Part A: Philosophy
The diversity of a TL’s roles. Copied from Facebook post by CBCA, South Australia. (Levin, n.d.).
An effective teacher librarian (TL) fully engages with students and staff as both teacher and librarian. The TL supports teaching and learning experiences by: resourcing the curriculum in a manner that considers the local context; providing access to and implementing current research in best teaching and learning practices; developing the information literacy and fluency capacity of students and staff; and inspiring a love of literature and ethical information use. The TL also develops themselves and their library by keeping up to date with best practices in the information services industry and responsibly managing its resources.
Part B: Thematic Reflections
I have focused my reflections on the themes of leadership, technology and literature. These themes are ones that recur throughout most, if not all, subjects in the course and are areas where I could see growth in my understanding and application to my practice throughout the course.
At the outset of ETL504: Teacher librarian as leader I was sceptical about the claim that leadership is part of the role of the teacher librarian. As I detailed in my initial blog post for the subject, my experience with school leadership structures did not resonate with the idea of the TL being recognised as a school leader. Through reading the discussion forum and blog posts of other students on this topic, I realised that perhaps it was my understanding of leadership that needed to change. I therefore engaged in the subject with a mind open to entertaining such a paradigm shift.
At this point in the subject think about strategies to take you from TL, the keeper and stamper of the books and the quiet space (library) (how many of our colleagues perceive TLs), to become something different. Make a set of notes using your new understandings to support your arguments and conclusions:
Many of the readings regarding leadership list vision as a key quality of leadership. In order to develop strategies for moving from the stereotypical keeper-of-the-books-and-quietness to “something different” that has a leadership hue, it is essential to formulate and articulate a clear vision (Gleeson, 2016) of what that “something else” will look like. For my situation, I know that I am not really looking to take on a formal leadership role – at least not anything that has the word “principal” in the title. My projected to pathway to professional development might include pursuit a Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher status, but not an Assistant or Deputy Principal position. Therefore, my vision of my “something else” lies in the distributed leadership, informal leadership or leadership by expertise vein. My vision for the library is as a place that will be the go-to place for resources across the curriculum and for information on teaching and learning. A central school service station rather than just a place for students to go and borrow some books or listen to a story and be kept busy for an hour while their teachers plan for their “real learning activities”.
Moir, Hattie and Jansen’s (2014) viewpoint that to develop leadership capacity you first need to know what qualities the members of the organisation value as evidencing effective leadership really resonated with me. Looking at the five top “effective leadership qualities” that they found in their study (Moir, Hattie, & Jansen, 2014, p 37), I find a framework for my vision and strategy for change: Continue reading
In my introduction on the ETL504 discussion boards, my section on what I hoped to gain from the subject was the following:
“To be frank, I struggle somewhat with the notion of the TL as Leader, especially in the NSW DoE primary school context. If this subject can persuade me to a different view on this point, that would be an ideal gain. Pragmatically, I hope to gain another completed subject so that I can complete my course and confirm my position at FSPS as permanent. Somewhere in between those two, I hope to gain knowledge and understanding, as well as skills and strategies, to help support my position when advocating for things (such as admin time or particular resources) relevant to my role as Teacher Librarian.”(Simon, 2019, July 5, para. 4)
We have been encouraged to reflect on our thoughts and understandings of Teacher Librarians (TLs) as leaders before diving into the meat of this subject, so I will try to expand on the thoughts expressed above. My friend and fellow classmate, Liz Parnell, is incredibly sceptical about the notion of TLs as school leaders and gives an excellent description of one common experience – the overburdened, fighting-to-keep-afloat primary school Teacher Librarian (Parnell, 2019, July 1, para. 3). This captures some of the struggle I related regarding the notion of the TL as leader in a NSW Department of Education primary school context. I am currently working in that context as the sole, 3-day-per-week TL at a relatively small (215 student) primary school in Sydney. In my initial six months in that role, I see myself more in Liz’s description of a follower being pulled in multiple directions than in the descriptions of TLs as technological and curriculum leaders put forward in the advocacy videos by Students Need School Libraries (2018) and ALIANational (2014) found in the subject home page and first module.
However, as I began to reflect on these feelings and opinions, I began to realise that perhaps some of the fault I was finding had more to do with my concept of leadership in schools than with the role of the TL. Continue reading