Category Archives: ETL504

Future Proofing Critical Analysis and Reflection

LeaderImage uploaded from: https://www.avanoo.com/landing/454/Leadership

Introduction

There is no doubt that the role of the teacher librarian (TL) has vastly changed over the last decade with the introduction of computers and easy access to the Internet into the majority of schools (Herring, 2007; Kuhlthau, 2010). The TL’s role is complex and varied.

Dewey (1916) suggested that the purpose of schools is to develop educated individuals or cohorts to actively participate in society. Globally this continues to be the primary purpose of schooling… (Starkey, 2012, p. 20).

The assimilation and introduction of the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, (ACARA), 2015), with revamped syllabuses in New South Wales (Board of Studies, Teaching & Educational Standards NSW, 2015) has made the role of the TL critical in terms of being a curriculum leader, an information literacy leader and an instructional leader (Herring, 2007). This has necessitated the need for the TL to have a thorough and current knowledge of key issues that surround leadership and change management.

Teacher Librarian as Leader

It is interesting to note that in my assessment task one blog, “the next step in my leadership journey will be to implement an information literacy model that is adopted school-wide” (Ellis, 2015, April 14). This did become a strategic focus, but it was so much easier said than done! Discussion was also about the TL as leader in the areas of team teaching, collaboration and promotion of information literacy (IL) skills, supporting classroom teacher practices and as a service leader in resourcing the Learning Centre (LC) with quality print and digital materials. While all these are important components of the role of TL, my view has now been dramatically expanded to include that of being a curriculum and pedagogical leader who must understand change management and have a vision for the future of the LC to ensure it is a central learning space in the school. Defining and articulating a vision statement as opposed to a mission statement proved rewarding, but challenging.

Changes In 21st Century School Libraries

A key area of growth and understanding with regards to 21st century school libraries is the incredible, fast-paced changes that are occurring in terms of web tools and the importance of having a flexible LC, physically and virtually for students to access information resources and learn individually or in a group setting at school or at home. The implementation of a whole-school Guided Inquiry (GI) process can be the key to stabilising these changes as it provides an educationally sound framework for information literacy learning (Kuhlthau, 2010).

Current evaluation of the Australian Curriculum is that it is too crowded in terms of content and that it is currently under review (ACARA, 2015). Keeping up-to-date with present-day curriculum implementations is crucial in being able to support classroom teachers with the new syllabuses and supporting resources.

One personal weakness, highlighted during this module, has been my lack of technological knowledge. How can I support the entrenching of information literacy skills in the school if I don’t have the skills myself? Using the forum to seek suggestions from others (Ellis, 2015, April 8) and delving further into a name – Karen Bonanno (2015), proved extremely valuable. Excitingly, the discovery of Bonanno’s F-10 Inquiry skills scope and sequence and F-10 core skills and tools has piqued my interest and will become the building-block, that not only informs my teaching practices next semester but my role as curriculum and information literacy leader.

The deliberate provision of time for teachers to collaborate on issues of curriculum and instruction is paramount in providing opportunities for “teachers to learn from one another, refine their practice, and work with others to deepen their understanding of the complexities of teaching (Lieberman & Mace, 2010, p. 79). However, this does not necessarily have to be done face-to-face. As a result of this module I have now:

  • joined the New South Wales TL Listserv;
  • encouraged the school to subscribe to SCAN;
  • begun experimenting with web tools to use with students; and
  • joined a variety of educational diigo groups.

This has been significant in terms of feeling supported in my journey as TL as I seek help and keep abreast of new concepts and student and teaching learning practices (Coatney, 2010, p.x). Collaborating digitally, has made me realise how important it is for students to be able to feel connected and supported in their learning journey. Not only do we want to create a safe physical learning environment for students but a safe virtual learning environment where students can seek support and learn from others.

Curriculum Design Leader

In one of my earlier forum posts I commented that the principal wanted me to become a leader in the LC (the first time I’ve ever worked in the library) and that I was thrown in the deep end and led by “selecting library monitors, organising rosters…coordinating PRC and Book Club” (Ellis, 2015, March 8). While I understood that this was more leadership management (even at the time), the concept of leader in curriculum design, delivery and strategic planning were well out of my realm of understanding.

