Monday, 8 October 2012

Part B - Critical Reflection

My ETL401 journey began with the view that teacher-librarians were responsible for maintaining an excellent catalogue of books in the library for both teachers and students to use, and to encourage students of all ages to use the library and read.  I was unaware that my view was so narrow-minded. 

I began the semester reading the Australian Library and Information Association: Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians (ASLA, 2004).  I was stunned.  I read and re-read the standards to double check that I was reading the standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians.  I felt that some of the standards included in the document were present in my own current teaching practice and I felt that the standards were aligned with my own personal teaching philosophy of inclusion, engagement and achievement.  This document empowered me.  I felt that I was able to achieve those standards.  It instantly changed my view of the teacher librarian at my school, instantly made me wonder whether these standards were being met at my school and if they weren’t, what was the school doing about it?

The role of the teacher-librarian is as diverse as the school community to which they belong (Gardener, 2012a).  It is also one of the most important teaching positions in a school and for some the most undervalued.  One of my favourite readings this semester was Purcell’s “All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right?  A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist”.  Purcell (2010) outlines the potential roles a teacher librarian has within a school and suggests that if the teacher librarian is doing their job well, “they will be making  difference to the way teachers teach and the way students learn” (Purcell, 2010, p. 30).  Her article gave me a pragmatic view of the roles of a teacher-librarian in a school and how the teacher-librarian manages to fulfil these roles effectively and left me feeling that there was something lacking in my own school library that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. 

Purcell’s (2010) thoughts made me consider the constructivist ideas of Carnell and Lodge (2002) in Herring’s (2007) article, suggesting that the way students learn in the library, will be influenced by the way students are encouraged to learn throughout the whole school.  This in-turn can be influenced by the way the school-librarian collaborates with classroom teachers to produce effective, interesting and relevant learning activities.  This is what is missing from my own school library.

The way students learn in the library and the library curriculum can be heavily influenced by the support of the school principal.  Reading Oberg’s (2006) article confirmed some of the suspicions I already had about the operation of the school library and it’s relation to the school leadership and the role of the teacher-librarian. The support of a school principal can make or break an effective school library program.  It is the role of the teacher librarian to develop a positive professional relationship with school leaders, advocating the learning experiences the library can offer and communicating the needs of the library to meet the information learning needs of students.  “The School Principal needs to share the same whole school learning vision as the teacher-librarian for any library programs to be considered in the learning curriculum of a school” (Gardener, 2012a).  However, the teacher-librarian needs to be motivated, determined and fearless as they share their passion for learning excellence with leaders and classroom teachers to position the library as the hub of the school. 

This semester I have discovered that it is imperative that the teacher-librarian communicates effectively with the School Principal and classroom teachers, developing effective collaborative relationships with classroom teachers and through advocating for the resources and services available in the school library.  Classroom teachers need to be made aware of the ways the teacher-librarian can support them, their learning curriculum and promote the development of information literacy skills.  (Gardener, 2012a)

Langford (1998), Herring (2005) and Herring and Tarter (2007) introduced me to the myriad of definitions for information literacy, encouraging me to consider my own definition of information literacy and the skills required for students to participate in the global community of ever-evolving literacies.  The complex nature of information literacy confirmed my belief that information literacy is more than a set of skills.  It is a combination of skills and processes that when combined and used to effect, empowers students, teachers and learners the world over to participate confidently in an information driven society (Gardener, 2012c).

Over the semester I have come to the conclusion that, “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” (Gardener, 2012b).  I concur with Herring (2007) that the school library should be seen as a centre for learning with the teacher librarian at the helm, “fostering an environment where learners are encouraged and empowered to read, view, listen and respond for understanding and enjoyment, creating and nurturing an information-rich learning environment which supports the needs of the school community.




ASLA. (2004). Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians. Retrieved July 31, 2012, from Australian School Library Association:

Gardener, H. (2012a, September 24). The Teacher Librarian and the School Principal. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from Helen Gardener:

Gardener, H. (2012b, July 23). TL's, Libraries and Self-Promotion. Retrieved October 5, 2012, from Mrs Gardener: http://mrsgardener.blogspotcom

Gardener, H. (2012c, September 24th). Blog Task 3: Information Literacy Is More Than A Set Of Skills. Retrieved October 5, 2012, from Mrs Gardener:

Herring, J. (2005). A Citical Investigation of Students' and Teachers' views of the Use of Information Literacy skills in School Assignments. School Library Media Research, 9.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher Librarians and the School Library. In S. Ferguson, Libraries in the twenty-first century: Charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga: Centre or Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Herring, J. E., & Tarter, A.-M. (2007). Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. School Libraries in View, 23-27.

Langford, L. (1998). Information Literacy: A Clarification. School Libraries Worldwide, 4(1), 59-72.

Oberg, D. (2006, Feb). Developing the respect and support of school admnistrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do Is check Out Books, Right? A look at the roles of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 30-33.



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