Librarians are Gold!

Let the Learning Begin…..

ETL504 – Assignment 2 Reflection

Part B: Reflective Critical Analysis

When I reflect back on my initial postings in ETL504, I feel that I began this unit with limited knowledge about the Teacher Librarians (TLs) role as a leader. However, after extensive readings, discussions, blog entries and two assignments, I now know that an essential part of the TLs role is being a teacher AND an information specialist who inspires others and leads from the middle (Haycock, 2010).

I have found it fascinating to evaluate the variety of leadership styles I have encountered during my 18 years as an educator. I considered which styles have been the most effective when striving to lead and influence a team of educators and agree with Marzano et al. (2005, p.18), that no one leadership style is sufficient – a combination of styles ideally should be used.

It is exciting to learn that TLs in a position to change present teacher work habits and challenge the status quo in schools. TLs can really make an impact and be a “change agent” in their school by stepping up to perform beyond what is required of them and hence emerge as a middle leader (Couros, 2013).

When I finally commence a TL position, I plan to share my expertise with colleagues by attending collaborative planning meetings and present teaching ideas for 5 minutes at the beginning of staff meetings. These are just two ways for a TL to actively utilise their role as a teacher who leads and is an advocate for change.

I feel that it is crucial for TLs to demonstrate leadership in their role by providing curriculum development knowledge, especially when assisting with the implementation of the Australian National Curriculum (ACARA, 2013). TLs can model leadership by offering staff development and training sessions relating to these curriculum changes. This will allow the library to be seen to be at the centre of curriculum change.

I agree with Purcell (2010) stating the role of the TL is to “collaborate with teachers, students and other members of the learning community to develop policies that guide the school” to create lifelong learners. At my previous school, TLs supported and encouraged teachers to integrate relevant transliteracy skills into units of work to enrich students’ 21st-century learning skills. This focus on transliteracy complimented the school’s 2012 Strategic Vision and allowed TLs to lead the way – to be seen as collaborative coaches, mentoring, empowering and supporting staff. The TLs saw an opportunity to lead and rose to the occasion, this was an ideal opportunity for them to showcase their knowledge and expertise, especially at a time when teachers and students are attempting to navigate in a complex media landscape (Jenkins, 2012).

This subject has taught me that TLs who nurture strong relationships with colleagues in schools, result in higher levels of collaboration and teamwork. “Members of a good team trust each other. If a team is effective, then people learn from each other. They will inspire and challenge each other” (Aguilar, 2012).

Assignment 2 allowed me to create a vision for my school library, by strategically planning an implementation process over the next 3 years inline with the schools vision. According to Ferriter (2103) successful leadership is more than just a shared vision, “without strong relationships, a clear vision for an ideal tomorrow, and an ability to translate vision into practical action, learning teams simply WON’T succeed”.

Without change and innovation, the TLs role in the school context, would be solely based on resourcing the library and maintaining the current library collection with no vision for the future (Kotter, n.d.). At my current school, I am part of the school wide ‘eLearning and curriculum team’. I have found it exciting to be part of an innovative team who is leading change. By advocating change and working towards the shared school vision, this committee is assisting the school to move towards meeting the needs of 21st century learners in an engaging, technology rich, stimulating environment.

I have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in ETL504 and exploring the critical role of the TL as a leader. I am now inspired to lead and take on change as a TL in the library. I have the vision to be an optimistic and proactive leader, who is adaptive and stays ahead of the game (Halfpintofwisdom, 2011). I am now equipped with the knowledge and skills to become a TL who leads. I now know that effective leadership in a school library requires collaboration to implement innovation and creativity in an ever-changing digital world.

References

ACARA. (2013). The shape of the Australian curriculum. In Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/The_Shape_of_the_Australian_Curriculum_v4.pdf

Aguilar, E. (2012). Effective teams: the key to transforming schools? Edutopia.Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teacher-teams-transform-schools-elena-aguilar

Coatney, S. (2010). Leadership from the middle: building influence for change. The many faces of school library leadership(pp. 1-12). Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from http://www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=801144&echo=1

Couros, G. (2013, January 26). 5 Characteristics of a change agent [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/3615

Ferriter, B. (2013). What does leadership on a professional learning team look like? Retrieved from http://www.teachingquality.org/content/what-does-leadership-professional-learning-team-look?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+the_tempered_radical+%28The+Tempered+Radical%29

Halfpintofwisdom. (2011, August 4). Strategic planning for school libraries. [Slideshare]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/halfpintofwisdom/strategic-planning-for-libraries

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.

Jenkins, H. (2012). 30 Second thought leadership: Insights from leaders in the school library community. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/aboutkq/30second_JanFeb12

Kotter, J. (n.d.). The 8-step process for leading change. Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/changesteps/changesteps

Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works: from research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/docDetail.action?docID=10089219

Purcell, M. (2010). All Librarians do is check out books, right? A look at the roles of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3-), 30-33.

