Looking back

It’s been a while. I’ve been keeping my head down whilst I complete my Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship), I now have one more class to do and then I’m done!

This class asks me to reflect on what I’ve learnt throughout the course, this means going back through my course blog and using entries in my assignment. I thought I’d share some here, as I make the transition back to this blog and start to share what’s happening in the world of education and school libraries.

Beginning a New Chapter

(posted July 16, 2015 on Uni blog platform)

I have commenced a Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship), a requirement of the course is that I create a blog and reflect on my reading, learning and teaching. This blog will not only focus on what I’m learning as part of the course, but also on what I’m learning at work- what I’m teaching my students and what my colleagues are teaching me.

Already a blogger, the setting up of the blog has been fun. I like the opportunities it presents to interact and reflect.  So, let the reading, learning, teaching and reflecting commence!

The Information Highway and the Teacher Librarian 

(posted July 22, 2015 on Uni blog platform)

As I work my way through module two of ETL401 I’ve started to think about the role of the Teacher Librarian and how we navigate our way through all the information, not just through this course but all the information that is out there on the information highway.

This video was shared by a colleague on the discussion board and I had to share it because it really reinforced what our world is. Our students are digital natives, their knowledge/skill is potentially more vast than ours when it comes to ICT. Therein lies our challenge- to keep them curious about technology and the world and the different ways we can use technology to assist in their learning. 

The video highlights just how quickly our world is changing, something that we tend to forget and technology is only moving faster.  In order for libraries to remain an integral part of student learning we must engage with new ideas and technologies, reinventing our role as needed.

This has been occurring as libraries have been thinking of ways of getting students and teachers through the doors, it becomes more challenging as schools go 1:1 with laptops. As my workplace starts preparing for the implementation of 1:1 we need to start thinking of other ways to not only getting students in to the library during recess and lunch but also getting the classes in to use not only the space but our knowledge.  It will be interesting to see how much this impacts our library if at all and I’m sure I’ll be commenting on the process as it gets underway next year. 

Many may think that with the ever-growing range of online tools, resources and instructional videos the role of the librarian is being meaningless. I would argue that because of the increasing range of resources and information available the teacher librarian is needed more than ever to guide and help navigate staff and students.

References

Scott, K. (2014). Did you know? Shift Happens 2014 Remix. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcZg51Il9no

It’s interesting looking back over these first two blog entries from almost two years ago- I think I’m going to enjoy completing this refelctive portfolio.

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ETL402: A Reflection

Prior to commencing this unit, I was stuck in a rut and looking for ways to motivate and engage readers as well as make staff aware of the benefit reading can bring to their curriculum. It turns out we were limiting ourselves by only focusing on the area of book talks, what I’ve learnt is that to have an impact we need to integrate literature into all aspects of the curriculum.

A concept I’ve been grappling with is how do we foster this love of literature? At the start of ETL 402, I couldn’t answer this question.  In my current job we battle with this scenario.  We want to have classes coming into the library and when they do we always do a book talk, promoting the latest books and some old favorites and although talking about books has been recognized as being a powerful motivator (Cremin, 2010, p.16) it is sometimes not enough, especially when it is usually only the English teachers who come in.

Now, at the end of the unit, I realise that we need to be aware of the 21st century needs and textual preferences of our students so that we can somehow foster a love of literature (Cremin, 2010, p.12).  We need to be aware that the concept of reading has changed, our students are savvy and have been exposed to the digital environment (Madej, 2003, p. 2), therefore we need to incorporate this into our quest for creating motivated readers.

Through ETL 402 I learnt that what we need to be focusing on is literary learning, we need to embed this into all areas of the curriculum, which also means effective collaboration between the teacher librarian and the subject teacher (Cooper & Bray, 2011, p. 48).   This can be achieved by including a literature based goal directed activity that encourages social interaction (Guthrie, Alverson & Poundstone, 1999 p. 9) The teacher librarian can simulate a curiosity for learning by collaborating with subject teachers to create literature based strategies that promote reading whilst also engaging with curriculum outcomes (Guthrie, Alverson & Poundstone, p. 13).  In doing so, the teacher librarian is exposing students to genres and texts they may not read and therefore, creating conditions for the students to develop new interests.

