At the commencement of this subject I was completely naive to the complex and vital role that the teacher librarian (TL) plays in the school learning community. An essential learning for me has been gaining a deeper understanding of how crucial the role of the TL is in supporting students to become information literate. This subject has shown me that the primary purpose of the TL is to support the learning and teaching needs of the school community.
A proactive role
The TL needs to be proactive in garnering Principal support (Oberg, 2006, p. 16). I stated that one of the reasons why the Principal may not be supportive of the TL is due to a lack of understanding of the TL’s role. The Principal may not read the literature available which illustrates how the role of the TL is vital to student achievement (OLJ, March 25, 2013). I was on the right track when I wrote that the TL needs to demonstrate to the Principal the value they add to the learning community (OLJ, March 25, 2013). I needed to go further in stating how this can be done. These are some the actions a TL can take to garner Principal support:
- Evidence based practice – collecting evidence to support their claims
- Initiate collaboration with teachers
- Be proactive in curriculum design – integrating IL skills into the curriculum (Eisenberg, 2008, p. 45)
- Nurture the relationship with the Principal – initiate collaboration
- Strategic planning that is a result of asking the Principal what they expect from you (the TL) and the library (B. Combes, personal communication, April 7, 2013)
It is essential for the TL to gather evidence demonstrating how they support students’ learning outcomes (OLJ, April 26, 2013). This subject has given me a better understanding of practical ways to do this. I have learnt that being an advocate is good but it is not enough, the TL needs to have evidence to support their claims (Hay & Todd, 2010, p. 37). Providing students with opportunities for reflective writing about how library instructional lessons support IL is one way to collect evidence (OLJ, April 26, 2013). After doing the assignment on comparing IL models, I can see clearly where opportunities to integrate IL skills into students learning could occur. The ISP and Big6 models offer opportunities for students to reflect on the process of learning and the product. This type of evidence is useful in demonstrating how the TL supports student achievement.
Fostering lifelong learning
An essential learning that I experienced during this subject is the importance of the TL’s role in IL. It is the TL’s role to foster the skills for lifelong learning and critical thinking in students. I understand that the TL can continually be looking for opportunities within the curriculum to integrate IL skills and incorporate the use of technologies (Eisenberg, 2008, p. 45). As information technologies are constantly changing, IL includes students keeping abreast of these changes (OLJ, May 12, 2013). I would add to this that the TL also needs to stay abreast of these changes. The TL is also a lifelong learner, continually seeking more efficient methods of supporting students’ learning needs. An excellent TL understands and uses IL theories and practices. These practices enable the TL to support students to develop and apply skills for lifelong learning (Australian School Library Association, Standards section, para. 9). These skills are essential for students in the 21st century (OLJ, May 12, 2013). As I commented on in my OLJ (April 12, 2013), there are many advantages of the integrating IL in to the curriculum. Kuhlthau suggests that each time students engage in a guided inquiry task they are engaging in five kinds of learning. These are “curriculum content, information literacy, learning how to learn, literacy competence and social skills” (2010, p. 19). This illustrates to me why the TL’s role in implementing IL models in to the curriculum is of enormous importance. The TL can be a leader in the area of IL within their school.
Australian School Library Association. (2012). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47. Retrieved from http://publications.drdo.gov.in/ojs/index.php/djlit/index
Hay, L., & Todd, R. (2010). School libraries 21C: The conversation begins. Scan, 29(1), 30-42. Retrieved from http://scan.nsw.edu.au/
Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st-century learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibrarymonthly.com/index.html
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18. Retrieved from http://www.teacherlibrarian.com/
Walker, M. (2013, March 25). ETL401 – blog task # 1: Principal support [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com
Walker, M. (2013, April 26). Blog task # 2: Evidence based practice [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com
Walker, M. (2013, April 26). ETL401 – topic 4.1 guided inquiry [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com
Walker, M. (2013, May, 12). ETL401 – blog task # 3: Information literacy [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com