Location Learning – Virtual reality in the classroom.

When COVID-19 ruins your plans!

The group of Year 8 students had just finished a unit of work on the history of the Catholic Church from the fall of Rome to the Reformation as part of their Religious Education subject (Curriculum link – ACDSEH052/ ACDSEH054).  At the culmination of the semester, they were supposed to go on an excursion to explore the various different Christian churches and analyse how their structure, design, and use of symbols support faith based practices (Curriculum link – ACAVAM119/ACHASSK198). 

However, the COVID-10 pandemic and resulting restrictions prevented that adventure.  Therefore, in an effort to address the gap in their learning, the teacher librarian and classroom teacher collaborated to create a lesson that would virtually explore various churches by introducing emerging technologies in the form of virtual reality to the classroom with Google Cardboard and Google Streetview.  In the process students would learn essential note taking skills using a graphic organiser and paragraph writing skills.   Evidence of learning would be the written TEXAS or TEEL paragraph illustrating their analysis of the building structure and design and how it supports faith practices and community. 

Rosenblatt’s reader response theory was the underlying pedagogical principle for this activity (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.110).  Commonly used in literature circles, Rosenblatt’s constructivist theory acknowledges each student’s contribution as valid, which enables them to become active agents in their own learning, and the activity appropriate for a diverse classroom (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.109-110).  However, instead of investigating texts in a literature circle, the students investigated and analysed religious sites in a similar immersive experience.  This virtual exploration required them to combine the new visual information to their own prior experience in order to create new knowledge (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.111).  The collaborative atmosphere allows students to have an equal exchange of ideas, increases their problem solving skills as well as developing interpersonal skills and promotes collegian discussion  (ACARA, 2014a; Tobin, 2012, p. 41).  

The students were given a choice of six different churches to visit and had to select three for comparison purposes.  As location was no longer an issue, the TL identified a variety of churches from different Christian denominations across the world that were suitable.  It is important that careful research be undertaken to ensure that the sites are accessible freely via Google Streetview and the associated images provide relevant information.  

The students were requested to note down the similarities and differences between the different types of churches using a triple venn diagram.  This part of the task involved student collaboration and ideally students would have selected a different church site each and then shared their information through discourse.  However this did not happen as the students all looked at sites sequentially rather concurrently, which was a poor use of time from a teacher perspective, but did increase the length and breadth of discourse.  

Teaching note taking and the use of graphic organisers simultaneously was a pedagogical strategy.  Note taking is an essential skill that needs to be explicitly taught across the curriculum as the style of note taking and vocabulary choice will vary depending on the discipline.  Good note takers have generally higher academic outcomes because they are able to succinctly summarise ideas, concepts and information using their own vernacular, and then use their notes to create content to communicate their understanding and analysis (Stacy & Cain, 2015).  Graphic organisers have been proven to improve learning outcomes because it increases connections between ideas, and organises information in a visual and spatial manner (McKnight, n.d.; Mann, 2014).  By utilising the two strategies together, the students are given an opportunity to explore different methods of learning which they can use throughout their learning both in and outside classroom walls.  

Good notes lead to a strong author’s voice and content in paragraphs.  The culmination of the task required students to create a paragraph identifying and describing the structure of the church and its alignment to faith based practices, as well as evaluating how the design of the church’s spiritual and aesthetic design holds value to their congregation and society.   The question was created using Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive domains so that all the diverse learning needs of the class would be catered for appropriately (Kelly, 2019b). 

Questions are an intrinsic and ancient practice of teaching (Tofade, Elsner & Haines, 2013).  Carefully designed questions are all features of good pedagogical practice and are able to, stimulate thinking, promote discourse, further connections between prior and new knowledge as well as encourage subject exploration. (Tofade et al., 2013).  Teachers that stage questions in order of Bloom’s taxonomy are addressing all the cognitive domains, as well as building students to achieve that higher order thinking (Tofade et al., 2013).  

