Wrap Up. Teacher Librarian as Leader.

I really like this quote from the YouTube video School Library Leadership: Leading Libraries into the Future, (Mansfield University, 2013), and feel it perfectly sums up the role and expectations of teacher librarian’s in the 21st century.

With the advent of technology and the proliferation of information, a library is   everywhere. It’s a conceptual approach to our world of information. Not all  information is equal, and teacher librarian’s need to help teachers and students make sense of all this information, and then use it creatively and  innovatively, in order to create our own future”.

Barbara Stripling, Director of Library Services, NYC Department of Education. (Mansfield University, 2013).

This has been an amazing journey for me as I have never considered a teacher librarian to be a leader other than within a library context. However, in this 21st century instant digital information and communication environment, I have come to recognise how their roles have greatly expanded and extended to incorporate the latest information and digital literacy skills and multimedia technologies into educational contexts which transfer into life skills as future digital citizens.

The pressure on teacher librarians to achieve ‘miracles’ by school communities will be on-going as digital technologies and global communications are constantly changing and evolving, and as leaders in information technology and literacy they will be required to effectively plan and prepare both teachers and students to not only embrace these changes, but also engage as active participants in this information revolution. Collaboration, advocacy and professional partnerships are all important components of the leadership role teacher librarians will be expected to undertake, in order to establish effective information and digital literacy teaching and learning programs within an ethical and authoritative technological environment.

It is a huge and daunting task; but I see it as inevitable in this information age especially within an educational context where students are so adept with media communication and technologies, but need a teacher librarian’s guidance and expertise to develop, perfect, and extend these abilities and skills. It’s an exciting challenge too, one I hope to embrace in the future!

Reference:

School Library Leadership: Leading Libraries into the Future. YouTube video. Mansfield University’s online School Library and Information Technologies M.Ed. program, New York, USA: 2013).

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ETL 504. Leading Learning without frontiers.

Teacher librarians have the opportunity to rethink how best to support personalised and collaborative information seeking and knowledge conversations in our 21st century digital environment. Learning without frontiers is our context and it is empowered by a pedagogical approach that aims to be:

  • multi-literate and flexible media tools
  • curriculum and knowledge engagement through authentic learning experiences
  • collaborative and flexible work spaces
  • empowered by information fluency skills and strategies
  • enhanced by game-based learning and social media
  • global in focus through comprehensive projects, activities and media.

Engaging students in opportunities to read and write, explore and explain, think and deduct, are all the more interesting in our multi-modal, multi-literate 21st century learning environments.

 “Kids can navigate the interface but they need to analyse, evaluate and efficiently utilise the information they encounter and that’s a skill that needs to be taught

  Steve Coker, teacher-librarian North Thurston High School, Lacey, Washington, USA. (Teacher Librarians at the Heart of Student Learning, 2013. YouTube video).

  •  “The students don’t understand the ramifications of using the internet and it’s quite overwhelming”. (Julie Hembree, teacher-librarian, AG Bell Elementary, Kirkland, Washington).
  •  Promote literacy by way of technology. Use devices in class effectively and safely, to learn.
  •  “They have to learn what it is to be digital citizen”. We’re talking about high level learning, critical thinking, and creative thinking. (David Loertscher, San Jose State University).
  •  “We teach the teachers and students the vital skills they need to learn”. (Carina Pierce, Teacher – Library at Cougar Mountain Middle-School Bethel).

Teacher librarians are important leaders in the era of learning without frontiers. Digital information in libraries needs a leader to explain what digital information is and provide training.

“We have a vision. We’ve been in the classroom. We understand what the teacher’s need; we understand what the student’s need. We want to engage the learners, and provide exciting learning experiences. We see the big picture of learning and we see the big picture of curriculum, and we want to help where ever we can”.

 Carina Pierce, Teacher – Library at Cougar Mountain Middle-School Bethel. (2013).

Leadership isn’t one skill, it’s a group of actions the teacher librarian takes, and the perception they create about being a leader in those actions.

