Recent readings have focused on the important aspects of general management skills, time management, conflict resolution and negotiation. Having worked in corporate environments in these fields, as either a facilitator or trainer I was interested to see if I would come up with some new ideas, or at least a twist on some of the earlier ideas in these areas. Of course, I discovered or rediscovered nine suggestions for effectively managing these priorities as a teacher librarian.
1. Openness – actively seeking a critic is a positive experience. Find that person who doesn’t see value in something that you do and get them to tell you why, make suggestions about how it could be improved and most importantly, take their views on board without defensiveness. If they perceive something a certain way then that is a valid point of view and we need to look at what and how we are doing things to be able to continuously improve. They are doing you a favour! (Gilman, 2007).
2. Responsiveness – follows openness. Act on suggestions for improvement and make them count (Gilman, 2007).
3. Collaboration – not just for teaching. Collaboration with other Teacher Librarians is vital (Gilman, 2007). Get out there and create that community of learning. Join list serves, social media, participate in online discussions, offer advice, assistance and seek advice and assistance. It is so important to share and learn from one another. Sharing also assists time management because sharing great resources, tried and tested units and lessons is a very efficient and collegial way of working.
4. Zoning workload – Simply zoning my workload across Structured, Unstructured and My Time made me realise just how much my unstructured work was creeping into everything else. The simple idea of identifying those tasks that require quantity and those tasks that require quality has helped me to mentally justify an ‘end’ for each task.
5. Evenings and Weekends are unpredictable – I have often been guilty of allowing myself to put work tasks into my bag to take home. Of course, this is sometimes unavoidable but through better time-management and deciding each tasks level of quantity or quality from the outset has resulted in a better balance of work/life for me and my family.
6. Managing Distractions – Unstructured work tasks are subjected to the most frequent distractions at work. I have found that creating a clear list of To-Do’s for my programming, preparing and reading has helped to minimise distractions and manage my time more efficiently.
7. Conflict is positive – this idea is related to 1. Openness. I am not comfortable with conflict. I don’t really know anyone who is. However, I think that it is very productive to be able to accept that not everyone is heading down the same path. Some people want to sit on the side of the road. They are happy there. Others might want to jump in the Ferrari and speed straight down the highway. Being able to identify, discuss and come up with the commonalities and be able to work together is the most productive way to move forward.
8. Blaming gets you no-where. No new idea here but it is always important to remember that beginning with “I” statements gets you so much further than complaining about “your” actions.
9. Be a Scout! Be Prepared! – Rehearsing what and how you want to discuss difficult situations is great preparation for meeting to resolve a conflict, negotiate or deal with difficult people. This will highlight potential inflammatory statements and allow you to rework those ideas. It also helps to have a list of options so that the other person or group feel that they have a say and there are some choices.
I have picked up some great tips from this week’s readings and have found myself far more productive this week. I am hopeful that this Term is going to be my most efficient to date!
Gilman, T. (2007). The four habits of highly effective librarians, (Chronicle Careers), The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 23.
Effective time management for teachers. This applies equally to teacher librarians
Sanders, R. (2004). Chapter 13: Conflict resolution. In Australian library supervision and management (2nd ed., pp.127-132). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies.