Iterations of my School Library Vision

My first iteration

“The library will empower students and staff to be active learners who contribute positively to the school and the world around them. By the time they graduate, students will grasp what it means to be a responsible digital citizen, ready to collaborate with others to create knowledge and ideas.”

I feel this is too long.

“The library will be a hub to build a learning community flowing with ideas, inspiration, innovation and collaboration. ”

Does this imply that the school isn’t a learning community?

Third iteration

“Our library will be the centre of our learning community; flowing with ideas, inspiration, innovation and collaboration. Staff and students alike will be welcomed as active learners who create knowledge and ideas.”

This is a good number of words and communicates most of what I want to say.

Fourth

“Our library will be the centre of our learning community; flowing with ideas, inspiration, innovation and collaboration. Staff and students alike will be welcomed as active learners who responsibly create knowledge and ideas in both analogue and digital environments.”

It’s 39 words so basically right on the upper limit of where I think the statement length should be.

“Our library will be the centre of our learning community; flowing with ideas, inspiration, innovation and collaboration. Every student and staff member will be welcomed as an active learner, empowered to responsibly create knowledge and ideas in both analogue and digital environments.”

Tipping just over where I wanted it, at 42 words, I feel like this communicates all I wanted to say.

Blogs I recommend

During this session I have come across the blogs of two teacher-librarians (neither of whom are in Australia) – Nadine of Informative Flights and Elizabeth of Elizabeth Hutchinson.

In particular, there are two posts that have helped me get through this subject and come out the other end believing that teacher-librarians can be leaders.

The first, from Informative Flights, was about scheduling.  In it, Nadine talks about how she works at a school where the teacher librarian takes classes for RFF, but she makes it work for her as best she can.  It helped me to realise that even if this was a part of the school that I worked at (and wasn’t possible to change) there were still ways to make the best of the situation and be a leader.

The second, from Elizabeth Hutchinson, was about working with teachers. This post really encouraged me that it’s ok to be a beginner, even at the things that are your areas of ‘expertise’.

Elizabeth Hutchinson is well worth following if you are on Twitter.  She blogs pretty regularly and brings a lot of experience and wisdom to the profession.

Leadership and the case study groups

I went into the case study groups wanting to be a bit of a leader but also not wanting to take over the group – I didn’t want to be controlling and I didn’t want to prevent others from having a chance at leading.  I would say we had two people that were co-leaders of the group, although this was definitely an informal arrangement.  I was one of the people that co-lead the group.  This sentiment of mine was reinforced by fellow student and case study group member Jennifer Greensill (whose permission I have to repost this).

Jenn said:

I think your contributions in here have been great! Your feedback and the ideas you present have all been valid and valuable. You have been a leader in here, especially initiating conversations and stepping up to do our group’s first response post. Initiating conversations and building relationships are vital in our leadership role as a TL and what you have demonstrated in here are definitely transferable skills and attributes you can apply to your real world context and also mention in your reflection. (Greensill, J., 2019, personal communication).

Another group member also commented on a blog post of mine, which reiterated Jenn’s thoughts. This was encouraging for me to know that I had achieved what I had set out to do – be a leader, although not an overbearing one.  I took the lead in volunteering to compile the first group post, I helped to organise everyone and contributed to the discussion regularly. Not everyone contributed as much to the group; not everyone was able.  We worked together well, got our posts in on time and developed stronger professional connections.

 

Out of the Fire Swamp…

The Fire Swamp
By Samstokes80, licenced under CC-BY-SA from https://princessbride.fandom.com/wiki/FireSwamp

So, metaphorically I have been feeling like I’m in the Fire Swamp.  It’s not a great place to be.  The expectations upon teacher librarians (at least from our subject coordinators) seem insurmountable.  We are expected to be all things to all people.  We are expected to be excellent and outstanding leaders right from the word go.  We are expected to maintain a wonderful collection, in a welcoming environment, while helping teachers, collaboratively teaching and having every single class in the school for an RFF lesson.  It’s just not possible.

I also had (particularly last year) serious misgivings about Guided Inquiry.  The demands of that specific model and they way it is being promoted are inaccessible for most schools, certainly the ones I have contact with.

Between these two issues, I really felt like uni was driving me away from the profession I was training for.

And then…

Assessment Two.

Believe it or not, this assignment has restored my faith in the profession.

Firstly, in the process of writing a vision for the school library in my assessment, I was inspired to think about what libraries could truly be like.  Secondly, in the process of researching one of my strategic focuses, I was led to this article which gave me a lightbulb moment! We can have inquiry learning without guided inquiry and we can most definitely have inquiry learning without Guided Inquiry Design! I don’t need to avoid inquiry learning just because I don’t like (and have serious issues with) one particular model.

Types of student inquiry
(Courtesy Trevor MacKenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt)

Crisis of confidence averted! On with the show (and that final assignment!)

A serendipitous moment!

Maybe it’s been there the whole time and I’ve never paid attention, or maybe it’s new.  But today, I stumbled across a really useful feature of the primo library interface CSU uses.

The Primo interface with "related titles" to the right

When searching for an article (actually I had the article open, I was looking for the journal website because “Access” is a great title for a journal unless you’re trying to Google the website…) for my assignment I noticed the “related reading” column on the side of the screen.  This pointed me to another related article (that’s the point!) that I had read last year and forgotten about, but as soon as I saw it in the list I knew it would be perfect for what I wanted to say! This little column helped me so much and I have no idea if it’s been there the whole time – if it has, I have obviously ignored it!

School Library Vision Statements

A part of our final assignment for ETL504 is to create a vision statement for the school library we are writing about in our assignment.  So, I decided to do some research on school library vision statements.

I started by putting a call out to my personal learning network on Twitter.

I also did a quick search (using Duck Duck Go, not Google), and came up with these examples:

The Wylam School Library Media Program seeks to create a 21st century environment that promotes learning for all students by providing equitable access to information, teaching information literacy skills, and encouraging lifelong learning. The library media center strives to be a center of collaborative learning that produces creative students who have an appreciation of literature, critical thinking skills, and a respect for others and self.

https://www.bhamcityschools.org/domain/1439

This one has lots of future tense verbs in it although (to me) it seems a bit long.  And “create a 21st Century environment” seems odd because we live in the 21st century so the environment we are in is a 21st century environment.

In collaboration with the school’s learning community, Alabama’s 21st Century library media programs will be the center of teaching and learning by providing access to quality collections and technologies and by extending services beyond the library media center’s four walls and the school day.

http://www.ces.coosaschools.k12.al.us/?PageName=%27Library%27

This one is fairly concise (although it could be tighter) and gives a clear mandate of being central in teaching and learning, providing quality collections, providing access to technology and looking beyond the physical space.

William Monroe Middle School students are confident, considerate, responsible, and successful lifelong learners who are contributing members of their community.

http://wmmslibrary.weebly.com/mission-and-vision.html

I had to read this page over several times to make sure that this was really the library’s vision statement.  And it is.  It’s an admirable vision but I fail to see anything uniquely library about it, and I think that’s a problem.

Shannon Miller has compiled a list of vision statements on her website.  The following four are all from this webpage.

The library is a place where students and teachers can come to read and access books,
technology, and other resources freely, safely, and in a comfortable setting.
I would argue that to survive in the 21st Century the library needs to be more than a place.  I feel this vision statement is too narrow in its focus.
The teacher librarian should provide an excellent library program that motivates and build a love for reading.
I feel this is a bit wishy-washy.  Be bold.  “The TL will” or “The TL aims to”.  Should is like “I should be doing this but I won’t”.
Students will become independent, lifelong learners of information through instruction of information and
 technology literacy, quality learning experiences, and collaborative activities with the other
 students,teachers, others outside the walls of the school, and the teacher librarian.
This is better, although I feel that the list of things is too long and the flow gets lost.  It needs to be more punchy.  Even rewording it to make two shorter sentences instead of one longer one would improve this.  Content wise it’s pretty good.
It is my vision that a superior library media program should be at the heart of the school where everyone has a voice.
This one is different and interesting.  It’s a valuable vision and I can see this really driving the practice of this TL.  It’s not future-focused enough for the purposes of what I need to create, but it’s good.
I believe it was the same Shannon Miller who created this padlet for people to share their school library mission and vision statements.  I’m also going to choose two from here to reflect on, as most of the contributions to the padlet are mission statements.