Collaborate, Advocate, Stay ahead of Technology, Educate, Be a Problem Solver, Create Goals, Partner in Technology, Be Persistent, Involve the Community, Innovate, Provide Teamwork, Be flexible, Share Ideas, Document Success and Keep Learning.

Teacher librarian’s need to keep up with technology, and manage and work with these emerging technologies and the millennium student by using four main actions of Collaborate, Advocate, Educate, and Innovate.

Collaborate by assisting students and teachers to use information in an ethical way.

As a leader you Advocate for funds for providing the latest technology for the students and develop a love of learning aswell as a love of reading.

Educate as a staff developer because not everyone has the same knowledge and skills, and teach them what teacher librarian’s do and how they do it, so teachers can teach better with the technology they haven’t been trained in. Teach teachers information literacy, so they are aware that the teacher librarian is a source of resources.

Innovate. (Example of getting class sets of books into English classes as students don’t have the time to go to the library, and students go and borrow other books from the same authors from the library now

Community. Teacher librarian’s are in a unique position to demonstrate leadership in many different ways. Collaborating with clubs etc to make activities come alive in our library.

Problem solver. Teacher librarian’s attempt to solve problems by finding the best way or solution and principals like this approach, and see it as a partnership between himself and the teacher librarian to solve problems.

Teacher librarian’s need to be Leaders in technology by working with all staff at all levels; They must become partners in technology, showing they’re willing to pilot a program and be persistent with it.

They can document and track all library activities to provide data as evidence of what is good and valuable for student’s learning needs.

What distinguishes Teacher librarian’s as leaders are their unique abilities to keep on learning. We learn from students, teachers, principals, and each other. They guide the school community as learners of new technologies and to use them effectively.

*A perfect quote to sum up the teacher librarian as leader. My experience as a teacher and library user thoroughly agrees with!

“A good school library has never been about the stuff, it’s about the people and the ideas in it. If the school library can make a space that is safe, warm, and empowers a love of learning and a natural curiosity, the TL will be a true leader for their community, their students and their administration”.

Melissa Ahart teacher-librarian Peter Rouget School, New York, USA. (Mansfield University, 2013)

References:

School Library Leadership: Leading Libraries into the Future. YouTube video. Mansfield University’s online School Library and Information Technologies M.Ed. program, New York, USA: 2013).

Teacher Librarians at the Heart of Student Learning. YouTube video. (2013). Retrieved from: http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access/access-commentaries/school-libraries-and-meta-literacy.aspx

 

ETL 504 Module 6. Teacher Librarian as Leader

Teacher librarians are in a crucial role to effect change at their school and in their library. Change that addresses improved student learning and integrates digital learning is the future.

  1. Reflection and Forum Discussion:

What are your thoughts now on leadership and the teacher librarian? 

How does what you have been learning relate to your current role in the school?

How could you (if needed) put a different lens on your role through using some of the ideas in this module?

I can now see how a teacher librarian can have an effective leadership role in a school through advocacy from the principal but also from other staff members, not just teaching staff. There are so many areas for leadership skills to be demonstrated and utilised. This is something I have never considered before in the context of a primary or secondary school where librarians aren’t necessarily considered to be leaders in their field or role by the majority of staff and administrators. Collaboration in resourcing and planning the curriculum is a recognised skill, and there is a definite respect for the information skills, knowledge and expertise of the teacher librarian but never in some form of leadership role. Their potential is extraordinary, with professional development, mentoring, strategic planning of vision and mission statements, advice on information literacy policy and implementation, besides updating the principal and curriculum coordinators with information on the latest technology and digital learning trends. They also provide effective and transformational leadership within the school library to other information services staff, besides promoting the school library as an information ‘hub’ and coordinating school community exhibitions and events such as Book Week.

I can definitely see myself taking on these roles in the future, but sadly in reality, it all depends on the advocacy of the principal and school staff whether teacher librarians will get the opportunity to demonstrate these skills and qualities and receive the recognition and credibility their expert roles deserve within the whole school community.

