A very timely report!
At the commencement of ETL504 we were asked to comment and share our thoughts on leadership. Looking back on this forum post reminds me how simple I considered this task to be. In summary, I believed leadership was the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively, to lead by example and to be a risk taker, unafraid of change (Wardlaw, G. 2013, March 13). How clear it all seemed. The more I read about leadership, the more doubtful I became about my own leadership skills, attributes and style. Knowing that I am usually quite introverted, more comfortable following than leading, I found the concept of leadership as a key role for the teacher librarian to be quite daunting.
As we draw to the end of this subject I realise that I have learned so much more about the complexities and qualities of leadership. I have learned that there are many different leadership theories and styles and have identified those that best suit my future role as a teacher librarian. The styles that resonate with me are:
Transformational leadership, leadership that is focused on change (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005, p. 14). Leadership that is inspirational and motivational to others.
Authentic Leadership, leadership that is transparent and ethical and encourages openness in sharing information (Avolio, Walumbwa & Weber, 2009, p.423), that demonstrates integrity and builds “relational trust” (Sergiovanni, 2005, p.117).
Distributed leadership, leadership that acknowledges civility and “welcomes diversity” (Sergiovanni, 2005, p.120), that empowers others to take risks, explore new ideas and share the responsibility of decision making.
Strategic leadership, leadership that demonstrates a clear sense of direction, that can predict and articulate future trends and influence future outcomes.
I have come to understand that the ability to build relational trust (to engender respect, loyalty and trust) is an important quality of strong leadership and is vital for developing a supportive work culture. (Sergiovanni, 2005, p. 119)
The following attributes contribute to building rational trust:
Emotional intelligence: the ability to communicate effectively, to genuinely listen and show empathy, the ability to self-regulate and remain calm in situations of conflict.
Authenticity: the ability to lead by example, to model positive, ethical behaviours, to demonstrate genuine openness, integrity and honesty also engender respect, loyalty and trust.
I have built on the notion that leadership is all about change and that” Great leadership empowers a vision to become a reality” (Crotty, 2013). Effective leaders advocate certain behaviours and attitudes to successfully lead change, they create a culture of openness and uphold to the following principles: collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment (Tapscott, 2012).
I have also had to address the daunting issue of problem solving and decision-making; aspects to leadership that always make me feel uncomfortable. However, discovering that there are processes and strategies available to make this experience less intimidating was enlightening. I found the “7 steps to problem solving” gave structure to the process and will be useful to use in future problem solving scenarios.
In my life, I have worked in a number of roles and in a number of different teams and although I had already considered the importance of effective communication and collaboration to leadership, until now, I had not considered leadership’s contribution to successful team building and collegiality. Good leaders have the ability to create a positive collaborative culture, create a sense of belonging and community. Effective leadership develops talent and personal growth through positive feedback, acknowledgment and appreciation. Supportive leadership remembers to celebrate achievement no matter how small. Leadership advocates continuous improvement within teams, supporting professional learning and reflective practice.
Finally, I have come to understand the importance of strategic planning and the important role leadership has in planning for change. Before commencing this subject I hadn’t even seen a strategic plan let alone attempt to create one. The journey has been enormous and quite daunting at times. I am still unsure if I fully understand the process but hope I will get the opportunity to do more in the future.
Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F., & Weber, T. J. (2009, September 14). Leadership: Current Theories, Research, and Future Directions. DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1036&context=managementfacpub
Crotty, R. (2013). Leading change [ETL504 Module 2.1]. Retrieved May a6, 2013, from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL504_201330_W_D/page/2179fa2f-bbfd-4f13-803d-da9d7fd8c83e
Sergiovanni, T. (2005). The Virtues of Leadership. The Educational Forum, 69(Winter), 112-123. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/7375166/Sergiovanni-Thomas-Virtues-of-Leadership
Tapscott, D. (2012). Don Tapscott: Four principles for the open world. TEDGlobal 2012. Retrieved, May 16, 2013, from http://www.ted.com/talks/don_tapscott_four_principles_for_the_open_world_1.html
Wardlaw, G (2013, march 13). My understanding of leadership [online forum comment]. retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL504_201330_W_D/page/dba28d8b-577d-4280-00cd-ca863f483083
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:
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
I need to share some thoughts on a recent conversation regarding censorship and school libraries. As a retired librarian, a colleague volunteers in her grandchildren’s primary school library. This library is managed by a teacher who has worked in the school for over 20 years. As it happened, my colleague found a book (senior fiction) in the back room which had some pages ripped out. Concerned, she mentioned it to the librarian who protested that such a “disgusting” book would not be held in her library. A parent had complained about the book, the librarian had agreed, and tore out the offensive pages. Understandably, my colleague was lost for words. My questions … Who is responsible for resourcing the collection? Is there a selection policy and if so, why was that title selected?
The current situation of this school library causes me to reflect on my learning in ETL503 & 401. I wonder about the role of the library in this particular school. There is ample funding for new resources and a new Library Management System, yet no funding for qualified staff, who is the decision maker here? Is it the principal, the teacher managing the library, or the administration staff? Does anyone care? Who is selecting and acquiring resources, under what criteria are they chosen, is there a collection management policy and if so, is it ever consulted or updated? Is the principal aware of parent complaints or of books having pages ripped out? Who is ultimately responsible for this collection? I am constantly reminded of the indifference, the lack of appreciation for the role of the library, its staff and its resources. There is continued debate about the future of school libraries. Alarmingly, it seems that more often than not, it is the school principal and/or other important stakeholders, those who manage school funding that have the final say and will ultimately determine the continued existence of the school library.
I love this poster by Joyce Valenza. It really captures and affirms the role of teacher librarian as information literacy leader/specialist/teacher. The poster however, reminds me that teaching information literacy, although important, fits only some of the role statements (SLASA, 2003) or Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians (ASLA, 2004) in relation to teaching and learning. Where does teaching literacy and literature promotion fit into “what do TL’s teach”? According to ASLA’s standards, excellent teacher librarians should also “foster an environment where learners are encouraged and empowered to read, view, listen and respond for understanding andenjoyment“. SLASA’s Role Statement clearly outlines that Literature promotion is also a key role of the teacher librarian. Exposing students to a range of genres, fostering a love of reading for leisure, promoting quality literature and collaborating with teacher’s to develop literature based reading programs is also an important role of the TL.
Australian School Library Association. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.htm
School Library Association of South Australia. (2008). Teacher librarian role statement. Retrieved from http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html
After spending (what seems like days) reading about the many, multifaceted roles of the Teacher Librarian, I can only agree with the statement that effective implementation of the TL role (or any one aspect of the role) cannot be performed without the support of others and that “Differing perceptions between librarians, principals, and teachers about the role of the school library media specialist can be a significant barrier to implementing change” (Purcell, 2010).
How is it possible to perform any number of the following roles : teacher leader, technologist, collaborator (Lamb & Johnson, 2008); leader, information specialist, teacher, program administrator, instructional partner (Purcell, 2010); librarian, teacher, information services manager, information literacy leader, curriculum leader, information specialist, instructional partner, website developer, budget manager, staff manager (Herring, 2007) if you: are only employed part time, are not a qualified TL, have no administrative support, have no regular PD, have little RFF, are not included in curriculum development/planning, not available to attend staff meetings or are given a limited budget? From my own experience and from reading many of the forum comments, I can only surmise that the aforementioned “barriers” are a result of principals, school board members, heads of learning, parents and teachers not knowing or understanding the multifaceted role of the teacher librarian.
It has become startlingly apparent that advocacy, leadership and evidence based practice are key to getting the message out there.
Feeling quite overwhelmed and pondering the long road ahead.
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, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University
Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2004-2010). The school library media specialist. In Library media program: accountability. Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/accountability.html
Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.