 

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ETL504 – Innovation and Change

“Innovation is open to every man, woman, and child. It requires an inquisitive mind intent on solving an existing problem.”

What innovation has occurred in your school or work environment in recent times?

I define innovation as making changes to something already established by redefining or introducing new ideas, solution or technology. This academic year has been a year of change, as my school has decided to implement the following innovative projects:

•           Introduction of ‘Google Apps for Education’ for all staff plus students in Years 3-12.

•           Implementation of a shared set of ipads in both the Primary and Middle School Libraries.

•           Years 2-12 have all become part of the 1:1 program (either ipads, PC tablets or laptop computers).

•           Edmodo has been introduced into Years 3-12 as both a social networking tool and learning management tool for parents, teachers and students to communicate and collaborate.

The implementation of this innovation has been managed in a variety of ways:

•           Any students, teachers or parents who are having difficulty creating Edmodo accounts, adding ‘group codes’ or navigating their way around Edmodo are encouraged to contact an Educational Technology Specialist and additional assistance will be given.

•           Drop in sessions for any teacher who requires assistance or support with the introduction of any new area of technology in their classroom.

•           Support sessions, inservicing, initial overview and the problem being addressed by a new technological change to all staff during staff meetings. Differentiated professional learning sessions focussing on technology needs during staff meeting times to allow for a range of different teacher abilities.

What current aspect of your own work could have “an inquisitive mind” lens applied to solve an existing problem?

Schifter (2008, p. 264) states that in order for “change to occur in classroom practices there needed to be a strong training component. Therefore the Ed Tech team and School Admin have planned for extra support sessions and allowed for staff meeting time to be allocated to up skill teachers levels of technology.

One problem that has arisen is that there is such a large number of new devices and a range of new devices all arriving at the beginning of the school year. Teachers had not had adequate time to explore these new devices nor become confident users of ipads or surface RTs before these devices were introduced in their classrooms.

“Just because tools are present in classrooms does not mean teachers know how to make the most of those tools” (Schifter, 2008, p. 260). Ideally professional learning opportunities should have been planned for and taken place at the end of the previous school year, prior to new devices being introduced in classrooms to help the teachers (1) learn how to use these new devices, and (2) use these devices in a pedagogically appropriate way to assist the students to meet syllabus outcomes more effectively.

Now that the devices have been introduced, both formal and informal professional learning activities should be taking place regularly for teachers to exchange ideas and good practice, and therefore in turn refine their teaching expertise (Donoghue & Clark, 2010).

Additional professional learning strategies could be for teachers to share with another teacher ideas surrounding the use of technology that have worked and what did not work in their classroom. This strategy is called ‘pair share’ and allows teachers to not only come back to their classrooms with increased knowledge of technological use in their classroom; but also allows teachers to feel supported and encouraged, whilst at the same time building positive relationships with other colleagues in their school environment. By planning and working collaboratively together, teachers will display an increased level of trust within their learning community and stress levels, often heightened at times of innovative change, will decrease (Collay, 2011, p. 90).

I strongly believe that teachers need to be empowered and actively involved in the planning process when schools decide to introduce new technological devices and/or learning management systems. A shared vision needs to be adopted with a clear understanding of where the school is heading with regards to technology. “This process may take months or even years before final, broad adoption of the new technology. Teachers need extensive opportunities to ‘play with’ new devices before they are used in the classroom. Professional development should be hands-on and should involve teachers using the specific devices or software they will be using in class, to bring out problems ahead of time. Professional learning should be targeted to the distinct needs of different groups of teachers” (Russo, 2014).

“70% of all major change efforts in organisations fail” (Kotter, n.d.). Therefore innovation needs to be meticulously planned for, implemented gradually and heavily supported to order to successfully solve an existing problem.

References

Collay, M. (2011). Teaching is leading. Everyday Teacher Leadership: Taking Action Where You Are (pp. 75-108). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Donoghue, T. A., & Clarke, S. (2010). Teachers learning and teachers leading. Leading learning: process, themes and issues in international contexts (pp. 87-99). London: Routledge.

Innovation Takes Practice More Than Talent. (2013, January 30). —. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://www.redthreadthinking.com/innovation-takes-practice-more-than-talent/

Kotter, J. (n.d.). The 8-Step Process for Leading Change . Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/changesteps/changesteps

Russo, R. (2014). Five Smart Ways to Deploy Tablets. Harvard Education Letter, 30 (2). Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://hepg.org/hel/article/592

Schifter, C. (2008). Chapter 14. Effecting Change in the Classroom Through Professional Development. Infusing technology into the classroom: continuous practice improvement (pp. 250 – 279). Hershey: Information Science Pub.EXTRA

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