Welcome back for 2011

I thought my second year in teh library would be less hectic….I was wrong! between an unfinished stocktake, programming for the year and the normal day-to day running of a library i feel i am drowning in a see of new books to be accessioned and premiers reading challenge etc etc.

Uni has begun and so has the stress!!!!

After reading the first module it makes sense as to how important a collection management policy is and how as Librarians we need to continually update these policies to keep in line with the school community we work in and the changes in technology and the teaching and learning practises of our governing bodies whether that be the school, department or in my case the the Catholic Schools Office. If we are to remain viable in schools we need to meet the needs of all these parties. let’s not forget what do the kids want?……books on certain subjects, computer access and listening posts.

I’m looking forward to this subject as I see it as something we do in a library every time we are there-constantly reassessing where our collection is at and how suitable is it.

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Reflection for assignment

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

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assignment 2

After receiving a disappointing mark on my first assignment I reflected over what went wrong. I kept getting told “at least you passed”. However, thinking I was on the right track and answering the question incorrectly alerted me to the fact I am struggling to get through many of the readings in this course in the time available as well as balance a new job and family .

Today I was looking at the professional standards for TL’s and how the first one relates to lifelong learning-something we instill in our kids yet shudder at the thought of doing  ourselves. This skill is critical with todays fast change in terms of technology. We have to be one step ahead of it in order to teach it to the children.
Another thing I have been thinking about but too busy to write on the blog is how the information process is so much a part of every day life ie problem-solving in a variety of contexts, not just when faced with a research assignment. I had never consciously thought about the feelings you have towards the process as “part of it” yet they really do play an important role in how as an adult or child we go through the steps. that has been very clear today in looking at assignment 2. I have read the forums and announcements and listened to podcasts, hopefully I am on the right track. Unfortunately, I do not have as much time as some to post on the forum!

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what a week!

Last week at my school we celebrated National Literacy Week, my first as a TL. We do this instead of book week. I have prepared all term for the assembly on Thursday which was a new initiative of mine. Children dressed up according to the short-listed book they have been studying (another hurdle as this was different to previous years and well supported by the school leadership team). We began the day with an assembly for children to showcase what they have been doing in library with their chosen book. All went well even with wet weather and a microphone with bad feedback. The afternoon was a traditional trivia competition in peer support groups.  A very successful book fair then took place on Thursday afternoon and Friday. What does this have to do with anything……… very important learnings were the importance of communication with the staff as to how the day would run. Clear communication to parents as to what part the children were to play. Clear communication and constant reminders to children as to their roles and expectations also ensured success. It also highlighted the need for parent support in the library and how much their help is required to assist you.

The readings so far have discussed the many varied roles of the TL within a school. What I learnt over the past few weeks is how even though you are on your own in organisation of such events it is important for everyone to be “in the loop”. I’m not sure if I would do it like this again as it was too time consuming. I would like more collaboration next year with literacy week and I now feel more confident to ask for help.

After just reading about collaboration the things that really spoke to me was how it can help me to understand the curriculum that is being taught in the classroom and the sharing of teaching ideas. By combining strengths collaboration can be a positive way to enhance my own professional recognition and that of the library. I can also see from reading and experience within a school that teachers’ time is precious and having realistic time to collaborate is important . It needs to work for both parties. Credibility and trust needs to be established if teachers are going to “hand” over their students to you even for only 40 min per week. I’m hoping I helped gain some of this from my efforts last week.

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First assignment……what did I learn?

This week has been a big week in my teacher librarian world. Not only did I complete my first Master’s assignment, I put together our school library with the help of  3 volunteers. We have a new building but our shelving took a lot longer than anticipated and arrived the day after our official opening!!  I have spent the last week rearranging shelves and books so the children could borrow in library lessons on Thursday. They were so excited and it does look fantastic, with a few minor details such as shelf labels to go.

I received a flower from each class as they came to the library this week and that made it all worth it, along with the excitement on their faces. Amidst the stress and exhaustion I could see  that an important role I play is to make these children excited about books and the library a happy place to be!

However, after completing the first assignment for the course I have certainly learnt a lot more about the role of a TL from the readings and my own reflection. Many of the readings had a very strong impact on my particular role as a teacher librarian at the moment. Being in my first year as a teacher librarian and being thrown in the deep end with no library I have very quickly had to learn about the role. The information literate school community was a concept I was not familiar with and am now trying to see how I can become part of it within my school.

The changes in the role of the TL really need to be embraced within schools because without the change their will be no place for us in the 21st century. We need to adapt as quickly as technology and keep up with what the children are capable of if we are to be useful to them. Coming from a school that uses inquiry based learning I found it interesting to learn of its importance in the scheme of things, yet I am not using it in the library at the moment. There is no collaboration in programming between myself and classroom teachers at the present, which was my obstacle and by working through the second part of the assignment I realised that something I had been frustrated about has a solution that I can attempt to fix. Now that I armed with a clearer view of what the role of TL can be and the evidence behind it to suggest our value I am looking forward to expanding what I currently do. It will be a long process I expect as cultures will need to change and I will need to prove my worth. We’ll see what eventuates.


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The more I read…….

The more I read the information provided to us in the course the more I see challenges that lay ahead. There are so many “hats” to the role of the Teacher Librarian and as only a part-time librarian it seems a mine field to negotiate all that is required with only 2 1/2 days to do it in.

I see myself as a teacher first and for-most because I need those skills to then apply them to the role of managing a Library and all that goes with that. I feel very strongly about the need for support from a Principal and other members of the school community. In order for a school to become an Information Literate School Community the inclusion of the Librarian  is vital.  We have the benefit of looking at the school as a whole community instead of individual classes and having an overview of the curriculum and how it needs to be supported.

As  a school community we need to be open to the fast pace of information change in this day and age. We are then role models for the students  as to how we transform information into knowledge and vice versa. 

The Teacher Librarian needs a clear role description within the context of their own school community that is then supported. It is only then that we can contribute to the information literate school community and enhance student learning.


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Interesting views

Having starting reading the articles for the first couple of topics it is really interesting to see that the everyday things that I see in my school are quite common issues with Teacher Librarians. There are a couple that really got my attention and that is how research has shown how enhanced student learning has been proven to happen with teachers working cooperatively, yet in Primary schools especially, the move has been for us to be used as RFF and not as much collaboration is happening. We are definately restricted by time in a Library and to me it seems only natural that a combination of research based learning and collaboration would be beneficial for all parties even if it was just for part of the year. It was mentioned in one article that the Library is an extension of the classroom….I totally agree we are not just an entity on our own although many of us are left to our own devices.


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Let it begin……

I’m hoping by beginning a Masters of Education in Teacher Librarianship I will begin a valuable journey into the world of Teacher Librarians…..so far so good!

The blogging is new but seems a great way to record thoughts and new insights from this first course in ETL 401 right through the degree.

I have only been working in a school Library for 6 months and I have realised what a lot there is to learn.I am very lucky to have a brand new Library, in fact so new we are still waiting for shelves! It has also been very rewarding. I look forward to reading other people’s thoughts through the blogs and forums. There are already some great bloggers out there.

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