Through the Looking Glass (ETL401 Assignment One)

In the short time since leaving school, and the associated safe haven that school libraries provide for nerd youth like myself, my experience of school libraries has been small but significant; fledgling but formative; casual but crucial. And maybe dominated by my love of English language and literature.

My perception of what a Teacher Librarian (TL) is has changed a few times over the years. While at school, the librarian was a mentalist, always knowing which shelf I would find my next favourite book. At university, I found myself in awe of librarians; no longer there just to ‘shush’ patrons, but active contributors to the 21st century learning environment, with their immense knowledge of information systems. After graduation and in the world of freaking out because somehow someone decided I could be trusted to be the teacher coolly being a Casual Relief Teacher, I sadly slipped into not having much to do with school libraries other than borrowing the odd resource for classes I was covering.

This happily changed when I was part of the orientation process for fresh Year 7 students in an all-boys high school at the beginning of 2016. Encouraging the hush on entering the library, I felt the same tingle that I did when I was in their shoes (albeit, mine were Mary Janes). That library calm still existed here, in this concrete jungle of a school. While the jostling didn’t necessarily stop, as there were limited soft furnishings to sit on and the boys were loath to have a regular chair when presented with such finery, there was definitely a revered sort of semi-silence, so much so that once again the library became my place of worship.

My understanding of the role of TLs can be summed up thusly: the familiar face, the lover of literature, the tech whiz, the always-there support for teaching staff, and the enabler of repose from the hustle-and-bustle of the rest of life, both inside the school and elsewhere.

While I have the utmost admiration and respect for Career Relief Teachers, my personal experiences have pushed me dangerously close to the quarter of recent graduates who choose to leave the teaching profession in the first five years (Mansfield, Beltman & Price, 2014). I worry that coupling my lack of time spent as a classroom teacher, along with a position that is “sometimes… undervalued and not appreciated” (Bonanno, 2010) is maybe not a great life choice. Farmer (2007), in her article on predictors for success of TLs, at first confirms that the first few years will be hard. However, her discussion then follows with the clincher: Successful TLs are “extroverted… self-confident risk takers or at least open-minded, lifelong learners, and flexible” (Farmer, 2007).

In a perverse way, I am even looking forward to being the youthful TL with a lack of experience. There seems to be much bustle in the argument of whether students these days deserve the best in 21st century technology, or if reading patterns are better served in the traditional physical form (Rosenwald, 2015). Even in my limited experience I can see the shift away from the former, but believe that being a digital native myself can help me marry the two perfectly, being a TL who can appropriately meet the needs of the modern learner.

 

 

Bonanno, K. (2010). Reflections 1: Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools. Access, 24(3), 9–11.

Farmer, L. (2007). Predictors for Success: Experience of Beginning and Expert Teacher Librarians. International Association of School Librarianship. Selected Papers from the… Annual Conference, 2007, 1-29.

Mansfield, C., Beltman, S., & Price, A. (2014). ‘I’m coming back again!’ The resilience process of early career teachers. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 20(5), 547-567.

Oatley, K. (2011). Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction. John Wiley & Sons.

Rosenwald, , M.C. (2015). Why digital natives prefer reading in print: Yes, you read that right. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/why-digital-natives-prefer-reading-in-print-yes-you-read-that-right/2015/02/22/8596ca86-b871-11e4-9423-f3d0a1ec335c_story.html.

2 thoughts on “Through the Looking Glass (ETL401 Assignment One)

  1. Rebekah, your blog grabbed me the instant it opened, the layout and images made it immediately appealing. Visually it is clean and fresh, but at the same time informative with cleverly chosen titles that engage and intrigue me to want to investigate further. Navigation is simple and discreet while being fully functional. I look forward to following your choice of tags over categories for your subjects, as currently you have one tagged and one categorised. Being new to blogging I am unsure which way to go but have gone with categories for the moment.
    Your details of personal experiences as well as bursts of humour make a realistic, strong connection to the reader. I did become one of those graduates from the 90s, who at a time of government culling teachers chose to leave the profession, but your determination is seeing you though and I commend you for taking on further studies. Your mention of reliving that ‘place of worship’ is something I aspire to in my library, although in my library with little funding we have very few furnishings to tussle over!
    I found being part of our new introduction program for the year 7s this year to be an exciting opportunity to see the library from their perspective and compare it to those of senior students. With only few years between the cohorts the digital experience and changes are quite visible.
    Also sharing your love of digital resources and passion for literature, I too see the role of teacher librarian moving towards to modern learner, however in my situation the journey of modernising teachers and principal staff to the library is a work in progress, as my library is staffed exclusively by library technicians.

    Whist I am not an extrovert or even self-confident like your research suggests I am certainly an open minded lifelong learner who looks forward to one day becoming a successful teacher librarian.
    I wish you all the very best on this journey, and I look forward to reading your posts in the future!

  2. Rebekah,
    Well done on an engaging and humorous approach to being a new teacher and in some trepidation about your choice of a career as a TL. I think it’s only fabulous that you will be a young TL, and one who’s to say the least enamoured with reading in all its forms. You are just what our profession needs! Not a dragon shush lady! You’ve created an attractive and easily navigable blog space that should support your learning throughout your studies. I like its literary allusions. You write of your experiences thus far with libraries and TLs, and you have a personal view of the TL which is welcoming, and is about learning and loving reading. You will flesh out this understanding from this subject to see what it is that TLs focus on – information literacy, inquiry learning, literary learning.

    Your use of academic conventions is really good, with only a minor error in not always only using initial capitals in titles. (The Farmer one).

    Your peer review of Louise’s post was thoughtful and supportive. You referred both to her content and the format of the blog. You were able to provide feedback which arose from a particular point she made and think about its implications for the role of the TL. This was that Louise regards the TL as “Subject Matter Experts” – is this not what the classroom teacher is, whereas we TLs are more about accessing and using information?

    For the next task, continue with the research and expand it into the areas of academic research, TL practitioner articles, and public commentary (such as news, social media, education websites etc). In a literature review, the focus is primarily on academic research studies, so you must include some of these. Don’t forget that you are to find an issue that impacts on information access, and it might be good at the start at least to keep it broad. Examples might include: lack of information literacy skills impacting information access; the layout – physical and electronic – of the library, and its impact on information access; the preference of students to only use Google and the impact on their information access. Because you are somewhat interested in reading (!), maybe your choice might be of the impact of format on comprehension (if you can define information access as comprehension).. Just a thought.

    Well done on a great start! I particularly liked your crossed out line about being trusted to teach a class, and remember it well when I was trusted with the basketball class on my first prac, and it was in Wagga, and the entire class went home!

    Lee
    ETL401 SC

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