The virtual exploration of churches around the world was designed to compensate students for their inability to connect their learning to the real world to the pandemic.  The task overtly sought to get students to experiment with emerging technologies, work in collaborative groups and communicate their learning in written form.  In addition students covertly learned to note take using graphic organisers, engage in collegial discourse and use Bloom’s taxonomy to work toward higher order thinking.  These skills are in addition to the content learning outcomes and even if the students did not learn any new content, they had a good crack at learning some valuable skills!  

Curriculum links:

Overall content outcomes:

  • ACDSEH052Dominance of the Catholic Church and the role of significant individuals such as Charlemagne
  •  ACDSEH054Relationships with subject peoples, including the policy of religious tolerance 
  • ACAVAM119Analyse how artists use visual conventions in artworks
  • ACTDIP026 – Analyse and visualise data using a range of software to create  information, and use structured data to model objects or events 
  • ACHASSK198 – Identify the different ways that cultural and religious groups express their beliefs, identity and experiences
  • ACELA1763 – writing structured paragraphs for use in a range of academic settings such as paragraph responses, reports and presentations. 
  • ACELY1810 – Experimenting with text structures and language features to refine and clarify ideas and improve text effectiveness. 

                   (ACARA, 2014h; ACARA, 2014i; ACARA, 2014j)

Using VR

  • GC – ICT -Locate, generate and access data and information  
  • GC – CCT –  Identify and clarify information and ideas
  • GC – Literacy – Understanding how visual elements create meaning (ACARA, 2014c; ACARA, 2014b; ACARA, 2014h)

Graphic organisers

  • GC – CCT – 
    • Organise and process information
    • Imagine possibilities and connect ideas                (ACARA, 2014b)

Collaborative Learning groups

  • GC – PSC
    • Appreciate diverse perspectives
    • Understand relationships
    • Communicate effectively
    • Work collaboratively
    • Negotiate and resolve conflict

                                   (ACARA, 2014d)

TEXAS Paragraph

GC – IC – 

  • Investigate culture and cultural identity
  • Explore and compare cultural knowledge, beliefs and practices

GC – Literacy 

  • Compose spoken, written, visual and multimodal learning area texts
  • Use language to interact with others
  • Use knowledge of text structures
  • Express opinion and point of view
  • Understand learning area vocabulary

(ACARA, 2014f; ACARA, 2014c)

REFERENCES

ACARA. (2014a). Personal and social capability. General Capabilities Curriculum.  Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/general-capabilities/personal-and-social-capability/

ACARA. (2014b). Creative and critical thinking continuum.  F-10 Curriculum – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia.  Retrieved from  https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1072/general-capabilities-creative-and-critical-thinking-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014c). Literacy continuum. F-10 Curriculum – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/3596/general-capabilities-literacy-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014d). Personal and social capabilities continuum. F-10 Curriculum – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1078/general-capabilities-personal-and-social-capability-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014e). Ethical understanding continuum. F-10 Curriculum – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1073/general-capabilities-ethical-understanding-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014f). Intercultural understanding continuum. F-10 Curriculum – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1075/general-capabilities-intercultural-understanding-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014h). Information and communication technology capability learning continuum. F-10 – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1074/general-capabilities-information-and-communication-ict-capability-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014h). English. F-10 – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/english/?strand=Language&strand=Literature&strand=Literacy&capability=ignore&priority=ignore&year=11582&elaborations=true&el=15718&searchTerm=TEEL+paragraph#dimension-content

ACARA. (2014i). History Curriculum. F-10 Curriculum – Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. . Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/humanities-and-social-sciences/history/

ACARA. (2014j). Visual Arts Curriculum. F-10 Curriculum – Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. . Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/the-arts/visual-arts/

Kelly, M. (2019a). Organising compare-contrast paragraphs. ThoughtCo [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/organizing-compare-contrast-paragraphs-6877

