July 8

Initial thoughts on Teacher Librarian leadership

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