Part B: Critical Reflection

This reflection pertains to how my view of a teacher librarian’s role has changed throughout the course unit, and is from the perspective of an experienced teacher with absolutely no experience or knowledge of library management or teacher librarian responsibilities. My initial comments recorded as part of the first week’s activity, demonstrated how I perceived a teacher librarian’s role within a school library to be mainly involved with library management, organising appropriate websites, data collection and teaching students technology skills to access and use a range of electronic resources when researching inquiry projects (Kerlin, 2013, Topic 7 Blog posting). There was a clear assumption that the teacher librarian worked independently as a specialist rather than part of the teaching staff, and took no part in collaboration with the principal or other staff members when planning a library collection or implementing an information literacy program (Kerlin, 2013, Blog Tasks 1 & 2). Through subsequent readings, activities, forum postings and comments, together with Blog Tasks, this perspective has completely changed, and a new respect for the multi-faceted and constantly evolving role of a teacher librarian within the 21st Century educational context has emerged. A recognition of the teacher librarian’s invaluable contribution within a school context, by collaborating with teaching staff to implement effective information literacy programs and teach vital technology skills pertinent to locating, evaluating and using information, besides the development of independence and self-direction (Bundy, 2004, p. 4).

Initial feelings of apprehension, anxiety and total bewilderment towards the course requirements were replaced with positive self-esteem from successful engagement with the Topic content, and confidence in using new technology skills after creating a Blog and engaging in Forum postings and discussions. As each week progressed, a structure and familiar routine emerged, resulting in an increased sense of achievement and engagement with the learning; feelings similar to those students who were comfortable within a learning process where structure and familiarity plays such a vital part of the learning process (Herring & Tarter, 2006, p. 3). Kuhlthau acknowledged these feelings in her many research studies and subsequently published ISP information literacy model (Kuhlthau, 2004). She reported how students experienced uncertainty and anxiety before and throughout the information seeking task, and needed intervention by teaching staff to support, assist and guide them through the process to a successful conclusion (Thomas et al., 2011, p. 39). Similar emotions were experienced when creating a Blog in week two, which enabled me to directly relate to student’s feelings of confusion and frustration when tackling an unfamiliar task such as an inquiry project. This experience not only added depth to my learning experiences as a teacher and my ability to empathise and recognise similar emotions in students when teaching, but also improve my students’ communication and information skills in order to alleviate these ‘intervention’ experiences (Kerlin, 2013, Forum 2 posting).

Lyn Hay’s (Hay, 2006, p. 20) and James Herring’s (Herring 7 Tarter, 2006, p. 3) Australian studies also identified how students acknowledged the importance of expert advice and information technology support from teacher librarians throughout their research projects, and was found to be beneficial in improving student outcomes (Hay, 2006, p. 20). Combes and Anderson (2006) reiterated how important consistent support and communication from teachers and university co-coordinators/lecturers was for learning to be a satisfying and successful experience for all students (p. 11), and I have found regular emails, on-line announcements, forum comments, and feed-back from course staff have been informative, helpful and beneficial for successful completion of course requirements. Forum comments and discussions with other students have contributed different perspectives, ideas and experiences as part of my ‘holistic’ learning and accumulation of new knowledge, drawing parallels with Kuhlthau and Herring’s studies where student’s collaborated and cooperated during their search for information, resulting in increased confidence and a shared direction (Thomas et al., 2011, p. 42).

During the course I have become familiar with digital tools such as Blogs, Wikis, Apps, Cloud technology, Web 2.0, Podcasts and Vodcasts, Google’s AllAccess music streaming, the iPad as a contemporary teaching tool, social media as a communication tool (Facebook and Twitter), and actively collected information on the latest digital technology to extend my learning experience as a teacher librarian (Montiel-Overall, 2005, p.38). In the 21st century educational context I consider a teacher librarian to be a bridge that connects both teaching and library areas of expertise, a valued and vital member of a school community, a leader, innovator, media specialist, and initiator of meta-literacies that develop skills of creativity, flexibility, critical thinking, problem-solving and independent learning for students to become open-minded global citizens of the future.

Word count: 768

References:

Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. 2nd ed. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).

Combes, B., & Anderson, K. (2006). Supporting First Year E-Learners in Courses for the Information Professions.  Edith Cowan University, Western Australia: Australia

Hay, L. (2006). School libraries as flexible and dynamic learning laboratories that’s what Aussie kids want. Columns research: Scan Vol 25 No 2. pp. 19 -21

Herring, J. E. & Tarter, A. M., (2006). Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia: Ripon Grammar School, Ripon, Yorkshire, UK:

Kuhlthau, C.C. (2004). Learning as a process, in Seeking meaning: A process approach to library and information services, Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.

Kerlin, J. (2013). Topic 7 Blog posting. Retrieved from: jennykerlin.wordpress.com

Kerlin, J. (2013). Blog Tasks 1 & 2. Retrieved from: jennykerlin.wordpress.com

Kerlin, J. (2013). Forum 2 posting.  Interact website ETL 401, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW:

Montiel-Overall, P. (2005). A theoretical understanding of teacher and librarian collaborationSchool Libraries Worldwide, 11(2).

Thomas, N. P., Crow, S. R., & Franklin, L. L. (2011). Chapter 3: The Information Search Process: Kuhlthau’s legacy. In Information literacy and information skills instruction: Applying research to practice in the 21st century school library (3rd ed., pp. 33-58). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from: http://CSUAU.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=715256

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