Reflecting on what I have learnt during this subject, my knowledge and understanding of the role of the Teacher Librarian (TL) as leader has extended significantly. My previous understanding and beliefs about leadership and in particular, the role of the TL, have completely altered.
Disappointingly, in my Reflective Journal Blog for Assignment 1 (17 August), I could not even contemplate the idea that a TL could be a leader. My views on leadership in general were extremely dated and incorrect. I believed that leadership was hierarchal and there could be only one leader in a school – the principal. How fundamentally wrong I was. This initial Reflective Blog inspired me to evaluate my own leadership views in a school library context and to view the TL role from a very different perspective. That is, one of leadership. Already I have worked on improving my communication skills and have become a more proactive and collaborative member of the school. Unfortunately, beforehand, I considered myself to be an “appendage” to the school ranked behind classroom teachers. I now perceive the role of TL differently and feel empowered to make positive changes to improve student learning outcomes.
In Blog 1 (11 August) I discussed how my understanding of leadership began to change and that I realised it was more complex than one leader making all the decisions. I learnt that leadership involves many people, at all levels, empowering others to become leaders themselves and working together towards achieving a common goal or vision (Avolio, 2009). I further realised that leadership is about having excellent communications skills, working collaboratively, having a school wide focus, being proactive and adaptable and recognising individual strengths to build strong teams (Kotter – Change Leadership; Avolio, 2009). I came to understand that the TL is in a pivotal leadership role as an information and curriculum specialist within the school.
In Blog 2 (11 August) I discussed issues relating to leadership adaptability in a technological and pedagogical world that is changing exponentially and the need to continue to change to meet these challenges. I analysed the impact of Tapscott’s 4 principles of collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment in improving leadership skills (Tapscott). Furthermore, I examined the importance of developing critical information literacy skills so that students are empowered to meet 21st century needs effectively and efficiently (ACARA, 2011). Again, I began to understand the importance of the TL as leader to collegially empower and build teams across the school and ensure a school wide digital literacy program is in place so that our students have opportunities to develop strong information literacy skills.
I discussed the implementation of a digital literacy program in more detail in Blog 3 (31 August) and the importance of having principal support (Farmer, 2007). I now realise the importance of effective communication skills for a TL to be successful in this regard (Marzano, 2005). This was set out in my Concept Map which also acknowledged the importance of a clear vision and goals and building relationships within the school community to achieve those goals. Motivation, collaboration, problem solving and decision making are leadership concepts and skills that are intrinsically linked, inter-related and mutually dependent on each other.
A digital literacy program is critical to meet the learning needs of 21st century students and the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. The TL as leader is well placed to design and implement programs to suit the individual needs of the school and to conduct staff development training to ensure school-wide success.
Comparing Blogs 1, 2 and 3, my Reflective Journal Blog for Assignment 1 and this Critical Reflection, I now realise that beforehand I was content to remain on the periphery of the school prior to this subject. Now I am empowered to make change. I believe I have developed the knowledge and skills through this subject to meet the school’s 21st century learning needs and to work collaboratively with other staff members to implement a digital literacy program.
Finally, through the process of creating a three year vision statement for the school library in this Assignment, I have further developed an understanding of 21st century teaching and learning needs. I realise that our school has a long way to go to achieve this vision but that it is certainly attainable with a TL embracing a leadership role and a clear focus for the future. I feel extremely privileged to be a TL, and a leader, ready to embrace the challenges that lie ahead.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2011). General capabilities in the Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australian curriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Overview/General-capabilities-in-the-Australian Curriculum
Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F. & Weber, T.J. (2009). Leadership: Current theories, research and future directions. Management Department Faculty Publications. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/managementfacpub
Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65. Retrieved from http://collaborate-inservice.wikispaces.com/file/view/Principals+as+Catalysts.pdf
Kotter International. (n.d.) Change Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/change-leadership
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
Tapscott, D. (n.d.). Radical openness. Four unexpected principles for success. Retrieved from http://www.elsua.net/2012/07/27/four-principles-for-the-open-world-by-don-tapscott-hippie2-0/