The Melbourne Study Visit highlighted the diversity and richness of library and information agencies and emphasised the variety of opportunities available to us as students of Information Services. As a student who has only worked in school libraries, I found it extremely valuable to experience a broad range of library services and clientele and to listen to librarians talk about the challenges and rewards of working in this profession. I learned that across the sector there are many common challenges being faced by library and information agencies. Most organisations are finding it necessary to develop strategies to market and advocate the value of their role & services, many are struggling with funding and managerial support. This is very pertinent for those working in schools and it was helpful to see how others were handling these issues, adapting to change and working to improve communication, foster collaboration and form closer relationships with stakeholders and users. It was a great opportunity to meet other students, to talk about our experiences and ponder our future roles in the profession. I am reminded of the importance of connection and collaboration and intend, once my studies are complete, to keep the connections going through listservs, social media groups, association memberships and attendance of professional conferences. The learning that comes from these experiences is invaluable.
Staff Information Needs
Three factors to take into consideration before providing information services to teachers
- Time release for collaboration & planning
- Willingness and cooperation of staff
- ICT & information skill levels
Ten reasons why your next pathfinder should be a wiki … (Valenza, 2010)
Valenza (2010) states that Wiki pathfinders allow you to link with ease and upload all forms of content but most importantly she maintains that they are collaborative documents that can be built and contributed to by all members of the learning & teaching community. Teachers can use pathfinders to set up groups, upload Assignment tasks and assessment guides, host or link to presentations and showcase student work. Students can share their work, thoughts or ideas.
5 Key areas of effective information services in order of importance
Looking at both SLASA & ASLA recommendations, I consider the following to be the most important areas of information services
- to ensure that the library resource centre is multi-functional and a focal point for student learning
- to select resources to support the information needs of the school community (learning/teaching needs)
- to ensure the maximum use and access of resources (Information literacy support / Promotion/Reference interview)
- to manage the organization, storage and circulation of resources (Access)
- to provide the availability and use of information and communication technology (ICT) (Access)
Student information needs
The more information a TL can gather about the school community the more effectively they are able to provide pertinent and purposeful information services. Clearly understanding your user/community needs is crucial to resource selection and collection development. I like the School Community Profile Template because it considers all areas of importance.
- Characteristics – Age, gender, religion, language, interests
- reading/cognitive level
- social development level – individual needs
- socio-economic background – ethnicity, ESL, Access to internet and technology/devices
- Curriculum trends
- Attitudes & skills of teachers
What methods can a TL use to provide students with reminders of the information skills process?
- Posters on display such as, the information literacy model (followed by the school), website evaluation criteria, Boolean Operatives, Student friendly search engines
- Provide a variety of Step by step instructional guides – Use Prezi or moviemaker, create podcasts or brochures to engage students as well as guide them to search the library catalogue or web, databases and directories, to create mind maps etc…
Valenza, J. (2010). Ten reasons why your next pathfinder should be a wiki. Retrieved from http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/Ten+reasons+why+your+next+pathfinder+should+be+a+wiki
It seems there are many –
Logistics – Lack of time to meet and plan during working hours. If planning does occur it is usually done informally, chatting at recess or lunch, via email. it seems that allocated planning time is rare, particularly between classroom and specialist teachers.
Principal support – strong leadership and support of the process is crucial to facilitate opportunities for shared experience and learning.
Motivation – If there is no shared vision, there is no motivation to build collegial relationships. Sharing common goals and values motivates people to excel and learn (Senge, 2007, p.9)
Trust and respect – Lack of understanding and awareness of one another’s expertise prohibits commitment to collaborative relationships. Collaborative cultures value diversity (Fullan, 1999).
Fragmentation and overload V Connectedness (Senge, 2007)
I believe the teacher librarian does have a positive role to play in the curriculum. CPT provides the opportunity to share and combine expertise, to learn new skills, improve pedagogical knowledge, problem solve, build confidence, build respectful professional and personal relationships. Teacher librarians involved in collaborative instruction can have positive impact on student learning outcomes (Todd, 2008). Team teaching creates opportunity for individualised attention to students, promotion of library services and resources, better information literacy instruction (integrated learning), more effective class management.
What is an appropriate role for the teacher librarian in curriculum?
I’ve spent some time pondering this question and believe the opportunity to make the” ideal” situation “reality” will vary from school to school. After reading the literature, the forum posts, other experiences and my own, I keep coming back to the notion of “mutual trust, respect and appreciation”. If collaboration is to succeed, then this understanding must exist between all parties involved in the curriculum planning and development process (principal, curriculum leaders, teachers, ICT staff and teacher librarians). For some this may be a long road to travel where advocacy, promotion and leadership are the leading steps along the way. In some posts it has been mentioned that approaching teachers who have already shown interest or have established positive relationships with the TL is a good place to start – small steps.
When the teaching & learning environment is supportive, conducive & open to sharing, then, I believe TL’s can effectively collaborate in planning & developing curriculum. TL’s work with teachers to plan research projects by sharing skills and expertise (Barbara Combes, 2012) – sharing their knowledge of resources, selection/evaluation and access. TL’s integrate information literacy skills into the program at the planning stage, work with teachers to design structured/scaffold learning activities to develop higher order thinking skills in students. Activities that will teach students to manage, evaluate & cite information located. TL’s work with teachers (& ICT) to plan teaching strategies or design & incorporate activities that use technology to supplement the learning program e.g. brainstorming, note taking, communication and presentation tools. TL’s can further support the collaborative process by working with teachers and students in the classroom at certain stages of the program or outside the classroom to guide students further in their research or learning. Another vital way in which TL’s can share skills and expertise is by working with teacher’s to develop quality literature programs and provide access to the most appropriate tools and resources.
What benefits can a school obtain from active involvement?
Improvement in student learning experiences and outcomes. Positive relationships between all curriculum team members. More emphasis on the process of learning and building of knowledge than merely just regurgitation of content.
Combes, B. (2012). The learning and teaching context of information resource provision [ETL501 Module 1.1]. Retrieved August 12, 2012, from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL501_201260_W_D/page/a3f259ea-c828-4e4f-80ec-26eee70de0c7
This cool video was sent to me by a work colleague.
Gail Bush, Ph.D., professor in the National College of Education at National Louis University, Chicago