A vital ingredient of an effective school library program is Principle support. This support can be manifested in a variety of ways that will be described. The role of the TL in practice includes actions and attitudes that can help gain Principle support.
A Principle that supports the TL is a strong advocate for the important role the TL plays in student achievement. Principals are leaders and their attitudes towards the school library program dramatically influence its effectiveness (Morris & Packard, 2007, p.36). A supportive Principle models positive attitudes and understanding of the school library program and its importance to the school learning community (Morris & Packard, 2007, p.37). It is essential that Principles are supportive of collaboration between TLs and teachers (Haycock, 2007, p. 31). A Principal’s supportive attitude towards collaboration can influence the culture within the school. The TL’s knowledge and skills could then be utilised to maximum potential. Principles can create scheduled times for TLs and teachers to sit down and collaborate about how to achieve “effective teaching and learning strategy” (Morris & Packard, 2007, p. 37). A Principle can support the TL by allocating adequate funds for the library. This can ensure a comprehensive collection of resources and that ICT’s are current and working efficiently. Funding can also provide adequate staff to help the TL focus on important roles, such as being a leader for student’s literacy and information needs (Haycock, 2007, p. 31). A supportive Principle will understand that the TL is a leader and a shared vision can produce wonderful educational results. According to Haycock, (as cited in Haycock, 2007, p. 32) “the role of the principal is enhanced by the visionary leadership of the teacher-librarian.”
Principle support of the TL is unfortunately not present in all schools (Morris & Packard, 2007, p. 36). This lack of support may stem from a lack of understanding of what the role of the TL involves. The Principle may not understand the importance of TL collaboration with teachers and how this contributes to student achievement (Morris & Packard, 2007, p. 36). According to Bailey (as cited in Haycock, 2007, p.26), literature about teacher and TL collaboration is mostly in library journals and evidence suggests that Principles and teachers may not read these journals. This highlights how important it is for the TL to gain Principle support.
Like Principles, student achievement is the TL’s number one goal. TLs can communicate this shared goal with the Principle and demonstrate how with collaboration this can be achieved (Oberg, 2006, p. 16). Communication may need to be persistent as TLs may be dealing with a Principle that possesses negative out-dated attitudes towards TLs and what they can offer. According to Haycock (2007), this communication will need to be clear, regular, formal and informal (p. 30). It is suggested by Farmer, to “have a list ready to demonstrate the contributions a TL does make” (2007, p. 61). TLs need to demonstrate the value they add to the learning community by being innovative and proactive (Farmer, 2007, p. 61). Examples include, TLs creating reading and learning initiatives and promoting teacher’s technology development. TLs need to model the positive affects of collaboration by collaborating with teachers, attending curriculum development meetings and other planning meetings. Oberg (2006, p. 16) suggests that TLs can gain Principal support by professional development, which will build professional credibility in the Principle’s eyes.
Without Principle support the school library program and the TL will struggle to be effective. The TL needs to demonstrate to the Principle that the school library program is essential to enhance students learning and achievement. A partnership between the Principal and the TL can benefits all members of the learning community.
Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65. Retrieved from http://www.iasl-online.org/index.htm
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35. Retrieved from http://www.iasl-online.org/index.htm
Morris, B. J., & Packard, A. (2007). The principal’s support of classroom teacher-media specialist collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 36-55. Retrieved from http://www.iasl-online.org/index.htm
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18. Retrieved from http://www.teacherlibrarian.com/