Reflective Blog

My understanding of leadership is that it is dynamic and of various styles but is built from trust (Moir et al, 2014; Baker, 2016). Through an interaction, reflection and implementation the leader learns to be effective and develops their ability showing that leadership is essentially ongoing learning (Strauss, 2014). The readings and the modules, particularly modules 1-4 developed my understanding of what leadership is. Initially, I had this vision of a very defined and structured management rule book however module 2.1 changed this image when it pointed out that organisations are like organisms, growing and breathing and that is why leadership must be dynamic. The literature, modules, activities, case studies and assignments, whilst mentioning different leadership styles, seem to champion transformational leadership as the most impactful for a teacher librarian. It fits well with the teacher librarian’s leadership roles in the areas of ICT, curriculum, reading and strategic/operations management. I agree with this direction however I would argue that it is not necessarily any one leadership style that stuck out to me but in fact the value of trust in leadership. Most pieces of literature mentioned trust as a foundation for any leadership action. Holmes et al, 2013; Moir et al, 2014; Smith, 2016; Fleet et al, 2016 are just a few who focus on trust in some capacity or another. This repetition has led me to reflectively develop an idea of leadership that is born from the development of trust with various managers and leaders and how I can implement this myself. Sheila Baker’s transformational model (2016) has become the most influential piece of literature on my leadership style. Baker notes trust as one of the six Ts within her model giving practical examples of how to build trust through co-developing, co-teaching and generally building those relationships (Baker, 2016, p.152). In my practice I can start from the bottom and begin to use Baker’s model to develop trust with my peers and start my journey to becoming a transformational leader.

In a practical sense Group Number 14 had a variety of leaders, once again I can see the interplay of trust. From the very beginning we had two members who became the front leaders, they did this by taking initiative to introduce and set the scene like instructional leaders from that action we trust they would commit. This was followed by the servant and transactional leaders who began to produce some of the work and make ‘deals’ about how to get the work done through this we trusted each other with the work. I saw myself in this section but I made sure the tone of my messages where encouraging and exciting. I was attempting to be a transformational leader in this manner. Suddenly, I was hit by a very heavy family situation and unable to participate much more. The communication from myself was great with my lecturer but not with my team which showed my understanding of transformational leadership but highlighted lack of action. At this later date I can reflect and see I have the spirit of transformational leadership but my communication needs work if I am to develop that trust from which effective leaders are born.

 

 

 

References

 

Baker, S. (2016). From teacher to school librarian leader and instructional partner: A proposed transformation framework for educators of preservice school librarians School Libraries Worldwide, 22(1), 143-159. Retrieved from http://www.iasl-online.org/resources/Documents/PD%20Library/11bakerformattedfinalformatted143-158.pdf

 

Fleet, A., De Gioia, K. & Patterson C. (2016). Engaging with educational change. Retrieved from ProQuest Ebook Central.

 

Holmes, K., Clement, J. & Albright, J. (2012). The complex task of leading educational change in schools. School Leadership & Management, 33(3), 270-283. Retrieved from doi:10.1080/13632434.2013.800477

 

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. (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

 

Strauss, V. (2014, October 24). Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.wabisabilearning.com/blog/7-characteristics-define-good-learners

 

 

Week 4

This week has seen me really start to develop my idea of the nuts and bolts of leadership and management. The grounding received in the previous weeks is starting to pay off as I can see a clear correlation between the theory and practice. I found the case study of ‘stories from schools’ really interesting as the nexus between the leadership theory and real-life scenarios is bridged. The fact that both Rosemary and Helen serve as examples of leadership that develops a clear vision and then takes on that vision personally is quite inspiring. It shows dedication to the cause and the valuing of other team members. Serving as a lesson to my own leadership and management I am starting to really consider myself in the thought experiment of the case study. If I objectively step away and start to consider how I am implementing programs and change I can see exactly where I am excelling and where I am perhaps lacking.

