ETL 504 – Assessment 2, task B.

Building our group:

My group functioned well within the confines of the task, we developed collaborative professional relationships but we did not spend anytime developing our interpersonal skills.   As I mentioned in the Reflection on Colvin reading – 2.1, within a school environment, relationship building is one of the most beneficial things you can do.  However, in the online environment without the face-to-face interaction, I felt we did not give this the due attention it deserved and as a result missed an opportunity to build a network with like-minded people that could help breakdown the isolation of online study.

My group was very task driven and transactional leadership came through when establishing how our group would function. We had one-person start the conversation around organising our group, we put in place a series of guidelines or rules to follow, this ensured that everything ran smoothly and we meet the required timelines. A strength in running our group like this meant that everyone knew their role; we managed our time efficiently and we had no conflict.  However, if we were to use this approach in a school environment, it would cause issues if someone could not complete their task as the system would fail to run smoothly or others would need to pick up the slack which could lead to resentment, extra burden on people who are already time poor and cause conflict.

Case study scenarios: The TL as a leader.

I have never experienced a working environment quit like the one in the case studies; it was very confronting and made me feel quite anxious thinking about how to manage the different situations.   As can be seen in my reflection on conflict resolution, I would prefer to achieve a win-win situation, working with all parties involved as to avoid conflict and find a solution that is beneficial for all.  Personally, I would find it difficult to manage some of the situations identified in the case studies; it has been a good opportunity to think about solutions and put them into “practice” in a risk free environment.

The case studies have also allowed me to reflect on the role of the TL as a leader. The TL is more than just a manager of the space that is the library; they are team builders, financial officers, mediators, strategic planners, advocates, motivators, knowledge builders, curriculum developers, mentors, futurists and so much more. With all this in mind, it has made me realise that the TL cannot do can it all on their own and they need to lead from the middle by building strong team around them.

To instil leadership in others, the TL may need to be a transformational leader who can inspire those around them to buy into the vision and create a team of like-minded people who will work towards the common goals. They may need to be distributive leaders who are willing to relinquish control so that responsibility is shared within their team and finally they need to be servant leaders who are at the coalface supporting teachers and students.  The TL is a valuable asset within the school environment and their leadership is a driving factor in teaching and learning across the school.

 

Case study 5 – Done and Dusted

We are almost at the end of our group work tasks and this week followed a similar pattern to our previous interactions.  We had one person start off the group discussion by providing their opinion on what the superficial and deeper issues were within the case study and the “rest” of our members chimed into provided feedback and their own input.  Within any group work, there has to be someone who is willing to start the process and organise the group otherwise nothing would be achieved due to the lack of guidance that working online creates.

I am finding in our group, there are three key people who post early into our wiki and the other two are somewhat lagging behind.  We did have one of our members mention they were struggling to keep up with managing their study and work life balance.  I think the group handled this well by giving them the option of putting together our final submission.   I will be happy when we have completed our final case study – will reflect on this comment after our case study 6 submission.

 

 

 

First group work reflection

I am posting this a little late but here are my reflections on our first group work case study.  We had a clear leader in the group who was the first to post on our group wiki and made several suggestions on how we might want to share the workload.  This was important as we needed someone to get the ball rolling and provide some direction.  After some back and forth between group members, we came up with a general consensus on how the group would operate in the online space.

I was able to participate very easily within this group – we started off with everyone identifying the superficial and deeper issues (4 in total) within the case study.  From there we all individually selected an issue that we were interested in researching.  First in best served.  Each individual then shared their research and one person from the group (who missed out on an issue) posted on behalf of the group.  I felt like everyone had an equal voice in the group, we all contributed effectively and there was no conflict.

I didn’t really enjoy the initial back and forth between the group trying to organise everything as this took a couple of days and I felt like it wasted valuable time that could have been used to complete the task.  I understand the purpose of spending time organising the group; this allowed each of us know our role and what we needed to do.  Once we started on the case study, everyone followed the set dead lines and we produced a credible response to share with the cohort.

 

3.2 Reflection – conflict resolution questionnaire results

Conflict resolution questionnaire.

