At the start of Term1 2013 I did not even know enough to know that I didn’t know what my role was!! For the first few weeks in my new job I could not have cared less what it was anyway. All I could think about was a crash course in archaic Oasis system. The staff and I believed the TL was there to wait on teachers and I was terrified of being perceived of as an incompetent idiot. Thankfully I discovered the NSWTL mailing list at http://www.nswceg.org.au/mailman/listinfo/nswtl They are lifesavers in all things Oasis. Role as systems manager? Sorted!
As I began my studies I was frustrated to read that there are conflicting views on the exact nature of my role (Herring 2007, Lamb 2011, Purcell 2010). At this point I honestly just wanted someone to tell me what to do, when and how to do it. In order to complete my March 16th blog post and Forum 2.1 I took audit of the things I was already doing in terms of the multi-faceted role of the TL. This was a calming exercise because it showed that I was beginning to “do” the job even if unsure of all the details. I could see the emergence in myself of all of Purcell’s roles.
My blog post on March 15th mentioned an interest in expanding my current role to one reflective of Valenza’s Manifesto (2010). It was like a beacon of possibility. The Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians explored in Assignment 1 were equally illuminating. (ALIA & ASLA 2006) It was with relief that I learned these are both lists to be aspired towards without expectation of total adherence at any one time. I began to understand that our role is shaped both by what is possible and our individual school context. Therefore it was OK to feel limited by my school context and that it was in fact part of my role to work toward transforming that environment. Furthermore that the responsibility for the development of information literacy and inquiry based pedagogy was a whole school responsibility and a collaborative approach with principal support was best practice (Haycock, 2007; Farmer, 2007; Morris, 2007).
I experienced an ‘Aha’ moment when I realised that the emotional rollercoaster accompanying my learning journey was just like that described by Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process. (Assignment 2 Forum 26.4.13) This sparked a commitment in me become a TL who truly fulfils the role of supporting student learning. I will achieve this through empathy and explicit teaching regarding the thoughts and feelings that accompany research and problem solving activities. Added to this will be my knowledge and planning of the timing for instructional intervention. (Kuhlthau, 2004)
The March 23rd and April 23rd blog posts were my first exploration into Guided Inquiry and the information literacy process. With further readings, the next 3 blog tasks and a bit of experimentation at school I now really “get it” that inquiry based learning scaffolded by information literacy model leads to real learning. By participating in this course I have now personally experienced scaffolded Guided Inquiry learning . I notice that I initially avoided or rushed through the readings in order to begin the assignments. This occurred both in my own learning and in my teaching. I am discovering deeper learning, satisfaction and enjoyment in broad reading for background knowledge first and encouraging my students to do the same. Likewise I am gaining a new respect for assessment that requires synthesis of learning rather than the regurgitation of facts required by my own school and undergraduate experiences. I definitely see this in our current school culture so focused on accountability and NAPLAN results.
Incidentally, the readings and practical exercises I was undertaking in ETL 503 were simultaneously clarifying and refining of my understanding of the librarian side of my TL role. It is a huge part of my role to ensure that above all else the resources available should support the curriculum and meet the needs of the users.
Meeting my two new buddies (Guided Inquiry and Information Literacy) has given me new focus and confidence regarding my role. I have even been off on a tangent investigating the concept of the embedded librarian which seems to be about going one step further than collaboration and meeting the learners where they are (Shumaker 2009). In the true form of a lifelong learner my explorations raise further questions. In my role as primary school TL how precisely will this look? I think it may involve me and my two new buddies getting out of the library and into the classrooms.
(ALIA & ASLA 2006) The Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians.
Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65.
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical Success Factors for Student Learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp.27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Kuhlthau, C. (2004) Information Search Process. In Carol Collier Kuhlthau. Retrieved from http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.
Morris, B. J. (2007). Principal Support for Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 23-24.
Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.
Shumaker, D. (2009). Who Let the Librarians Out?. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 48(3), 239-242.
Valenza, J. (2010). A revised manifesto. In School Library Journal . Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/