The role of the teacher librarian— a reflection
There are generally gaps between preconceived ideas and theories and actual reality and this certainly existed in the beginning of this ten-week learning journey discovering the world of the teacher librarian. The following reflection will summarise the most new and practical knowledge discovered during this intense study period. This reflection will be divided into three themes: teacher librarian and the school community; collaboration and professional practices; and pedagogy, learning and assessing.
Teacher librarian and the school community
The teacher librarian is an integral member of the school community who has a variety of roles and responsibilities and relationships extending from whole school management and organisation to individual students. This understanding of the extensive role of the teacher librarian is also described when comparing international, national and state professional teacher librarian standards statements as discussed by Armstrong (2010, 28 July).
A teacher librarian is a leader and advocate of information literacy and Henri (2005) and Herring (2007) discuss this and the vision of an information literate school community. These reading argue that the teacher librarian because of unique knowledge and professional and community relationships can play a vital role to establish, coordinate, manage and report on collaborative teaching activities that are centred on student learning. The most profound aspect of this is that a teacher librarian can build learning partnerships over the whole school to encourage a discourse of learning and sharing and improving that will permeate throughout the school community. This idea is most compelling as a beginning teacher who is struggling with the gaps between teaching and learning theories and actual school practice and a dream of what teaching and learning could be.
Collaboration and professional practices
The work of the teacher librarian also includes participation in planning and policy committees, curriculum and programming planning and membership of the school executive as discussed by Henri (2005). These collaborative roles place the teacher librarian in a position to advocate for resources and equipment and promote information literacy within all areas of the school. The teacher librarian is also a professional who must manage all aspects of the library from access to resource management.
Pedagogy, learning and assessing
An information literate school community is characterised by learning partnerships that focus on increasing student ability to access, analyse and use information for a variety of purposes. The teacher librarian does not work in isolation but collaborates with the principal and classroom teachers to develop information literacy skills of students through designing and implementing authentic research and information tasks for the classroom, computer laboratory and library. The inquiry-learning model as discussed by Kuhlthau, Maniotes and Caspari (2007) provides an excellent framework to build these learning plans as this model encourages students to construct knowledge through a series of scaffolded tasks and stages resulting in the creation of an assessable product. Information processing models provide a structure to teach researching skills. Therefore to actively fulfil this collaborative role a teacher librarian must have knowledge of available multimodal resources and knowledge of the curriculum, school learning programs, and individual students learning differences. This knowledge combined with action research initiatives that assess effectiveness of programs will benefit student learning.
When I began this course I thought that the teacher librarian role would be divided into collections maintenance, teaching basic cataloguing and research skills to students and promoting new resources. Library lessons would be divided between reading, skill development and borrowing. I was actually hesitant that this would not be professionally satisfying but I am relieved to discover that the work of the library extends to the whole school and its impact to teaching and learning is only limited by the efforts of the teacher librarian. This role is so much more and the skills in technology, communication, organisation and management developed before my teaching study will be called upon to deliver with my colleagues learning programs to build student information literacy skills. This learning journey has opened my eyes to the transformative role of teacher librarians and libraries as discussed by Hay and Foley (2009), a role that is dynamic and one that leads innovation in technology in a school. It is a role that inspires through demonstration of new practices and it is a role that communicates performance through presentation and reporting. A teacher librarian is no longer locked inside a library but influences and guides all school policy and practice. Today’s teacher librarian requires a passion for information and learning, a love of technology innovation and a determination to implement change to ensure students develop sound critical literacy skills needed to communicate in the 21 Century. I am inspired more than ever to complete these studies.
Armstrong, M. (2010, 28 July). MegTopic2TLRoleStatements. Retrieved from http://megantl.edu.glogster.com/megtopic2tlrolestatements/
Hay, L. & Foley, C. (2009). School libraries building capacity for student learning in 21C. Scan, 28 (3), 17–26)
Henri, J. (2005). Understanding the information literate school community. In J. Henri & M. Asselin (Eds.), The information literate school community 2: Issues of leadership (pp. 11–26). Australia: Charles Sturt University.
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.), Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27–42). Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. (Chapter One). Retrieved from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/guided_inquiry/introduction.html