The vision of the David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center is to be a library flowing with innovation, collaboration, curiosity, adaptability, critical inquiry, and transliteracy.

I love the picture this gives us of a dynamic, constant flow of positive energy.

The vision of the LISD elementary libraries is for all students to become life-long readers who appreciate literature and are responsible digital citizens who access and use information efficiently.

This seems very literature focused.  Is that a bad thing?  I think it’s a great vision statement that tells me a lot about the school and the TL, but again, not future-focused enough for my assignment.

Knowledge Quest published a really interesting article about creating a school library vision statement.

Lastly, make sure that this vision statement, once crafted, guides all of your decisions for your library. (Shulman, 2015, para 3).

So, it needs to be clear enough to guide all the library decisions.

This video, including in the modules, is also going to be helpful in crafting my vision statement.

This statement is about 30 words long.  I think somewhere between 20 to 40 words is a good place to aim for.

It needs to be future focused, and let us know where we are going and why.  It creates a clear picture of what we want to happen and it aims high.  This reminds me of BHAGs!

So my library vision needs to be a big goal.  It’s achievable but ambitious.

I think I’m ready to get started!

 

Leadership to Create a Learning Culture

Now that the dust has settled a little on the assignment feedback, I wanted to share some thoughts on the assignment.

I found some aspects of this assignment quite difficult, and some I dived right into.  I shook the “teacher librarians aren’t leaders” monkey off my back and argued that teacher librarians should not only be leaders, but transformational leaders, particularly through being the “early adopters” using the diffusion of innovation theory.

 

Diffusion of Innovation

Diffusion of Innovation by @bryanMMathers is licenced under CC-BY-ND

This is my concept map, which received 76% – so a low distinction level.

 

My Concept Map

Creative Commons License
Leadership to create a learning culture is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

I was praised for my strong argument for leadership between the teachers and teacher librarian, which I may turn into a blog post in the future.

One thing that I really need to work on, based on the feedback for this assignment, and others, is having my critical analysis and my authorial voice clearer, rather than relying on citations (because it was drilled into me for so long that as a student you don’t know anything and all your thoughts come from somewhere else and you need to acknowledge them). My mark for the critical analysis was below a distinction level (which brought my mark down just below distinction for this assignment). So, in order to ace this final assignment, I have booked an appointment with the ALLAN team later this week to work on it.

So… onwards and upwards!

Case Studies Reflections

  • The Case Study Group Space is confusing.  There is a blog, a discussion forum and a wiki plus capacity for emailing the group and people in our group seem to place their responses in any one of the three spaces, meaning it can be hard to find what other people have posted.
  • The people in my Case Study group are busy people.  We have lives and jobs and the like.  We are doing the minimum amount of interaction to get the job done.  Or maybe that’s because there’s only a few people who regularly check in. We can’t all commit hours and hours every week to the case studies.
  • I feel that the emphasis for assessment 2 has been changed unfairly to have the reflection portion primarily about the case studies and case study groups.  To have that aspect (on a portion of the assignment that represents 20% of our final grade) changed only weeks before the end of the semester, and more than halfway through our group experience is unfair.
  • We have two people in our group who are clearly leaders, but are working well together. I am one of those leaders and it’s been suggested that we don’t name our group members specifically but there is one other person who is definitely also stepping up.
  • There are two people in our group who are less consistent, timely communicators.  This is likely due to the aforementioned fact that we are all busy people.

  • I honestly don’t know how I can write 500 words of critical reflection predominantly focusing on the case study groups.  I don’t think I will be marked well by saying that they are a waste of our time.
  • I don’t think I am the only person struggling with how they are going to meaningfully reflect on the case studies and case study groups.