2. Reflection and Forum Discussion:

What is the future of school libraries? What is your role as a leader in this community?

Consider what this means for you as a current and future leader of the profession.

What action needs to be taken by individuals, schools, professional associations and education systems?

School libraries are not about the space, they are about the connections between data information, knowledge, and how we as teacher librarians facilitate and construct the processes of learning for our students. Teacher librarians are in a crucial role to effect change at their school and in their library. Change that addresses improved student learning and integrates digital learning is the future. I feel that teacher librarians need to become more visable within their school communities, promoting and highlighting the valuable expertise and knowledge they provide as professional educators of information literacy and specialists in digital information technology. Schools need to be aware of how teacher librarians can effectively participate and lead change within our 21st century digital learning educational contexts, and provide opportunities for their inclusion in all areas of the school’s teaching and learning, curriculum, and professional development programs, besides utilising their information technology expertise and knowledge.

 

ETL504. Module 5. Strategic Planning

As a leader in the library, you work collaboratively with teaching, library and administration staff. In these collaborations you lead others to improve student learning outcomes as well as support the information needs of all staff and students. This can be a very busy role as you teach, manage the library, consult on curriculum, provide a range of information services and develop programs. As a leader in the library you need to plan effectively for the future. This planning is for the development of your library and its services as well as any other program or task that may have a positive impact on the role of the school library or teacher librarian as well as learning outcomes.

A strategic plan is a process that enables you to create your future by planning for it.  A typical strategic plan will be a forecast of between 3 – 5 years.  It is cyclical and has many variations. A strategic plan is not only about articulating what you want to achieve – it must take into account the current and possible conditions that are internal and external to the school and respond to those conditions.

A good strategic plan is one where there has been collaboration with a range of stakeholders so that they actively agree or have “bought in” to the plan.

SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats is one tool that can be used at the beginning of the process after you have the data from surveys and other qualitative data that may be available from your Library database or school systems. The results of the data and surveys should inform your discussions and decisions when completing the SWOT analysis. While you can complete a SWOT analysis as an individual, the ability of your strategic plan to have impact in the wider school community will be increased if other members of the school community participate in the SWOT.

SMART Criteria:

Simple:

Measurable:

Achievable:

Reasonable:

Timeframe:

 The targets from our school plan are:

1. To improve student performance in Literacy and Numeracy by 5% in the top NAPLAN bands with a focus on higher order thinking.
2. To improve assessment practices in Literacy and Numeracy so that they better inform teaching to a diverse range of students.

Simple
The goals on the whole are simple and clear.
Measurable
Target 1 is measurable. However, a ‘focus’ on higher order thinking isn’t measurable. Target 2 is difficult to measure unless NAPLAN data is used to assess this too.

Achievable
The measurable parts of these goals are achievable, but require significant planning in order to achieve them.
Reasonable
The goals are reasonable as they’re tied to Australian Curriculum outcomes and current pedagogy.
Timely
The goals are achievable in the 12 month timeframe given.

Mission and Vision Statements

  •  Simply put, a mission statement tells you the purpose of your school or library service, whilst a vision statement tells you where you would like your school or library to be in the future.
  • A vision and mission statement is critical to an organisation that wants to develop or grow.
  • A library will continue to provide information services without a mission or vision statement but it is less likely to develop without them or for the teacher librarian to show leadership?
    • What’s the difference between Mission and Vision? A vision statement should be no more than 3 sentences and is future focused.
    • A mission statement accurately reflects your library’s current principles. Both statements should be relatively succinct so that they are memorable.

3 Types of Vision Statements

  1. Quantitative:  Numeric in nature or numeric value. Eg.$100 million in sales or the ‘world’ (as in best in the world)
  2. Competitive:  Out beat/bid everyone.
  3. Superlative:   Must be No. 1 OR ‘the best!’

 

ETL504. Module 4. Communication

Communication is key to building relationships and collaborative partnerships within the school. There are barriers to effective communication that need to be considered prior to developing new programs or working with teachers and students.

