The impact of key issues of educational change is bigger than I first realised. Our national agenda aligns with the global agenda, and as UNESCO stipulates, education globally should empower people with knowledge, skills and values to live in dignity and contribute to their society (UNESCO, 2019). I think as a middle leader in my school, I am in such an important position to demonstrate what role I can play in teaching and learning to support 21st century learning and skills. However, up until I commenced ETL504, the idea of this intimidated me.
As we learned about leadership, I found myself identifying and assigning different leaders in my school with a leadership style, based on their attributes and traits. My principal, for example, is the epitome of a transformational leader. He has established a culture of respect and trust and he empowers and inspires us all through his vision of the school. I actually interviewed him about what kind of leader he thought he was, and what kind of leader he wanted me to be. This is the first time I felt brave enough to approach my principal about his expectations of my role in the school. He told me he is very happy I have created a ‘warm and happy space’ in the library, but I want to do more than that, and I want to show him how.
I have felt very uncomfortable since commencing my masters about how teacher librarians must advocate for the role they play in a school. But after my conversation with my principal, I feel like a fool for ever doubting it. Of course we must, because we have so much to offer, and now I must advocate my role with my principal and other leaders in the school so I can show them the value I can add to our school’s change agenda, because it’s not just about creating a ‘warm and happy space’! With collaboration, curriculum knowledge and afforded opportunities, I can improve and innovate pedagogical practices (Lipscombe et al., 2020).
I know that to be an effective and collaborative teacher librarian, I must lead from the middle. If I can motivate and empower staff, and do this through the already solid relationships I have, I have the capacity to lead all stakeholders. My perception of my own role has changed immensely. I never realised that I could potentially motivate and empower staff, but Ingram (2019) maintains that by developing strong relationships with staff, and by being an open and strong communicator, I actually have the potential to engage not only students and teachers, but our administration team and our board of trustees, in achieving the vision of the school (Bush & Glover, 2014).
In module 3 we learned about how by leading from the middle, I can help mitigate stress for our teachers, and I’ve realised how powerful this can really be, and I shared this in my blog in response to Rita Reinsel Soulen’s article. I believe I have already demonstrated instructional leadership traits, and I referred to this in the discussion forum in module 6, when I identified my AITSL professional learning goals. I do work to improve teaching practices and develop skills and knowledge (Smith, 2016), and I know that I need to continue to develop and further my own skill set to consistently improve and enhance student learning. With my principal’s support, I know I can work with the leadership team to use their ‘bird’s eye view’ of the school and implement my knowledge of digital technologies and information to inform the ongoing development of the school’s vision and strategic plan, and successfully implement successful change.
As well as instructional, I feel I will always be a servant leader, because it resonates with me on such a personal level. It is all about building interpersonal relationships, modelling best practice, mentoring other teachers who lack skill set and supporting students and teachers in their learning endeavours through meaningful and effective collaboration (Riveros et al., 2013; Burkus, 2010). Two years ago, I would have shied away from this kind of leadership opportunity, and now, it’s something that fills me with excitement and purpose, because I now see the benefit and impact I can have on all stakeholders, and how I can influence the change process by creating and maintaining a positive learning environment.
Burkus, D. (2010, April 1). Servant leadership theory. David Burkus. https://davidburkus.com/2010/04/servant-leadership-theory/Spencekao, 2013
Bush, T., & Glover, D. (2014). School leadership models: What do we know? School Leadership & Management, 34(5), 553-571. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632434.2014.928680
Ingram, D. (2019, February 4). Transformational leadership vs transactional leadership definition. Hearst Newspapers: Small Business. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/transformational-leadership-vs-transactional-leadership-definition-13834.html
Lipscombe, K. Grice, C. Tindall-Ford, S., & DeNobile, J. (2020). Middle leading in Australian schools: professional standards, positions, and professional development. School Leadership & Management 40 (5) pp.406-424. DOI: 10.1080/13632434.2020.1731685
Riveros, A., Newton, P., & da Costa, J. (2013). From teachers to teacher leaders: A case study. International Journal of Teacher Leadership, 4(1). https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1137376
Smith, B. (2016). The role of leadership style in creating a great school. SELU Research Review Journal, 1(1), 65-78. https://selu.usask.ca/documents/research-and-publications/srrj/SRRJ-I-1-Smith.pdf
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. (2019). Leading SDG4 – Education 2030. https://en.unesco.org/themes/education2030-sdg4#:~:text=Education%20is%20a%20human%20right,for%20sustainable%20development%20and%20peace.&text=Ambitions%20for%20education%20are%20essentially,opportunities%20for%20all%E2%80%9D%20by%202030