Teacher Librarian As Leader (Module 6)

Well, I am nearing the end of this subject and of my degree.  As it stands now, I have 32 days left until my final assignment is due and then I’m DONE!

I’ve had a sneak peek at Module 7 and it’s quite short.  My aim is to knock over module 6 by next Friday (13th September) so that once we’ve had our assignment meeting on the following Monday, I can just focus on getting the assignment done and then I’m (basically) done!

And then I don’t know what I’ll do with myself.  Probably recover for a few days before I teach stage three for the entire first week of term four. Then collapse in a heap.  Then not know what to do with myself.  I think I need a new hobby.

6.1 Teacher Librarian As Leader

To be a leader, you first have to be a good manager of:

  • your workload;
  • your role;
  • your library spaces (virtual and physical); and
  • your time.

This quote is from the module and it ties straight back into what I was writing about yesterday re Maslow’s hierarchy. We can’t be leaders if we can’t get the lower needs on the hierarchy sorted.  And I don’t think we can expect to have all the lower stuff sorted as soon as we begin as teacher librarians. I don’t think we’ll have it all sorted in the first year or three.  We don’t have to be leaders right off the bat.

I’m not the only student having these struggles – feeling like the modules are telling us to be brilliant, amazing teacher librarians from the first day.  The reality is that we cannot do it all from the start, and nor should we try.  Marika Simon, a fellow student in this subject (and my uni-wife) has also blogged about this. I said to her (privately) that I feel like we are being presented with ultramarathon champions and being told “this is what a runner looks like”.  (And just in case you don’t know, not all runners look like ultra marathoners nor should they try).

Brendan Davies
Brendan Davies, a local ultramarathon runner and international champion and all round good guy that I happen to know personally (although not well)

Baker (2016) talks about teacher librarians (or school librarians in American terms) as being transformation leaders.  This is encouraging because I argued in my first assignment that TLs need to be transformational leaders in schools.  So hopefully I was on the right track.  After reading the whole thing I’m encouraged that I seem to have been thinking along those lines although Baker said it much better!

Think about the people who have been inspirational in your working and learning life. Were they mentors who you engaged with on a regular basis? Were they other staff members? Were they leaders in your school? List the attributes that made them effective leaders.

Until November 2018, my working life was over a decade ago.  I didn’t work in horrible workplaces or with horrible people but, honestly, there was little to admire or look up to.  So, when I thought about this question, I immediately thought of the professional network I have built for myself on Twitter.  People like Bonnie Wildie, Sally Turbitt, Rob Thomson and Alissa McCulloch, who I am proud to call well-maybe-not-exactly-friends-but-close-library-peeps… <shrug>… people who I have chatted to over a cider or a bacon and egg roll… people who I choose to spend time with after the conference/event is over, and people I stay in touch with outside of library events.  What makes them so amazing? They think outside the box.  They think critically about librarianship, not just accept blindly what they are told.  Kirsten Thorpe and Nathan Sentance have also been transformative for my thinking regarding Indigenous Australians and how the systems and institution of libraries can be oppressive and culturally unsafe.  They are people who speak out courageously about Indigenous issues and how the GLAMR space can be used for good instead of a source of oppression.

In the digital era, instead of preparing detailed cataloging records to enter into our online catalogs, we are far more likely to invest in services that our users really want—specialized and individualized help when they can’t find what they want in a Google search, access to more electronic journals and databases, on-line reference services, and access to new types of scholarly information—data sets, blog posts, and multimedia resources.

Users may not know they want good metadata.  But they need it.  They can’t get to any of those other things they want without the metadata! No metadata, no future.

For example, I can link to a New Yorker article via Facebook and let my forty- four friends know that I like something I’ve just read. (Lubans, 2010, p 204)

Off topic, but forty-four Facebook friends? Who only has 44 Facebook friends? I actually don’t really know why this reading was in there.  Sure there was a sentence or two in there about leadership but it was mostly about the differences in publishing between the 1970s and the 2010s.

