Blog Task #1 – Evidence Based Practice

TLs are under increasing pressure to demonstrate that their role makes a difference in terms of student achievement and that their job is a specialist area that makes a real contribution to life long learning.

Simply advocating the importance of the library and its function is not enough. Without real evidence of what the TL is contributing, and what students are gaining from input and guidance of the TL, there is the risk that any advocating will fall on deaf ears. Evidence based practice is, “…the systematic process of documenting how a teacher librarian makes a difference in student learning”.(Lamb, 2004-2010b) The profession needs to be acutely aware of the requirement of TLs to build their expertise in anaysing their role and outcomes to further strengthen the position of the library in schools. TLs must also be confident with their knowledge of recent research findings and be able to translate that information into language that can be easily understood in addition to their own research.(Oberg, 2002)

According to Todd, (Todd, 2003), it is imperative to create a systematic approach to gathering authentic evidence of your impact on student learning. It is important to embed information literacy and evidence-procuring strategies into your planning of lessons. This focuses your planning on teaching explicitly what you want students to learn. It also makes clear to collaborating teachers what you are trying to achieve and how successful you have been, strengthening their confidence in your importance and further collaboration. Evidence of this nature also makes clear to staff that the role of the library is not just to teach information literacy separate to the school curriculum, but being able to competently show that reaching these standards has an impact beyond the school library. (Todd, 2007)

Evidence may be collected directly or indirectly on three different levels: learner, teacher, and organisational.(Loertscher, 2003) Test scores, rubrics, portfolios, reflections, evaluation forms, library statistics are just a few of the many ways that a TL can document their impact.

Evaluation of collected data will help a TL to determine whether their work is supporting the curriculum, the needs of students and being responsive to changes in the school program and new technology. Evidence-based reports make the TL accountable to the school community, justifies budgets and strengthens the perception of the library. (Lamb, 2004-2010a) It will also serve to make you more aware of your own failings as a teacher and collaborator and improve your own teacher performance. It is important to make this information concise and palatable to the wider school community and publish material in in such places as school annual reports, newsletters and on the school website, and to the school board if necessary to justify and request funding.

References
Lamb, A & Johnson, L. (2004-2010a). Library Media Program: Evaluation. The School Media Specialist. from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evaluation.html

Lamb, A & Johnson, L. (2004-2010b). Library Media Program: Evidence-based decision making. The School Media Specialist. Retrieved 23.03, 2013, from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evidence.html

Loertscher, D.V. (2003). California Project Achievement. Retrieved 24.03, 2013, from http://www.davidvl.org/Achieve/CAProjectAchievement.pdf

Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement? School libraries Canada, 22(2), 10-14.

Todd, R.J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. School Library Journal.

Todd, R.J. (2007). Evidenced-based practice and school libraries: from advocacy to action. In S. H.-H. V. H. Harada (Ed.), School Reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, CY: Libraries Unlimited.

What is the role of the TL? How do Principals perceive the role of the TL?

After reading the ASLA statements, (ASLA, 2012a, 2012b) , I now have a much clearer understanding of the TL role, standards and expectations. I must admit I really have come into this course with a limited understanding of the TL position! However, the more I read the more I feel that my interests and skill set really suits the changing nature of the job. Phew…

I think the most important aspect of the TL job is, as stated by ASLA, “…advocating and building effective library and information services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners.” (ASLA, 2012b) The role of the TL is integral to creating a system for the whole school to integrate information literacy into all aspects of the curriculum, and to, “…prepare students for a life that requires thinking, inquiry, problem solving and ethical behaviour”. (Lamb, 2011) What could be more important than that.

For me I find differentiating the role of the TL into categories as done by Purcell, Herring and Lamb very helpful. However, how a TL would find time to accomplish all the important aspects of the job I do not know. Of all the readings, Valenza struck me as the most modern and perhaps most comprehensive. Strikingly Valenza (Valenza, 2010) makes it clear that harnessing technology is the key to engaging students, allowing them to create and express themselves and connect. It is imperative the the school library promotes and enables this and concurrently embeds competent and ethical use of technology across the curriculum.

As I have not worked as a TL in a school I have limited knowledge of the TL-Principal relationship apart from my own observations while working in different subject areas. In my school there did not seem to be any support or interest in the function of the library apart from a resource centre for books and a place for students to work quietly! On reflection of my own teaching practice I must admit although I encouraged use of the library when setting assignments, it did not ever occur to me to use the actual librarian as a source of information and collaborative partner. After reading Haycock, (Haycock, 2007), I now realise what a wasted opportunity that was. Haycock states, “…collaboration is the single professional behavior of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement.”

I think it is important for myself to remember to be an effective TL, I must build up the credibility and image of the library and its importance as the centre for learning in the school. I must pave the way for effective communication between the principal and staff to create effective collaboration. As stated by Oberg, (Oberg, 2006), “… by contributing as school leaders to school-wide initiatives and concerns, TL’s build their credibility as educators and increase the willingness of others to work with them.”
It is the role of the TL to make the mission of the TL role clear to the whole school community. This will ensure a shared, clear understanding of the role of the TL and the library in the school and the connection of the library to empowering students to become information literate and to improving student learning.

References
ASLA. (2012a). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved 13 March, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
ASLA. (2012b). Statement on teacher librarian qualifications. Retrieved 14 March, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/teacher-librarian-qualifications.aspx
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.
Lamb, Annette. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36. doi: 10.1007/s11528-011-0509-3
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.
Valenza, J. (2010). A revised manifesto Retrieved 14 March, 2013, from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

Searching the library databases

While searching the library databases and working through the module links, I found myself thinking – this is so different to my previous university experiences trudging through library shelves and carrying heavy bags of books home to study. It has been a revelation that I can find so much information so easily while sitting in my pyjamas! After watching some of the library tutorials I feel confident that I will be able to find and use a range of sources for assignments and general reading.

I have also reacquainted myself with the Endnote program. I used this previously but not to its full potential as I didn’t have great internet access then for uploading references. I have spent some time practising uploading references from various sources and inserting them into my documents correctly. Accurate referencing and presentation of my assignments was a worry of mine returning to study and I feel much more confident after taking the time to rehearse this.

The initial anxiety of ‘can I really do this course?’ has subsided somewhat…

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE CHANGING INFORMATION AND LIBRARY LANDSCAPE FOR THE BROADER INFORMATION PROFESSION?

As put forward by Frey, (Frey), the role of the library to archive information or to serve as a ‘store house’ for books and other materials has fundamentally changed. We are no longer dependent on libraries to act as a protector of scarce and expensive information as today, through the internet and other technologies, information is is all around us, cheap or free, controlled by consumers and as stated by Purcell, ‘designed for sharing and embedded into our lives’. (Purcell, 2012)

The vast majority of people who before were required to visit a library to source information can now find whatever they need online. In addition to this, with the advent of e-books and the like, the simple pleasure of reading a print book is now slowly being replaced by digital versions, with the wide selection of e-books and ease of using them while traveling or commuting and availability the main reasons why people are preferring them. (Purcell, 2012)

It is clear that the role of the librarian to navigate this new information age is an important one. With technology changing rapidly and with new innovations appearing all the time, people will not have the skills or time to keep up and will need a professional to assist them.

As stated by Purcell, (Purcell, 2012), ‘The role of the librarian is to help people with the volume, relevance and velocity of information available’. In particular for teacher-librarians it is important to remember that the role of the librarian is to help students critique and evaluate information readily available to them effectively. Many students are simply unaware the information may be biased and inaccurate, even though published on the net. Teacher-librarians must be up to date with current technology, embrace it and be able to instruct students to use it productively while critically analysing it for its authenticity and relevance. While retrieving information may be easy for students, what information is relevant and accurate and how to use it is not.

Personally I find the challenges of a new library landscape and adaption of new technologies very exciting. Perhaps technology is a way forward to make access to information more equitable and available to a broader range of students who otherwise would miss out due to their location or socio-economic status. It is clear that libraries of the future will need to be at the forefront of new innovations, flexible in delivery and spaces that accommodate a wide range of needs.

References
Frey, T. The future of Libraries: Beginning the Great Transformation. Retrieved 12 March, 2013, from http://www.davinciinstitute.com/papers/the-future-of-libraries/
Purcell, K. (2012). Libraries 2020: Imagining the library of the (not too distant) future.