Kelly, M. (2019b). Bloom’s taxonomy in the classroom. ThoughtCo [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/blooms-taxonomy-in-the-classroom-8450

Mann, M (2014). The effectiveness of graphic organisers on the comprehension of social studies content by students with disabilities. Marshall University Theses, Dissertations and Capstones. Retrieved from https://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1895&context=etd

McKnight, M. (n.d.). Use graphic organisers for effective learning. TeachHUB.com. Retrieved from https://www.teachhub.com/teaching-graphic-organizers

Stacy, E., & Cain, J. (2015). Note taking and handouts in the digital age. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (79) 7. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4812780/

Tobin, M. (2012). Digital storytelling: Reinventing literature circles. Fischer College of Education. 12. NSU. Retrieved from https://nsuworks.nova.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=fse_facarticles

Tofade, T., Elsner, J., Haines, S. (2013). Best practice strategies for effective use of questions as a teacher tool. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 77 (7). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3776909/.

Woodruff, A., & Griffin, R. (2017). Reader response in secondary settings: Increasing comprehension through meaningful interactions with literary texts. Texas Journal of Literacy Education (5) 2 pp.108-116. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1162670.pdf

 

 

The books we read out loud are the ones that resonate the most. 

ANZAC Day 

The books we read out loud are the ones that resonate the most within us and are the ones we remember most clearly.  

Reading out aloud to children is an effective way of improving literacy and picture books are ideally suited to the task.  The whole concept of reading out loud is very familiar to students. Most children understand the notion of a bedtime story or just story time in general and do not view it as a threatening experience.  As the text themselves are quite brief and usually accompanied by illustrations, students who have learning needs and or have low literacy, are more likely to participate willingly.  Jewett, Wilson & Vanderburg (2011) reminds us that literacy is a dynamic interaction between the reader and the text.  Discussion groups can be used to increase the relationship between the two as comprehension of the text increases if there are connections made between real life and the text (Jewett, Wilson & Vanderburg, 2011).    

From a pedagogical perspective, there are several benefits to reading out aloud to students of all ages.  One reason is that the practice of reading to children (and teenagers), increases fluency and improves comprehension (Winch & Holliday, 2012, p.120; Allington & Gabriel, 2012).  This is because the proficient reader models pronunciation, tone and inflexion of the text, allowing the children to piece the visual images, text and sounds together to create a multimodal experience.  Other reasons include, increasing vocabulary, improving visual literacy as well as the ability to broach sensitive social issues in a delicate manner.  But the greatest benefit that arises from read aloud sessions is the discussion that occurs before, during and afterwards (Allington & Gabriel, 2012; McDonald, 2013). Fisher & Frey (2018) point out that discussions have a very strong influence on student learning as it is based upon the central concept of shared reading or common reading experience (Jewett, Wilson & Vanderburg, 2011).  

Discussions can be done as a whole class or small groups, in a book club or literature circle (Fisher & Frey, 2018, p.92).  The point of the discussion is to allow students to collaborate with their peers and have a free exchange of ideas in order to critically evaluate the text (Fisher & Frey, 2018, p.92).  The role of the teacher and or teacher librarian in these discussions is not to lead the conversation but rather facilitate the collaboration by creating a safe space and implementing strategies that encourage lateral thinking (Fisher & Frey, 2018, p.92).  

Good narrative nonfiction picture books are able to give students the same pleasurable experiences and cognitive change as fiction (Kiefer & Wilson, 2010; Morris, 2013).  Their use of narrative techniques such as theme, character and plot are cleverly intertwined with factual information to create a format that is appealing and instructive (Morris, 2013; Cornett, 2014, p.151).  The picture books listed up above are all cleverly crafted and have the ability to increase cognition in the reader.  This cognitive change causes increased self awareness and actualisation within the student (Morris, 2013; Kiefer & Wilson, 2010). 

