May 4

Definitions of Literacy

Does literacy mean competency or good at something? Has the term literacy become watered down? Or does it add another dimension of meaning and complexity when it is included in the term?

The traditional ‘literacy’ definition includes elements of reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and understanding.

When you say that someone is not literate, or illiterate, in a specific area, it means they don’t have the skills, knowledge or understandings set out by the criteria of a literate person within that area. However, there are varying levels of competency – you can place any learner somewhere on a learning continuum. Even the best writer, for example, can still improve in some way, yet you would still say they are a competent writer, or that they are good at writing.

So, yes, including the term ‘literacy’ must add another dimension of meaning and complexity.

Write a definition of literacy.

Knowledge, skills and understandings about a topic’s context and applications.

April 29

Possibilities for Collaboration

What possibilities arise for collaboration between teachers and the teacher librarian?

In what ways could you begin to develop collaboration with teachers in your school?

Gibson-Langford (2008, p. 34) sets out a table outlining the guiding principles for building collaborative relationships.

Knowledge Creation – Knowledge is created:

  • when teachers learn together
  • when teachers are involved in critical dialogue
  • when teachers further their study
  • when teachers are appreciated
  • when teachers’ moral purpose is strong
  • through serious play and through reflective practice

Knowledge Sharing – Teachers/Teachers’:

  • prefer to share their knowledge in a social context
  • share their knowledge with reflective/critical friends
  • share their knowledge when feedback is frequent and critical
  • need time to share their knowledge
  • credibility influences how they share their knowledge
  • prefer informal structures when sharing their knowledge
  • reflective practice enables knowledge sharing

Knowledge Use

  • Teachers commit to new ideas that demonstrate relative and economic advantage
  • Level of abstraction is important to the adoption of new ideas
  • Teachers adopt new ideas through trialling
  • Observing new ideas in action influences how teachers’ use knowledge
  • Teachers use new ideas that are deemed effective

This set of guiding principles can be used to develop a variety of ways for teacher librarians to collaborate with teachers. For example, since teachers need time to share their knowledge in an informal setting, a period of time could be set aside each week/fortnight/month for teachers to sit down with the teacher librarian to share and learn together over a hot beverage, or a cold beverage in summer. This could be part of staff meetings, or during NIT lessons, or using ICT. Social media groups, emails or discussion boards could be used as time-efficient informal discussion spaces, giving staff the opportunity to collaborate outside of school hours. Due to the influence of a teacher’s perceived credibility or authority, it might be a good idea to divide into smaller, less threatening groups, or work one-on-one.

Since relative and economic advantage is an important factor in whether teachers adopt a new idea (Gibson-Langford, 2008, p. 35), a teacher librarian might be able to advertise their skills or knowledge to show teachers that collaborating with them can be of great benefit to them. This could take a digital form, for example, a section on the school library website. Teachers must be able to see that collaboration will be of benefit at its end point, so any collaborative practice should be well planned.


Gibson-Langford, L. (2008). Collaboration: Force or forced, part 2. Scan, 27(1), 31-37. Retrieved from;dn=166077;res=AEIPT