Sunday, 29 July 2012

Assessment Item 1- The Role of the Teacher-Librarian With Regard to Evidence-Based Practice.

Assessment Item 1
OLJ and Blog Task 1

The role of the Teacher-Librarian has changed considerably over the last 10 years.  The amount of information available to us at the press of a button, the ability to source resources at the press of a button and the ability to share these resources outside the traditional medium of print has revolutionized the way we find information and use the information to achieve outcomes in the school learning curriculum.

Todd (2008) suggests evidence-based practice has not just arrived in our school libraries.  He believes that many Teacher-Librarians already share the same beliefs.  He writes,
“The fusion of learning, information, and technology presents dynamic challenges for teachers, school librarians, administrators and students in 21st century schools.  Providing the best opportunities for children to learn and achieve in todays educational environment, and knowing that they have done well, is at the heart of quality teaching and learning and is the driving force behind evidence based practice”(Todd, 2008.p.39).

The role of the Teacher-Librarian is continually evolving as the information super highway expands and the need for information literacy skills becomes more apparent in our daily lives.   Also more apparent is the need to provide evidence to support the role of the Teacher-Librarian.

I believe a Teacher-Librarian needs to approach their library as a small business being run within the school community, within the constraints of the school budget.  Resources are purchased to link the library with the learning curriculum, “administrators need to see that the library budget is clearly connected to curriculum goals” (Langhorne, 2005. P.36).  The effectiveness of the resources isn’t measured by the number of students who come to the library or borrow the books, but rather by how the resources available in the library impact student learning and support instruction (Langhorne, 2005).
If the library collection is aligned to the teaching goals of the learning curriculum, more teachers will advocate for the availability of resources and administrators will see the evidence of the positive effect on the curriculum.

As with any small business, there is a certain degree of marketing that is required to make the services of the small business known.  The library is the same.  It is the responsibility of the Teacher-Librarian to let the community know what resources are available in the library, how students are being taught to use the resources in the library and what programs are used within the library to develop information literacy skills and encourage reading.  
“Evidence based practice emphasizes the actual work of the school librarian” (Todd, 2008. P.41). 
Reflective practices of the Teacher-Librarian are encouraged through the collection of data.  “By using and comparing data from a number of sources, you can develop stronger claims about your practice’s impact and outcomes” (Todd, 2008. p.40).  An efficient Teacher-Librarian will employ strategies and programs that work and produce positive learning results. 
Todd writes about a holistic approach to evidence-based practice where by evidence for practice, evidence in practice and evidence of practice combine to create “a dynamic, ongoing and integrative process that informs practice, generates new practices and demonstrates a practices impact on learning outcomes” (Todd, 2008. P.41).
As with the building of a successful small business, through the use of best practices, “practices that demonstrate tangible power of our contribution to schools learning goals” (Todd, 2003), and the “establishment of systematic approaches to locating and gathering evidence of achieving outcomes” (Todd, 2003), job satisfaction and the assurance of the important position of the library within the school community will be achieved and maintained.

In short, the role of the Teacher-Librarian, in regard to evidence-based practice, is to provide evidence to support the use of resources, planning and instructional programs that are implemented in the school library, and use the evidence to collaborative with classroom teachers to strengthen the skills of students to achieve learning curriculum outcomes.

  •   Langhorne, M. (2005). Show Me the Evidence!. Knowledge Quest, 33(5), 35-37.
  • Todd,  R. (2003). School Libraries and Evidence-Based Pracice: Dynamics,   Strategies and Outcomes. WA School Library Conference. New Jersey: Rutgers University.
  • Todd, R. (2008). THE EVIDENCE-BASED MANIFESTO. School Library Journal,    54(4), 38-43.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm.......

This is a reflective post.....not related to any reading as such.....just my own thoughts.  Some of them will be random, but some you just might identify with and might even have had yourself!  

I went to Uni in the early 90's and studied to become a teacher.  I had a great time.  I loved it.
I loved going on prac, I couldn't wait to have my own classroom, my own class and use my own lessons.  I couldn't wait to to teach the kids to read, write, add up, take away, learn about the world, play a game or two outside, sing some songs, eat lunch, teach the kids to be great learners and contributors to our community.  

In reality, it didn't totally turn out like that.
I didn't realise that I would need acting skills, people skills, medical knowledge, a psychology degree, a counselling degree, so much patience, so much organisation, be prepared for any parent's question, be creative, be open to criticism and all the while maintain a professional smile on my face.  Initially, there were just not enough hours in the day for me to be 'kicking goals' in every arena! (Note to is ok to say "I don't know" or "I can't manage that." and leave it at that!!!)

I am learning that being a Teacher-Librarian is a bit the same.  It is not just books.  It is not just re-shelving, it is not just finding information, it is not just teaching students how to find information. It's not just the Dewey system. 

The Teacher-Librarian reality for 2012 is advocate, advocate, advocate!!!  Market yourself, your skills, your resources, your need for funding so that not only the school administrators are on board, but so that teachers are on board and the students and parents are on board. Everybody should know what is happening in the library.  Administrators need to be aware of the progressive resourcing needs the library has and Teachers and Teacher-Librarians need to communicate so that the resources available in the library are appropriate for the learning needs of the students in the school.  There will be numerous members of the school community who would have no idea that the library has the potential to be a vibrant learning community.  It is THE place to be.