Non fiction picture books are also capable of increasing critical thinking skills.  I have previously mentioned the benefit of narrative nonfiction in my book review of “After Auschwitz”, so I will just briefly summarise the following.  The interweaving of factual information and prose forces the reader to sieve through the text to determine the critical information.   This sieving, analysis and evaluation of text increases critical thinking and promotes good media literacy.

  In a world full of medicinal bleach, fake news and click bait, critical thinking and media literacy are important!!  

There are many aspects within the role of a teacher librarian.  One of these roles is to advocate the role of fiction in the teaching and learning.  The reason for this is simple.  Fiction, or aka storytelling, is an innate part of being human (Cornett, 2014).  It is the simplest and most efficient way humans have of learning about ourselves, our identity, our history, society and language (Cornett, 2014).  By implementing narratives and narrative non fiction into the curriculum, educators are increasing the zone of proximal development between the student and the curriculum, which in turn increases engagement with the content (Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018).  

 What does this mean for teachers and educators? 

 It means that there needs to be a more assertive role for narratives in pedagogical practice.  

So there!

 

References

Allington, R., & Gabriel, R. (2014). Every child, every day. Educational Leadership, Volume 69 (6).  pp.10-15. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=af8a4fab-9b19-447e-835f-78f39f145c0b%40sdc-v-sessmgr02&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=73183256&db=ehh

Cornett, C. E. (2014). Integrating the literary arts throughout the curriculum. In Creating meaning through literature and the arts: arts integration for Classroom teachers (5th ed,) (pp144-193) USA

Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2018). Raise reading volume through access, choice, discussion, and book talksReading Teacher, 72(1), 89-97. doi: 10.1002/trtr.1691

Hashim, A & VongKulluskn, V. (2018). E reader apps and reading engagement: A descriptive case study. Computers and Education, 125, pp.358-375. Retrieved from https://www.journals.elsevier.com/computers-and-education/

Jewett, P. C., Wilson, J. L. & Vanderburg, M.A. (2011). The unifying power of a whole school readJournal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(6), 415-424. doi:10.1598/JAAL.54.6.3

Keifer, B. & Wilson, M. I. (2010). Nonfiction literature for children: Old Assumptions and new directions. In S. Wolf, , K. Coats, , P. A. Enciso & C. Jenkins (Eds). In Handbook of research on children’s and young adult literature (pp. 290-301). Retrieved from Proquest Ebook Central.

McDonald, L. (2013). A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association PETA.

Morris, R. (2013). Linking learning and literary nonfiction. School Library Monthly, 29(7), 39-40. Retrieved from https://www.slj.com/

Winch, G., & Holliday, M. (2014). Chapter 6 – The reader and the text. In G. Winch, R. Ross Johnston, P. March, L. Ljungdahl & M. Holliday (Eds.) Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (5th ed., pp.109-128). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Academic integrity – more than just plagiarism.

Tumisu / Pixabay – Right or Wrong?

 

Academic integrity is often espoused and bandied about across educational institutions, especially in the first few weeks of every scholastic year. 

La Trobe university describes it as shared values and behaviour that includes but is not exclusive to honesty, fairness and responsible practices. This concept of honesty in academia is a two way street.  Educational institutions such as schools and universities are obliged to award credit and acknowledge honestly conducted work. Students are responsible for ensuring that their work meets the required standards mandated (LaTrobe, 2019).  The onus of practices that promote academic honesty need to be equally addressed by students, staff, executive and organisations. It is not simply the role of a student to avoid plagiarism, but also the role of education to provide them with the skills and knowledge to do so.  Additionally, society needs to realise that academic integrity does not start and finish with plagiarism.  Plagiarism is just an aspect of authentic academia. Other practices include the creation of assessment tasks that limit the risk of dishonest practices and organisations to adequately address infringements in their policies with appropriate levels of censure that are age and stage appropriate.  The role of teacher librarian is multifaceted when it comes to academic integrity. Due to their dynamic position, a TL is able to address academic honesty from a student and classroom teacher (CT) lens and from a department and school perspective.   

