Topic 2 – The Role of the Teacher Librarian

TOPIC TWO – THOUGHTS

(My husband thinks I should have better ones!!)

Activity 1 – Forum Discussion

Crikey! Our school has no teacher librarian role statement…does this mean the TL doesn’t exist? Or is not important? Or that there is no TL?

I’m working in a K-12 independent Christian school and “fell into” my role. Struggling to find a part-time teaching position, I accepted a position with this school as a Teacher’s Aide supporting students in Maths (Years 7 – 10). They were desperate – I’m primary trained and they admitted that my HSC score in Maths was what got me over the line. Yeah…I could do that maths 60 years ago, but not now!

Anyway, they advertised for a 2-day TL position (in Term 2), which I applied for and didn’t even get an interview for. However, the Head of K-6 has been “doing library” this year and was so frustrated that she offered me 1 day a week to “take library” so the teachers can have some RFF and she doesn’t need to worry about it any more! I accepted and basically have 30 minutes a week with each class, K-6. It’s only a small school, so I have 8 classes.

It just shows you how devalued the role of TL is in this school. I am so determined that as I work through this course, I’m going to prove to be so invaluable to them that I’ll be there 5 days as TL!! As someone else in our course said: “bring it on!”

Activity 2 – The 21st Century Media Center (YouTube)

  • TL’s are the cultivators of change into the 21st century
  • Information literacy is a valuable source for any school
  • Principal – need: “certified school library media specialists to develop and implement inquiry-based research projects to prepare students for college…and beyond”

Activity 3 – Are Teacher Librarians an Endangered Species?

No! We might be “endangered but not extinct” (Henry Jenkins). In fact most of the commentators that spoke were adamant that the role of the TL would increase exponentially in the future, in terms of how crucial it will become for student learning. Our role is to learn to be the expert in finding, evaluating and using information for learning. Our current students are facing a digital future and we need to be there to equip them in the best possible manner. These students need to become critical users of information and ideas. Classroom teachers have so much pressure to ensure their students are doing “the basics” – reading, writing and arithmetic. As TL we need to add technology to the list of basics and be there to support both teacher and student.

Activity 4 – Compare and contrast the views of Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza

Valenza’s article summarised in a succinct manner the role of the TL, which were discussed in the other three articles. From these articles, the major function of the TL is to develop information literate students for the future.

I think that TLs need to prioritise the role that they play in their school around the current infrastructure of the school. Priorities will be different from school to school dependent on resources and support. The ideal is to be able to check off the list in Valenza’s article. However, not all libraries are that well-equipped or supported by staff and teachers.

There are definitely other roles played by the TL. A good rapport with the children is essential. Teaching is relational and creating opportunities to be collaborative with classroom teachers and share with parents is crucial in promoting the library as a great learning resource centre.

Herring, Purcell and Lamb outlined the multifaceted role required of the TL. It’s HUGE! Purcell summarised this by saying that TLs needed to be: leaders, information specialists, a teacher, instructional partner and program administrator. All of them advocated the crucial role that TLs can make in supporting students into the digital information future.

Currently, I’m not a proper TL. Our school has a Resource Centre Manager who has no teacher training or skills in librarianship. So for me, I need to prove my worth over the next 6 months so that I can take on more responsibility and shift the thinking of the leaders in the school to seeing the value of a proper TL. The theory in being a vital TL in a school as outlined by these authors is scary! I would like to think that one day I will tick the majority of their boxes…

Yes, I believe that the teacher comes first.

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.
  • 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.
  • Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.)
  • Joyce Valenza (2010). In the 21st century, what does a school librarian do? In Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians. Retrieved from http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

Activity 5 – Gary Hartzell

  • It is the methodology of the TL that influences the learning taking place in a library not the library media program per se (Blue Skunk blog)
  • Even in today’s teacher training programs there is little instruction on how librarians could contribute to helping the classroom teacher.
  • TLs need to reconceptualise how principals/teachers view their role.
  • A committed principal is the key element to a successful library.

