Tag Archives: collaboration

Blog Task #2 – Principal Support




Research is unequivocal in supporting the notion that: a well-resourced library that has a strong library program focused on teaching information literacy by a highly qualified teacher librarian increases student achievement (Hartzell, 2003; Everhart, 2006; Spence, 2006). Research is also unequivocal in demonstrating that teaching information literacy by the teacher librarian in collaboration with the classroom teacher, leads to improved student learning (Everhart, 2006; Haycock, 2007; Morris, 2007). One key element that can be pivotal in influencing the success or failure of the library and its program, is the support of the school principal.

Principal Support

Oberg (2006) suggests that there are four key ways in which the principal can support the school library. The first is through the principal’s role as supervisor of all teachers and the expectation that collaboration will occur between staff members. “Collaboration is a trusting, working relationship between two or more equal participants involved in shared thinking, shared planning and shared creation of integrated instruction” (Montiel-Overall, 2005). Collaboration between teacher and teacher librarians positively influences student learning in the area of information literacy and the integration of technology into other curriculum subjects (Farmer, 2007). It is essential therefore, that the principal shows leadership in encouraging and facilitating collaboration to support good communication and a professional working environment between teacher librarian and classroom teacher (Morris & Packard, 2007).

The second key role of the principal is “demonstrating personal commitment” (Oberg, 2006, p.14). The principal publicly acknowledges the valuable contribution that the library and the collaborative teaching of information literacy programs make to the learning outcomes of the students.

The third key element is principals ensuring that there is an adequate budget for resource materials, both in print and digital form. Within this budget is the provision for teachers to be released off class in order to plan collaborative lessons with other teachers. The school library program is seen as an integrated part of the overall teaching structure and practice in the school, not an isolated unit.

The last focus for the principal, is the specific support and mentoring of the teacher librarian. Supportive principals recognise the competency and knowledge of the teacher librarian. Teacher librarians are encouraged to continue professional development and time is made to meet with the principal to discuss expectations and focus for library resources and teaching programs.

Role of the Teacher Librarian

Concurrently, the teacher librarian also needs to be proactive in advocating support and developing a professional relationship with the principal (Gibbs, 2003). Purcell (2010) found that, “despite the positive impact of the media centre on the school’s success; many education professionals do not have a clear understanding of the media specialist role” (p. 31). The teacher librarian needs to ensure that there are clearly stated policies and documents within the school defining the role of the librarian and outlining the teaching program. Having a visible profile within the school through the creation of a library blog, running parent and teacher technology workshops, leading curriculum committees, etc. will help ensure continued principal support.

Hartzell (2002), suggests that it is easy for a principal to assess the effectiveness of a classroom teacher, but much harder with the teacher librarian, as often student work is integrated and it is difficult to specify the value of teaching conducted by the librarian. It is therefore important for teacher librarians to incorporate on-going evaluation procedures throughout the teaching program such as using diagnostic, formative or summative methods (Stripling, 2007) or by considering the components in Johnson’s 13-point checklist (2006).


In conclusion, “principals and teacher librarians need to have a shared view of the potential of the school library program, as one that reaches beyond the library and into the teaching and learning of the whole school” (Oberg, 2006, p.16). Collaboration between principal, teacher librarian and teacher is essential to increasing student learning potential.


Everhart, N. (2006). Principals’ evaluation of school librarians: A study of strategic and non-strategic evidence-based approaches. School Libraries Worldwide, 12(2), 38-51.

Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65.

Gibbs, R. (2003). Reframing the role of the teacher-librarian: The case for collaboration and flexibility. Scan, 22(3), 4-7.

Hartzell, G. (2002). What’s it take? Knowledge Quest, 31(1), 27-43.

Hartzell, G. (2003). Why should principals support school libraries? Curriculum leadership: Education Services Australia. Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/leader/why_should_principals_support_school_libraries,4639.html?issueID=9691

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

Johnson, D. (2006). A 13-point library media program checklist for school principals. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 70-71.

Montiel-Overall, P. (2005). Toward a theory of collaboration for teachers and librarians. American Association of School Librarians. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/slmrb/slmrcontents/volume82005/theory

Morris, B. J. (2007). Principal support for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 23-24.

Morris, B. J., & Packard, A. (2007). The principal’s support of classroom teacher-media specialist collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 36-55.

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.

Spence, S. (2006). Invest in school libraries to create 21st century learning communities. Access, 20(3), 17-20.

Stripling, B. (2007). Assessing information fluency: Gathering evidence of student learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23(8), 25-29.

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Topic 5 – Collaborative Practice

Activity 1 – Forum

 1)    What are the challenges posed by Collaborative Planning and Teaching (CPT)?

The major issues identified by research appear to be:

  • Time
  • Finding a teacher who wishes to collaborate
  • Resources
  • Principal support

2)    Does the teacher librarian have a positive role to play in the curriculum or should CPT be abandoned?

The TL has a major role, even if it’s simply to find resources necessary for classroom teachers to do their job. However, it’s much better for student learning outcomes for TLs to participate in CPT.

3)    In your opinion where does the truth lie? I do remember reading that somewhere, but can’t find it again.

4)    How well do you believe that the CPT model picks up on the factors given by Senge, and Watkins and Marsick from the previous section?

I found the readings this time around hard-going and too theoretical – particularly Senge and Fullan. Watkins gave a more concise summary, which was easier to follow.

Activity 2 – Forum

The role of the teacher librarian is fulfilled in a school that believes in collaborative practice and where teachers are leaders. But many teachers see working with other teachers as a major challenge. In fact they might fight against this.

1)    In such circumstances what would be an appropriate response from the teacher librarian?

I would find that one person willing to give collaboration a go and lead by example. Once other teachers see the success of CPT, they may be more willing to jump on board.

2)    From your reading so far, can you build a convincing argument for collaboration between the teacher librarian, principal and teachers at a school that you know?

  • increased student learning outcomes
  • would quote from studies and research
  • concept of constructivism
  • GI skills are learning for life skills
  • Incorporating both curriculum (content) and information literacy skills – vital for future roles in the workplace

Activity 3 – Questions

Recent research can be found in the Australian research columns of journals, ACCESS and Scan.

1)    In light of Harada’s research, consider how such research might be used in school libraries. Is there any ‘action research’ happening in schools you know?


2)    How important is it that teachers and teacher librarians act as researchers?

In theory, this is a great concept. The reality is that teaching staff are so overworked that there simply isn’t enough time to do “proper” research. The research that the TL and teacher will conduct will occur during the learning process and will be more anecdotal and observational in nature.


Brown, C. (2004). America’s most wanted: Teachers who collaborate. (1), 13-18.

Gibbs, R. (2003). Reframing the role of the teacher-librarian: The case for collaboration and flexibility. Scan, 22(3), 4-7.

Harada, V.H. (2004). Action research: How teacher-librarians can build evidence of student learning. Scan, 23(1), 27-33.

Harvey, C.A. (2004). The Rookie: A primer to help you survive your first year with flying colours, School Library Journal, 50(9), 50–52.

Kahn, E., & Valence, L. (2012). Collaboration is the key to successful research. Library Media Connection. (March/April), 40-42.

Montiel-Overall, P. (2005). A theoretical understanding of teacher and librarian collaboration, School Libraries Worldwide, 11(2), 24-48.

Todd, R. J. (2008). The dynamics of classroom teacher and teacher librarian instructional collaborations. Scan, 27(2), 19-28.

Williamson, K., Archibald, A., & McGregor, J. (2010). Shared Vision: A Key to Successful Collaboration?. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(2), 16-30.

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