Monday, 20 May 2013

ETL 504 Critical Reflection - Part B - Assessment Item 2

Leadership is being in control, but not of everything.  Leadership is happening everywhere.  There are leadership opportunities in every school at every level, not just principals and heads of department.  Every teacher has a chance to demonstrate leadership. 

When I began studying this subject, I had done a lot of reading about the role of the teacher librarian.  I hadn’t done a lot of reading about the leadership role of the teacher librarian.  In the beginning, the leader in a school was a principal or deputy or a co-ordinator.  As I explored the leadership role of the teacher librarian, many things began to make sense for me in regard to the teacher librarian in my own school.   It is vital that the role of the teacher librarian is communicated clearly and supported proactively by not only the principal and classroom teachers, but also the students and the parent community.

As I read about the different styles of leadership, I tried to match them up to leaders I knew and leadership styles I had seen in action.  It was hard for me to imagine that one leadership style could suit one person, especially when opportunities to demonstrate leadership are so diverse.  I was under the impression that if your leadership style was transactional or situational or transformational, you used that leadership style throughout your role as a leader.  It made more sense to me to incorporate a variety of elements from each leadership style to develop a personal approach to leadership.  As it turns out, you can.  There are no leadership rules set in stone.  They are all open to interpretation.  Leadership in schools is a partnership of leadership styles and a partnership of leaders. 

Leadership is being in control, but not of everything….

Leadership can be demonstrated in many different ways; the classroom teacher sharing expertise, skills and talents during a staff meeting and encouraging other staff to take those skills back to their own classroom to use. A teacher librarian leads by demonstrating how to use the Smartboard to plan an interactive literacy lesson for Grade 1. 

The role of the teacher librarian is one of leadership through instruction, collaboration and participation.  As education, information and technology are evolving, it is exciting to think that many 21st century learning skills will be  taught in the library and then extended out across the curriculum.   

DiScala and Subramaniam (2011) discuss leadership as being “integral to developing a successful 21st century school library media program.”  It is the role of the teacher librarian to lead the way among the staff in a school.  It involves a willingness to serve as a teacher and as a learner who listens to and acts upon good ideas from peers, teachers and students.  It is the role of the teacher librarian to lead by example, modeling best practice and the way toward the achievement of goals and objectives and enabling others to act.

It is vital that teacher librarians are effective communicators and collaborators as they lead within their field of expertise.  It is vital that teacher librarians advocate for collaborative partnerships and facilitate opportunities to collaborate with classroom teachers to develop 21st century learning.   As the Australian Curriculum is implemented nationally, the importance of the role of the teacher librarian will increase as ICT skills and literacy skills are developed across the curriculum.

Lamb and Johnson (2004-2010) write about teacher librarians being agents for change.  Being a teacher librarian is not just about the books anymore.  Many teacher librarians have chosen to become leaders of change as well as adapt to the changes.  As a leader, and an agent for change, the teacher librarian has more control of their library program, its organisation and its delivery.  With knowledge of current changes and the vision of the changes that may lie ahead, a teacher librarian can plan and prepare for the future.

I have learned that as a leader in the achievement of a shared vision, the role of the teacher librarian needs to be one of sharing, collaboration and empowerment.  Sharing of information through collaboration empowers those involved.  The roles of teacher and learner become fluid as the sharing of skills and knowledge takes place (Tapscott, 2012).  The sharing of information creates a powerful base from which informed decisions can be made regarding planning, programming and teaching.  Empowerment and ownership of a shared vision creates a positive force encouraging staff and students to embrace the vision. 

I am looking forward to the opportunity of sharing my skills, ideas and vision of a school library in the future.


DiScala, J.and Subramaniam, M. (2011). Evidence-Based Practice: A practice towards leadership credibility among school librarians. School Libraries Worldwide, 17(2), 59-70.

Lamb, A. and Johnson, L. (2004-2010). Advocacy: Change: Innovative Practices and Evolving Roles. Retrieved May 12, 2013, from The School Library Media Specialist:

Martin, A. M. (2012). Seven Steps to an Award Winning School Library Program. Oxford, Great Britain: ABC-CLIO.

McKenzie, J. (2010, February). teacher Librarians: leading, connecting and innovating. Scan, 29(1), 6-9.

Tapscott, D. (2012, June 10-14). Four Principles for the Open World. Edinburgh, Scotland. Retrieved from




Sunday, 7 April 2013

Part B - Reflective Journal Blog Task

A school library is the central learning district in a school.  The leader of this centre for learning is the Teacher Librarian.