Academic honesty starts with the classroom teacher.  If teachers continuously utilise reputable sources in their teaching and learning, as well as consistently reference them correctly; then they are modeling good practice. Students (and teachers) need to be aware that academic honesty is not just for assessment tasks.  Its for all tasks. Like all skills, good research behavioural practices such as using databases, encyclopaedias and journal articles are essential in formulating evidence based assertions. Using disreputable sources does not bode well for your postulations. W. Edwards Deming was quoted in Forbes (2016) that “without data you’re just a person with an opinion”.  My experience as a scientist holds me in good authority in championing this point. In the fields of science and mathematics, opinions hold little value. It is the data from rigorously run experiments that define our thinking process. Poorly run experiments with inconclusive data have no value; as do opinions with no justification and evidence. Opinions are fine when limited to coffee preferences but not in academics. 

The other aspect of academic integrity within the TL’s and or CT’s realms, is the explicit teaching of information literacy.  Information literacy is defined by the ability to find, seek, use and create information and traditionally the domain of TL area of expertise (Kuhthau et al, 2012).  IL needs to be taught and then subsequently assessed in order for students to reach proficiency (Jacobson et al. 2018; Qayyum & Smith, 2018, p257; McGrew et al. 2018).  It is not passively acquired by the act of completing a research task – but rather, these skills need to be integrated into daily practice to boost competency (Kong, 2014).  Part of these practices include the direct instruction of correct referencing techniques.  As mentioned before, plagiarism is AN aspect of academic honesty, it is not the entirety.

Whilst it teaching information literacy and the finer points of referencing is essential, it is important to note that the assessment task itself can be a liability to honest practice.   Introducing mandatory evidence of progress, drafts and log books are other useful methods in ensuring authenticity of work. Assessment tasks that are repeated at yearly intervals for indefinite periods of time are also very problematic.  This is due to the fact that its simplistic to assume that students do not try to seek aid from older siblings and or cousins. Having a maximum time frame of 2 years allowed for a particular task reduces the likelihood of younger relatives plagiarising from older siblings.  Another point to note is that nuances of language in assessment task construction can reduce the likelihood of plagiarism. Requesting students to analyse, justify and relate to their community requires higher order thinking skills and is harder to successfully pass off as own work due to the nature of the questions.  TL can be of great assistance to teachers in the construction of assessment tasks. Ezard (2019) pointed out that co-creation and collective capacity is the fundamental basis of true collaborative practice (cited in Templeton, 2019). Collaboration between departments and the library can result in a positive sharing of expertise and knowledge resulting in tasks that elicit deep understanding and truly engage the student. 

Departmental heads and school administrators have the last word on academic honesty in a school situation.  The school policies are the framework in which the academic integrity of the staff and students is based upon.  Therefore it is up to the executives to ensure the policies are current with contemporary practices which includes the rapid evolution of technology and the challenges that it brings.  They are also responsible to clearly define what constitutes minor, moderate and major infringements and their appropriate consequences. Staff need to realise that a major infringement in middle school is not the same as a major infringement in senior school.  A suggestion would be construct a hierarchy of violations that is clearly distributed to students and teachers. This transparency reduces the likelihood of students citing ignorance in their defence. An example of such a hierarchy from ANU, Canberra and Andrews University in Michigan are available for your perusal.   

