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!

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