Learning Analytics

September 2

A 21st Century School Library

What might a 21st century library look like and is the building or the space more important than what is happening in that space? Think about your library, its physical and virtual spaces and what is happening there. How could you effect change and what strategies would you use?

In the 21st century, new names have been coined for school libraries to reflect their changing nature, for example, the Learning Commons (Holland, 2014) or iCentre (Hough, 2011, p.5). Students have access to resources, including helpful staff members, and tools to access those resources, which may include digital tools. Students are provided with opportunities to create and tinker, for example, within a Makerspace (Daley & Child, 2015, p.43). No longer is the library a place for books and silence (Thomas, 2016).

I feel that the physical building or space of a 21st century library is just as important as what is happening within the space. If students are to use the library effectively, building 21st century skills and achieving learning outcomes, the physical space must be inviting and encourage 21st century ways of working. If the space is not inviting, then what is meant to happen, won’t happen.

My school library is fairly dark, with a reasonably small selection of books provided on old grey bookshelves. There are five desktop computers set up in one corner, and another four in another corner. It is well and truly stuck in the 20th century. There are pockets of 21st century potential, for example, a Smart TV is connected to a laptop in the middle of the room, but this is rarely used for student learning. Professional development for teachers does occur in this space. As far as I know, there is no virtual library space.

I don’t work in the library, so my capacity to create change is very limited. If I did work in the library, small, bite-sized chunks of change might be best, and it would be important to show how the changes are positively effecting student outcomes. I would consider creating a Makerspace, as this would coincide with the focus on oral language development at the school. Many of the students are very ‘hands on’ learners. To make it bite-sized, I would need to run it one day each week, during a certain time. Maybe even at lunch time!

Other larger-scale changes require additional funding. Perhaps I could introduce dedicated iPad cushions to encourage students to bring their personal devices into the library for learning. Or budget for additional 21st century flexible furnishings.


Daley, M., & Child, J. (2015). Makerspaces in the school library environment. Access, 29(1), 42-49. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access.aspx

Holland, B. (2014, January 14). 21st century libraries: The learning commons [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/21st-century-libraries-learning-commons-beth-holland

Hough, M. (2011). Libraries as iCentres: Helping schools. Access, 25(1), 5-9. Retrieved from https://asla.org.au/access

Thomas, L. (2016, April 5).  The dangerous myth about libraries. TedX Talks [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdQwrhxw8LM

August 27

Case Study Three

I have been working in Case Study Group 9. My group consists of myself, Marika Simon, Ann Conte, Donna Thurling and Deborah Nicklin.

For Case Study 3, we kick-started the process by considering the scenario and noting down our thoughts on the superficial and deeper issues we found. Then, we each selected one of the deeper issues to research. I chose Conflict Resolution. My group members researched Shared Vision / School Direction, Collaboration and Communication, Relationships and School Culture, and Change.

Can you identify a leadership style/styles that came to the fore?

It is difficult to identify a particular leadership style based on the few interactions of Case Study 3. However, I did notice that certain members were more outspoken than others, leading the way in terms of working on the case.

How do you feel you were able to participate (or not)?

I feel positive about the group experience during Case Study 3. I had ample opportunity to participate, and this was aided by a set work schedule drafted by Marika. We had deadlines to work to and this meant that we had a chance to contribute our ideas before anybody moved on to the next stage. Although I was one of the last to contribute to the initial stage – jotting down thoughts on the superficial and deeper issues – I was still able to offer some of my own ideas.

What did you find easy/difficult in participating in this way (which will be new for some, if not many, of you)?

Communication was perhaps the most difficult element of the process. This wasn’t because my group members were poor communicators. It was simply due to the fact that I was unable to receive notifications to show when somebody had made a change to the wiki, or posted to the discussion board. Often, conversations were occurring in more than one place – the comments section of the wiki, the editable wiki itself, the different wikis, and the discussion board.

I suppose this highlights the importance of effective communication. There needs to be a clear chain of communication, so that threads can be followed and all stakeholders are party to information that they need.

August 9

Conflict Resolution

I completed the Conflict Resolution Questionnaire. These were my scores:

  • Yielding – 18/20
  • Compromising 13/20
  • Forcing 11/20
  • Problem Solving 16/20
  • Avoiding 13/20

What is your approach to managing conflict?

According to my results, I often yield to the other parties’ solutions in order to deflate conflict. However, I am able to consider many possible solutions to a problem which I will bring to my conflict resolution situation.

Does this match to how you think of yourself?

Yes. I consider myself a gentle, non-forceful soul with lots of imagination!

What areas do you think you need to develop?