 Negotiation: In many cases, conflict in a workplace just seems to be a fact of life. Most people have seen situations where different people with different goals and needs have come into conflict. The fact that conflict exists, however, is not necessarily a bad thing: As long as it is resolved effectively, it can lead to personal and professional growth. However, if conflict is not handled effectively, the results can be damaging.

A mindset of negotiation means that both parties will “win” whereas a mindset of conflict resolution suggests that one party is more likely to come out on top.

Negotiation requires you to think about the needs of the other party and find a resolution that will be satisfactory for all.

The 5 Most Common Techniques for Conflict Resolution.

1)     Competitive. Operating from a position of power, drawn from things like position, rank, expertise, or persuasive ability.

2)     Collaborative. People who can be highly assertive but unlike the competitor, they cooperate effectively and acknowledge that everyone is important.

3)     Compromising. Everyone is expected to give up something, and the compromise him/herself also expects to relinquish something.

4)     Accommodating.  The accommodator often knows when to give into others, but can be persuaded to surrender a position even when it is not warranted.

5)     Avoiding. This style is typified by delegating controversial decisions, accepting default decisions, and not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings.

The 5 Most Common Challenges.

1)     A conflict is possibly more than a disagreement. It is a situation in which one or both parties perceive a threat (Whether or not the threat is real).

2)     Conflicts may continue to fester when ignored, because conflicts involve perceived threats to our well-being and survival; they stay with us until we face and resolve them.

3)     We respond to conflicts based on our perceptions of the situation, not necessarily to an objective review of the facts. Our perceptions are influenced by our life experiences, culture, values and beliefs.

4)     Conflicts can trigger strong emotions. If you aren’t comfortable with your emotions or able to manage them in times of stress, you won’t be able to resolve conflict successfully.

Conflicts are an opportunity for growth. When you are able to resolve conflict in a relationship, it builds trust. You can feel secure, knowing your relationship can survive challenges and disagreements.

Think about how you have tried in the past to explain a topic to a student – what have been the problems in the explanation? View the video below and then consider how your explanation could have been improved.

How the Communication Process Works. – Video  Alanis Business Academy – YouTube

  • I usually demonstrate or model instructions/ information when teaching, but admit that body language is a significant factor when students are receiving messages from me. They all have different learning styles; some are visual learners, others require hands on examples, some need various methods of explaining, so I will usually have planned which students can follow verbal instructions and which students I will need to repeat or reinforce the instructions or messages again, and by what means, ie. Face-to-face, modelling or demonstrating, and written examples within a small group context.
  •  Background noise does have a significant effect on their concentration or ability to receive the whole message, and a quiet environment is usually conducive to the most effective learning.
  • Keeping the message simple and without too much detail and content. I find by walking around the class and visiting each table and adding more details on the task, results in the students listening more carefully and understanding all the instructions involved. Student’s asking clarifying questions also aids their understanding, and assists those students who were unwilling or afraid to ask for clarification.

Scenario

You have developed a new digital literacy program that you believe needs to be used across the school. How will you communicate this program to your staff?

  1. Use the communication process as your guide, and share your communication strategy on the forum.
  2. Critically comment on other forum posts about the process or strategies that others have suggested. How could they be improved?
  •  I would first speak to the Principal or Deputy Principal to demonstrate the new digital literacy program and explain why I consider it so important to be implemented throughout the school teaching and learning context.
  • After receiving the ‘go ahead’ from the Principal I would email all staff and introduce the program, setting out details and reasons why/how it could assist with teaching and learning contexts as an effective teaching aid or tool, and stressing its advantages.
  • In addition, that I would like to organise a staff PD on the program and the Principal has suggested three viable dates and times for consideration by the staff. I would ask them to choose two dates; one they can clearly attend and a second date as an alternative.
  • I would mention that at the next staff meeting I would appreciate their cooperation in organising a mutually convenient date/day for the demonstration and if they could all have some dates for consideration and collaboration.
  • I would request that staff email me with any feedback, questions, or organisational problems before the staff meeting, and that I would reply as soon as possible, and attempt to address any concerns or problems.
  • At the staff meeting make sure I had all documentation or answers to queries at hand, and an appropriate calendar to collate and organise a suitable date.