The TL role as a leader in curriculum design is multifaceted. However, I kept going back to Sinek’s Golden Circle (Sinek, 2007), where he inspires all great leaders to take action by initially asking the question “why”, then, “how” and finally “what”. Answering the “what” is always much easier than the “why”. When developing this strategic plan, I kept trying to focus on “why” – Why GI? Why IL? Strategic plans need to begin with educational outcomes. During the strategic implementation stage, it was then “how” – How can GI and IL be integrated as a lasting change practice embedded as part of the school culture.

Key aspects of understanding about the role of the TL have been:

1) Leadership from an organisational perspective as opposed to being a curriculum leader – eg. volunteer for leadership roles,

2) Knowledge of innovation and change;

3) Communication – be active at staff meetings to promote digital and physical resources, attend stage meetings to help with curriculum planning, develop relationships with students and parents; initiate and implement workshops for all stakeholders advocating the role of the LC and TL in supporting the curriculum;

4) Planning – be intentional and deliberate; start small with interested teachers and grow from there (Zmuda & Harada, 2008).

A critical component of strategic planning is to take the time to assess the current situation and context before leaping in with an action plan. While the gathering of information and analysis of the school’s internal and external context can be time consuming it is worthwhile to critically think about any possible issues that may arise. It may not always be fool proof in avoiding unknown problems, but at least the TL will be more aware (Allison & Kaye, 2005, p. 125).

Summary

Currently, there is no whole-school approach to embedding IL or GI as part of the school culture. It is therefore critical that the TL adapts a leadership role to promote, establish and embed these concepts within the school. This is only possible if the TL understands the motivating forces behind personnel undergoing change and the concepts that underpin lasting change. Implementing change can be challenging and as the image at the top suggests, the TL needs to be intelligent, honest, creative confident, driven and courageous.

References

Allison, M., & Kaye, J. (2005). Strategic planning for non-profit organizations: A practical guide and workbook (2nd ed.).Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2015). Australian Curriculum v7.4. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au

Board of Studies: Teaching and Educational Standards, NSW. (2015). Syllabuses. Retrieved from http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabuses/

Bonanno, K. (2015). F-10 Inquiry skills scope and sequence and F-10 core skills and tools. Retrieved from http://eduwebinar.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/curriculum_mapping_scope_sequence_skills_tools.pdf

Coatney, S. (Ed.). 2010). The many faces of school library leadership. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Ellis, S. (2015, March 8). Re: Task 1: What is your understanding of leadership? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/conference?toggle_mode=read&action=list_forums&course_id=_6061_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&mode=view

Ellis, S. (2015, April 8). Re: Task 3: Digital Learning [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/conference?toggle_mode=read&action=list_forums&course_id=_6061_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&mode=view

Ellis, S. (2015, April 14). A reflection on a concept map and critical analysis of leadership [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://samanthaellis4.wordpress.com/

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. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 17 – 28. Retrieved from http://www.iasl-online.org/publications/slw/index.html

Lieberman, A., & Mace, P. (2010). Making practice public: Teacher learning in the 21st century. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 77-88. Retrieved from http://jte.sagepub.com/

Sinek, S. (2007). Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. London: Penguin Books.Starkey, L. (2012). Teaching and learning in the digital age. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Zmuda, A., & Harad, V. (2008). Librarians as learning specialists: moving from the margins to the mainstream of school leadership. Teacher Librarin, 36(1), 15-20. Retrieved from http://www.teacherlibrarian.com/

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Conflict Resolution

Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model (Kilman Diagnostics, 2015) 

What is your approach to managing conflict?

Based on the responses to the Conflict Resolution Questionnaire (n.d.), my preferred conflict resolution style is compromising, which means that, I tend to: “express about average assertiveness and cooperation” and that some of my colleagues may think of me as a “fox” because of my ability to make trade offs to accomplish what I want by helping the other person gain what he/she wants. Some thought processes may involve:

  • This isn’t important enough to fight over
  • I don’t want to be unreasonable
  • If I give her this, maybe she’ll give me that
  • We could both live with that

People tend to use one of the first four conflict styles – competing, avoiding, accommodating or collaborating (Thomas & Kilmann, 1974). The fifth one compromise, “describes a state that can be used temporarily to get someone to move from one of the other styles. For example, if the person is acting like a shark (competing) you can help him/her to become less assertive and more cooperative” Conflict Resolution Questionnaire (n.d.).

Depending on the context, each of these styles can be valuable in resolving a conflict. It does not necessarily mean that you always select that approach to managing conflict, but that it would be your preferred style.

 

Does this match to how you think of yourself?

