Insights gained about the role of the teacher librarian

Very early on in the study of this subject I maintained that the onus was on the teacher librarian (TL) to develop the role of teaching partner and to collaborate with departments on their programs (Carr, 2013a).  I also maintained that there is scope for TLs to do this (Carr, 2013a).  Having now worked in a teaching library for a term and a half I have come to the realisation that whilst this is true, the development of relationships and proposals for collaborative programs takes a considerable amount of time and teachers are very busy trying to fulfil their current programs.  Whilst I stated that our principal supports our library there is a still a lot more scope for TL and teacher collaboration.  I now consider that the onus rests very much on a mandate from the principal for academic departments to implement programs where TLs and teachers work together towards student achievement.  Without such a mandate the change towards collaboration will be too slow.  My earlier view was naïve and I now understand that the full and active support of the principal is critical if TLs are to properly fulfil their role as teaching partners (Oberg, 2006).   

With regard to advocating for more collaborative TL and teacher led programs my views regarding evidenced-based practice (EBP) have not changed (Carr, 2013b). In fact, in view of my opinion that principals should mandate collaborative teaching of TLs and teachers, I now view this practice as having even greater import.  Whilst EBP is important for advocating for the difference a TL can make to student outcomes it is important to consider that students’ parents also need to be made aware of the value TLs can add to student achievement.  Generally speaking the TL’s profile amongst parents is low, TLs are not present at parent teacher interviews and many parents probably have a view of the TLs role that is out-dated.  It is important that school libraries showcase their work through newsletters and events scheduled at the library to raise the profile of TLs.  TLs might even consider completing an action based research project that involves input from parents and which simultaneously demonstrates the effect TLs have on student learning and achievement.

After completion of the second essay for the TL Masters course, critically evaluating two information literacy models, I have come to a greater understanding of the scope and complexity of skills and attributes required by TLs to successfully implement inquiry based learning.  I touched on this role in my online journal for implementation of Guided Inquiry projects earlier in the course (Carr, 2012c).  Whilst many of these skills and attributes are part of a professional teacher’s role, I am struck by the extent to which TLs have to be flexible and adapt to student needs.  The nature of inquiry based projects necessitates that TLs have a number of strategies that they may need to call upon to help each individual learner on his or her unique learning journey.  Thus the need for TLs to be true professionals who update their professional development portfolios is vital if TLs are to use up-to-date researched strategies for personalised learning, life-long learning and use of technology.  Highly qualified TLs serve to raise the profile of the profession and help to raise the role of TLs as mentors and collaborators for staff.

I have also revised my earlier assertion on the Charles Sturt University (CSU) online forum (Carr, 2013d) that an information literacy (IL) policy should ‘perhaps’ be considered as a policy document of my school.  After careful consideration of what IL entails as outlined in my online journal (Carr, 2013e), I now consider that information literacy is core to the business of education and a policy document would serve to acknowledge its importance.

I acknowledge that TLs face many challenges, not least of which is the need to advocate for their position within a school.  I hope that in time, as the importance of inquiry based projects as integral for 21st century learning is realised, and as TL’s provide more evidence of their positive effect on student achievement, the profile of TL’s will be raised in the education community.  As mentioned on the CSU online forum, TL’s are challenged by the amount of time needed to properly implement guided inquiry approaches to learning (Carr, 2012f), but it is possible that principals may employ more TL’s to work on these projects once the worth of TL’s is realised.

 

Carr, M. (2013a). The role of the teacher librarian. In Learning Landscape, Reflections of a Teacher Librarian.  Retrieved from https://myvcarr.wordpress.com/

Carr, M. (2013b). The role of the TL and evidence-based practice. In Learning Landscape, Reflections of a Teacher Librarian.  Retrieved from https://myvcarr.wordpress.com/

Carr, M. (2013c).Implementing a Guided Inquiry approach-the role of the teacher librarian. In Learning Landscape, Reflections of a Teacher Librarian.  Retrieved from https://myvcarr.wordpress.com/

Carr, M. (2013d). Has the school in which you worked developed an information literacy policy?  Should this be an essential policy for a 21st century school? [online forum comment].  Retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201330_W_D/page/6db26a1a-5e70-42c2-0024-aed54dd1461f

Carr, M. (2013e).Information Literacy – theory and practice for 21st Century learning. In Learning Landscape, Reflections of a Teacher Librarian.  Retrieved from https://myvcarr.wordpress.com/

Carr, M. (2013f).  What advantages, challenges and/or disadvantages do you see for a TL wishing to implement a GI approach? [online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201330_W_D/page/a8049058-9750-444e-8054-0966873990f5

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian Vol 33/3  (13-18).

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One thought on “Insights gained about the role of the teacher librarian

  1. Pingback: Teacher Librarian Leadership and Collaboration | Learning Landscape

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