Combining technology and reading is an area that I will bring into work and experiment with. The literary learning program (assessment 2) was done in conjunction with our HASS department, which is a step in the right direction to working collaboratively and letting departments know what we in the library can offer.  I am hoping, once it has been marked and then modified with feedback in mind, to give this resource to the department to trial.  I intend to seek feedback from both staff and students to I can continue to work on fostering a love of literature across the curriculum.

References

Cooper, O.P. & Bray, M. (2011). School library media specialist-teacher collaboration: characteristics, challenges, opportunities. TechTrends, 55(4) 48- 55.

Cremin, T. (2010). Motivating children to read through literature. In J. Fletcher, F. Parkhill, & G. T. Gillon (Eds.), Motivating literacy learners in today’s world (pp. 11-21). Wellington, NZ : NZCER

Guthrie, J., Alverson, S. & Poundstone, C. (1999). Engaging students in reading. Knowledge Quest, 27(4), 8-16.

Madej, K. (2003). Towards digital narrative for children: From education to entertainment: A historical perspective. ACM Computers in Entertainment, 1(1), 1-17.

ETL504 Assignment 2: Reflective Critical Analysis

This unit has really helped me appreciate the importance of the teacher librarian within the school setting and their role as a leader. At the start of the unit I thought I had a good understanding of the teacher librarian as a leader, I reflected on my new role as a teacher librarian and what I do on a day to day basis. Now, that I’m at the conclusion of the unit I realize that this understanding was just the tip of the iceberg.  A teacher librarian is in a very good position to influence and instigate change within a school and have a significant positive impact.

In reviewing my previous blog posts, in particular Thinking about Leadership (Cain, 2016, March 21) I stated that an effective leader:

  • understands or seeks to understand the culture of the school,
  • sets long term goals in line with the vision of the school,
  • has secure and practical knowledge of ICT and how it can be implemented (Green, 2011).
  • can lead learning and look for innovations within the teaching and learning pedagogy of the school
  • collaborates with staff both informally and formally
  • is open (Cain, 2016, March 21)

I still believe this to be true, but it is so much more than this, learning about strategic plans and applying the STEEP process (Cain, 2016, May 19) to my current school, helped to reinforce the decision making that goes along with the role of the teacher librarian.

The STEEP process forced me to really think about our library and where we are headed, it also highlighted the importance of having a strategic plan- something that we do not have and need if we are to remain a successful and prominent part of the school. It helps a library to develop and acts as a guide for achieving its goals (Wong, 2012, p22). As well as this the teacher librarian should ensure that the library program remains current and that everything the library does is about maximising student learning (Wong, 2012 p.22). I know I now need to work towards creating a strategic plan that reflects our library and our future plans.

In my reflective analysis for Assignment 1, I commented that the teacher librarian will be an instructional leader (Cain, 2016, April 11).  This is of course one important aspect of the teacher librarian- they do instruct students and they also play an integral role in instructing staff and running professional development seminars and workshops. In my current role, I’m finding this aspect to be a continuous part, however the staff workshops are usually done in an informal manner and on a case by case basis. This allows for greater flexibility and ensures that the staff are integrating technology into their lesson (Starkey, 2012).

I’m realising now, that the teacher librarian wears many leadership hats within their role and it is something that is continuously evolving as new technologies are implemented as well as changes to the curriculum as it adapts to 21st Century learning.  A teacher librarian is a:

  • curriculum leader- knowing the curriculum in all subjects;
  • an instructional leader- able to teach students and provide staff development;
  • a transformative leader- share in the vision of the library and what it’s trying to achieve.

Despite the many hats, I think a teacher librarian can only be successful if they have the support of the executive committee/ Principal of the school. Again, if there is a strategic plan, a vision and mission statement for the library that has been written by teacher librarian in consultation with other key leaders of the school, such as the Principal, it helps to promote that common vision and united goal.  The teacher librarian can then lead change, but the emphasis must be on learning.  It all comes down to the positive impact the library can have on student learning outcomes.

I now know, that in my role of teacher librarian I need to lead. I need to be an effective leader; the question is how do I do this? This is occurring through collaboration with key teachers within the school. Currently I’m working with the Year 7 teachers and we are integrating digital literacy skills through their HASS program.  I am also working with other HASS teachers to promote the information search process, and effective searching. In collaborating with the teachers, they are not only improving their teaching and learning program but they are also gaining informal professional development as they learn to see new ways of integrating technology.

