Posted by: leish79 | June 3, 2013

ETL401 Assignment 2 – Part B: Critical Reflection

imageShaky beginnings

My initial perceptions of the TL role prior to engaging in this subject mirrored the title of Purcell’s (2010) article, “All librarians do is check out books, right?” My own experience of the school library during my schooling was just that. The TL read a story to the class, we coloured in some pictures and then we borrowed books (Oberg, 2006; Hartzell, 2002). My experience of the school library as a classroom teacher was similar, with the added bonus that when the TL had my class, I got some R&R, oops…. I mean time to plan.

Collaboration is the key

I experienced a light bulb moment when reading Herring’s (2007) article, where the idea of collaboration between the TL and classroom teachers was first introduced to me. Once I had read this, it seemed almost stupid not to have thought about it before. Upon wider reading it became more apparent that collaboration between the TL and classroom teachers was not just recommended, it was necessary to instil lifelong learning skills within students (ALIA & ASLA, 2009). I then turned my attention to guided inquiry and the role of the TL as the gatekeeper of collaboration (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007). This view thrust the TL into a leadership role which I had never seen in practice within a school. I had witnessed the TL act as an instructional partner, a teacher and a program administrator, but never a leader (Purcell, 2010).

TL as leader

The theme of leadership suddenly began to resound throughout the literature surrounding the role of the TL. The role was suddenly expanding at such an exponential rate my head began to spin and I seriously contemplated rocking in the corner. I mean, I’m not afraid to take charge and lead by example, I do it every day in my current occupational role. However I had not began the process of changing my career to TL to be a leader…. had I? The notion that the TL should not only be a leader in terms of teaching information literacy skills to students, but that the TL should also instruct teachers in how to impart these skills within their classrooms (Purcell, 2010) fed back into the need for collaboration to occur.

Principal support…. or lack of it

I then began considering how collaboration can be fostered between the TL and classroom teachers and how the TL can be viewed as a leader in this process. Haycock (2007) made a positive correlation between the principal’s expectations regarding collaboration between the TL and the classroom teachers and the implementation of this. Therefore it would be fair to suggest that without the support of the principal the TL cannot become the collaboration gatekeeper as Kuhlthau et. al. (2007) suggests. My online journal (OLJ) entry regarding principal support (OLJ, 2013, March 24) clearly articulated a negative history of principal support for the TL. I chose to work around this issue through targeting classroom teachers to pursue a relationship of collaboration rather than attempting to persuade the principal. Upon reflection this is a naive and simplistic view of the problem. The support of the principal is crucial in vaulting the TL into a leadership and collaborative role and therefore the principal’s view of the TL is imperative in achieving this.

Final thoughts

Throughout the course of this subject my learning has increased exponentially as the weeks rolled by. The role of the TL is clearly varied and vast and the more I read, the more aspects to the role I discovered. The idea of the TL as a leader was surprising to me, however after reading about IL it is obvious why the TL should be viewed as a leader, particularly in the instruction of guided inquiry. However what is more crucial to the role is the responsibility of collaborating with classroom teachers. It is clear that the TL can positively contribute to the learning of students both within and outside the school library. The inquiry learning processes studied show the need for information literacy to be embedded in the curriculum and be integrated into all classroom instruction, not be an add-on within the bounds of the school library.

All of my reflections on the role of the TL have culminated in this final thought. The TL needs to be articulate, personable and  energetic to ensure students benefit from integrated curriculum units which incorporate information literacy skills and assist students to develop lifelong higher order thinking skills. I just hope I’m up for the challenge!

References

Australian Library and Information Association & Australian School Library Association (2009). ALIA/ALSA Policy on Guided Inquiry and the Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.alia.org.au/policies/guided.inquiry.html

Hartzell, G. N. (2002). What’s It Take. Paper submitted to the Washington White House Conference on School Libraries. Retrieved from http://www.laurabushfoundation.com/Hartzell.pdf

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.

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. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Westport: Libraries Unlimited Inc.

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators.Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.

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