ETL504: Assignment 2 Part B – Reflection

What Makes A Good Leader? A question asked at the beginning of term that has ballooned throughout the course. Initially, my understanding was particular qualities possessed by leaders were crucial to being a good leader, however, my own experiences throughout this term, the module content and the case studies have shaped my increased understanding of leadership.

I discussed in my own personal experiences of missing our school principal because of his humour and that was a quality that made him a good leader (Bernard, 2020a), however, my understanding has grown to know that humour in itself is not the quality of great leadership. My principal is missed because he was an inspirational leader who had a strong strategic plan and sense of direction for the school. We were able to function as a family unit because he adopted a flexible transformational leadership style that worked for the voices within his school community. He ensured we were focused on our direction, and that was the improvement of our students. When he left, so did his direction and understanding of leadership.

This course through both content and case studies have developed my understanding of how teacher librarians can be leaders and the skills necessary to fulfil this important role. Module 6 taught me that teacher librarians are in the optimal position to enact change for students, teachers and the wider school community. Teacher librarians support the diverse needs of students and foster an environment that encourages and celebrates innovation, creative thinking and exploration (American Association of School Librarians, 2013). Since teacher librarians are often lone figures within the school community, this provides ample opportunity for collaboration between teachers and students, drawing attention to the goals of the school, providing quality education to all.

Working in Group 7 for the case studies highlighted the importance of communication skills in any leadership team. With dwindling numbers and outside forces playing havoc on the mind, it was hard to stay motivated, however, Nicola provided our group with direction and positive authority (Walmsley, 2020). Case Study 4 (Bernard, 2020b) provided us with an opportunity to apply change management processes through a SWOT analysis of the rapidly changing nature of schools due to COVID and the necessity for leaders to inspire innovative thinking within all members. The case studies encouraged us to think reflectively, a key trait for leaders, on the events unfolding and how to flexibly respond to them.

The case studies highlighted three crucial areas of leadership needed to be successful. Communication is necessary in any group, however, open and active channels of communication need to be utilised. Leaders are fundamental in fostering the environment in which these channels can grow.

Strategically planning is required to achieve any goal. Leaders are able to inspire, delegate and support all individuals to ensure the focus of the goal is at the forefront and the team are working efficiently to reach it.

Collaboration is a fundamental component to strategic planning. Leaders promote environments that encourage collaboration and celebration of team successes to motivate each member.

References

American Association of School Librarians. (2013). Empowering Learners: Guidelines for school library programs. American Association of School Librarians.

Bernard, P. (2020a). What make a good leader [Blog]

https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/paigespages/2020/03/09/what-makes-a-good-leader/

Bernard, P. (2020b). Case study 4 Forum: Case study 4 Thread: Case study 4, group 7.

https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_44236_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_88817_1&forum_id=_180720_1&message_id=_2918066_1

Walmsley, N. (2020). Nicola Walmsley – Teacher Librarian [Blog]

https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/nicolawalmsleyblog/

Colvin’s Article Response

  • Importance of Infotech
    • Libraries act a central hub to information services and the ability to incorporate Infotech within schools will provide students, teachers and wider communities’ opportunities to both gain more knowledge and to be better equipped to act as a team player in the Infotech Era.
  • Shared values
    • The library is central within the school and should focus on aligning the goals of all users, whether educational, personal or institutional. Sharing values allows the library to become a communal and collaborative area where the services are catered to the needs of the individuals and groups.
  • Knowledge workers
    • Librarians are able to actively support ‘knowledge workers’ rather than ‘physical workers’ due to the services provided by the library. TLs focus their attention on the motivation, needs and values of ‘knowledge workers’ and best services available to support them. TLs embody creative and adaptive capabilities, being ‘knowledge workers’ themselves and are able to develop a managerial/leadership role through this understanding.
  • Flexible thinking
    • Libraries are constantly updating and changing, the very nature of information in this digital era. TLs, consequentially, are the forefront to make the changes and develop the skills (creating, judging, imagining and building relationships) with their team. Given the slow-changing ideologies still present, TLs have an advantage to adopt the new ways of thinking (organisms vs. machine) faster than other managers and companies.

Colvin, G. (2002). Managing in the info ear. Fortune, 141 (5)

Diigo – Leading the Way: 5 Ways School Leaders Embrace Change For Australian Students

Skoolbag (2018) highlights the importance of strong leadership and discusses 5 methods for fostering change within the communities and students to promote inclusivity and success.

The 5 methods Skoolbag (2018) articulates is 

    1. How establishing a communal vision will encourage individuals to support the cause and 3 directions on how this communal vision can be achieved. 
    2. Leadership is ensuring that the decision makers within the school team and beyond are involved at every step. This opens opportunities for discussions and is essential in having effective change management strategies.
    3. Providing the most effective resources, tools, technology and support to classroom teachers to assist in alleviating and/or minimising the additional workload time. Teachers are then able to better support their students within the classroom. 
    4. Champion student success, prioritising a student-first approach. Address student wellbeing and assist in their development of being well rounded individuals.
    5. Evolve your leadership strategies to address the needs of every student. Use data-led insights to support students in every way possible and inform the decision makers through the use of the data presented. Approach change by being flexible. 

Reference

SkoolBag. (2018, July 1). Leading the Way: 5 Ways School Leaders Embrace Change For Australian Students (blog). Retrieved from https://www.moqproducts.com.au/skoolbag/blog/leading-and-managing-change-in-schools/

What Makes A Good Leader

Typically, ideas of leadership stem from business models that are a hierarchical structure with the ‘laymen’ being at the bottom and those who are the leaders, for example managers, CEOs, executives sitting in the top tiers. Removing choice words from the original image and using Michelini’s (2019) picture provides a visual explanation.

Michelini (2019)

The image provides a good laugh, however, it traditionally villainies those in ‘leadership’ roles.

The question What Makes A Good Leader is one that I have been reflecting on throughout Module 1 and in my current employment situation. Our principal, who we all admired, acquired another principal position at a different school and there were numerous discussions over what qualities the staff wanted our new principal to have. Our school staff community is a very close-knitted group and the loss of our principal was devastating, because, our principal embodies the qualities of an excellent leader.

Leadership is not a position of prestige or a higher pay packet, although the demands for leadership are greater to those with more responsibility as Spider-Man would vouch ‘with great power must also come — great responsibility.’ (Lee & Ditko, 1962). Leadership is the ability to structure people and delegate, provide support and ensure that the end goals of those key players are being met. Being a leader requires the respect of those working on your goals and an understanding of the unique attributes that individuals bring to a team. A leader will find opportunities to highlight the strengths of others, and promote a positive attitude to the harder areas of a task.

Personally, I feel that our principal is missed because of his sense of humour. Our leadership team is one part of our school family, but they never considered themselves the end-game. The leadership team is a way to ensure that all voices and ideas get brought to the table and thoroughly discussed to ensure that our business is able to be the best place for learning. We have a clear goal and direction for our students and that is to provide a place where they feel safe, connected and able to learn.

Interestingly, our library is not the center of our school and currently does not have a librarian in at all. I am hoping that this course will support my understanding and love of library to be able to be a leader within this section of the school and highlight the importance and strengths that a library can offer to the wider school community.

 

References

Lee, S., & Ditko, S. (1962). The amazing Spider-Man. Marvel Comics.

Michelini, M. (2019). Funny Idea of Management Structure – But I Disagree [Blog]. Retrieved 9 March 2020, from https://mikesblog.com/funny-idea-of-management-structure-but-i-disagree/.

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