After completing Part A of Assignment 1, my thoughts on leadership have evolved.  Leadership in the school library should be a partnership of theories that is open to innovation, communication and collaboration… most importantly, communication.

When I first began thinking about leadership, I hadn’t done any professional reading on the topic.  At first I thought of the leaders of the schools in which I work and the positions those leaders hold in the school hierarchy.   Leadership doesn’t rest solely with the Principal.  The more I thought about it, I discovered that leaders are found in the library, the learning support team, the sports office, at reception, in the sick bay and even down at the school crossing.  My initial thoughts on leadership didn’t include all these smaller groups that unite to achieve the shared vision of the school. 

Don Tapscott (2012) suggests that collaboration needs to be enabled and this can be achieved through openness, or communication.  Openness to share information, encourage learning and empowerment to share knowledge and skills.  As a teacher, who is often puzzled by the communication protocols within the schools I work in, I think that above anything else, the ability to communicate effectively, i.e positively, respectfully and efficiently is the most valuable skill any leader should have and should utilise. Openness cannot be achieved without communication.  Trust cannot be built without communication and an effective team cannot work collaboratively without communication.

To build an effective team, the Teacher Librarian needs the classroom teachers and, to achieve excellence in the learning curriculum, the teachers need the Teacher Librarian.  Aguilar (2012) suggests that a good team knows why it exists and is united by the achievement of a common goal.  She also suggests that within a good team there is a certain degree of healthy conflict.  Team members should be able to share their thoughts and opinions without judgement or criticism.  Team members should be able to comfortably and safely disagree with ideas and opinions so that the team can grow, challenge thinking processes and resolve issues intelligently.  While communication is a two-way street, the Teacher Librarian should at all times be communicating with staff, students, parents and other leaders of the school about what is happening in the library, how the library can complement the classroom learning curriculum and how the library, with the support of the classroom teachers, is one of the greatest resources the school has. 

The Teacher Librarian should lead by example and communicate what is happening in the library, share opportunities with teachers and students to be a part of the library and to encourage collaboration to achieve the shared vision of the library.  Without communication, how will staff, students and the wider school community know that the library is not just for books?  Osmosis is not a valid theory!


 Aguilar, E. (2012, November 28). Effective Teams: the key to transforming schools. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from Edutopia K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven STrategies that Work.:
Tapscott, D. (2012, June 10-14). Four Principles for the Open World. Edinburgh, Scotland. Retrieved from




Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Effective Teams Transforming Schools

It is true to say that when an individual feels they belong and their contributions are valued, they develop a loyalty toward their team, organisation or even school.
Loyalty stems from the connectedness of staff, the support provided between colleagues and the value colleagues feel in being a member of an effective, proactive team.  The feelings of appreciation and value motivate individuals to persist, persevere and unite to achieve common goals and to work through challenging circumstances.

Elena Aguilar (n.d), on the Edutopia Blog, writes that strong teams are essential within a school.  They  are essential to retaining and sustaining teachers and further strengthening the relationships colleagues form between one another.  Familiarity with teaching styles, ideas and work ethics is a firm foundation upon which to build.

She also includes 5 elements of "What Makes A Good Team".

  1. A good team knows why it exists.  The team members are all there for the same reason.  They are united by a common goal.
  2. A good team creates a space for learning.  The team provides its members with opportunities to learn from each other, to take risks in a supportive environment and to ask as many questions as possible.
  3. A good team creates healthy conflict.  Everybody is different and entitled to their own opinion and if this opinion creates constructive dialogue, the thinking of team members is pushed.
  4. Members of a good team trust each other.  There is equitable participation among members and shared decision making, conflicts are managed, people listen, a team member becomes a facilitator within the group and monitors disagreements and ensures the the team doesn't deteriorate.
  5. A good team has a facilitator, leader or shared leaders.   A facilitator ensures the kind of intentionality, planning and facilitation in the moment that's essential for a team to be high functioning.
I was searching for an inspirational anecdote about a school in a low socio-economic area that managed low levels of literacy, low-level English speakers, students from non-English speaking backgrounds, behaviour challenges and a community of parents who felt disconnected.  I didn't need the Internet because 20km down the road, this school exists.....or I should say, existed.
I had the privilege of working there as a literacy support teacher.  The staff at this school had united, faced the challenges that students brought to the school community and worked together to provide not only effective learning experiences, but quality learning experiences that engendered confidence, pride, appreciation and success.  I should also mention that if you hadn't worked there for at least 10 years, you were 'new'!
The school Principal lead the team with a set of living and learning standards that she encouraged the students and parents to strive towards.  Every staff member felt valued and appreciated. Every staff member was open to the learning experiences of each day.  The feelings of pride, confidence and success spread beyond the staffroom and into the playground.  It wasn't always plain sailing.  the transformation over a period of years has been remarkable and a testimony to persistence, perseverance and unity toward a common goal.

