Topic: Principal Support
Reflecting on the subject matter and readings to date, my understanding of the role of the Teacher Librarian (“TL”) fundamentally relies on principal support for a variety of reasons.
Principals are critical to the role of the TL as without their support programs can easily disintegrate (Everhart, 2006, p. 38). There is strong evidence that shows TLs and programs emphatically prosper with principal support (Everhart, 2006, p. 38). However, it is acknowledged that not all principals respect and support library programs. The TL’s role can be misunderstood by principals who see TLs are merely “service providers” (Oberg, 2006, p. 14). Dianne Oberg further argues that principals need to trust the TL’s “knowledge and expertise” but that this can be an arduous and lengthy task (2006, p. 15).
The TL does not exist within a vacuum and the role is totally dependent on collaboration with the wider school community. However, successful collaboration is entirely dependent upon the attitude of the principal, where they “have the power … to make or break collaborative efforts” (Farmer, 2007, p. 59). Positive expectations of collaboration originate with the principal who values and promotes the important role of the TL. In addition, the TL needs to be able to communicate efficiently with the principal to gain respect and support and be proactive in maximising opportunities as and when they arise (Oberg, 2006, p.16).
Student Outcomes & Achievements
Effective TLs focus on student outcomes and student achievement and ultimately this is also the focus of principals (Farmer, 2007, p. 61). Oberg argues that TLs are valued by principals if “working to advance school goals” (2006, p. 15). Evidence demonstrates that where a principal is not supportive, or does not value the role of the TL, the TL is unable to attribute productively towards student outcomes or achievement. Principals who value and promote library programs benefits the overall school environment (Morris & Packard, 2007, p. 37) and student learning outcomes. The principal’s support is also pivotal when considerations are being made for funding, resources, professional development and other major decisions which will ultimately benefit the school.
Proactive and Visible Presence
Morris and Packard argue that “the principal plays a key role” in successful school libraries (2007, p. 38) and that principals need to ensure they are involved and frequent their school libraries regularly. However, TLs also need to ensure they are a visible presence in the school environment as well and not allow the “physical isolation” of the school library be detrimental to their role (Oberg, 2006, p. 15). Walter and Weisberg maintain that TLs should find opportunities to promote teaching and learning in the library by inviting principals to observe “particularly interesting or unusual lessons” (2011, p. 58) and this contributes to principal support.
In conclusion, Walter & Weisberg state that a TL’s success is absolutely critical upon the relationship they have with their principal (2011, p. 58). This may take some effort but perseverance will be beneficial and rewarding in the long term and will ultimately improve student outcomes and achievements.
Everhart, N. (2006). Principals’ evaluation of school librarians: A study of strategic and
nonstrategic evidence-based approaches. School Libraries Worldwide, 12(2), 38-51.
Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide,
Morris, B.J. (2007). Principal support for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1),
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. ProQuest Central.
Walter, V.A. & Weisberg H.K. (2011). Being indispensable: A school librarian’s guide to
becoming an invaluable leader.
(Word count without reference list : 508)