Whilst this unit has certainly opened my eyes to the role of a teacher librarian, and whilst I am now more aware of how I advocate and promote the library I’m also aware of the fact that I still have a lot to learn.

References

Cain, R.  (2016, March 21). Thinking about leadership. Scorched Page. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/scorchedpage/2016/03/21/thinking-about-leadership/

Cain, R. (2016, May 19). Applying the STEEP process. Scorched Page. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/scorchedpage/2016/05/19/applying-the-steep-process/

Cain, R.  (2016, April 11). Part B reflective critical analysis. Scorched Page. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/scorchedpage/2016/04/11/part-b-reflective-critical-analysis/

Green, G. (2011). Learning leadership through the school libraryAccess, 25(4), 22-26. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access.aspx

Starkey, L. (2012). Teaching and learning in the digital age. New York, NY: Routledge.

Wong, T. (2012). Strategic long-range planning. Library Media Connection 31 (2)

Applying the STEEP process

In learning about the importance of strategic planning and the tools that go along with it, I conducted the STEEP process to the school I’m currently working at.

We have found that moving to a BYOD school has meant that classes aren’t booking into the library to use our space and resources as much as they were.  Previously we had a huge number of laptops available for classes to use. Now we are a BYOD school many of the teachers are of the opinion that they now have all the resources they need because they have Google.  As a result we are not getting the same flow of traffic and we now have to be a lot more proactive in promoting the library and what we can offer.

Reviewing the STEEP process that I posted in the discussion board ( see below), I can already see improvements that need to be made in terms of articulating the ideas.

STEEP

As Watt, 2011 states, the strategic plan should be linked to the curriculum and student outcomes, there needs to be stronger connections within the 3-5 years column to curriculum and outcomes, especially if this was to be used.  For example the point in technological- Increased usage states for Lib Guides and online resources – whilst this is important it does not address how this might occur.  It can be measured using learning analytics but I think it’s the HOW  that’s important at this stage.

In reflecting upon this, the HOW could be addressed by myself and the other Teacher Librarian actively engaging with the staff, attending department meetings and showing what we can create for them is a good starting point.

There is a lot to consider when undergoing the STEEP process and thinking about a strategic plan. It’s also something that my colleague and I need to do, especially if we are to develop into a thriving 21st C learning environment.

References

Watt, D. (2011, August 4). Strategic planning for school libraries [Slide show]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/halfpintofwisdom/strategic-planning-for-libraries

Laptops: Friend or Foe?

Recently, in the media there has been a lot of talk about the use of laptops within schools, this has promoted a healthy debate about the implementation of laptops in to the classroom and how this can impact both negatively and positively on the teaching and learning process.

The article that sparked the debate was published in The Australian on March 26, 2016- Computers in class ‘a scandalous waste’: Sydney Grammar head.   This article offers a different view on technology, and whilst there are some valid points made I do think that it is still essential to consider the needs of the 21st C learner.  Dr. Vallance goes on to say that “one of the most powerful tools in education is conversation” and I couldn’t agree more. reflecting back on my years as an English teacher, some of the most educationally valuable lessons were those fuelled by conversation, debate and questioning- we didn’t use a laptop for this.

As the world changes, so does the way we teach and the way we learn. Surely there is a need, like anything for balance, we just need to be aware of our digital diet.

 

Part B: Reflective Critical Analysis

What is interesting is the role of the teacher librarian and the library within a school. Ideally, the teacher librarian will be an instructional leader and will work closely with the departments collaborating (Green, 2011, p. 23.) in curriculum planning and ensuring that digital literacies and research skills are embedded within the teaching and learning program (Oberg, 2011, p.2).  This is very much dependent upon the communication between the teachers and the teacher librarian, in an ideal setting this would not be an issue, however from personal experience communication between departments and the library is not always consistent and often last minute.  To be successful and promote future work skills (Wall & Bonanno, 2014, p. 25) the teacher librarian needs to work hard at influencing pedagogical changes. The reality is that this is very challenging and can be a slow process.

