Monday, November 15, 2010

Here we go again....

This trimester I am enrolled in EER500 and ETL503. It was with great trepidation that I printed off subject outlines and started trawling through and attempting to get my head around the tasks involved in the units of work.
Last semester I completed ETL401 and ETL501, only just scraping through ETL401.
Even though the subjects were challenging, the new learning felt amazing. Creating a wiki and a blog has informed my ICT knowledge and I have incorporated this into my own teaching.
I have found the start of this semester easier as I already have an understanding of how to use the my.csu website, and also having completed 401 and 501 I have some prior knowledge.
I am awaiting a text book, have started an assignment, completed module one and made introductions. I'm exhausted and it's only day one.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Part C: Critical Synthesis & Reflection of Teacher Librarian

As a result of my engagement in readings, web forum discussions, research, discussions with members of the school library and other staff from the school I work at, formal and informal discourse with members of ETL401 and ETL501 classes, and completion of assessment tasks in both ETL401 and ETL501, my view of the role of the teacher librarian (TL) has changed. Some of the major things I discovered were the level of expertise in ICT required by the TL, the leadership required to complete the role, commitment to creating an information literate school community, the high level of collegiality with staff, students and parents, the depth in pedagogical understandings, the relationship with the Principal, and the understanding of information literacy.

My understanding of the role of TL was extremely limited at the start of this subject. This is because my involvement in the school library had been in coordinating a reading program and student research. My focus on the library and the role of TL was organising books and finding resources. It was not until Module Two "The Role of the Teacher Librarian" and the direction to the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) (2004) standards of excellence for TLs that I realised the depth to the profession (Fitzgerald, 2010). This was further developed by forum discussion and consolidated more recently in a post by Joyce Valenza (2010) in library magazine VOYA, "it is clear that the concept of modern teacher librarian practice is not clear".

In readings by Henri (2005), I realised the TL role required a great amount of collaboration and collegiality. My view of the TL role had been that they worked in some isolation, in a different office space and area of the school. As I am not always in the library at school I do not see the relationships TLs have with other staff and the work they do together. The role of the TL requires active collaboration and collegiality with all staff, administrators and school Principal. After discussion with the TL at my school, and readings by Oberg (2006) and Haycock (2005) I have learnt that the support needed from leadership is vital. When applying for future roles as a TL I will be aware of the Principal's support for the library, as this impacts on the depth of the TL role.

It was early in the subject that I was introduced to the 'Information Search Process' by Carol Kuhlthau (2004). This was in the form of a PowerPoint and an analogy of a river produced by Laycock and Fitzgerald (n.d.) I enjoyed the analogy and could relate this approach to my students; however I did not at this stage relate this process to my own learning journey and role as TL. This is because like Oberg and Henri (2005) suggest, teachers need to see the benefits of new tools before committing. Looking back now I can see the value of the process and utilising this resource may have assisted in owning, and understanding, the new information literacy skills I was developing. The role of the TL requires a deep understanding of pedagogical and information literacy knowledge, not only to teach, but to model. This is the part that I find most difficult; changing and implementing new ideas to my own practices. Due to time constraints and pressures to complete other jobs I don't take time to learn new ways and change old habits.

A significant realisation for someone who is not very ICT savvy has been the great amount of ICT knowledge the TL requires for the role. I did not understand the level of expertise expected in the role. This is because I had always focused on the library as a place for reading and borrowing books and gathering resources. The role of the TL requires being an expert in the ICT field "Comprehensively understand the role of information and communication technologies in lifelong learning" (ASLA, 2004). My learning in this area has been enormous and a critical part of my developing TL skills. I can now create a blog and a wiki and I have developed my search strategies and knowledge of search engines. The more I see the benefits of these new skills, and the more I read about, the less I am using Google to search for everything. Herring (2004) suggests "no single search engine should be used for all types of searches" (p.27).

Recommendations to join wikis, blogs and listservs, and ideas generated from discussion on forums and the Head Librarian at my school, has further contributed to my new understanding of the role of the TL. In the Topic Six Forum I mention that I aim to "start challenging thinking and provide new opportunities and change within the curriculum" and I hope that my understanding of the role of the TL and the new learning it has created will assist this development (Coffey, 2010).

Word Count: 822


Australian School Library Association, (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher

librarians. Retrieved from

Coffey, R. (2010, September 5). 'Management', (Online forum comment). Retrieved from

Fitzgerald, L. (2010). The Role of the Teacher Libarian (ETL401Module2.2).

Retrieved September, 2010, from Charles Sturt University website :

Haycock, K. (2005). 'Systems issues and the information literate school community', in J.Henri and M. Asselin (Eds.), The Information Literate School Community 2, pp. 177-186, Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Henri, J. (2005). 'Understanding the information literate school community', in J.Henri and M.Asselin (Eds.), The Information Literate School Community 2, pp. 135-145, Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Herring, J. (2004). 'The internet', in The internet and information skills a guide for teachers and school librarians, London: Facet Publishing, pp. 21-43.

Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Information Search Process. Retrieved from

Laycock, D. & Fitzgerald, L. (n.d.). The Information Search Process: The Research River (Power Point slides). Retrieved September 2010, from Charles Sturt University Website:

Oberg, D. (2006). 'Developing the respect and support of school administrators', in Teacher Librarian: The journal for school library professionals, 33 (3), 13-18. Retrieved from

Oberg, D., & Henri, J. (2005). 'The leadership role of a Principal in an information literate school community', in J.Henri and M.Asselin (Eds.) The Information Literate School Community 2, pp. 78-92, Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Valenza, J. (2010). 'Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians', in VOYA Magazine. Retrieved from

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Topic 6: Management

Something I could do to be more productive in my workplace is to not do something "cos thats the way its always been done". I need to start challenging thinking and provide new opportunities and change within the curriculum. This will hopefully produce better results from students and new and innovative ways of learning and teaching.An example of this is not teaching the year 9 text according to the structure that we always use and implementing different forums to exercise understanding of the themes and issues relating to the text. This does take time and energy and collaboration- but it will create new thinking, different levels of engagement, new learnings and incorporation of ICT.
Influential colleagues are those who do keep changing and implementing new strategies for learning and teaching. They study and learn and are willing to work with staff to try new things. They do not settle for whats always been done.
I really liked reading through Gilman's "The Four Habits of Highly Effective Librarians" (2007). I feel like I have come along way and am on the road to being a more effective librarian. For my next annual review it might be worthwhile for me to use these as markers for improving my practice. It would also give me an idea of how my colleagues view me and where they see my areas of need for improvement is.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Topic 5- Collaborative Planning and Teaching

This week's topic was really relative for me. Colleagues and I have been attempting to instil collegial planning time to discuss our week ahead of learning and teaching and reflect on the week gone.
This has been anywhere between a ten to forty minute session and usually results in the week ahead planned and resources copied and developed. It is some of the most beneficial time of my whole week and it makes me wonder why there is not SOOOO much more of it happening.

Some reasons why it does happen:
* the two other staff members I plan with are good friends
* we work in the same office
* we share similar values and ideas
* we have planning opportunities together on a Friday

Some reasons why it doesn't happen more often:
* Staff don't get along
* Different offices
* Different approaches to teaching
* Unwillingness to change
* Unaware of the great benefits

The following quote off the Topic 5 module summed up my school:
"Schools that underplay collaboration are likely to focus on classroom management and teacher routines rather than on learning."

Also in the Todd reading:
"The strong belief in the value of instructional collaborations was tested by the day to day pressures of a school."

I often feel like I dont have the time to improve and be innovative and reflect and try new ideas because there is just SOOO much happening within the curriculum of the school community. There needs to be time available for this collegial planning to occur. Time is the single most important factor, followed by willingness of teachers to change their practices towards developing more team based approaches. As far as the Teacher Librarian is concerned, in a school where strong collaborative planning and teaching exists the involvement of the TL will be much easier and teachers more open and willing. In a school where there is less evidence of CPT it will be far more difficult for the TL.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Topic 4

I found the Louisiana Information Literacy Model for Lifelong Learning really appropriate for my situation. A great process I feel could be adapted to suit my students and school.
Some of the models, for instance the 8W's, I found immature and not appropriate for secondary schools. I also thought the 8W's was confusing- "Waving" "Wondering"- I really liked models that included reflection as part of the process. Too often in all parts of our lives we do not stop to reflect; reflection is a powerful tool.
The Alberta Model had a step called "Information sharing". I liked this, as similar to reflection, we do not do this enough and we all know students learn the most when involved in peer teach type situations.
A common feature in the ILM was defining the task. This is such an important part of the process as it allows students to put the problem into their own words. A great place to start!!

Topic 3

After doing the research and readings on resource based learning (RBL) it has become clear to me that a lot of practices teachers have are RBL or close to RBL. Some steps are accomplished, some parts of the process occur, but often not all. I think the problem teachers are facing is in allowing time for students to really become engaged by topics and complete the research. There is a tendancy to instruct in an attempt to inform learners as they may run short of time. This is where the teacher librarian (TL) needs to be active. They can assist the teacher to ensure all students have the opportunity to become engaged in RBL. It is essential that there is collaboration in the planning process to ensure TL and teacher are working towards common goals, and if possible TL opportunity to be present and active throughout the research time to assist the teacher to reach all students in facilitating their research. Thorough preparation and planning will assist in ensuring learning opportunities are not wasted.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Topic 2

The school I work at has a great information and resource centre. It is co-ordinated by a teacher librarian who has recently graduated and so is up to date and aware of what it means to be an information literate school community. She recently reviewed the TL role statement and it reflects ALIA standards.
AS far as I am aware our Principal is a forward thinking driven leader and supports initiatives in the library.
This may be a bit naive and as I learn more and talk to a few of the staff I may find different perspectives.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Topic One Reflection

  • Resource Based Learning- an essential and worthwhile learning strategy that empowers students with the skills to learn through their own investigation, facilitated not driven or dictated by the teacher.
  • Key Words- investigate, discover, analyse, evaluate, develop, create.
  • The Teacher Librarian and the school library is a pivotal part of the school community. The teacher-librarian needs to work with teachers to provide students with learning opportunities that reflect the requirements of 21st Century thinking.
  • The school library is a centre for learning first and resources second.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blogs 'bout books

Welcome to my blog. It's very exciting getting everything started, overwhelming too!!
I am going to put up some book reviews and try to get a bit of a book blab going on my blog so please visit me and keep me updated on what you're reading too. My job at school entails engaging middle school boys in reading and keeping them doing so with a constant supply of great books and so I always love recommendations.
Thanks for visiting.