Yes, it does match how I view myself in conflict situations. I could give an example of a time when I’ve used each one of the above 5 approaches depending on the situation I was in and my emotional state.

 

What areas do you think you need to develop?

As a leader, I feel that I need to further develop my “on-the-spot” emotional reaction to a conflict situation. I don’t respond so well at instantly having to problem-solve and prefer to know about a conflict situation prior to meeting with a person. If someone “attacks” me or is aggressive towards me, I tend to go into flight mode and want to avoid the situation. I’m better now at just listening to their diatribe and saying that there’s nothing I can do about it right now because of…and then saying that I will follow it up by… that I’ve heard what they wanted to tell me and I’m sorry that they are so upset. And I am good at following things up – my preferred method is via phone because I can make faces in the background that the other person can’t see and I can hide the fear that may be on my face when I’m communicating something that I may need to say but don’t want to. I’m good at compromising with a situation if I’ve had to time to share my emotions with a colleague or friend, reflect on what’s actually happening and causing the conflict and then having a meeting to resolve the situation to either stand up for what I believe is right, admitting that I’ve done the wrong thing or seeking collaborative advice I required.

References

Conflict Resolution Questionnaire [Questionnaire]. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://academic.engr.arizona.edu/vjohnson/ConflictManagementQuestionnaire/ConflictManagementQuestionnaire.asp

Kilmann Diagnostics (Publisher). (1974). Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model [Image] Retrieved April 17, 2015, from http://www.kilmanndiagnostics.com/overview-thomas-kilmann-conflict-mode-instrument-tki

Thomas, K. W. & Kilmann, R. H. (1974). The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Tuxedo, New York: XICOM, Inc

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Concept Maps

Wow! Informally blogging after having submitted a “formal” blog to do with concept maps. I love the idea of integrating concepts maps with students (even though I struggled with this idea through my assignment) to value visual learners and will incorporate this with doing natural disasters next term on Stage 2. So was thinking this would be a great way for them to display their knowledge having done some research.

However, I also think that it is still important to have a pen and paper model before constructing a digital image. I used both when I was working on this assignment. I went from brainstorming ideas:

SONY DSC

to trying to connect ideas:

SONY DSC

to re-constructing my ideas of leadership and change:

SONY DSC

and then conceptualising my ideas based on a completely different conceptual model with bubbl.us – https://bubbl.us/?h=1243ba/53309c/112ihJLOdQmgk&r=1706757691

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A reflection on a concept map and critical analysis of leadership

love-books-1

7 Poetry Books of 2103

Image courtesy of irisdeanda

The library is not a shrine for the worship of books. It is not a temple where literacy incense must be burned or where one’s devotion to the bound book is expressed in ritual. A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of new ideas.

Norman Cousins in (Lankes, 2011, p. 15)

Concept Maps

“Concept maps are graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge” (Novak & Cañas, 2008, p. 1). The idea of a concept map is to engage visual learners who can construct their knowledge of a particular topic in a diagrammatic form. Although all the literature was read pertaining to the theory and construction of creating a concept map, I found this task particularly overwhelming and challenging. On this educational journey, it made me realise that this was not my natural style of learning because the associations between ‘bubbles’ could be interpreted differently to the original intent and it was not linear in nature. However, it also made me comprehend and appreciate that for other learners to grasp the relationship between different ideas was easier when displayed in a visual manner. Next term, I will be endeavouring to use concept maps (bubbl.us, 2014) as one method for exploring and assessing concept knowledge within the classroom situation to engage visual learners.

Leadership

It was interesting to note that the Buzzle Leadership Style Quiz (Dhavale, 2014) indicated that my style of leadership is democratic/participative. As a democratic leader, one considers the suggestions and opinions of the team members and actively involves people in the decision-making process. This means the ultimate decision is made that usually has the majority of the team members approving. It is motivating for the team members as they are encouraged to contribute in the process and it can improve creativity and productivity. “It is one of the ideal leadership styles in an education system” (Dhavale, 2014) and my preferred modus operandi. While this is positive in one sense, it means that making an autocratic decision is sometimes difficult even if the situational context requires this outcome. There are times when a decision just needs to be made but there is procrastination on my part, to consult with others to ‘make the right decision’ when it is not necessary.