As part of module 3.2 on leading change, we have examined information on problem solving, decision-making, managing teams, effective communication and the dreaded conflict management/resolution. I was a junior school year level coordinator in my current school for seven years and over this time; I had to manage and collaborate with my team, deal with conflict between students, work with parents and report to my line manager. I like to think my skills in the above-mentioned areas we have been studying have successfully developed over this period but I must say I still find it confronting to have the “difficult” conversations. We had to complete a survey reflecting on how we manage conflict with results rated from 4 – 20 (ranking low preference through to strong preference). How did I go?

Yielding: Giving in completely to the other side’s wishes (14)

Compromising: Looking for a position where your loses are offset by equally valued gain (14)

Forcing: Tying to win the conflict at the other’s expense (10)

Problem solving: Finding a mutually beneficial solution for both parties (16)

Avoiding: Tries to smooth over or avoid conflict situations altogether (14)

Based on these results, it could be inferred that I like to achieve a win-win situation and ensuring that all stakeholders feel they are being heard and their contributions are valued. I would prefer to work with the other party involved in the conflict so that we can try to find a common ground to compromise and find a solution that is beneficial for all. I need to keep developing skills on how to be more assertive and remember that “difficult” conversations should not be avoided as the sooner the issue is dealt with; the sooner a resolution can be reached.

 

Reflection on Colvin reading – 2.1

This article is written more from a business perspective than a school perspective.  I did struggle to make the connection between the information provided within this article and what happens within the school context.

Take away message from the article:

  • The leaders within the organisation need to create an environment where there are shared values  – aligned values constitute an awesome power.
  • Need to remember that interaction, recognition and relationships are an important part of building success.

I have found within my school environment that relationship building; whether it is with student’s, teacher’s or parent’s is one of the most beneficial things you can do.

Assessment 3 – Reflective Practice

When I first started this course, I had no idea how important the role of TL was in supporting teachers and students around the topics of information, information literacy and implementing literacy models.  As I discussed in my forum post 2.1. Thinking about information, I commented on how difficult it was for students to develop their knowledge and deeper understanding through learning because we have a packed curriculum that does not allow enough scope and sequence to develop deep understanding.   Add to this the vast amount of information that is available to students and it is even more challenging for students to develop the skills to critically analyse the information they access and use it in the correct way.  This highlights the importance of the TL.  As mentioned in my blog Information Literacy – Module reflection. The TL is an information specialist and expert in information literacy and using guided inquiry models; the TL is someone who is there to support and collaborate with teachers to ensure that these skills are integrated into the curriculum.  The TL supports students as they navigate the information landscape and helps them develop their information literacy skills.

Some teachers see the TL as an asset whilst others are happy to tackle the curriculum on their own.  As mentioned in my blog post Assessment item 1B – The Role of a TL. I spoke about the TL being a curriculum leader and as someone who can work closely with HODs and teachers to help keep them abreast of the latest trends and developments around information literacy.  The TL must use self-promotion as a way of making teachers aware of the support they can provide around information literacy and the value they can add to a subject area by working in a collaborative environment with the TL.  As mentioned in the forum 4.2. The challenges, I wrote about teachers having a fear of collaboration.  Lori Korodaj, also agreed that some staff have a fear of the unknown and that sharing positive collaborative teaching experiences at staff and faculty meetings could elicit some business.

I see the information literacy models as an avenue for building collaborative relationships with teachers and embedding literacy into the curriculum.  There are many positives to the implementation of these models, in the forum 5.3b. Benefits and challenges of GI, I listed a number of benefits which included higher student engagement due to ownership, GI builds in depth knowledge and deeper understanding, students move beyond fact-finding, it promotes academic research for all year levels, it is learning centred instead of product driven and it promotes collaboration.  Melanie Ashton also noted some very similar aspects that included collaboration between TL and teacher, the TL being able to direct and provide support to students as they navigate the information landscape.  Alene Morley also noted that a major challenge is teachers having difficulty letting go of their old teaching materials, lesson plans and working together is something new.

