Reflecting on what I have learnt as I have worked my way through the ‘Teacher Librarian as Leader’ unit and personal experience as a teacher, has certainly opened my eyes up to the extensive role and responsibilities of teacher librarians within both primary and secondary library contexts. From my first hand observations and forum comments, it appears that teacher librarians in primary schools are usually solely responsible for library management, and have little input in teaching and learning programs such as information literacy or website evaluation, with information technology skills left to the IT teacher. This is usually due to the time-consuming nature of their work (overloaded) with very little support from other staff members, and possibly only a library aide for assistance. Leadership roles, recognition, or credibility appears to be centered on the advocacy of the principal or school leaders, with entrenched perceptions by teaching staff of teacher librarian’s roles and information skills (Assignment 1, Critical Reflection Blog, 2013, last para.).
However, within a secondary school context there are more teacher librarians and library staff to share the work load, and my experience of teacher librarian roles and responsibilities has enlightened me to the potential for the respect and recognition as 21st century information experts and professional educators, that Wong (2012, p.22) and Little (2006, p. 115) promote in their literature and research. These qualified teacher librarians’s play an integral part in the school community’s teaching and learning curriculum planning and resourcing, in collaboration with teaching staff from all curricular departments, and are responsible for library practice management. Information Technology teachers are responsible for instructing students in searching, accessing and evaluating information from websites, inline with Australian Curriculum guidelines (ASCAR, 2013). They enjoy the respect and acknowledgement of their peers but do not teach information literacy or have any leadership roles across the school other than within the library context, where they are valued and respected by both staff and students for their information expertise and research skills. These experiences led me to wonder if teacher librarian ‘Leadership’ is just an academic term or concept, or if really does exist at the ‘coal face’ in school libraries.
Upon reflection, and after completing assignment 2, I feel that it is the responsibility of both current and future teacher librarians to educate school communities on the value of utilising a teacher librarian’s information expertise and research skills through a leadership role within a 21st century teaching and learning context (Wong, 2012, p. 22). As professional educators they would initiate and organise Professional Development training for staff in website evaluation, information literacy, and searching techniques and strategies, all vital in developing student’s critical thinking, evaluating and problem-solving skills (Little, 2006, p. 117). Teacher librarians would demonstrate communication and collaboration skills to colleagues, highlighting two very important leadership qualities, and providing a means for further cooperation with teaching staff in planning curriculum outcomes and research activities .
Being proactive and innovative within the library would raise the profile of the teacher librarian as someone who can demonstrate an awareness of strategic planning for change through a vision statement, which identifies a future direction for the library within a 21st century context (Module 1 Blog, 2013, para. 1). Module 1 also presented leadership theories, the thought provoking 7 Steps of Decision Making (Shiba, n.d.), and the teacher librarian as a problem-solver. I related these two concepts to my experiences as a teacher, by recognising how making strategic and important decisions concerning library resources and management was significantly more difficult than that of a teacher within a classroom setting! I loved this quote from Don Tapscott’s Four Principles for the Open World video (2012),
“Great leadership empowers a vision to become reality. The style of leadership you present or adhere to will always involve change in order to make the vision a reality. How you lead change will have an impact on how well the change is implemented and eventually accepted”.
I will use it to inspire me in my future role as teacher librarian and leader!
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Assignment 1, Critical Reflection Blog. (2013). Retrieved from: https://jennykerlin.wordpress.com/
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2013). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability. Retrieved from: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Information-and-Communication-Technology-capability/Introduction/Introduction
Little, Jennifer J. “Strategic Planning: First Steps in Sharing Information Literacy Goals with Faculty Across Disciplines.” College & Undergraduate Libraries 13.3 (2006) Ebscohost. Web. 14 Jan. 2013.
Module 1 Blog. (2013). Retrieved from: https://jennykerlin.wordpress.com/
Shiba, Dr. S. (n.d. ). 7 Steps of Decision Making. YouTube video.
Tapscott, D. (2012 ). Four Principles for the Open World. YouTube video.
Wong, Tracey. “Strategic long-range planning. (For school library media centers). “Library Media Connection 31.2 (2012). web.ebscohost.com. Web. 13 Jan. 2013.