“For all the research that has been conducted on the topic of leadership, the field remains curiously unformed” (Hackman & Wageman, 2007, p. 43). There is no prescriptive formula for selecting a ‘correct’ leadership style but research promotes the idea of preferred leadership styles and qualities such as transformational leadership as it enables the most effective educational change (Avolio, Walumba, & Weber, 2009; Browning, 2013; Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005). However, whatever leadership model is selected, it must be robust enough to complement the interaction between personal and situational aspects (Hackman & Wageman, 2007). There has also been little research into whether a particular leadership style “can actually be developed” (Avolio et al, 2009, p. 425). Reading all this literature has made me appreciate and acknowledge that while a transformational leader can make the most effective change in schools, it takes a particular personality who has the tenacity, knowledge, passion, leadership and communication skills to undertake this challenge.

Teacher Librarian as Leader

Understanding and appreciating the various leadership styles and qualities has made me more passionate about team teaching, and leading teams to collaborate and promote informational literacy skills, which involves resourcing the library with quality print and digital resources, supporting classroom teaching practices and student learning and instilling a love of reading books. On a personal note, the next step in my leadership journey will be to implement an information literacy model that is adapted school-wide. Due to the large size of the school in which I work, not all classes are able to access the library every term and it is therefore important to lead those teachers not directly under my leadership to undertake and adopt an informational literacy model that is consistent with the library.

References

Avolio, B., Walumba, F.,& Weber, T. J. (2009). Leadership: Current theories, research, and future directions. Annual Review of Psychology 60, 421-449. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163621

Bubbl.us. (2014). Brainstorming made simple. Retrieved from https://bubbl.us/

Dhavale, G. (2014, April 9). Leadership Styles Quiz. Buzzle. Retrieved from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/leadership-styles-quiz.html

Hackman, J. R., & Wageman, R. (2007). Asking the right questions about leadership. American Psychologist, 62(1), 43-47. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.62.1.43

Irisdeanda. (2013). 7 Poetry books of 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2015 from http://irisdeanda.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/love-books-1.jpg

Lankes, R. D. (2011). The Atlas of new librarianship. Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England: MIT Press, Association of College & Research Libraries

Novak, J. D. & Cañas, A. J. (2008). The theory underlying concept maps and how to construct and use them. [ETL 504 Module Assignment 1]. Retrieved April 13, 2015 from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/sakai-msi-tool/content/bbv.html?subjectView=true&siteId=ETL504_201530_W_D

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An Open World

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.

Reference:

TED. (2012, June 28). Don Tapscott. Four principles for the open world [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfqwHT3u1-8

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Leadership Theory

Messy Library

Background

I have unexpectedly and coincidentally found myself in a position of leader within our Learning Centre. Our Learning Centre has a 7-day a week allocation of which I’m doing 3 days. The other Teacher Librarian is undertaking a Return to Work program having had nearly 6 months away on sick leave. Due to my previous leadership role as an Assistant Principal and now currently studying a Master of Teacher Librarian, the Principal has instructed that I take on all administration roles and the leadership role in the library. It has been a while since I’ve been in a leadership position AND I’m not that experienced at being a Teacher Librarian! The Learning Centre has incurred a $40,000 loss during the last stocktake. New procedures and policies have had to be implanted this term and there has been a physical movement of all resources to make the layout in the Learning Centre a more practical place in which to work. The next step is labelling and decorating…

xQ Questionnaire

I was surprised at the 67% score yielded by the xQ Questionnaire as I thought it would be higher, but it was higher than the US National Average. Based on my point of view, things our school organisation needs to improve on include:

  • translation into action – team planning being clear and organisational line of sight;
  • synergy – communication within teams, trust within teams and collaboration within teams and
  • accountability – individual initiative and responsibility for results.

Areas in which I feel our school do well include:

  • clarity of goals
  • commitment to goals
  • enabling – enough resources are provided and there is active support for work-team goals.

Buzzle Leadership

Not surprisingly, my leadership style came out as democratic/participative. This is certainly my ideal, but I’m not sure that I always achieve it! I do value the suggestions and opinions of other group members and try to involve group members in the decision-making process. However, I find it hard to value group members who express their opinions but are unwilling to follow through with their ideas and/or provide a workable solution to their ideas.

Marzano’s Theories on Leadership

It was refreshing to be reminded of the different styles of leadership and their origin. In theory most of us know the type of leader that we would like to be, but in practice, it is not always so easy to implement. I also believe that leaders can adopt different leadership styles depending on the context. It’s okay to be a transactional/situational/transformational or instructional leader depending on the team you are leading and the role that you are playing within that team. It’s knowing which leadership hat to put on at the appropriate time.

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