The IL  models are a way of breaking down the barriers and fears teachers have around collaborative practice with TL and using new information literacy experiences in the classroom.  The TL can work in partnership with teachers and they can offer their expertise to help develop learning experiences to embed information literacy into the curriculum with the use of IL models.   With my teacher hat on, the IL models are very easy to understand and the systematic stages within the models are highly adaptable to meet the learning needs of the students, it still gives the teacher some ownership, and slowly develops a new literacy process.   The role of the teacher in this process is delivering the content of the task and the TL delivers processes of information literacy and GI.  Lastly, for improved information literacy, there needs to be a whole school approach.  In the forum 5.3a. Information literacy model, I reflected on my schools practice; most departments have their own way of teaching literacy, and there is no consistent approach within the school.  Judy O’Connell also noted that this is a fairly typical occurrence in schools and that most educators do not fully appreciate or understand the dimensions of IL.   The TL has a comprehensive knowledge across the curriculum and is an information specialist who can support the teacher so that information literacy skills are embedded with the curriculum and explicitly taught across the entire school.

Mid week reflection

I have been reflecting on my studies so far and thinking about what occurs at my school and I have drawn the conclusion that there is need for improvement.  Firstly, our TL left our school and we have now been 10 weeks without a replacement.  The library is currently being run by teacher aides and  their responsibility is scanning out borrowed books.  Secondly, our school population has grown quit significantly over the last couple of years with the introduction of year 7’s into high school.  This has put a massive strain on our physical resources, and classes are now timetabled into the library under permanent bookings which means learning spaces are not available to other classes.   And lastly, it makes me question how much value is placed on this resource and the people who work within it by admin and other staff within the school community.  As I think back to a post I wrote about TL’s being endangered species which I argued against, at my school for the moment, it would appear that this might be the case.

This week we have been reading about information literacy and the guided inquiry models.  We have been asked to reflect on what occurs within our school and the role the TL can play.  As mentioned earlier we don’t have a TL at the moment so that human resource and source of knowledge is not available to us.  We don’t really have a whole school IL policy and what we do is only superficial at best.  At the beginning of the school year, the year 7 cohort receives a booklet from the English department called FLAG; staff are present one at our first staff meeting and we are quickly rushed through it.  This booklet outlines all the different literacy strategies used from all the departments as part of our whole school approach, the contents include: tackling tasks, reading, researching and referencing, extended writing, scientific writing and vocabulary.  Whilst we have this booklet, according to my three year 7 classes they hardly ever refer to it.  I know within my facility (HPE), we teach paragraph writing very differently to how it is taught in English or humanities.  This is something that occurs across the school, everyone is following their own literacy models and there is very little cross over between subject areas.  I can imagine this causes quite a bit of confusion with the students as they try to meet the different expectations within each learning area.

I am not sure how one person (TL) can solve this problem as it appears to be a massive undertaking but the school does need a key person to drive the development of this policy. The TL is one of the select few who are actually trained in IL and inquiry learning and they should play a key role to building a better pathway.   If we were to have a whole school policy, there would need to be ample collaboration between faculty areas and professional development so we understand, incorporate and teach the IL strategies as they are intended.

 

Information Literacy – Module reflection.

I think information literacy requires an ability to read, write, speak, listen and view. These are the foundational skills that are taught very early on in life. Our ability to use the foundational skills to demonstrate and articulate our understanding of information will determine our literacy levels. Given the changing information landscape we are now required to use these skills in a variety of different contexts and this can add another level of complexity to demonstrating your level of understanding and literacy. For example, one could make the assumption that the older generation may have lower levels of ICT literacy when compared to the younger generation or a more experienced craftsman may have higher levels of workplace literacy when compared to a new apprentice. It is all relative to the perspective and context in which these foundational skills are being applied.

The information landscape has evolved throughout my teaching career. I found some OHT’s in an old unit of work I was throwing out (time to let go of the past) and I thought most students wouldn’t know information was presented using this medium before laptops and data projectors. Our students have access to so much information via the web and they need to be able to evaluate the quality of the information and demonstrate their understanding and apply it in the appropriate context. It is essential that the TL (who is an information specialist) and the teacher use collaborative practice to ensure these skills are integrated into the curriculum and learning experiences.

Within the school environment, my observations are that we tend to use a behaviourist approach to assess a student’s ability to develop their literacy levels. We measure their ability to acquire skills and knowledge against a set of criteria. This also links closely to the content and competency framework as identified by Bruce, Edwards and Lupton (2015) who suggest that learning has a discipline or skills orientation in which the students demonstrates their ability to display skills and what they know, whilst the teacher assesses the level of skill that has been achieved and the student’s performance is ranked against others. Depending on the subject area, you might also observe learning to learn, personal relevance and social impact framework as other ways of interacting with information literacy.

