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