My, oh my, how time flies…. (ETL401 wrap up – Assignment 2, Part B: Critical Reflection)

Coming to the end of my first Semester of the Teacher Librarianship Masters Program, I have had an exciting personal, professional and pedagogical journey.

My first blog entry for this subject was enthusiastic about searching databases and organising information in preparation for the tasks ahead. At the time I remember thinking that maybe I could just learn that as I go, but am I glad I took the time then. I can’t imagine the time saved by saving searches and filing articles into Folders. That got me thinking about what it’s like for our students, and I realised that I had been information literacy-d! I was engaging in an authentic, practical experience (organising research), to fulfill a real-life problem (assignment writing) (Abilock, 2004). This was evidence of just how important the real-world context of information literacy is and this realisation has changed my teaching forever! More importantly, it made me realise the importance of never assuming that students know how to do research – some may be in upper primary but still have few skills in efficient research strategies. It’s definitely changed my approach to information literacy.

After examining the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and Australian School Library Association’s (ASLA)’s Statement of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians (2004) in my earlier post, I had a whine. Let’s not mince words. I whined about the limitations that I had placed on myself because of, what I saw as, the perceptions of the Principal and Teachers. But the only person that was limiting me was me. Yes, my Library was somewhat “disconnected” from the rest of the Curriculum. Yes, the Library Program was, and still is, Relief from Face to Face. Yes, my skills as a Teacher Librarian are developing, BUT my only limitation was me! Up to that point had I ever considered that the TL was a Leader in the school? Never!

One of the turning points for me was Purcell’s (2010) Time Study Observation. I realised just how much time I was wasting on administrative tasks and “fluff” based on others priorities and how much more effective I could be if I shared the load of information literacy and defined my role more effectively.

Armed with my Standards I set about creating a ‘learning organisation’ (Cibulka, Coursey, Nakayama, M., Price, J. & Stewart, S. (2003). I sought out like-minded people (Lamb, 2011) to identify where I could make a difference. We worked cooperatively on Programs, identifying opportunities for integrating information literacy skills through information literacy process models (Kuhlthau, n. d. ; Big6, n.d), in the classroom and embedding technology skills throughout the curriculum (Hay and Todd, 2010; Lamb, 2011). We talked about what it means to be a life-long learner. I often referred to Boss and Krauss’ (2008) statement about reinventing Project Based Learning: “When teachers facilitate well-designed projects that use digital tools, they do much more than create memorable learning experiences. They prepare students to thrive in a world that’s certain to continue changing” (p.13). We looked at critical thinking opportunities, and started working out the types of evidence we might need throughout the process to show the extent of student’s learning. Kuhlthau, Maniotes and Caspari (2007) and Brown (2008) were particularly useful resources.

Overall, the short answer to how my view of the role of the TL has changed during this course is ‘enormously’. But, to be more specific, the major “shifts” (Lamb, 2011) in my understanding of the role of the Teacher Librarian are:

From reactive to proactive – Joyce Valenza’s Manifesto (2010) and video (2011) is empowering and inspiring. It has made me realise just how vital our teaching role is, just how important it is to take a leadership role and be able to effectively balance the wide range of responsibilities that we have.

From professionally disconnected to world wide support – As a result of research into information literacy process models (Herring, 2011) and Guided Inquiry (Kuhlthau, 2010) I am now connected to experts from all over the world through Diigo Groups, mailing lists, blogs and e-newsletters.

From piecemeal to embedded – Promoting the role of the TL is vital. Gaining a better understanding of information literacy, discovery learning, problem-based learning and all their variants has given me the confidence to collaborate and cooperate on projects for students, as well as for teachers. Presenting new resources, identifying opportunities for the transference of information literacy skills and technology tools supports the focus of the new Australian Curriculum and better prepares our school for its introduction and implementation. The journey has only just begun!

References

  • Abilock, D. (2004). Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes.

  • Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). (2004). Library standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians, available http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

  • Big6 Skills overview (n. d.). The Big6: Information and Technology Skills for Student Success. Retrieved  from http://big6.com/pages/about/big6-skills-overview.php

  • Boss, S. and Krauss, J. (2008). Introduction and Chapter 1: Mapping the Journey— Seeing the Big Picture. Reinventing project-based learning. Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age. Moorabbin, Vic. : Hawker Brownlow Education, 2010.

  • Brown, C.A. (2008). Building rubrics: A step-by-step process, Library Media Connection, January, 16-18. Available  http://www.linworth.com/pdf/lmc/reviews_and_articles/featured_articles/Brown_January2008.pdf

  • Cibulka, J., Coursey, S.,Nakayama, M., Price, J. & Stewart, S. (2003). Schools as learning organisations: A review of the literature. National College for School Leadership, UK

  • Hay, L., & Todd, R. (2010). School libraries 21C: The conversation begins. Scan, 29(1), 30-42.

  • Herring, J. (2006). A critical investigation of students’ and teachers’ views of the use of information literacy skills in school assignments. School Library Media Research, 9.

  • Herring, J. (2011). Assumptions, Information Literacy and Transfer in High Schools. Teacher Librarian, 38(3), 32-36.

  • Kuhlthau, C. C. (n.d.). Information Search Process. Retrieved from http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm

  • Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st-Century Learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18.

  • Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Assessment in guided inquiry. In Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century (pp. 111-131). Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

  • Lamb, A. (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

  • 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, 29(3-), 30-33.

  • Valenza, J. (2010). A revised manifesto. Retrieved from School Library Journal at http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

  • Valenza, J. (2011). What Librarians make. Or why should I be more than a Librarian? Vimeo. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/17247140#

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