Reflecting on how my view of the Teacher Librarian’s (TL’s) role has changed during this subject is overwhelming. My head is literally brimming with new information and ideas that I have accumulated. Although I always believed the role of the TL to be distinct and multi-faceted, I truly had no idea how complex, how vast and how influential the role truly is (or can be).
This subject has completely changed my understanding of who a TL is and what a TL can achieve. Disappointingly, my earlier view of a TL was more as an “appendage” to the school and that somehow classroom teachers had a more important role. Through participation in this subject and engaging with the resources and readings, I now understand that a TL’s role is essentially critical as an information specialist within the school (and not less important to a classroom teacher). I now perceive the TL’s role to be one of professional leadership within the school community and this is very empowering (Mitchell, 2011, p.13).
In particular, through the assessment tasks, forums and compulsory blogs in this subject, my views have changed dramatically in understanding not only the role of the TL but also in relation to accountability, collaboration, principal support, information literacy and inquiry learning models, guided inquiry and ISP approaches to teaching and learning. These concepts have all been relatively unfamiliar to me before this subject so it has been an enormous learning experience.
For example, having worked in isolation and avoiding contact with others, I now realise that a TL cannot exist within a vacuum and that collaboration and principal support is critical (Everhart, 2006 & Farmer, 2007). I further understand that a TL needs to be proactive and a visible presence in the school environment rather than remaining on the periphery. I have been guilty of this in the past as I have been unsure how to begin to instigate change. In addition, to maximise opportunities and gain support I realise I must become an effective communicator and ensure I am involved in school decisions and planning days (Oberg, 2006, p.16).
Another example of how my view of the TL’s role has changed is through my changing ideas on information literacy and its varied definitions. Previously I believed information literacy to be a set of skills, however, I now realise that it is a combination of different skills, knowledge, practices, processes, concepts, strategies and applications and that a common understanding of the term is really important within the school (Herring, 2011). Moreover, I understand that a school-wide guided inquiry ISP approach (such as Kuhlthau’s ISP) is essential to meet today’s learning needs and so that we prepare our students for the real world (Eisenberg, 2008) and this is both exciting and challenging. Currently, information skills are taught in isolation and so I am looking forward to future opportunities for change.
Another significant reflection is how my view of the TL’s role has changed with regard to supporting student learning outcomes. Previously, I inappropriately believed that student learning outcomes were the responsibility of the classroom teacher. I now have an understanding of the positive influence a TL’s involvement can make across the school to student learning outcomes (Farmer, 2007, p. 61). I believe I will become more involved in planning opportunities to offer expertise and collaborate in organising effective programs that embeds information literacy and evolving technologies across the curriculum.
However, although my views on the TL’s role have changed completely for the better, I am also somewhat anxious about implementation and change, particularly in relation to support, time constraints and cost. I presume these are all issues that will affect any future decisions and changes. I am realistic enough to understand that problems and resistance can occur when attempting to convert theory into practice. This subject, however, has given me some useful strategies about accountability and professionalism. Through this, I believe I have developed confidence as to how I will approach particular issues in the future and the subject has reminded me that change will not happen overnight.
Finally, this subject has taught me not to be complacent; to be proactive and not be afraid to learn new technologies. I intend to embrace all that the TL role has to offer. The world is constantly evolving and so too must the TL. I now feel confident being “strapped in” for the 21st Century rollercoaster ride I am embarking on and consider myself to be very lucky to be involved in such a dynamic profession.
Eisenberg, M.B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), pp. 39-47.
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, 13(1), 56-65.
Herring, J. (2011). Assumptions, Information Literacy and transfer in high schools. Teacher Librarian, 38(3).
Mitchell, P. (2011). Resourcing 21st Century online Australian curriculum: The role of school
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18. ProQuest Central.