I know that I need to work on my assertiveness in certain situations. Perhaps I don’t do enough to secure my own interests, but I don’t like forcing. I need to work on less aggressive strategies to make sure my own interests are on the table. And, I do a lot of avoiding, which can leave issues unaddressed for too long.

August 6

Leadership Approaches to Reduce Stress

Identify leadership approaches that would help mitigate stress in the workplace. Transfer this to the library context to identify strategies that the teacher librarian could implement that would be supportive and educationally relevant to classroom teachers.

On first inspection of the readings in Module 2, Servant Leadership stands out as the most obvious approach to help mitigate stress in the workplace. Servant leaders listen, show empathy and attempt to heal (Agile at Barclaycard, 2016). When staff members are stressed, a leader who listens to their problems, tries to understand the problem and offers solutions to fix the problem, will go a long way in reducing the stress of that staff member.

Last year, after a particularly stressful day, I can remember calling my line manager to let her know how I was feeling. She came into my classroom, listened to me, showed empathy, and worked out how to make things easier for the next day of school. It was a perfect example of being a servant leader and I won’t forget how she helped me that day.

There are other approaches to leadership that will have a positive influence on stress in the workplace. Both Inspirational and Transformational leaders show respect and care towards their staff (Smith, 2016, p. 67) and make staff well-being a priority (p. 69).

So, what strategies could the TL implement to support classroom teachers?

  • Check in on the classroom teacher to see how they are on a regular basis.
  • Talk together about stress (The Guardian, 2013).
  • Identify stressors and come up with solutions to reduce stress (The Guardian, 2013).
  • Where or if possible, share the workload.
  • Plan together. Teach together.


Agile at Barclaycard. (2016, October 14). What is servant leadership? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKk0AaaFqtU

The Guardian. (2013, November 6). 10 ideas to help teachers beat stress. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/nov/06/teachers-beat-stress-10-ideas

Smith, B.S. (2016). The role of leadership style in creating a great school. SELU Research Review Journal, 1(1), 65-78. Retrieved from https://selu.usask.ca/documents/research-and-publications/srrj/SRRJ-1-1-Smith.pdf

July 27

The School Organisation and its Place

What sort of organisation is your school?

I teach science at Willsden Primary School one day each fortnight, and as a TRT. The collaborative leadership team consists of the Principal, Deputy Principal, School Counsellor, Literacy and Numeracy Coordinator, Aboriginal Education Coordinator, and Finance Manager (Government of SA: Dept. of Education and Children’s Services, 2017, p. 6). Staff members, including teachers, SSO’s, and ACEO’s, are assigned a mentor and a line manager from within the leadership team. Formal communication generally occurs via email through a weekly bulletin, sent out by the Deputy Principal, and through weekly staff meetings.

Of Mintzberg’s five organisational structures (Kokemuller, 2017), I would say that my school has a Professional structure. I say this because staff, especially teachers, undertake a considerable amount of training, always developing and furthering their skills. In theory, this allows decentralised decision-making to take place amongst staff teams. It is more of a Professional organisation than a Machine because the leadership team are very open to new perspectives and ways of working.

What sort of organisation does the school sit within? How does this organisation and the decisions it makes affect staff at the school level?

The school sits within the South Australian Department for Education. The Department is, without a doubt, a Machine. Of course, it has elements of a Divisional structure – the Department is the central core and each school sits within a partnership or hub (Kokemuller, 2017). However, decisions made by them have a huge impact on staff at the school level. Currently, this is ongoing issue in South Australia, as evidenced by the recent teacher strike on Monday 1 July (ABC News, 2019).

*   *   *

Having read through a couple of posts on the ETL504 Discussion Forum, I can see that school structures are many and varied, as are the systems in which they exist. I’ve been in the Port Augusta bubble for seven years, and most of the schools in town operate in the same ways, launching the same programs and innovations at the same time.

So, how can these understandings improve relationships in the workplace? I guess, knowing the hierarchical structure of the school and its place in the Education Department’s system is important. In particular, a strong relationship with my line manager and mentor has been very beneficial. With teachers coming together to campaign for better conditions, having strong relationships is more important than ever.


Government of SA: Dept. of Education and Children’s Services. (2017). Willsden Primary School Context Statement. Retrieved from https://willsdenps.sa.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/willsden-ps-context-statement-2017.pdf

Kokemuller, N. (2017). Mintzberg’s five types of organizational structure. In Hearst Newspapers: Small business. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/mintzbergs-five-types-organizational-structure-60119.html

SA public school teachers vote to go on strike for better pay and conditions. (2019, June 25). ABC News. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-25/public-school-teachers-vote-to-go-on-strike-in-sa/11246306