The teacher librarian has been described as a change agent.  To be an effective agent of change, the teacher librarian needs to have a secure understanding of the school’s culture (Oberg, 2011, p. 2) and even with that understanding there may be road blocks, such a lack of trust or lack of collaboration. To minimise these potential road blocks, the main focus should be on improving student outcomes and using this as a way of implementing change (Green, 2011, p.22).  Green, 2011, recommends that the teacher librarian select a few key staff to form relationships with and thus develop new positive habits of collaborating. This is certainly a way to bring about change and something that is occurring within my current school, however it does mean that it’s a slow process.

Selecting, for example, two departments to work closely with means that inquiry learning can be embedded within the curriculum and the the teacher librarian can ensure that digital literacies and the introduction to new technologies are being promoted through the teaching and learning process (Oberg, 2011, p.2).  Another way the teacher librarian can promote change is through providing and promoting professional learning for staff, ensuring they have the skills to not only use new technologies but implement them effectively within the teaching and learning program to maximize the learning opportunities and outcomes of the student.

Wall & Bonanno, 2014, have recognised that there is an increasing gap between the needs of the 21st Century learner and what the teacher can provide. It is simply not enough to focus on the learning of the student, now more than ever there needs to be a switch to focus on staff capacity and the lack of digital skills (Wall & Bonanno, 2014, p.25), the expectation that staff are all experts with technology is detrimental to the teaching and learning process (Cain, 2016).  This is a great opportunity for the teacher librarian to refocus the teaching staff and offer professional learning to better equip the teachers.

Whilst the teacher librarian is a leader, and a leader who can enable and promote change, the reality for many is that this change is slow. Whilst it is an exciting time to be in education and see the many opportunities for change in our 21st Century classrooms the key factor for success is no doubt life long learning and reminding all – staff and students- that this is where innovation can begin.

References

Cain, R. (2016, March 25). Task 1A staff capacity [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&forum_id=_49720_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_18171_1&course_id=_11861_1&message_id=_641184_1#msg__641184_1Id

Green, G. (2011). Learning leadership through the school libraryAccess, 25(4), 22-26. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access.aspx

Oberg, D. (2011). Teacher librarians as cultural change agentsSCIS Connections. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_79_2011/feature_article/teacher_librarians_as_cultural_change_agents.html

Wall, J. & Bonanno, K. (2014). Learning and literacy for the futureScan 33(3), 20-28. Retrieved from http://eduwebinar.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/wall_and_bonanno_learning-literacy-future_Scan33.3.pdf

Thinking about Leadership

Having read through Module 1 and 2, I’ve been thinking about leadership and how it applies to my department and the school as a whole.  I’m in my second year of working in a school library and first year working as a full time TL.  The key concept I see being repeated throughout the course but also within my work environment is the TL as a change agent (Green, 2011). 

When I first began working in the library I was rather naive to the role of the TL and their relationship with leadership.  Perhaps one of the crucial learning points so far in this unit is that in order for the TL to instigate change, they need to understand the culture of the school (Oberg, 2011).

So, what does a good leader look like? 

What does a good leader look like?. (2016). Campbell Macpherson. Retrieved 20 March 2016, from http://www.campbellmacpherson.co.uk/in-the-company-of-leaders/what-does-a-good-leader-look-like-2/
Image credit: Macpherson, 2016

In the school library, a leader is someone who:

  • understands or seeks to understand the culture of the school, 
  • sets long term goals in line with the vision of the school,
  • has secure and practical knowledge of ICT and how it can be implemented (Green, 2011). 
  • can lead learning and look for innovations within the teaching and learning pedagogy of the school
  • collaborates with staff both informally and formally
  • is open

Knowing all of this is the first step and creating opportunities for a dialogue on improving teaching and learning is next and this may be a slow process, but then all big changes require a slow, thoughtful and deliberate implementation to be successful. 

References

Green, G. (2011). Learning leadership through the school library. Access, 25(4), 22-26. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access.aspx

Macpherson, C. (2016). What does a good leader look like? Retrieved from  http://www.campbellmacpherson.co.uk/in-the-company-of-leaders/what-does-a-good-leader-look-like-2/

 

Oberg, D. (2011). Teacher librarians as cultural change agents. SCIS Connections. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_79_2011/feature_article/teacher_librarians_as_cultural_change_agents.html