January 28 2017

What’s a TL do anyway?

ETL507 Reflective Portfolio Part 1 – The Role of the Teacher Librarian

Action figure librarian, by Jan Eliot (http://librarycartoons.wordpress.com)

As I’ve worked my way through my Masters and come to grips with what it is I’m actually supposed to do in this weird and wonderful role, I’ve been hugely influenced by some significant figures in library land. Karen Bonanno’s reflections on the importance of advocating for the role of TL and its importance in relation to colleagues was a significant realization for me – I’m not just doing my job, I’m representing the importance of my profession in my school (Bonanno, 2011). The critical role of TL’s as the primary point of call for the 21st century learner, preparing students for the complexities of the 21st century information and learning landscape, is an idea that still resonates with me 2 years after I first discovered it (Khulthau, 2010, p17). Lamb’s powerful exhortation about my strength as a TL lying in my ability to partner with teachers sits strongly with me, as I recognize the profound impact that I can have on the curricular goals of the school, on student achievement, and on student engagement (Lamb, 2010). These ideas are all ones I strive to live up to, as I work my way into the role of TL and aim to honour that role at Evans High School.

ASLA 2011. Karen Bonanno, Keynote speaker: A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan from CSU-SIS Learning Centre on Vimeo.

Sometimes I’m more conscious of how far I have to go in establishing the importance of the role of TL in our school and developing these essential connections between staff, than I am of how far we have come. There are still faculties with whom I’ve not done as much collaboration as I would like, and my goal in the coming year is to explore ways in which I can foster these connections and solidify my importance to them as an information resource and a teaching and learning partner. It was gratifying, then, when asking colleagues for some feedback as to how they see the role of Teacher Librarian in our school and the impact I have had in my time in the library to get some positive affirmations about how they saw my role and the successes I’ve had.

‘In her three years as teacher librarian, Tamara has reinvigorated the library, turning it into a vibrant learning hub at Evans HS. The reimagining of the fiction and non fiction collections have been tailored to student need, interest and the myriad of learning abilities and English language proficiency at EHS. Further, Tamara has worked with teaching and executive staff to deliver a vast array of new teaching and learning activities and experiences.’ DM, EHS Exec member.

Over the past three years, I have worked with numerous staff to look at the role of our library in the larger organism that is our school. I’ve also come to grips with my own role within the library, and within the wider context of our school, and the complex relationships that form our staffing and management structure. I hadn’t really considered that my role involved elements of leadership, however, and that, for me, was a challenging aspect of my Masters study to wrap my head around – partly because I’ve never aspired to leadership positions, and partly because I found it difficult to reconcile what I perceived my own personality type to be with the kinds of traits I considered needed to be possessed by those who were “leaders”. I was inspired through my study of ETL504 Teacher Librarian as leader, to reconsider my role as leader – to recognize that leadership isn’t a title, but a role you adopt (Rodgers, 2014). As a result, I’ve taken ownership of my role as teacher librarian, embraced the ways in which I can lead the school. Fishburne’s (n.d.) discussion of leader as editor resonated strongly with me – the notion of the teacher librarian as one who synthesises the ideas and input from individuals into a cohesive story. The success of this endeavor lies in the strength of connections to develop effective teams (Aguilar, n.d.), which has been a key indicator of the types of interactions I have worked hard to establish.

For example, after liaising with staff across all faculties, and establishing the need for greater academic rigor in regards to academic research and referencing, I developed a research and referencing handbook. This was presented to the executive for approval, introduced to staff as part of a professional development session, and implemented across the whole school through library lessons at the beginning of the year, and research lessons with classes as relevant faculty tasks arose. I worked with head teachers and faculties to establish individual subject area needs, and developed plans to meet these needs, with both research and resource development to support teaching and learning. I worked closely with the teacher of a yr7 HSIE class, who wasn’t confident in delivering research skills lessons to her students, and designed resources that supported her in this challenging task, as well as team teaching the lesson to assist her in developing her skills in this area.

“Ms Rodgers had my Year 7 class in the library. She prepared work sheets and provided fantastic resources for the students to complete the research task. The students enjoyed the lesson and learnt quite a lot from it as we talked about it later and referred to the activity in other lessons as well. I learned a lot, too, and feel more confident about teaching research lessons in the future.” LM, EHS HSIE Teacher. 

I love my job, and I’m extraordinarily privileged to explore the many and varied opportunities my role affords me. I’m looking forward to continuing to develop my skills, as I work with the staff and students of Evans High School to create a library which we call be proud of.

Where to from here?

Back to the beginning – Introduction

Part 1 – The Role of the Teacher Librarian (you are here)

Part 2 – ICT and the Library

Part 3 – Literacy and Literature

Part 4 – Conclusion and References



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Posted January 28, 2017 by Tamara Reads in category Uni Life: MEd (TL)

About the Author

She/her. On Whadjuk Noongar land. NSWPRC Officer, Teacher Librarian, English teacher and social media advocate. I've been teaching in Western Sydney for my entire teaching career, and love my job more than I love Neil Gaiman. (That's a lot, in case you're wondering!) I stalk authors (but always politely), fangirl over books, and drink coffee. And one of my guilty prides about my children is that they all have favourite authors. All opinions are my own.

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