Monthly Archives: March 2013

The practice of leadership in a school library, my understanding …

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It is my belief, that before anything else, to be successful school leaders teacher librarians must begin with clear goals and a strong sense of purpose. Focused TL’s will confidently deliver exemplary library services and implement quality library programs that enrich teaching and improve student learning. Effective teacher librarians must also lead for change, in a ubiquitous and ever-changing technology environment, TL’s must be attentive and adaptable to the shifting needs of the learning community and, adept and proactive in making the necessary decisions and changes required to achieve their goals.

It is my understanding that teacher librarians can effectively practice leadership in school libraries by adhering to the following principles:

Lead self for learning

Continual professional and personal development.

TL’s understand the importance of continuous improvement and self-development and commit to sustaining high levels of professional knowledge. Leading TL’s keep up to date with current & future trends in literacy, technology, information retrieval and information literacy education & implementation. Proactive TL’s become actively involved in outside networks (join groups, subscribe to blogs, attend conferences) in order to learn from others as well as share ideas and knowledge.

Sustain knowledge of curriculum and community.

Effective TL’s “Seek first to understand, & then to be understood”(Covey in Marzano et al, 2005, p.21); in order to determine the teaching and learning needs of the community the TL must be proficient in attaining and maintaining knowledge of school curriculum, culture &community. TL’s must be skilful at observing, collecting and analysing data to ensure library programs and resources reflect the needs of all students and teachers.

Lead others for learning and change

Promote and model a culture of openness, sharing, collaboration and empowerment.

As authentic leaders, TL’s actively nurture and advocate collaborative, open relationships with teachers and stakeholders in order to:

  • Create and implement quality, well-resourced library programs that result in positive student learning outcomes.
  • Build viable collections relevant to the changing needs of users
  • Share knowledge, information, expertise and intelligence
  • Promote and maximise library services

TL’s demonstrate leadership by strongly supporting and encouraging instructional partnerships that integrate collaborative planning and teaching opportunities; partnerships that facilitate personal learning and promote the sharing of professional knowledge and expertise.

TL’s lead the way in creating positive learning environments and empowering others to be independent, effective users of information and technology by providing training & information sessions to all in the learning community, by instigating collaborative learning projects, creating online learning resources (wikis & blogs, Google docs) and using social media to communicate and inform.

Teacher librarians model transparent leadership by overtly promoting library services, clearly communicating common goals and involving others in the development of policy and processes.  To foster continual improvement and growth and to engender a sense of ownership and commitment to the library program, TL’s encourage constructive dialogue and endorse input from all members of the teaching & learning community. Providing opportunities for others to be included in the evaluation and review of library, programs and practices demonstrates flexibility, open-mindedness and the ability to adapt to the changing needs of today’s education environment.


Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership.  School leadership that works: from research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development;. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/docDetail.action?docID=10089219

7 steps to problem solving – Primary Scenario

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Use the 7 steps to problem solving to solve the following scenario.

Relief from face to face teaching for classroom teachers is covered by the TL. This means that it is difficult to plan any collaborative teaching opportunities with the teachers. You are also concerned that the students learning in the library may not be contextually relevant to their learning in the classroom. How could you approach this problem?

1. Define & identify the problem

I consider the problem in this scenario to be disconnection. Collaboration between classroom teacher and teacher librarian is an issue; instructional partnerships have not been facilitated or established within the school. One of the TL’s clear goals is to develop a teaching program that is relevant and connects to student learning in the classroom, yet in this scenario, teachers regard the library program as merely time release. TL feels frustrated, isolated and lacks confidence. ( This is a very real scenario, I see it occurring in one of my jobs and an attempt to rectify it in another)

2. Analyse the problem

Investigate reasons for current attitudes and practice. Initiate discussions with Head of Library (if there is one!) HOL’s or teachers, ask questions about library history & role, time tabling, after school responsibilities and time release for planning or assessment. Use these discussions to understand possible causes of time fatigue, apathy or lack of understanding of TL role. (Personally, I would find initiating these discussions quite challenging and would need to step outside the square)

3. Identify possible solutions

In this step I would arrange for the opportunity to raise these issues at a staff meeting. Perhaps arrange a meeting beforehand with team leaders.  Address the issues and establish early on whether leadership agrees there is a problem? Express your feelings, advocate your role & your connection to curriculum and student learning (takes courage & confidence), present professional data, reports etc. as evidence (takes knowledge & conviction). Suggest a brainstorming session for all staff to recognise, clarify & understand the problems; aim for all staff to be included to come up with a range of workable solutions. 

4. Select the best solutions

At the staff meeting discuss the issues, instigate the brainstorming session and create a list of the most achievable/realistic solutions. Establish what is needed for the solutions to work, for example, leadership & group support, collaborative planning time (or alternative proposals e.g, skype, blogs, wikis), collaborative teaching opportunities (TL to work with teachers in the classroom at different times of the inquiry cycle or teachers to participate in library sessions). (Again, I would find this quite challenging, especially if there wasn’t much support. The most difficult step. Need to be confident & resilient – to handle and manage negativity)

5. Evaluating solutions

As mentioned on the website, organise the group to weigh up and record the pros and cons of all solutions. As a group determine priorities? 

6. Develop an action plan

I would approach this in small steps. Establish a workable timeline, allow time for agreed changes to take place and time to reconvene to analyse/discuss results. Agree to start with one or two willing teachers to trial the new solutions; plan to share reflections and outcomes. (Is this being intuitive or just lacking in confidence?)

7. Implement Solutions

As above, follow up with administration, ensure that you have the allocated planning time/classroom time/library time with nominated teachers. Evaluate results.

My initial thoughts on leadership

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My initial understanding of leadership is based on personal experience, and the leaders I have encountered so far. Leaders such as teachers, lecturers,  principals, employers, team managers and coordinators. Few have been inspirational, some have been extraordinary.

For me, effective  leadership encompasses the following abilities, attributes and behaviour:

  • The ability to communicate effectively and confidently- to set clear goals and expectations; the ability to create a shared vision/common goal; to inspire and motivate followers.
  • The ability to understand people, have strong interpersonal skills –  show empathy, be able to listen, show diplomacy, nurture;
  • The ability to develop an environment based on trust by modelling respect, openness, honesty and integrity;  encourage new ideas, share information/knowledge and accept input.
  • Facilitates collaboration and teamwork; promotes collaborative decision making;
  • Supports and empowers all members of team – identifies strengths & weaknesses; mentors to guide, challenge and grow. Promotes & supports positive self development and behaviour; recognises effort and performance;
  • The ability to adapt to change (not be afraid to take risks or fail); move with or predict change/future trends; be positive/forward thinking; [Resilient];
  • Knowledge and expertise.