March 22

Knowledge of Australian Indigenous Literature

To what degree does your knowledge of indigenous literature enable you to support your teachers in implementing the essential knowledge, understandings and skills for this priority area?

After living in Port Augusta for six and a half years, where approximately fifty percent of the population identify as Aboriginal, I have an interest in Aboriginal culture, including literature. When I reflect upon my experiences in different classrooms, however, I can’t remember seeing a lot of examples of Indigenous literature being readily accessible to the students.

Despite my interest, my own knowledge of Indigenous literature is fairly basic, so I will need to do some research in this area to support my teachers.

This is what I do know:

We have a Series Box in our library filled with Aboriginal Dreamtime books. These books can help teachers to address OI.2, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities maintain a special connection to and responsibility for Country/Place, and OI.3, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have holistic belief systems and are spiritually and intellectually connected to the land, sea, sky and waterways (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2010 to present). They highlight the spiritual connection Aboriginal people have with their environment.

We also have a number of recent Indigenous titles, such as Coming Home to Country by Bronwyn Bancroft, and Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy, which address, in particular, OI.6, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples live in Australia as first peoples of Country or Place and demonstrate resilience in responding to historic and contemporary impacts of colonisation, and OI.9, the significant contributions of Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the present and past are acknowledged locally, nationally and globally, as well as the Organising Ideas mentioned above (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2010 to present).

Bibliography

Bancroft, B. (2020). Coming home to country. Richmond, Victoria: Little Hare Books

Murphy, J. & Kennedy, L. (2016). Welcome to country. Australia: Walker Books Australia

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2010 to present). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. In Australian curriculum: F-10 curriculum. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/cross-curriculum-priorities/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-histories-and-cultures/

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