Advocacy

Library Marketing is mentioned in the reading here and if you are wanting to learn more I strongly recommend following Angela Hursh on Twitter.  She is the library marketing guru.

If you’re into viral marketing and social media that gets noticed, you need to follow Invercargill Library. And this video below was produced by a local school.

I think the best thing I’ve read on advocacy is Heidi Weisburg’s (2017) piece in Connections.

There was mention in one of the readings (forgotten which one now!) about having a motto for your library, and then I went to a library that is not my local public library, and saw their motto.
Connect Participate Learn

What are your thoughts now on leadership and the teacher librarian?

For a long time, since nearly the start of my course (as in early 2018) I have really struggled with the idea of a teacher librarian as a leader.  The teacher librarians I had seen were not seen as leaders, especially those in primary schools.  However, I have come to understand a few things.  Firstly, what I have observed says a lot about the teacher librarians I have seen, rather than teacher librarians as a group.  Teacher librarians can champion student learning and the role of the library, and they should.  They should be leaders, although that might not be something they are able to do right from the very first day.  Budgets are always an issue as is the expectation that the teacher librarian will be an RFF teacher, but these attitudes and practices can be changed, even if it takes a while.

6.2 The Wider Role of the TL

 

Crowdsourcing

There are many library-based crowdsourcing projects.  Trove was highlighted in the module, but I wanted to give a shout out to The Real Face of White Australia, which is a transcription project involving scanning documents produced under the White Australia policy, such as immigration papers.

Reflecting on your reading of the teacher librarian as a leader and informed by your examination of the AITSL standards and the ASLA evidence guide:

  • select one descriptor that you would like to explore further for your own professional advancement; and
  • identify an action that will start you on that pathway.

Honestly, as a casual teacher who has never gone through the accreditation process, I am really going to struggle with this question.  I have roughly 40 days of recent casual experience (and more teaching experience from before I had children but that was ages ago) I rarely teach the same class more than once.  I also have one single day’s experience at being a teacher librarian.  I can’t prove I can do this stuff because I haven’t had the opportunity.

Strategies and Resources

I need to come back to the “activity and reflection” because I can’t get the link to open.

And I got it sent to me by Marika and it’s dot points from a talk… not something useful. Why must lecturers persist with this?  Sending us slides and now speaker’s notes from a presentation without us being able to see the presentation. Maybe the presentation was great and the notes are enough to jog your memory about how great it is but they are pretty meaningless if they are just notes or slides without the presentation.

So I will attempt one of these scenarios.

  1. While assisting a parent in the library, his/her young child is running amok amongst the shelves.

OK, seriously, that kid should not be in the library and you should kick them out.  😛 That’s what I would like to do but that’s not going to create great ties to the family.  So, I would pause my conversation with the parent to redirect the child, perhaps to books they might like to browse on a topic of interest, or put ABC kids on for them on a computer if needed (if, for example, you are in a high school library and the child in question is four years old you are unlikely to have any books that are appropriate).  Alternatively, you could suggest that the conversation continue at another time.

Random other stuff

Just yesterday, an International teacher librarian that I follow posted a great blog post about teaching information literacy and copyright/academic honesty that I thought I would share. She called it “How to Lie and Cheat Your Way to Academic Success” and had a fully booked workshop!

Also, fellow student Marika Simon posted her thoughts about her case study group. Group work is challenging especially when its virtual and you don’t even know if your message has been received, however she also connected it to the work she does and how she communicates with other staff members.

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

Lubans, J. Jr. (2010). Leading from the middle. Paper or plastic? Library Leadership & Management, 24(4). Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/llama/publications

Marcum, D. (2016, March 28). Library leadership for the digital age. Ithaka S+R. https://doi.org/10.18665/sr.277583

Weisburg, H. (2017). Leadership is not optional: It’s a job requirement. SCIS Connections, 101. Retrieved from https://www.scisdata.com/connections/issue-101/leadership-is-not-optional-its-a-job-requirement/

The Plan

If you’re roughly the same age as me you might also think of this scene (from 20 years ago!) when someone mentions “The Plan”.
The Plan scene from Ten Things I Hate About You

I’m sure I’m not the only one!

