Having selected the NSWDET (2007) information literacy (IL) model to be implemented at my current school, it seemed an interesting process to undertake in critically reflecting on the role of the teacher librarian (TL) and the role of the school library in developing personal perspectives that will inform future practice.
1) Define: What do I really want to find out?
My purpose in undertaking this study was to remain in education, but to change direction, after many years of mainstream classroom teaching and retrain as a TL. The Master of Teacher Librarian (Charles Sturt University, 2012a) offered both a theoretical and practical component via distance education.
2) Locate: Where can I find the information I need?
Little was understood about the role of the TL prior to this course. It was believed to be an ‘easier’ alternative to full-time teaching in the classroom. No reports, no parent/teacher interviews, minimal programming and token accountability. “All librarians do is check out books, right?” is a catch-cry I truly believed (Purcell, 2010, p.30). Then the onslaught of the learning took place.
Information sources that have guided my thinking include the module itself, module readings, participation in forums (CSU, 2012b) and further academic research using Primo (CSU, 2012c) and a variety of other information sources. Significant learning took place in my ability to search and select relevant academic articles using credible and up-to-date educational databases, library organisations and reference lists in a digital format.
3) Select: What information do I really need to use?
As the amount of information increased, it was important to devise a system to store this material. Readings in print format, have been organised into clearly marked folders and placed in an archive box. Digital folders were created to synthesise material such as quotations and selected readings on particular assignments. Web 2.0 tools were utilised such as: Diigo (2012) – to collect useful websites and Google Reader (2012) – to obtain current readings from library and educational organisations. None of these tools were familiar prior to this course.
4) Organise: How can I use this information?
Learning how to use this information in an assignment was challenging. Articulating my own thoughts (when other authors wrote it better) was challenging. Correctly referencing material was challenging.
5) Present: How can I present this information?
Presentation formats for this module have included blog posts, module forums and essays. Sammy’s Scribblings (Ellis, 2012a), my first ever blog, was created to reflect on my learning in response to the module. Even though I posted weekly, more of my own personal thoughts rather than just a log of module responses, would have been beneficial in cataloguing my learning journey. One example is my blog post on collaborative practice, which I clearly believe benefits students, but neglected to mention how my current school would find this difficult to implement (Ellis, 2012b).
While it was hard to find time to read the numerous comments from the module forums, to which I contributed weekly, it was a great method for posing a question and seeking responses. Among many others, banters that I enjoyed with other students included a discourse on the role of the TL (Ellis, 2012c) and collaboration (Ellis, 2012d). It is interesting and amusing to review comments made during the forum. From not understanding how to correctly use the forum (Ellis, 2012e), or what an RSS feed does and how to access one (Ellis, 2012f), I now feel more confident about experimenting with Web 2.0 tools and sourcing help or contributing thoughts to the forum.
6) Assess: What did I learn from this?
Blog task #1 (Ellis, 2012g), taught me the value of implementing a Guided Inquiry (GI) approach. However, I lacked depth in my understanding of the practice involved in teaching GI. Other feedback was that I needed to refine my writing skills a little more and to correct my referencing technique (Hay, 2012). Not only did I improve my academic writing capability in my first assignment (Ellis 2012h), I learnt that the teaching role of the TL is crucial to the information literacy development of students, as these skills are critical for the future employment of students in the 21st century (American Association of School Librarians (2007). Honing my writing skills will be valuable when writing a library policy and making presentations in the school context.
Assignment 1, taught me about the diverse and influential role that a TL must have in developing IL skills and how to put this into practice. It helped me to understand the dual role of TL as educator and media specialist. TLs need to have sound pedagogical knowledge of how students learn, what students need to learn and how best to put this into practice.
Blog task #2 (Ellis, 2012i) reinforced the notion that, a well-resourced library that has a strong library program focused on teaching information literacy by a highly qualified TL increases student achievement (Everhart, 2006; Hartzell, 2003; Spence, 2006). I learnt that TLs need to have a cooperative working relationship with the principal in order to ensure there is an adequate budget for material resources – both print and digital and support for implementing an IL model consistently across all curriculum areas.
Blog task #3 (Ellis, 2012j) enabled me to consider that there is no agreed definition for information literacy and that IL is a learning process (Herring, 2011; Kuhlthau, 2004). It reiterated that the primary role of the TL is to support students to develop IL using a reliable IL model.