There will be administrators and teachers out there who will try to stifle your creativity, your determination and your enthusiasm.  Ignore them.  Let them rise to your level and they too will realise that greatness, success and immense satisfaction can be achieved when communities work together.


Monday, 23 July 2012

TL's, Libraries and Self-Promotion.

Joyce Valenza has chosen the ‘poster approach’ to let the school community and beyond know what a Teacher-Librarian teaches.  Research, evaluation, learning, creativity, reading are all happening in the library.  I am imagining that there are numerous classroom teachers out there, including myself, who would be surprised at the number of areas of learning and knowledge that are included on the poster.  My questions for our school librarian are, "When can we get together?" and "Can you extend our library time or slot us in for an extra lesson?"
This poster has sent me into somewhat of a flat spin over how I can use our library more effectively.  I wonder whether there are schools across the country that are unaware of the potential for learning greatness that is just a few steps away in the library.

Herring (2007) writes "the library and the teacher librarian are an integral part of the learning and teaching community".  The library should be seen as a hub of learning, information, creativity and activity.  The teacher-librarian is in the unique position of being able to encourage teachers to develop learning experiences that challenge students' learning and encourage students to use their information skills to develop life long learning strategies.  Herring also suggests that the "library should be seen firstly as a centre for learning and secondly as a centre for resources"(Herring, 2007. p.28).
Promoting the library and what can be found there should not be a solo mission for the Teacher-Librarian.  The library should be embraced as a vital part of the school learning community. Libraries are not places solely for silent reading or finding that perfect fiction escape, but a gateway to the world and beyond using effective research and enquiry skills and knowledge of information evaluation. School leaders, teachers, students and parents need to promote the use of the library and the resources found there.
If the key role of the library is as a centre for learning, Herring (2007, p.32) suggests the key role of the teacher librarian is to develop information literate students.  It makes good sense to teach students how to use the resources in the library.  It makes more sense for students to be able to use their skills within the context of a planned learning experience, collaboratively developed by the teacher-librarian and the classroom teacher.

It is only the beginning of the subject and I have already developed a greater appreciation of our own teacher-librarian, but my reading has raised some questions for me that I will be going into the library to find the answers for.  

Sunday, 22 July 2012

What Do TL's Teach - by Joyce Valenza

Joyce Valenza's 2011 What do TLs Teach? poster briefly outlines the roles and responsibilities a teacher-librarian has.  
TL's not only teach, but they model inquiry and research, they evaluate the resources for students to use so that the information they are accessing is credible and available in multiple formats and in turn, teach students how to achieve this themselves.  

As the digital age spreads across all fields of communication, it is vital that students are taught how to respectfully engage in its use and how to use technology as an effective resource as well as an outlet for leisure.

The teacher-librarian can also open the door to the creative digital world where your imagination is your only boundary.  Websites, animation, digital storytelling and publishing are just a few avenues that digital media can send you down.

Our TL module notes suggest we place a poster size version of this on our office door or noticeboard for all to see!  As the profile of the TL in schools is raised, those who read the poster will understand.
Joyce Valenza 2011

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Library - That's where I'll meet you!

ASLA - Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians

Reading this document both puzzled and excited me! 

I have worked in many schools during my teaching career, in both the city and the country. 
After reading the Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians document, I can honestly say that, in schools across the country, there are many types of Teacher-Librarian. 

In the extreme, there are Teacher-Librarians who are going above and beyond in their role as an information resource.  They actively advocate for the Teacher-Librarian to participate in the planning and programming of learning in their primary school.  They encourage the children to read, explore, research and grow through the acquisition of knowledge, skills and active participation.
There are also Teacher-Librarians who are just "checking out the books" and not promoting themselves as an active resource.  I wonder whether they don't have the knowledge, skills and confidence to be actively involved in the sharing of information and knowledge or whether they don't understand the importance of their role.  Perhaps the school hasn't encouraged the librarian to create and market the library as a learning hub.

I was excited by the responsiblities the Teacher-Librarian has in regard to learning, teaching and the curriculum.  I also began to understand why some Librarians are very protective of their domain!
The standards document was produced to "improve Teacher-Librarians professional practice and enhance student learning outcomes".  It will be interesting to find out how the meeting of these standards will be assessed and whether further professional development will be made available to Teacher-Librarians who are challenged on the information resourcing highway.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

"The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you'll go!" ~ Dr Seuss

...And so my learning journey continues.  I returned to study last year after 15 years.  Boy! was it a shock.  I originally enrolled in the Masters of TL, but at the last minute changed to Inclusive Ed.  I enjoyed the reading, and the learning and the sense of achievement that came with handing in assignments etc, but my heart wasn't in it.
I am excited to be studying Teacher Librarianship.  I am slightly overwhelmed by all the getting started bits and pieces, but am hoping it will all fall in to place any moment.

Good luck and enjoy!!