ETL 504. Module 3. Leadership for Learning.

Reflective practice and collaboration together with an understanding of digital learning and the literacies that are integral to learning, is the framework for instructional leadership for teacher librarians. This understanding with an active part in the professional learning of staff ideally situates the teacher librarian as a leader in the learning process.  In order to develop leadership for learning, teacher librarians must understand:

  • Instructional leadership
  • Collaborative curriculum development
  • Digital learning, and
  • Professional learning for staff

To lead learning, you must have a sound knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning theories and how the theories support or can be used for innovation and change.

Being innovative, a critical thinker and creative are considered a base level of what it means to be a 21st century learner. These skills are an integral part of the Australian Curriculum’s General Capabilities.

The term “connected leadership” is introduced as another component of a reflective leader.

Curriculum leadership is shown through your work with teachers in collaboratively developing programs for students.

Collaboration is essential to leadership success.

Collaboration in any form builds better outcomes for staff and students and is a professional learning strategy in its own right.

Some guidelines for successful collaboration:

  • Define exactly what it is you would like to achieve
  • Make sure that each person in the team understands both the mutual outcome and the role of each member of the team
  • Be clear about when it is appropriate to know when to lead and when to follow
  • Timelines are essential – establish meeting times and stick to them as much as possible

Build the outcome of the collaboration in a collaborative environment that encourages information sharing and joint ownership of the knowledge.

Digital learning allows students to construct their own knowledge anywhere anytime as it can use a variety of strategies where teachers can build learning sequences in line with individual student needs. Digital literacy is therefore considered important by educators as they recognise that not only does the teaching profession have a role in preparing students for a digital world, but that a sustained engagement with technology and media is now integral to the development of knowledge across disciplines and subjects

Digital Literacy at a simple level incorporates information, ICT and critical literacies in an interrelated way.

The teacher librarian operates as a professional learning consultant in the school in all your interactions with staff – from advising on resources to read or use through to demonstrating and teaching how to use materials or resources as well as introducing new pedagogical strategies in curriculum to the school.

Professional Learning:

  • Skill acquisition prior to peer coaching or mentoring
  • Professional development
  • The ADDIE model that outlines how to design good professional learning. This creates a case for teacher librarians to be an advocate for instructional design in their schools
  • Action research is one strategy for professional learning that is being used more due to its close alignment with the concept of evidenced base practice and “on the job” learning. Action research also closely aligns with the learning process teacher librarians operate under.
  • Team teaching or co-teaching
  • Mentoring
  • The concerns based adoption model (CBAM) and action research are methodologies that can be used by teacher librarians when working with teachers.

The new Australian Curriculum is providing teachers and teacher librarians with many new challenges – none the least being the need to continue to improve personal knowledge and understanding of digital tools and digital environments. A personal learning strategy is possibly more important now than at any other time.

  • I believe that instructional leadership is about creating the conditions for learning in a school. It is evidenced as teachers lead in the classroom, work collaboratively and engage in inquiry to strengthen practice.
  •  Learning is imperative for leadership and leadership can influence learning.

 ** I think this idea is great! I can’t wait to try it at my school 🙂 

As our school prepares for the Australian Curriculum where there will be more of an emphasis on inquiry-based learning, I thought I could establish a school wiki where teachers could contribute ideas, suggestions, relevant articles and lesson plans etc. that they have used or want to ask their peers about. This would be an example of collaboration for learning and would also assist our school leaders in understanding how our teachers are leading their own knowledge paths with the changes in Curriculum. (Tanya Toohey – Module 3 Forum Posting)

ETL 504. Part B. Critical Reflection

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!

Word count: 680

References:

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.