On a change management perspective, I started to examine the library’s history within my school. The original librarian who started the library ran and managed the library for roughly thirty years, the following librarian was there for about a year and nowhere is me the third successor and captain.  The first librarian had the time and dedication to lay a concrete framework and foundation for the library including the physical space. I think change under her was consistent and slow (in a good way). The second librarian appeared to attempt small change and bring a digital element perhaps with more of a maintenance perspective and approach. My reign begins with the expectation that being a young and male librarian I will bring about quite a lot of change. After reading the “managing mandated educational change” (Clement, 2014) I can really see how my management of the library is going to be quite turbulent as the executive hold an expectation that I will “bring the library to life”. Thankfully the teachers are excited and happy to see the library wheels moving again. In consideration, the library assistance seems quite eager for change however this is appearing to come with agendas and perspectives that may be conflict.

In conclusion in my position change is expected of me to really galvanize the library within the school context. This comes with many changes which are both exciting and terrifying. I am developing my knowledge and solid rapport of how to make these changes without causing change fatigue to both my staff, colleagues and students.

 

Jennifer Clement (2014) managing mandated educational change, School Leadership and Management, 34: 1, 39-51, DOI: 10.1080/13632434.2013.813460

Week 3

It was lonely in that brick building. Smack bang in the middle of the school! The enemy running around unchecked during lunch thankfully we successfully deterred their persistent generals who always plundered our resources. The cold walls holding out other curious staff even the governor general of the school knew to stay away. Inside the few isolated militia of librarians and library assistants running a small nation state proud of their independence kept their tiny little home free from interference and plundering all of this herald by one iron fisted teacher librarian who refused to bow to pressure. Wow, what a grim image of the school library but also one that is common throughout the country. This doesn’t have to be the perception and through informed leadership and quality management the library can become a vibrant, open place of learning and interaction.

 

My school library sits in the heart of our darling regional catholic school. The students are wonderful and on any given lunchtime we may have up to 150 students sitting, eating, talking, bonding, gaming, catching up on homework and any number of activities. I am very lucky that in this school the Library is seen as a fantastic place and resource. What it was missing however was someone open, exciting and ready at the helm to guide the library into a new age. Being a young teacher librarian can be tough because I may not necessarily possess the leadership and management skills to really drive the library to reach ambition.

 

Through this week’s learning I have discovered that I sit in a Venn diagram of transformational leader, instructional Leader and servant leader. I have learnt that one of the things that I need to be careful or wary of is change management. How can I start the process of transformation without overwhelming my staff? Thankfully my staff saw me entering as a renewed opportunity and fresh life into our wonderful library. What it has come with however is a teething period that has been quite trying of my management and leadership skills. The business management side of the library has been a new skill that I had to learn however the biggest issue is management vary personalities and approaches to work. Something that didn’t really come up this week is subordinates p[perspective and expectations of you. There is a clear message of the executive team’s perspective and management of you and how to placate them however not much is said of a bottom up approach. This has been a challenge but through this week I am starting to develop a jigsaw of how the library fits into the strategic goals of the school as well as an examination of my leadership style and how this translate to my staff. What a precarious and interesting subject this is beginning to become.

Week 1 and 2

A very wise man with years of educational management experience gave me some advice. He said “look at where you want to go and work your way backwards”. This piece of advice has helped me with both my teaching and management.

 

As I started my new position and this new subject I really began to engage with management and leadership as a new skill that I need to develop. Oh Boy this week and last week have been a real tour de force introduction and revelation. I can already see myself in the transformational leadership with a bit of overlay with transactional leadership.

The position of teacher librarian has come with the management of two staff members that function very differently. I think I naturally gravitate towards a transformational leadership but quickly learnt that this is not the ideal leadership for both my staff members. In fact, I am finding that with one staff member I use a transactional method because they are quite responsive and productive however the other staff member requires a more personal/community minded approach. I guess this overlay is coming with the notion that I maybe a situational leader. One who changes approach and techniques given a situation. What I am attempting to maintain is an overall consistency with my management, values and strategic goals. Less I be seen as someone inconsistent. This is an incredibly hard act to balance but weeks 1 & 2 have already given me little insights and named things I have already been doing. I am excited to see how my leadership and management is honed and perfected over the coming weeks. I can already tell from case study 1 and the online meeting that my engagement and thoughts are being echoed by my peers making me feel that I am somewhat on the right track and not unfamiliar with these concepts.

 

I look forward to becoming an inspiring leader and effective manager.