June 6

My Take on School Library Story and Advocacy

School Library Story from joyce valenza on Vimeo.

As one might expect from an advocacy-oriented video, Valenza (2013) seems to me to present information relating to an ideal, perhaps even mythical, school library. I must admit that I have a hard time believing that school libraries and teacher librarians that meet all of those criteria all of the time exist. If they do, I find it hard to believe that those are the institutions losing out to funding cuts.

I think it is important to have media that promotes the cause of the school library and presents its strengths and potential and relationship to student achievement, creativity and wellbeing. Having access to propaganda such as Valenza’s video is useful, but I think that, as Todd (2015) points out, it is important to link those broad, sweeping generalities of information with real, relatable, local evidence. If you played that video for the parents at the school where I do most of my work and they started asking about the ability to borrow digital equipment or about 24/7 access to virtual library space, you would have a lot of quick-talking and backtracking to do! Valenza is a passionate advocate for school libraries, but she is American. Teacher librarians and school libraries in Australia need advocacy materials that ring true to an Australian context.

References

Todd, R.J. (2015) Evidence-based practice and school libraries. Knowledge Quest, 43(3), 8-15.

Valenza, J. (2013) School library story [Video file]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/82208025

June 4

Information Specialist vs Teacher – Coping with tension or striking a balance?

The following is in response to a task asking MEd(TL) students to discuss:

* the tensions between the information specialist and the teaching role of the TL; and
* how you think you might cope with these tensions.

I am not quite sure why there needs to be tension between the information specialist and teaching roles of the TL. I think those are roles that complement each other very well. If the idea is that there is competition for priority and time spent pursuing or fulfilling those roles, I concede that as a fair point. However, balancing competing facets of your job is fairly standard in the professional world. Primary school classroom teachers need to balance the generalist nature of their teaching role with the specific interests and expertise they may bring to the school. They also need to balance their various roles relating to instruction, pastoral care, administration, extra-curricular activity supervision and more.

When working as a TL, I would attempt to balance the various demands of the different roles by trying to make the competing demands as transparent as possible. I would try to keep lists of tasks that need attention and try to allocate tasks into categories relating to the role they pertain to as Purcell (2010) recommended when studying your practice for effectiveness of time use. Then I would try to prioritise – probably using a hybrid of the teaching method of identifying and completing “must do” and “can do” tasks in conjunction with Wilson’s (2009-2018) application of the 80/20 principle where in any given planning time you identify the tasks that will give you the most ‘bang for your buck’. These prioritisation techniques would be applied across the role categories to ensure that progress was being made in all roles and facets of the job. Setting up a system or routine like this to follow should help to keep things on a more even keel and make it easier to get back on track after the inevitable urgent emergency situations arise demanding immediate attention and tearing well-intentioned plans and programs to shreds.

References

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.

Wison, T. (2009-2018). How to make the 80/20 rule work at work. In Time Management Success. Retrieved June 3, 2018 from https://www.time-management-success.com/80-20-rule.html

June 3

Key points for the practicalities of practice

The task

In Module 6 of ETL401, we were asked to read the following three readings, and pick three ideas from each that were new to us. Then we were to reflect on one thing we could apply to improve our current practice.

Gilman, T. (2007). The four habits of highly effective librarians. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved Nov. 2016.
Wilson, T. (2009-2018). Time management for teachers – essential tips if you want a life outside school. Time Management Success. Retrieved June 2018.
Sanders, R. (2004). Conflict resolution. Chap. 3. In Australian library supervision and management (2nd ed., pp.127-132). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies. Retrieved Nov. 2016.

New ideas?

To be honest, pulling out three ideas from the entire set of readings that were actually new to me was more realistic than finding three new ideas from each reading. I have been in the working world for about 25 years, with the majority of that being in either educational settings or in public-relating administrative positions. Effective work habits, time management and conflict resolution concepts are not revolutionary ones to me.

With that in mind, some solid reminders from these texts included Gilman’s (2007) recommendation to cultivate Openness, Responsiveness, Collaboration and Communication to be a more effective teacher librarian. Continue reading

April 30

So, what is literacy anyway? An initial attempt at a definition.

To start off our module on Information Literacy, we were presented with a series of readings and resources that defined literacy and a variety of newly coined compound-literacy terms (such as information literacy, digital literacy, multi-literacy and the like). We were then asked to reflect upon these and come up with our own definition. This is my initial attempt:

I think that literacy is a continuum of effective inter-personal communication skills, primarily through verbal and textual modes but also including other sense modalities. I think that a key area of misunderstanding is the misuse if the terms “literate” and “illiterate” to refer to particular discrete points on the continuum when what is meant is something more like functionally literate or academically literate. I also think that context is important and that people can have different levels of skill in different components, modes and contexts of communication. But to be honest, I am feeling more confused than clarified about the topic at the moment.

I really enjoyed reading the definition given by a fellow student, Gretha Wocke in her blog post titled Information Literacy – a Commentary:

“The word literacy describes man’s competence with the social constructs of his environment. To be literate means man has the capability and knowledge to access and internalise text, oral and other representations of ideas. It includes the ability to engage with, interpret and understand ideas in a particular context, use it, and re-purpose it. It refers to the capability and skills needed to communicate these ideas, in multiple formats and delivery modes, with the competence. Literacy enables a person the interaction needed for integration in the social environment” (2018, April 26, para 1).

References

Wocke, G. 2018. Information literacy – a commentary [Blog post]. Retrieved April 30, 2018 from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2018/04/26/information-literacy-a-commentary/

April 30

Reflections on collaboration

This is my response to a stimulus from Module 4.2 of ETL401. The readings on collaboration were a real challenge for me because I love the ideal, but my recent experience has left me short of hope on experiencing the practical reality in action.

Think and reflect
What possibilities arise for collaboration between teachers and the teacher librarian?
In what ways could you begin to develop collaboration with teachers in your school?

I liked Patricia Montiel-Overall’s (2005) breakdown of levels of collaboration between teachers and TLs: coordination, cooperation, integrated instruction and integrated curriculum. I think that the ability to progress along those levels is partly under the control of the teachers and TLs – being approachable, making connections, offering suggestions, making themselves available for planning times, etc. In order to reach the highest level of integrated curriculum and perhaps even integrated instruction, however, requires a school-wide culture of collaboration as described by Linda Gibson-Langford (2008). A key item that both Gibson-Langford and Montiel-Overall mention as key to collaboration is the concept of a safe space to disagree and critically debate ideas. I think that while teachers and TLs have a role in negotiating their participation in debates on new ideas and practices, the administration and executive of a school play a great role in supporting this in schools. I have participated in discussions in school environments that gave lip-service to collaboration and shared creation, but where the culture of debate was sabotaged by executives or administration either resolving conflict in an authoritarian manner (Montiel-Overall, 2005, p. 28) or manipulating agreement through groupthink (Gibson-Langford, 2008, p. 35).

References

Gibson-Langford, L. (2008). Collaboration: Force or forced, Part 2. Scan, 27(1), 31-37.

Montiel-Overall, P. (2005). A theoretical understanding of teacher and librarian collaboration, School Libraries Worldwide, 11(2), 24-48.