Labyrinth of Isis

The Journey so far…

Critical Synthesis

Filed under: ETL401 — isislabyrinth at 9:20 am on Friday, May 21, 2010

Prior to the commencement of this course I had a limited understanding of the complex and varied role of the teacher librarian (TL). This naivety was due to limited experience within the teacher librarian role and lack of exposure to the role previously. I was under the impression that library administration, teaching research skills during library lessons and literature promotion were the main roles of the TL.

I had taken on a TL role with absolutely no knowledge of the multiplicity of roles within this job title. I had never even read the standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Over the past few months my perceptions of the TL role have dramatically changed. My eyes have been opened to the multifaceted role of the TL since being exposed to current research, issues, academic readings and blogs and TL networks.

In my first year as TL I had little opportunity to collaborate with class teachers and although the library program was aligned with H.S.I.E. programs, library lessons focussed on research skills and information literacy was being taught out of context. When reading about IL models I discovered the NEAL’S document Information skills in the school: engaging learners in constructing knowledge. This is when I realised that the TL needs to play an active role in integrating information skills into the whole curriculum (rather than just library lessons), so that skills are taught in context.

One of my very first readings by Herring, (2007) Teacher librarians and the school library opened my eyes to roles I had never associated with TLs previously, including staff manager, instructional partner and curriculum leader. Jacqueline Phillipe, (Forum posting, March 15, 2010) described TL as curriculum leader and information literacy leader. She mentioned that through collaboration with staff information literacy is implicit in the school’s curriculum. The learning curve for me was the idea of the TL role as primarily educational rather than administrative.

During my research for assignment 1, it became very clear to me that collaboration between TL with principal and class teachers is extremely important. I discovered Sue Spence’s Infosmart Teacher Librarian Toolkit which offered practical suggestions (Blog post – Role of the teacher librarian, April 1, 2010) for creating powerful partnerships within the school community. I realised that without credibility, TLs cannot be effective agents of change in their school community. Since, I have been keeping my principal informed and discussing ways of improving the library and school programs. Currently our library is closed due to construction but I have discussed the need for collaborative planning.

Reading Hay and Todd, (2010) School Libraries 21C: The conversation begins, I realised how powerful collaboration between TLs and class teachers can be. TLs can offer pedagogical guidance and ensure that information literacy is integrated across the curriculum and learned in context. Herring also discussed collaboration with teachers as a major role of the TL. Spence’s (2004) comment stuck with me, teacher librarians can affect the learning outcomes of far more students through collaboration with class teachers and providing relevant professional development for teachers, than by teaching individual classes in library lessons. This was a turning point in my thinking about the learning of information literacy. By collaborating and embedding information literacy in all programs, all students are exposed to information literacy more of the time. Peta De San Miguel (Forum posting, 2010, May 10) shared an article on collaborative leadership by Sheffers,(2009) which simply defines collaborative leadership as “working with people to lead change in schools”. Currently our school has a strong emphasis on collaborative leadership and developing professional communities. I now understand how important it is for TLs to take on a leadership role within the school community.

After reading Hay and Foley, School Libraries building capacity for student learning in 21C (blog post – School Libraries and 21st Century Learning, April 1, 2010) Hay and Foley (2009) suggested the school library’s role in the 21st century: a place for collaboration, performance, creativity, interactivity and exploration, both online and offline, including the use of web 2.0 tools. (Blog post – Libraries of the future, May 16, 2010) emphasises the need for libraries to go where the users are and Herring also suggested the TL must be adaptable to new pedagogies and technologies. I have recently been studying a Web 2.0 course through the Sydney CEO and have discovered a variety of web 2.0 tools that support learning which I included on some blog entries such as xtranormal movies, prezis and vokis.

I became engrossed with the concept of Library 2.0, David Warlick’s podcast made it clear that libraries of the 21st century must “go where the users are”. Libraries must now be virtual and physical places. I became increasingly interested in 21st century learners, Web 2.0 and Library 2.0. and what it may mean for the future of libraries. Throughout the course I have enjoyed reading Hey Jude, about learning in an online world, I particularly liked blog posting Education and Second Life on May 2, 2010 which demonstrated educational ways of using second life, I actually shared this movie with my web 2.0 group at school. The possibilities of Second life in education are endless!

Recently Brid Bowers (Forum posting, May 2, 2010) commented on the fact that TLs often don’t recognise themselves as essential to student learning – this is definitely how I felt prior to commencing this course. Since reading Haycock’s article about the Crisis in Canada’s school libraries I have confidence in the importance and value of libraries and the role of the TL.

The TL role is not just about library management, teaching information literacy or instilling a love of literature in students. The role of the TL is complex, it involves supporting and implementing their school vision, creating strong partnerships with members of the school community helping build effective programs that integrate information technology through collaboration with class teachers, using ICT to engage students and teachers and providing effective information services that cater to the needs of the school community.

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