On a more serious note, this blog post is about Module 5.2 – Operational Planning.

Little Sidetrack

Early on in this section of the module it mentions collaborative teaching and planning and so I thought it was a good opportunity to share something I have seen.

In one of the schools I teach at casually, I noticed that the TL’s timetable was available in every classroom.  It showed which classes she had at which time and whether these were an RFF lesson or a collaborative teaching lesson, and other times in the week when you could “book in” as needed.  This is the first school I’ve been in that has used their librarian for collaborative teaching and not just RFF. I had the opportunity to speak with her (very) briefly yesterday, and I asked her how it’s decided which classes use library for RFF and which classes use it for collaborative teaching.  She said it’s done on a term by term basis, according to the topic areas being studied in each class and by need.  I don’t have a lot of details on it at this point, but it’s exciting to see a local school where the TL is included in collaborative teaching, not just RFF.

And while we are here…

At the same school, a few weeks back (while working on my leadership concept map), I had a stage three class.  Up in the classroom there were two mind maps on leadership. I was unable to capture them at the time but I managed to capture them yesterday.  Note there are no names of students or any identifying details included.

Leadership mind mapLeadership mind map

I thought it was interesting to see students’ perspectives on what makes a good leader.  I believe these were produced in preparation for students leading peer support groups.

And back to the module…

Only when the systems are running smoothly, will there by time to do other things like collaborative planning and teaching.

This quote is from the module, which I can’t properly attribute because I don’t know who wrote it.  But it is really similar to something a fellow student, Liz Patterson, said in the discussion forums. (The Sally Turbitt post she was referring to is this one about professional development).

Your comment and Sally Turbitt’s post reminded me of something a lecturer said years ago in a subject I was doing about leading professional learning.

He said that you need to be realistic about teachers’ readiness or capacity to learn – in terms of their cognitive loads. Before you expect  your teachers to undertake any innovation/ change initiative that involves significant learning you’ve got to understand they need to solve two problems first (…to free up headspace):

  • What am I doing tomorrow?  and
  • What am I doing with the hardest kid(s) in my class?

Be sensitive to and help them address these issues, and you stand a chance of change.

(Patterson, 2019, para 1)

Which also, in turn, reminds me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow's hierarchy of needsMaslow's Hierarchy of Needs

“File:Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.svg” by Waldyrious is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

We cannot move to the higher areas of the triangle (professional development, which I think belongs in the very top section) unless the basic systems of the library are working, and we know who we are teaching, and how we are going to manage those difficult students (physiological and safety) etc.

So, in many ways, being a casual teacher is forever existing in the bottom two sections of Maslow’s Hierarchy, with the potential to move up a little as you become a regular casual at the school and get to know staff and students.

I must confess to skimming the budgeting section.  I know it will be really important once I have my own school library to manage but at this point in time, I’m not going to retain enough of that information to be useful to me in however long it takes for me to get a position where I am responsible for those things.

I learned a little about disaster recovery on my work placement, as one of the branches of the library had been flooded due to a burst pipe in the previous 18 months.  I also got to look at how many items were damaged or destroyed and how little the insurance company paid to replace these items. Disaster recovery was also discussed on my visit to the Law Courts Library as they had been flooded not too long ago.

ALIA has produced an up to date Disaster Recovery Guide only this year.

References

Munro, J. (2004). Building the capacity for professional learning: A key component of the knowledge of effective school leaders in the twenty-first century. Retrieved from https://students.education.unimelb.edu.au/selage/pub/readings/leadprof/IARTV%20%20prof%20learning%20capacity%20leadersp.pdf

Patterson, E. (2019, Sep 3) Re: Challenge [Discussion forum post]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42385_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78888_1&forum_id=_164199_1&message_id=_2336563_1

Skip to toolbar