Much has been said so far about how teaching staff can do to promote academic honesty.  But in all honesty, students need to also be aware of their role in this dual relationship.  Students need to follow the referencing guidelines set by their institution. Whether it be APA, Harvard or MLA citation styles, students need to conform.  They also need to refrain from reusing earlier work and badging it as new work. Many students feel that this cannot be plagiarism as its their own material.  But what they are unaware of is that they can reference previous works. The most common ways in which students are academically dishonest is collusion and unequal group work.  Collusion as Monash University (2019) points out is the “unauthorised collaboration on assessable work with other people”. Frequently unauthorised partners include parents, older siblings, tutors and friends.  It is dishonest to present the collaborative efforts of multiple people off as individual work. Group work is a minefield where academic honesty is concerned. It is very common for one or two people in a group to carry the team.  This unequal distribution of work is often due to a participant’s absenteeism and or disinterest. Unfortunately, there is no suggestion I can offer as I have been guilty of doing too much in past group assessments in order to pass/complete a task.  In my opinion, (no facts), I believe that group tasks should not be used for summative assessments tasks due the inequitable nature of collaborative groups.  

Academic honesty is not just for students to follow when submitting their assignments.  Rather it is a mindset, a code of conduct, developed during schooling years and manifested in adulthood.  As a code of conduct, infringements of this nature need to be treated similarly to infringements of other conduct related behaviour.  Simply assigning punitive measures is not conducive to learning and reducing future occurrences.  Instead, it is more productive to create a situation in which academic integrity is the norm and best practice for both students and teachers.  Academic honesty is more than just plagiarism.  Its is the authenticity of your work and the extension of self. 

References

Ezard, T., (2019) Leading the Buzz in your school. ASLA 50th Conference. Canberra

Jacobsen, R., Halvorsen, A., Frasier, A., Schmitt, A., Crocco, M., and Segall, A. (2018). Thinking deeply, thinking emotionally; how high school students make sense of evidence. Theory & Research in Social Education. 46, 232-276. DOI 10.1080/00933104.2018.1425170

 

Jones, M. & Silberzahn, P. (2016) Without an opinion, you’re just another person with data. Forbes – Media and Entertainment. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/awsmediaandentertainment/2019/09/12/how-to-thrive-in-todays-disrupted-media-markets/#7862807770ed

 

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. & Caspari, A. (2012). Guided inquiry design: A framework for inquiry in your school. Libraries Unlimited. USA.

 

Kong, S. (2014). Developing information literacy and critical thinking skills through domain knowledge learning in digital classrooms: An experience of practicing flipped classroom strategy. Computers & Education. 78, pp.160-173,  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2014.05.009

 

Latrobe University (2019). Academic Integrity. Student Administration. Retrieved from https://www.latrobe.edu.au/students/admin/academic-integrity

 

Monash University (2019). Academic integrity, plagiarism and collusion. Student Administration. Retrieved from https://www.latrobe.edu.au/students/admin/academic-integrity

 

McGrew, S., Breakstone, J., Ortega, T., Smith, M., and Wineburg, S. (2018). Can students evaluate online sources? Learning from assessments of civic online reasoning. Theory & Research in Social Education. 46, 165-193, DOI 10.1080/00933104.2017.1416320

 

Qayyum, M., &  Smith, David. (2018). Changing research behaviours of university students with progression through a course. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association. 67: 3 pp256-277 DOI: 10.1080/24750158.2018.1502243

Templeton, T. (2019). Co-existing or co-operating. Trish’s trek into bookspace [blog]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/04/18/co-existing-or-co-operating/

 

Co-existing or Co-operating? – Module 4.2

Schools are generally thought to be institutions of learning. From the days of Aristotle, young people were sent to learn about the mysteries of life from their revered elders. Today’s schools are very different from their ancient counterparts but the essential core is the same. Schools are learning organisations with their primary purpose to educate the new generations and prepare them for their future. Kools & Stoll (2016) identify seven dimensions that characterise a school as an organisation of learning. These include; a shared vision; staff learning opportunities; promotion of collaboration among staff; establishing a culture of inquiry and innovation; information collection and knowledge exchange; partnerships with community and modelling positive leadership (Kools & Stoll, 2016, p11). All these dimensions serve to build a positive teaching and learning environment for both students and staff.

