When I began this course I had been a Primary School teacher librarian (TL) for six months in a library that was under construction with no access to resources. I was teaching literacy-based activities only and had the enormous job of setting up a new library in term three. Up until then my view of a teacher librarian was limited to what I had seen in other schools, what I had learnt from other teacher librarians in informal discussions and meetings. After reflecting on what I have read, written and discussed during this course it is clear I view the role of the teacher librarian differently. I see it with more depth and understanding, especially in terms of the information process.
Looking back on my blog I can see that similar things were impacting on me as I read and also from what I was experiencing in the role. From the beginning my thoughts on the library being an extension of the classroom, which I posted on my blog at the end of July has had meaning. I elaborated on this in my blog on August 1st about the fact we have the advantage of a whole curriculum overview and the importance of collaboration.
My school uses the pedagogy of Inquiry Based Learning through integrated units in the classroom, not in the library. However, the readings have given me an understanding of its significance and the role the TL plays as facilitator. Collaboration with the classroom teacher with this pedagogy needs the establishment of clear guidelines and expectations. My views on combining strengths with classroom teachers have not changed since I first discussed it on my blog. However, I now differ in how I think about approaching the collaboration.
Very early on in the course when I viewed 21st Century Learning Matters (2008) it made reference to making meaningful connections to learning and the relevance of what they are learning to their own lives. Even though this video was American there were many similarities to The NSW Department of Education and Training ( 2003) Quality Teaching discussion paper and how it also contributes to our role. I now see more possibilities available to me to improve my own practice and benefit the whole school thus creating an Information Literate School Community (ILSC). Questions that have been raised are how do I promote what can be done in the library and how I can achieve it in the small time I spend with students each week?
I now have a clearer understanding that as a TL our role is to develop information literate students (Herring 2007). Our role has shifted to a more educational based role, thus the need for professionally trained educators in this position within school libraries is essential. I whole-heartedly agree with (Haycock, 2003) that a library should be much more than a room full of books. It is a learning space that needs to be connected to the classroom. However, in a discussion with my school Principal recently she emphasised the need for a collection that also reflects the interests of the students (personal communication, September 15, 2010).
After reading the TL qualifications and standards as set out by ALIA and ASLA I can see how the role can vary from school to school. It was comforting to read on the forum that I am not alone in realising that the school needs the resources for you to be able to effectively carry out your role. There has to be an understanding from leadership as to what your role is and most importantly the Library and Librarian needs to be seen as a valuable part of the school. On August 1st I mentioned in my blog that the time concerns for a TL were an issue. Being able to achieve positive learning outcomes in the time frame available to you each week is a challenge I continue to see in the role.
Over the course of the semester, I now see that from what I have learnt about the role of the TL it will take time for me to show what I know and what I can achieve in terms of improving student learning outcomes. I think it is pretty much agreed from forum discussions as to how diplomatic you need to be when making your priorities clear to the school community. I feel more confident in doing this as I armed with more evidence of what can be achieved and as many people have said on the forum starting small is the key.
The role of TL that has changed the most for me is how we impact on the whole school community and that collaboration is the key. We can provide a consistency or continuum in the information process which I hadn’t realised before. My perception of the role of a TL has definitely changed during the course. I now see that by teaching information skills we are also teaching problem-solving skills that can be applied outside the classroom. This is how we play an important role in students’ development of life-long learning.
21 Century Learning Matters. (2008, March). Retrieved July 29, 2010, from Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L2XwWq4_BY&feature=player_embedded#!
Haycock, K. (2003). The Crisis in Canada’s school libraries: The case forreform and re-investment. Retrieved August 4, 2010, from http://www.cla.ca/slip/final_haycock_report.pdf
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. F. (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.
The NSW Department of Education and Training. (2003). Quality teaching in NSW public schools: Discussion paper. Retrieved August 6, 2010