Reflecting on my understanding and practice of leadership after engaging with the research and literature in this subject, I now realise that my previous views on leadership in general and in a school library context were fundamentally dated and incorrect.
I now recognise I had no idea how leadership really worked and could not see how a Teacher Librarian (TL) could be a leader as I incorrectly believed there could only be one leader within a school environment and that was the principal. My earlier notion of a hierarchal relationship and my understanding of what leadership actually is has completely upturned. I understand now that leadership is not actually an individual trait of one person but about empowering others to lead by performing to their strengths collaboratively within the school context to meet collective educational learning needs and outcomes (Avolio, 2009). It is all about shared commitment and responsibility and I am excited about this prospect.
Disappointingly, my earlier view of a TL was more as an accessory to the school rather than a potential information specialist leader. Through participation in this subject and engaging with the resources and readings, I now understand that a TL’s role as information specialist is one of professional leadership, with so much to offer and this is very empowering. A TL is virtually indispensable in today’s school environment with rapid and ever-changing advances in technology and communication and somebody has to step up and take a lead. A TL is the perfect contender to lead the school in this regard.
In addition and upon further reflection, I now appreciate that to maximise opportunities and gain support I must become a more effective communicator and ensure I am involved in school decisions and planning days, particularly in sharing my skills as an information specialist (Oberg, 2006, p.16). Furthermore, I recognise the importance of excellent communication skills in building strong relationships and teams within the school context (Marzano et al, 2005, p.15).
A TL in a school can be very isolated and through gaining a greater understanding of leadership practice I intend to set a clear vision and goals and hopefully inspire others to become involved in leadership positions within the school where we can all work collaboratively to achieve the same common goals and where I can feel more involved in the school’s culture (Bacon, 2012, p. 18 & Lingard et al, 2008, p. 20). This means empowering assistants, library leaders and volunteer helpers.
Finally, this subject has inspired me to evaluate and consider my own leadership practices in a school library context. Rather than remaining on the periphery of the school, this subject has provided me with the understanding I require to work on the skills I need to become an effective leader. Through setting clear achievable goals, working collaboratively with others and becoming a more effective communicator I will continue to develop my own leadership skills. I intend to embrace my “new” professional leadership role by being proactive and adaptable striving to meet 21st Century learning needs and challenges.
Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F. & Weber, T. J. (2009). Leadership: Current theories, research and future directions. Management Department Faculty Publications. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/managementfacpub.
Bacon, T. R. (2012). Elements of Influence : The art of getting others to follow your lead. New York. American Management Association.
Marzano, R. J., Water, T. & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works : from research to results, 13-27. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy. csu.eduau/lib/csuau/doc.
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18. ProQuest Central.