Activity 6 – Principal Support

In my opinion, principals have varied in terms of their support for the library and the TL. In some schools it has been wonderful and in others not quite so good. Those principals who keep up with current academic research are more likely to advocate collaborative learning practices and inquiry-based learning using the library as a significant place for resource information. Those principals who scheduled collaborative time on staff development days between teachers and the TL demonstrated their support (Kaplan, 2007 and Oberg, 2006).

However I do believe Haycock (2007) when he states that, “the lack of role clarity, particularly as witnessed by misconceptions and misperceptions, has been a barrier to successful collaboration” (p.29). Morris summed up the key characteristics of a TL when s/he had the support of the principal.

At this stage, I need to convince my principal that I’m more than a teacher and that I am developing the skill to be a TL.

References

Activity 7 – How might a teacher librarian make his or her priorities both clear and palatable to the school community?

Based on our readings this topic, the TL needs to have clear teaching and learning goals that are founded on sound research and evidence.  The TL needs to collect evidence not only to demonstrate continuous learning but ongoing evaluation of the learning process. Also of importance is to promote their role and the value of their teaching to the wider community.

The old saying goes: actions speak louder than words.

So practically, TLs need to be seen in the community. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but some ideas may include:

  • in consultation with the school community write a library policy (ours doesn’t have one!)
  • work collaboratively with teachers and parents to promote and plan Book Week
  • run parent workshops on Guided Inquiry research or evaluating websites etc.
  • promote the Premier’s Reading Challenge through the morning assembly or by writing short articles in the school newsletter

Maybe it would be good for us to have a central place where we could brainstorm practical ways of promoting the role of the TL? I’m only brand new to being a TL and would love some help! This seems to be an area that the research is pointing out we’re not very strong.

Activity 8 – Implications of reports to TLs

School Libraries 21C:-

The following quote scares me as TL:

“ The reengineering of school libraries into flexible, dynamic, high-tech 21C learning centres designed to prepare students to function effectively in an increasingly complex informational and technological world depends on your investment of time, creative and innovative thinking, and carefully strategic planning to make this vision for school libraries of the future happen.”

I just don’t feel that I have the skills and abilities to do any of these criterion any justice whatsoever at the moment. I’m petrified. Good thing I’m only one day a week and no one cares as long as I take their class for half an hour for RFF. However I’ve found that my studies and learning about new technology has been additive – I crave more. I want to do more for my students and the learning community.

I’m struggling to get my blog active – I have no idea how to use categories, tags and RSS feeds, which I know are important to my blog. Yet there are very few teachers or students at my school who can help. Are we presuming that students have more computer skills than teachers? Yes. Do they? Not always. The only person who can help at my K-12 school is our IT expert. But he’s too busy at the moment. I even called Geekscometoyou for blog help but it was out of their expertise!!

I don’t like to use Facebook. The only reason I’m on and have about 20 friends is because my best friend moved overseas to Singapore.  Coincidentally, I lived in Singapore from the age of 7 – 16. It has been great to contact friends from this time to keep in contact.

I find posting my blog activity confronting because it’s public and anyone can read it. When I did my first degree, no one was able to read what you submitted. I have an issue with this because I’m scared someone will shatter my confidence with and unfavourable comment.

Hay, L. & Todd, R. (2010). School libraries 21C: The conversation begins (ETL401). Retrieved July 30, 2012, from Charles Sturt University website: http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;res=AEIPT;dn=183676

Looking For The Evidence:

  • Schools with better funded school libraries, tended to achieve higher average test scores.
  • Collaboration

Parliamentary Inquiry:

  • Encouraging a love of reading – p. 49 Is this a fading skill of significance?
  • Great to see (but not surprisingly) “our Lyn” involved in recommendations – p. 41, p.46 and others…
  • Increasing digital literacy: “I think our students are information rich, and question poor and search skills poor” (p.50).
  • “Our Barb” (ETL501) appears – p.50
  • Heaps of great recommendations, which are founded on the research that we are currently reading in our course, but is any of it actually going to be implemented?
  • Without trying to be smart, it was encouraging to read that both our lecturers are considered by Parliament to have a significant voice in this area due to their expertise knowledge and research. And, they are passing on their expertise to us.

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment. (2011). School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st Century Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia

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