Tapscott (2012), has four components that he advocates for creating an open leadership model for the future which includes the core principles in managing change in an open environment. These four components are: collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment. How can these principles be applied to school libraries or teacher librarians? How can these principles support a teacher librarian (TL) leading change in a school library?
Collaboration – Why wouldn’t you? I ENJOY working with like-minded teachers. I have two Year 1 classes on a Friday afternoon last period – normally a “groan” but because the teacher I’m with is proactive and we have similar teaching ethics, we are having a ball teaching 50 students information literacy skills. I also have a double with a Year 1 teacher who is not so computer savvy and while it’s harder because I have to do more of the “leg-work”, she is enjoying learning information literacy skills from me. Establishing a workable collaborative environment involves developing a relationship of trust and predictability.
Transparency – To me, this is about having integrity, sound school values, communication of information and often using the Internet to access and pass on information. In terms of being a TL, this means communicating at our weekly staff meeting anything of which all teachers need to be aware. It also means sharing with teachers what is being taught each week in library, being on time to take their class and delivering the material that I said I would teach – upfront and accountable.
Sharing – Am happy to share EVERYTHING that I do. What has amazed me is the capacity for others to share. The teacher librarian at our school last year (who was on a temporary contract) and did an amazing job has now been employed in a permanent classroom teaching position. She has willingly uploaded ALL the files that she has created for the library and ALL the teaching units that she taught so that I didn’t have to start from scratch – this is my first year in the library. I’m AMAZED. Not many other teachers would be so willing to share – her philosophy? “Why wouldn’t I?”
Empowerment – A common distribution of power – I’m not sure that this would work in all school settings – often legislation and rules need to be followed over what a particular team would like to see being implemented. I like the idea of us all “thinking outside the square” and it being a time of great change where we share intelligence that goes beyond the individual, but not sure that all school are at this stage.
Elements of leadership practice in collaborative environments that I would like to explore further in my role as TL include:-
- Having the scope to truly team-teach with another class, not just serve as the RFF teacher, ie the class teacher AND myself teaching just the one class. I feel I have taken the first step in having two Year 1 classes combined to “team-teach”, however when there are 50 students and 2 teachers, there are times that we are quite stretched in attending to individual needs.
- All classes having the opportunity to come to the library and team-teach, even if it’s on a rostered basis.
- More time to be able to workshop and train the library monitors and parent helpers who volunteer their time in the library. With the library monitors, I would like to see them in more of a leadership role, whereby they are training others to step into this role next year – empowering them to pass on their knowledge.
TED. (2012, June 28). Don Tapscott. Four principles for the open world [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfqwHT3u1-8