Why do we lean towards the behaviourist approach? My observations & experience.

Curriculum – outcomes based assessment.

Time – strict time frame allocations on what needs to be achieve and by when.

Length – units of work for 6 or 7 weeks before moving onto a next topic.

Students – Do they see the importance of developing deeper understanding and knowledge?

Students – Different learning needs & literacy levels.

Teacher knowledge – Do we have all the tools to keep up with the evolving information and digital landscapes?

I am sure there are many more reasons why we teach and assess literacy the way we do.  I am looking forward to learning about some new approaches so I can try them with my classes.

 

Bruce, C. Edwards, S. & Lupton, M. (2015). Six frames of information literacy educational conceptual framework for interpreting the relationships between theory and practice. Innovation in teaching and learning in information computer sciences: 5, (1) 1-18.

Are school librarians an endangered species?

The take home message I received from Karen Bonanno’s presentation was that the TL’s are not an endangered species but we are responsible for building our enterprise by promoting and advocating for what we do.   We need to be seen as an important part of the educational structure and not be viewed as a separate specialist.   We play a vital role in linking curriculum, processes, content and resource development.

Karen Bonanno suggests we build our enterprise by using a five fingered plan, this includes:

  • Building your strength of character
  • What is your focus? – stick at it until you reach success
  • What is your brand? – Who are you and how do you support teachers and students?
  • Build relationships
  • What are the little things that you do everyday that make a difference?

 

 

 

 

Wow! Halfway through.

I can’t believe we are already halfway through ETL401, where has the time gone?.  This is my first blog post since our first assessment task, upon reflection this is something I need to priorities and write in once a week.

It has been a steep learning curve returning to study after almost 20 years but I am enjoying the challenges and opening my mind to new experiences that this course brings.  Coming back to study has given me a new appreciation for what my students go through on a daily basis except they are juggling a few more subjects than me.

I am really enjoying the topics we have learnt about so far.  The first couple of weeks we focused heavily on the topic of information and are just starting to touch on the role of the TL.  What I learnt over this time is that information is one complex term, I interact with it every single day but I have never really paid it that much attention, until now.  There are quite a few different definitions for the term information, there is the general definition (straight from the dictionary) as well as the semantic and the classical definition.  I also reflected on the way my students interact with information as a result of the data – knowledge continuum.  I feel like our students never really have a chance to move fully along the continuum due to the amount of subject content we are expected to cover in a school year.  I also found out about the 4 properties that make information different to other traded goods, even though information is a valuable commodity.

As we moved into the information landscape and information society, we found out just how quickly the landscape continues to change and how difficult it can be to keep up with these changes.  We also found out that information has become the most significate economic and cultural activity due to the way it is created, distributed and manipulated. We access information using a variety of formats and modes but digital information is certainly at the forefront.  I was a little shocked to find out that we only interact with about 10% of the information available on the web.  It appears like we have access to so much information but as it turns out this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I was a little worried searching up the terms dark and deep web, as I had no idea what the results would turn up.  I had my fingers crossed that I didn’t get a knock on the door from Education QLD asking for a “please explain”.   We also learnt that there are many rules and regulations that apply to information and how we access and use it.

I was managing my time fairly well keeping up with attending the on-line meetings, completing all the learning modules, readings, and managing to post on the discussion forums from time to time.  Then week four hit and the assessment task became the main focus.  I mean it dominated my life for the next two weeks!  Unlike an exemplar I would write for my students were I know what the end product needs to be, planning what to write was really difficult as I had to let the research guide my discussion essay.  After lots of reading, planning and organising my thoughts, I put fingers to key board, drafted a little more and hoped I was on the right track with the finished product I submitted.  And again just like the students I teach, I am waiting for the marks to come through and wanting to ask “Have you marked our assignments yet Miss?”.  Feeling totally relieved to have the discussion essay completed and the first “real” assessment task ticked off.

I am on school holidays now so this is a great opportunity to play catch up on the learning experiences I didn’t complete whilst working on my assessment.  More to come on the role of the TL in my next blog post.