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 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

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.

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