This subject has done more than just extend my knowledge and understanding of the role of the teacher librarian (TL) as leader. More importantly it has been a journey that has completely transformed my mindset. Initially I reacted with resistance and despair regarding my opportunities or desire to be a leader. At the end of the journey I find myself inspired, confident and in possession of a clear vision and a plan of how to achieve it.
Here is my journey.
In my initial blog post and forum entries I admitted to my underlying belief that I had neither the opportunity nor desire to be a leader (Treen, 2013a). As I learned about organisation theory however I came to see that my perception of leadership was based on traditional leader centric models. Transformative models which distribute leadership and empower individuals appear to be more successful in the 21st century workplace (Kotter, n.d.). Don Tapscott’s (n.d.) tantalising glimpse into leadership without leaders really sparked my interest and cemented my vision of what kind of leader I want to be.
In this blog post I also alluded to a past unsuccessful experience of myself in a leadership position. I now know that much better results could have been achieved if I had operated in line with my current understandings of human behaviour, interpersonal processes and the psychology of change (Kotter,n.d.).
Included in the initial blog post was my emerging awareness of the need to preface any leadership endeavour by building relationships, expertise and credibility (Donham, 2005). If I am to become an instructional leader, collaborating in the design of 21st teaching and learning units across the school I need to begin developing expertise in this area. In order to educate myself further on the specifics of 21st century learning I explored the work of Shaw (2008). I also took a closer look at the General Capabilities within the Australian Curriculum which are integral to the work of the TL in supporting 21st century learning needs. (ACARA, 2011). My learning was summarised in my next blog (Treen, 2013b). While not strictly about leadership this was important in developing my expertise which is a crucial element of leadership.
I spoke in the first blog post about not yet having a vision. Creating a vision statement and strategic plan for its implementation are important leadership capabilities (Kotter,n.d.). Going through this process in Assignment 2 has ignited a commitment and provided me with the confidence to lead change in my school. Likewise the process of engaging with a variety of tools such as STEEP, SWOT, and SMART to inform and guide the process of strategic planning was empowering (ETL 504 Forum, 8/9/2013). Reading about the 8 Step Process for Leading Change provided further inspiration that even someone inexperienced in leadership can lead change by taking a systematic approach (Kotter, n.d.). The next blog post was on the related topic of strategic planning (Treen, 2013c). Here I made the connection that having a written plan would contribute to my credibility and advocacy which may encourage teacher confidence and participation in collaboration. I was impressed with the simplicity of Wong’s (2010) format for strategic long term planning.
Learning about the concept of leading from the middle was transformational for me. I understand it to be about enlisting and engaging the support of my colleagues as we work toward the common goal of enhancing student outcomes (Haycock, 2010). The blog posted on 22nd September demonstrates my new belief that leadership opportunities for the TL are in fact abundant (Treen, 2013d). TLs are uniquely positioned for leadership in terms of instruction, collaboration, curriculum, technology and the use of information.
I now believe that for a TL effective leadership is about the ability to:
- develop a vision based on enhancing student outcomes
- develop and implement a strategic plan to turn the vision into reality
- build relationships, expertise and credibility to facilitate teamwork and engage in collaboration
- support others through the process of change
- use data driven evaluation to guide future planning
To achieve the above the effective TL will need to demonstrate exemplary interpersonal skills and character traits.
I am now confident that I possess the skills, expertise and desire to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by my unique position as TL to effectively lead change in order to enhance student outcomes.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2011). Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from http://acara.edu.au/curriculum/curriculum.html
Donham, J. (2005). Enhancing teaching and learning: a leadership guide for school library media specialists (2nded.) (pp. 295-305). New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers
Haycock, K. (2010). Leadership from the Middle: Building Influence for Change. In Coatney,S. (Ed.). The many faces of school library leadership.(pp.1-12) Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited.
Kotter, J. (n.d.). Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved from http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/changesteps/changesteps
Shaw, A. (2008). What is 21st Century Education? Retrieved from: http://www.21stcenturyschools.com/What_is_21st_Century_Education.htm
Tapscott, D. (n.d.). Four Principles For The Open World. Retrieved from: http://on.ted.com/Tapscott
Treen, V. (2013a) ETL 504 Leadership in the School Library. Retrieved from: https://theevolvingtl.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/leadership-in-the-school-library/
Treen, V. (2013b) ETL 504 Module 3 Learning in the 21st Century. Retrieved from: https://theevolvingtl.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/learning-in-the-21st-century/
Treen, V. (2013c) ETL 504 Module 5 Strategic Planning. Retrieved from: https://theevolvingtl.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/etl-504-module-5-strategic-planning/
Treen, V. (2013d) ETL 504 Leading from the Middle. Retrieved from: https://theevolvingtl.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/etl-504-leading-from-the-middle/
Wong, T. (2012) Strategic long-range planning for school library media centers. Library Media Connection 31(2), 22-23.