Here are some of my personal reflections on essential readings by Haycock, K(2007) and Oberg, D(2006).

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learningSchool Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.

Agree fully with Haycock(2007) that for successful T and TL collaboration to bring about student achievement, several key conditions should be in place, examples:

1)    Professional development training for TL in areas of effective collaboration
2)    Personal commitment on both T and TL to work in partnership
3)    Mutual trust and respect between stake holders –T, TL, principals.
4)    Commitment of time as well as commitment  to find opportunities
for collaboration
5)    Visionary leadership and support from Principal
6)    Favourable administrative structures—flexible scheduling

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

In the article by Oberg (2006), Hartzell (2002) made a powerful observation which struck a cord, “teacher-librarians suffer from occupational invisibility and the occupational socialization of principals rarely focuses on libraries or TLs.”
Can’t agree more with the statement by Hartzell.

Another disconcerting statement by Hartzell (2002), “ TLs’ occupational invisibility is exercerbated by the low levels of librarianship education within the profession.” This issue is more glaring  in the context of S’pore schools scenario where most libraries are manned by library paraprofessionals whose job is to facilitate the administration of library circulation, cataloging and acquisition work. No such position of teacher-librarian in most S’pore schools.

To develop respect and support for TL from the school administrators, Oberg explored 3 areas:
1)    How does principal support the school library?
 i.      As a supervisor working directly with trs- as a model demonstrating
personal commitment.
ii.      As a manager enabling programme
iii.      As mentors providing visibility and importance
iv.      Support for teacher-librarian
2)    What do principals believe about TL & the school lib prog?
Based on research of principals who support sch lib prog & TL, they have positive perceptions about the contributions of the prog and TL to the teaching n learning in schools.
Some expected TL roles by principals:

  • In-servicing staff,
  • Cooperative planning & teaching
  • Collection development.
  • Key role in info literacy prog.

3)    How can TLs gain principal respect and support?
a) By building their professional credibility-
 i.      being an expert in TLship
ii.      as school leaders & agents of change.
iii.      Have qualification of both teachers and librarianship.
iv.      contribute towards in-servicing staff,
v.      cooperative planning and teaching,
vi.      collection devt
vii.      Develop deep and rich understanding of resource-based and inquiry
base learning.
viii.     Integrated resource-based instruction is most effective means of acquiring
information skills.

b) By  communicating effectively with principal
 i.     Clearly explain to P the goals of school library prog & role of TL.
ii.      Explain TLs professional needs, both in terms of mentoring and
professional devt.
c) By working to advance school goal/mission
 i.      TL needs to be seen as ally of the school by promoting principals mission and
vision.
ii.      Help P see the strong library prog with school goals

Read these two opinion pieces from Prof Gary Hartzell

1)    Current administrators did not benefit from the contributions of TL while they were in school and many have remained clueless on the role  f current TL. They still hold the notion that librarians are custodians of books and are perhaps busy with shelving. Nothing much have been done to enlighten administrative staff of the new roles played by TL
2)    Few tr-training programmes provide any information on how librarians can contribute top school effectiveness.
3)    Trs are still trained as independent operators in the classroom. Not much by way of collaborative teaching with TL is highlighted in school. No such possibility in S’pore context.
4)    Bec TL empowers others, his/her work may  suffer , “absorbability” (Hartgell, 2002) which cloud the administrators awareness of TL’s contributions. This i feel is one strong reasons why the work of the TL is never really understood by many others.
5)    TL have not been promoting themselves or their profession. Many administrators may not see the work and responsibilities too clearly. This i reckon could be due to the fact that there are very few TLs in any one school compared to academic curriculum where performance indicators of Ts are a lot clearer than those of TLs.

What can be done to raise the profile of TL?

1)    Learn what the library can offer

2)    Reconceptualizing the library and its role in the school. Is library seen as  a
‘cost or investment’ in the eyes of the school?

3)    Behind every successful library prog is a dynamic librarian and a committed
principal!! Can’t agree more that the principal and admin support is most
crucial.

Concerns raised by Hartzell in his blog entry ‘Librarian-proof libraries?‘ (posted on Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk blog in 2009)

Here, Hartzell shares the belief that the success of any library programme is very much dependent on the TL-how interesting or dynamic TL is. It is the TL who ‘breathe life into the prog’ and that it is a mistake to think that anyone can attain success once the library curriculum is established.

Based on your reading to date, how do principals within your experience ‘stack up’ against this? What can you do?

The current principal of my school has some exposure to library development scene in S’pore and given this context, she is by far one principal who has some sense of appreciation of the value of a TL in our school. However, given the many academic curricular matters and new key initiatives that have outcomes aligned more closely to the school’s mission, the library’s role may seem insignificant.  This means more effort needed to promote and profile the library in order to gain more support!

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