What is an appropriate role for the teacher librarian in curriculum development?
Teacher librarians are now required to be key exponents of current changes in approaches towards learning and teaching in schools. Through Inquiry or Project-based approaches there is more emphasis on the student as a learner rather than the teacher as an instructor, with the teacher librarian teaching students how to locate, select, evaluate and synthesize information. They create “technology rich environments” (O’Connell, J. (2013) where students have the opportunity to search, work and publish in text, audio and video using visual and virtual learning tools and technologies.
What benefits can a school obtain from the active involvement of the teacher librarian in curriculum development?
The teacher librarian is now connected to the curriculum by facilitating interactive learning with technology within an effective digital learning environment. They encourage the development of 21st century skills of collaboration, technology skills, communication, problem solving and critical thinking, and integrating them within the curriculum. Boss and Krauss (2008) state that “Technology is integrated as a tool for discovery, collaboration, and communication, taking learners places they couldn’t otherwise go and helping teachers achieve essential learning goals in new ways”.
Should a principal expect that teachers would plan units of work with the teacher librarian?
Teacher librarians would significantly contribute to the planning of units of work with classroom teachers, because they have the knowledge and expertise in regard to the most effective research tools and resources available or specifically designed for use within the current school curriculum. As facilitators of the inquiry and project-based learning approaches they would ensure that students have developed the skills and knowledge required to undertake the research and outcome based tasks. Teacher librarians could visit education support websites (ESA & SCIS) regularly to assist them in resourcing the curriculum, identifying projects and initiatives their schools could become involved in, and providing updates on professional learning materials for teachers.
How are students disadvantaged in schools that exclude the teacher librarian from curriculum development?
These schools would not benefit from the multifaceted expertise that a 21st century teacher librarian brings to a school curriculum and community. They provide pedagogical support to students by encouraging them to be proactive in managing their own learning and to think critically by analyzing evaluating and synthesizing when researching new knowledge and understandings. Teacher librarians support classroom teachers with the implementation of Inquiry and Project-based learning approaches and play a leading role in encouraging students to become global citizens by using online technologies to collaborate and interact with other cultures throughout the world.
Boss, S. & Krauss, J. (2008). Reinventing Project-Based Learning. p.12. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/images/excerpts/REINVT-excerpt.pdf
O’Connell, J. (2013). webinar on the teacher librarian and the curriculum. Lifesavers of Learning. Accessed from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201330_W_D/page/21cc3723-8c2a-4279-008f-96f00ee74642