Academically, I learnt about the value in focusing my search for information, managing this information in both print and digital formats, selecting relevant information, presenting my learning in different formats and critically reflecting on my learning. I have also experienced the highs and lows of the information search process as predicted by Kuhlthau (2010) and will be able to empathise and intervene appropriately to support student learning.
The skills of defining, locating, selecting, organising, presenting and assessing are invaluable in giving me the theoretical and practical knowledge to approach my school principal to begin negotiation in implementing an information literacy model across all curriculum areas supported by the Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2012). It has also given me the opportunity to learn about the role of the school library, which needs to be seen as the focal point of all learning and the place where students and teachers search first for information (Lonsdale, 2003). This can be improved by seeking principal support to introduce an IL model, further resourcing the library to support the teaching of information skills, composing a library policy and initiating collaborative practices with classroom teachers. I also now know that TLs do more than just check out books!
American Association of School Libraries. (2007). Standards for the 21st-century learner [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/guidelinesandstandards/learningstandards/AASL_Learning_Standards_2007.pdf
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2012). The Australian Curriculum. Retrieved July 20, 2012 from Author website: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/
Charles Sturt University. (2012a). Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship). Retrieved October 6, 2012 from Author website: http://www.csu.edu.au/courses/postgraduate/teacher_librarianship_education/course-overview
Charles Sturt University. (2012b). [ETL 401 Teacher Librarian]. csuInteract. Retrieved October 6, 2012 from Author website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201260_W_D/page/c82a5405-7a8c-4e1c-8005-2bfe97af3808
Charles Sturt University. (2012c). Division of Library Services: Primo Search. Retrieved October 2, 2012 from Author website: http://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/
Diigo. (2012). Retrieved October 6, 2012 from http://www.diigo.com/ – United States
Ellis, S. (2012a, October 6). Sammy’s Scribblings [Blog]. Retrieved from https://samanthaellis4.wordpress.com/
Ellis, S. (2012b, August 27). Topic 5 – Collaborative Practice [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://samanthaellis4.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/topic-5-collaborative-practice/
Ellis, S. (2012c, July 29). Topic 2 Role of the teacher librarian [Online forum comment].Retrieved from http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=frameset&forum_id=ETL401_201260_W_D_Sub5_forum&message_id=5923691
Ellis, S. (2012d, September 2) Topic 5 Collaborative Practice [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=frameset&forum_id=ETL401_201260_W_D_Sub8_forum&message_id=5991568
Ellis, S. (2012e, July 27) Topic 1 Introduction and Using learning tools [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=frameset&forum_id=ETL401_201260_W_D_Sub4_forum&message_id=5919008
Ellis, S. (2012f, July 28) INTRO and Blog subforum [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=frameset&forum_id=ETL401_201260_W_D_Sub1_forum&message_id=5922284
Ellis, S. (2012g, July 29). Blog Task #1 – Guided Inquiry [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://samanthaellis4.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/blog-task-1-guided-inquiry-2/
Ellis, S. (2012h). Assignment 1 – Teaching Role of the Teacher Librarian.
Ellis, S. (2012i, September 8). Blog Task #2 – Principal Support [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://samanthaellis4.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/blog-task-2-principal-support/
Ellis, S. (2012j, September 20). Blog Task #3 – Information Literacy [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://samanthaellis4.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/blog-task-3-etl-401/
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.
Google. (2012). Google Reader. Retrieved October 6, 2012 from http://www.google.com/reader
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
Hay, L. (2012, August 4). Blog Task #1 – Guided Inquiry [Blog Comment]. Retrieved from https://samanthaellis4.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/blog-task-1-guided-inquiry-2/
Herring, J. E. (2011). Improving students’ web use and information literacy: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet Publishing.
Kuhlthau, C. (2004). Learning as a process. In Seeking meaning: A process approach to library and information services (2nd ed.) (pp.13-27). Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.
Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1),17-28.
Lonsdale, M. (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: A review of the research. Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research.
New South Wales, Department of Education and Training. (2007). Information skills in the school. School Libraries and Information Literacy. Retrieved from Author website: http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/teachingideas/isp/index.htm
Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books, right?: A look at the roles of a 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.