Literary learning is one of the key elements of an effective and comprehensive teaching and learning program. If we are really genuine about Quality Teaching, that is, pedagogy that promotes high levels of intellectual quality, is based on providing a quality learning environment and develops and clarifies in an explicit way the significance of student’s work (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2006), then Teacher Librarians (TLs) have an important role to play in selecting, accessing and promoting the many ways that literary learning can be embedded in the curriculum.
Literature across the Curriculum (LATC) has really drawn everything together. I have developed great relationships with Principals, fellow teachers and the wider school community to promote and develop information literacy learning and the Library. However, as a Teacher Librarian with Relief from Face to Face (RFF) programming I was conflicted. How could I do Guided Inquiry? How could I maintain the momentum in my programming to keep students engaged? What does ‘Instil a love of reading’ mean? LATC has provided many answers here:
Selection is vital: Robin Alexander (2010), cited in Cliff Hodges (2010) discusses one of the twelve aims of primary education and reading as ‘Exciting the imagination’ so that children can advance their understanding, extend their experiences, contemplate the possibilities of the world, come to understand cause and effect, develop empathy and reflect on their own behaviour, to “become a more rounded person” (p.62).
In selecting resources that are high quality and representative of a variety of viewpoints, TLs are providing the tools needed to excite children’s imagination. LATC has provided a deeper understanding of the various genres and the diversity of literature that we can and should be using in the classroom and encouraging our students to read (Cornett, 2007).
Access is essential: A great collection that can’t be accessed by users is a waste of time and effort. Demonstrating to our students and mentoring teachers in accessing the collection in the physical sense as well as the digital sense is vitally important for developing the multi-literacies required for our students to be well-placed in the future (O’Connell, 2015). I like to call this ‘Wrangling Worms’. Understanding the differences between print and digital texts, leveraging the benefits of both and drawing them together, as we have, to create literary teaching and learning sequences and tools such as an e-Literacy Circle program and journal article demonstrate our collaborative capacity and capabilities, even when working RFF.
Promotion is imperative: If people don’t know it’s there, why bother? It is our job to energise and inform the teachers we work with and inspire our students and our school communities. We do this by creating communities of practice that are connected to the world outside of schools, that provide opportunities for our students and teachers to connect with others and demonstrate what we hope to achieve through our teaching – the skills to be critical, productive citizens.
Just as there is no one way to be a quality teacher, there is no one way to be a TL. LATC has shown me that literacy learning can be the basis for high quality, tech-embedded, collaborative, group and independent teaching and learning programs that meet curriculum aims as well as engage students in a meaningful and significant way.
- Cliff Hodges, G. (2010). Reasons for reading: why literature matters. Literacy, 44(2), 60-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-4369.2010.00552.x
- Cornett, C. E. (2007). Creating meaning through literature and the arts: an integration resource for classroom teachers (3rd ed.) Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.
- NSW Department of Education and Training. (2006). Three dimensions of quality teaching. In Professional Learning and Leadership Development. [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/proflearn/areas/qt/
- O’Connell, J. (2015, October). Pedagogy and School Libraries: Developing agile approaches in a digital age. [Slideshare]. Paper presented at Libraries for future learners, Sydney, Australia. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/heyjudeonline/pedagogy-and-school-libraries-developing-agile-approaches-in-a-digital-age-53686904