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/

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