Humans are social in nature and learning is a social construct. When individuals learn in a social context, the knowledge is constructed as a group has more significant learning outcomes than when knowledge is constructed individually. Most educators agree that the efficacy of learning is improved in collaborative groups, but they rarely extend that principle to themselves collaborating with their peers. Kools & Stoll (2016) even go as far as to argue that the practice of teaching is larger than an isolated teacher in their classroom. They surmise that collaborative practice encourages a professional growth experience in which teachers learn and teach simultaneously with each other. It is in the sharing of expertise and knowledge that has the greatest potential.

Unfortunately true collaboration is often missing in a school dynamic. Team activity is commonly confused as collaboration (Kools & Stoll, 2016, p40). Ezard (2019) points out that co-existence and coordination are often mistaken for collaboration as well. Rather, it is in the co-creation and collective capacity that is the basis of true collaborative practice. For a partnership to be symbiotic, there must be a willingness to think and act together. Ezard (2019) highlights three main requirements of a collaborative relationship including, a growth mindset, a compelling environment and authentic dialogue. Lack o these will only inhibit teaching and learning practices.

The reality is that many classroom teachers are reluctant to work in partnership with their teacher librarians and or any other staff members outside their department for a variety of reasons. One reason is that teachers are often pigeon holed into subject silos or year level cohorts. Their level of expertise is viewed at only applicable to that year level and subject. The other major reason is fear. Fear of failing, fear of judgement and shame. Many teachers reject a culture of observation as they fear they will be deemed as falling short of an ideal practitioner. This is especially true in a world where many teachers are on contracts and wish to still have employment in the next teaching cycle. There is a true sense of fear that any mistakes or miss-steps could result in unemployment. So these teachers often hide themselves away in their isolated silos and inadvertently distance themselves away from collegian relationships as a protective mechanism. This distance, and lack of connection further exacerbates the inability to collaborate. After all, collaboration without connection is just compliance (Ezard, 2019).

Time is another most common reason why staff do not collaborate. It seems futile to ask staff to work together constructively but not actually give them release time to do so. This is especially true for primary schools where teachers rarely get any time off during the day to co-create units of work. Another aspect that executive can assist with collaborative practice is to create a safety net for staff thus allowing them to try new pedagogical practices. Teachers who have job security are more likely to be willing to take risks and try new teaching and learning programs as they do not fear unemployment. Heads of department and senior teachers can encourage the try a variety of teaching styles and thus enable, enourage and motivate them into trying new ventures. Staff that know that they will have a safety net if they fail are more likely to attempt big and wonderful things.

Teacher librarians can affect a collaborative change in other ways. Firstly they can use their position in the centre of the school and as a curriculum leader to create multidisciplinary units of with in collusion with their peers. Due to their access and knowledge of resourcing, TL are able to obtain resources that require teachers to co-create their units of work. TL are also able to create productive learning environments, by promoting learning in an environment that embraces opportunities. They can also be curious rather than defensive when assumptions are challenged. TL can co create a vision that appeals the the whole school, by modelling best practice. Due to the nature of the position, TL can set an example of classroom observation and encourage staff to face their fears of judgement and shame. Ezrard (2019) suggests changing the dynamics of shame and failing to compassion and learning. Afterall, it has been proven that regular classroom observation only seeks to improve the increased professional learning of the teacher.

Whilst teacher librarians can affect some level of change, the biggest influence of collaborative practice within schools is in leadership. Executive teachers can influence teaching and learning practices a great deal as they are the ones that control a great deal of the factors that affect staff, for example, collaboration time for teachers. Teachers get to meet each other and have a dynamic productive relationship.

Ezard, T., (2019) Leading the Buzz in your school. ASLA 50th Conference. Canberra

Kools, M. and Stoll L. (2016), “What Makes a School a Learning Organisation?”, OECD Education Working Papers. No. 137, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jlwm62b3bvh-en