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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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)

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.

 

Critical Reflection: ETL401

ETL401 is one of my first units in the Masters of Education course, and whilst I am already working in a school library and employed as a TL I feel like my learning journey this session has been immense both through study and being given opportunities at work for practical application. Looking back I realise that I was naïve about the job description of a TL, and what actually went on in a school library. This unit has helped me understand the role of the TL, not just in the library but also within the whole school context.

When reflecting on the role of the TL, I think that the Media Specialists Palette, Lamb 2011, is a good starting point. Lamb refers to seven factors for building the foundation of a successful TL- people, administration, learning, electronic information, technology, teaching and environments (2001). There is a lot more to a TL than teaching, and I will be keeping these seven factors in the forefront of my mind to help me fully appreciate my new role.

What is clear is that the educational landscape is changing, and as a result the role of a teacher and the role of the teacher librarian is changing. As Todd states, “All educators [need] to rethink and re-imagine teaching and learning to provide the best opportunities for students to learn in the complex, diverse and information – intense 21st century” (2010). It is this concept of reimagining and redefining roles that have made me reflect on what I have learnt this semester and what I’m learning in my place of employment.

Collaboration is perhaps the most significant area for me. As an English teacher I have worked collaboratively continuously within the department, however that collaboration never really left the walls of the department or the English classroom. The most significant thing I have learnt is that collaboration is the very essence of a TL and their role. To be successful, the TL works collaboratively with reaching staff in an effort to provide challenging, relevant and motivational teaching and learning experiences (Scheffers, 2008).

I have begun to work collaboratively with a number of departments throughout the school, and have been assisting in the implementation of inquiry learning.   This has been an interesting process, combining the theory and research as I study and actively assist in implementing an IL model and supporting the subject teachers and their students. Whilst the advantages of inquiry learning have an immense impact on students and their ability to learn curriculum content, information literacy and social skills (Kulthau & Maniotes, 2010), the design and implementation of such an assessment needs to be carefully thought out and the collaboration needs to start at the beginning.

Perhaps another point to note is that when discussing inquiry learning, we should also be talking about an information literacy model, and it should be a whole school approach, not just something that is taught within integrated studies. Whilst schools are promoting it, there still needs to be an explicit link made to the skills learnt, all subject taught and the real world (Herring, 2007).

Although I have learnt a lot, I do feel that there is a lot more I need to learn but I do feel that I’m in a fortunate position a I have the support the head TL and principal at work and a lot of PD sessions to attend next term. The notable areas in my learning and understanding of teacher librarianship are as follows-

  • Collaboration is done on a much larger scale than I originally realised, it’s no longer collaborating in departments, but on a whole school level.
  • Curriculum knowledge- the TL needs to understand the whole school curriculum, how it is and can be implemented
  • The impact of technology on the collection as well as education, it is significantly changing the way we teach, interact with our students, and interact with information
  • The TL devises, implements and maintains policies.

A life –long learner never stops learning.

References

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Kuhlthau, C., & Maniotes, L. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st century learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18-21.

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. Techtrends, 55(4), 27-36. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11528-011-0509-3

Scheffers, J. (2008). Guided inquiry: A learning journey. Scan, 27(4), 34-42.

Todd, R. (2010). Curriculum integration: Learning in a changing world. Camberwell, Vic.: ACER.

 

Understanding the Role of the Teacher Librarian

This post reflects my understanding of the role of a Teacher Librarian (TL) based on what I’ve learned so far through this unit (ETL401), from my role at work as a part time TL and from working closely with my head of department and mentor.

I view the TL is a bridge- a link between information and the school community. That being said, the role of the TL is changing, and I would argue that it’s a constantly evolving role- one that’s defined by the changing aspects of our society and new technologies. What is certain however is that the TL is a leader, innovator, collaborator, teacher and learner. What’s more, the library and the TL can only be effective and successful with the full support of the principal and the management team (Oberg, 2006).

I agree that the role is largely about “making a difference in the way teachers teach and in the way students learn” (Purcell, 2010, p.1) Coming from an English teachers perspective, I’ve always, as I’m sure most teachers are, focussed on making sure I could cover the content in the time given- particularly with exam classes. Now that I’m working in a school library I see that the emphasis is less on formative results and more on learning as a process.

Lead mainly by inquiry-based learning I feel that I’m making a difference to student learning and the way they view and use information (Herring, 2007, p.32). As stated previously, I believe the role of the TL is constantly evolving and to be an effective TL it’s necessary to be able to adapt. We need to be able to adapt to changing policies, curriculum, technologies and we need to be able to teach the teachers as well as the students.

Herring suggests that the role is educational and not administrative (Herring, 2007, p.32) and whilst I agree that the key focus is educational, I don’t see how the TL can escape administrative duties. A key example would be those associated with copyright, we are currently going through a copyright survey and the amount of administrative duties regarding this has been significant. The TL is the go to for queries regarding copyright, resources and the implementation of new technologies, apps and online learning tools and with all of these comes some administration.

As a TL, we must make sure that our knowledge is continually growing, that we are aware of what’s going on in our colleagues libraries and that we don’t shy away from trying something new.

References

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/224879111?accountid=10344

Purcell, M. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3-), 30-33.

Defining a TL

I am going to be getting my students to create a word cloud as a way of reviewing what they’ve learnt so far, and I thought it I’d do one too.

I’ve decided to link it to my understanding of what I think the role of a TL is.  I’m sure that as I delve further into the unit I will have more words to add, but for now, I think this highlights some of the keywords I’d associate with a TL.

What is a TL?

 

 

Respect & Support

Reading Dianne Oberg’s article, Developing respect and support of school administrators, got me thinking about my current place of employment. I’m currently working as a TL/ Library Tech in a secondary school library and I have to be honest I had never thought about how the support of the principal or administration can impact on the daily running of the library. After reading the article, I asked myself why I hadn’t thought of support as being crucial to the success of a library.

The answer: We are supported and we are a thriving learning hub.

This article helped me realise that my current reality may not follow me if I choose to leave and work elsewhere. There are many libraries that aren’t given the budget or the support to implement programs that will have a positive impact on the students. A school library impacts on the whole school, the atmosphere, learning, resources and staff are the centre of learning or can. If the support is there, the possibilities and opportunities are vast, but I’m left wondering-

How do you get support from a management that is not interested in the possibilities? 

Reference

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/224879111?accountid=10344