Role of TL and changing library landscape
One of my first realisations during the initial readings was that the library and the teacher librarian should be an integral part of the learning community of the school. I had up until this course, unfortunately, thought of the library as a place for resources and information retrieval, and not much else. What I have learned is that the library should be the glue that sticks all the curriculum together with a proactive and hands on teacher-librarian, working collaboratively with classroom teachers. Done well I can now see how a strong bond between the library and the classroom can affect student learning and develop strong information literacy skills that students can take with them beyond their school years. Put simply, I was not aware how important the position of the teacher librarian is to impart essential twenty first century skills and that the ‘teacher‘ in teacher librarian was most vital.
I have also become more keenly aware of the importance of understanding the changing landscape of information and how and why students are accessing information. Keeping up with technology and trends is vitally important if one is aiming to communicate to students on their own level, and be able to instruct students to use it productively. Adaptability and ongoing professional development, particularly in technology application, are two key points I have committed to since starting this course.
Advocacy for TL profession / Evidence based practice / Principal support
Building a healthy relationship with the school principle and other staff members is essential for a teacher librarian to be effective. Without principal support an ambitious teacher librarian can be crushed. Gaining your principals trust and respect for your work will in turn reap allocated time for collaborative planning, an adequate budget to acquire resources, and a positive attitude towards the library and its place is in the school community. I must admit I hadn’t realised the somewhat struggle of advocating for the library’s mission and felt a bit annoyed with myself for choosing a profession again where my work could be undervalued. (I currently teach LOTE and know of the battles of a subject under fire).
I now understand the responsibility of the teacher librarian to clearly articulate the mission of the library and my role in it. Concurrently with this I have learned that consistently gathering evidence of student learning is vital to back up your credibility, strengthen opportunities to collaborate with other staff, and being able to competently show that your work has an impact beyond the school library.
Collaboration and the curriculum
Crucially teacher librarians must collaborate with classroom teachers if they are to seriously make an impact on student achievement. I had no idea before starting this course of the link between collaboration between classroom teachers and teacher librarians as a key factor that affects student achievement. One of the key points I have taken from the readings that I would definitely like to introduce into my school is a clear scope and sequence for information literacy for K-12 to ensure a consistent system as a student progresses through their schooling.
Further to this is my realisation that knowing the curriculum and current pedagogy is essential if one is going to be effective. With this knowledge the teacher librarian can contribute to developing the curriculum as a resource manager, and be a valued partner in collaborating on units of work in any subject area.
IL and IL models
After sifting through the many different definitions of information literacy and clarifying my understanding of it, I realise that my job is to create independent learners who can apply their information literacy skills irrespective of what technology they are using and where they are finding and using information. This is especially important in an era where information is at our fingertips and increasing expeditiously. The term information literacy has a much wider definition for me now, not just the location and retrieval of information with a bibliography.
Becoming aware of the information literacy models used to scaffold student learning has motivated me to make sure I take more care to carefully plan and implement units of work, and to focus on the big picture of ensuring the students are working towards becoming critical thinkers, creative problem solvers and independent learners.
While the concept of independent research projects was not new for me, looking at guided inquiry more closely has been beneficial for my teaching. I often felt while working through the readings that I had let my students down in the past by not fully grasping the importance of more carefully planning and monitoring units that I had taught. I certainly felt that although I did ensure students followed referencing protocols and the like, my teaching has not always scaffolded students to achieve higher-order thinking or promote self-awareness and reflection. My new found understanding has increased my confidence and motivation to improve my teaching standards.
Management of time
Over the course of this semester I have been overwhelmed by the depth of the teacher librarian role. As a classroom teacher I have always found my job rewarding but as for most teachers very busy and stressful. Learning of the varied caps a teacher librarian must have to excel, I must admit I have had my doubts if I could manage it. However, upon reflection now I feel that such a varied position has its advantages, not least that I would never feel repetitive or bored teaching the same units of work year after year. Learning that a teacher librarian does not lose connection to the classroom and has opportunities to teach is also a relief as this has been a joy for me in my preceding career to date.
As I read the expectations placed upon the teacher librarian I realised that I would need to be disciplined enough to focus on what really matters, student learning, and be proficient enough in all the other areas of management to still get my job done well.