Aguilar, E. (n.d.). Effective Teams: The Key to Transforming Schools? | Edutopia. K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies that Work | Edutopia. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Principles of an Open World

Don Tapscott’s principles of an open world include collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment.  They are all relevant to current learning trends and relevant to the position of the teacher librarian within a school. 

For the teacher librarian, collaboration means opening up planning times, planning ideas and inviting the classroom teachers to avail themselves the skills a teacher-librarian has to complement and enhance students’ learning experiences.  Collaboration is inviting teachers and students to buckle up and jump aboard the information super highway via stories and imagery from books old and new, to up-to-date facts, figures and information over through our historical past and out through PowerPoint, publisher and presentation.

Through effective collaboration, will come transparency.

Transparency for the teacher librarian means effective communication, the development of trusting work relationships and the assurance of high quality learning experiences in the library.  Between the TL and classroom teachers, all aspects of planning need to be open, communicated and relevant to collaborative planning.  Between the TL and leaders of the school, transparency includes resources, budgets, timetables and planning schedules.  Transparency will also provide the TL’s with an opportunity to demonstrate, share and further develop his or her own skills, interest and talents as a teacher-librarian.

Through transparency will come the opportunity, and the need, for sharing to achieve the common goals of the classroom teacher, TL and students, and fulfill the visions of the schools learning curriculum.  Sharing for the TL means that the library will be a more physical presence in the school’s learning curriculum, not just a place to borrow books.

Collaboration, transparency and sharing will empower staff and students by giving them access to the TL as a resource and will empower the TL as a leader in their field.

A classroom teacher – teacher librarian relationship can be likened to the “murmuration of starlings” that Don Tapscott spoke about in that within the collaborative relationship there is not an individual leader as the interests of each individual are the same as the collective.  The relationship should bear the characteristics of collaboration, openness, transparency, sharing, therefore empowering the group to succeed.  Tapscott rhetorically asks whether a collective intelligence can be created.  I believe that successful collaboration between classroom teachers and the TL would produce a degree of collective intelligence through working together.

View Don Tapscott at

Tapscott, Don. (2012) Four Principles of an Open World.  TED Global.  Edinburgh, Scotland. Retrieved 18 March, 2013.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Some Thoughts on Leadership

The art of leadership is always evolving, open to change and reliant on flexibility.
A good leader can communicate effectively, delegate wisely and facilitate the achievement of common goals.  A good leader empowers people to be the best version of them, both professionally and personally, and encourages people to take risks, be confident in their work and their decision-making, and back themselves 100%. 

Leadership requires action.

Marzano, Waters and McNulty (2005) introduced me to a variety of leadership theories that I had seen in action, but perhaps was unable to name.  As a relief teacher, I have seen a variety of leadership styles in action and have seen some of the ways the TL can utilize their leadership skills to encourage and empower staff and students and positively influence the wider school community. 

The leadership of a school is a complex role, not necessarily adhering to one specific leadership theory, but moving fluidly between theories to achieve leadership goals.  Some Principals are agents for change and the Transformational Leadership style produces results beyond expectations with workers being encouraged, empowered and valued within the organization.

Some Principals are situational leaders where their leadership is dependent on the capabilities and willingness of staff.  In this climate of leadership, the Principal moves through delegating, telling, participating and selling styles of leadership.  This could sound more like a “putting out spot fires” leadership style although for some is effective. (Marzano, 2005)

Marzano, Waters and McNulty (2005) include Instructional Leadership as being the most popular leadership style for many educational leaders.  The roles of an Instructional Leader include resource provider, instructional resource, communicator, and visible presence.  The role of the school principal in this style of leadership is,
·      To ensure the school is well resourced through effective budgeting and resource purchasing,
·      To be actively involved in the planning and programming of activities at school, be involved in professional development opportunities,
·      To clearly communicate the goals and visions of the school to faculty and staff, and
·      To be a visible presence within the school and be easily available to faculty, staff and students when required.

This list is not definitive, but certainly an achievable set of roles and responsibilities that would ensure high levels of success. 

As with many things, leadership styles are open to a certain degree of interpretation, dependent on personal choices, interests and values. 
While I am not in a leadership position, but now a keen observer of leadership styles, there is a lot to be said for patience, persistence and common sense


  •  Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on   leadership. In  School leadership that works: from research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Virginia, United States: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
  • Retrieved 20 March, 2013.