ETL 401: Assignment 2-Task C 

Introduction

    The key reason I signed up for MEd(TL) stems from an inner desire to find out more about the work of teacher librarians as this profession is almost non-existent in Singapore. The attempt by Ministry of Education (MOE) of  Singapore to introduce Information Literacy Programme in 1997 was short-lived (Mokhtar, Foo, & Majid, 2007). Since then, there was no other initiative or focus given to information literacy (IL) (Blog19 July). However, in contrast information technology (IT) initiatives implemented at the same time have somehow flourished and superseded IL initiatives (Mokhtar, et al., 2007). This imbalance is a cause for concern as IT is only a tool and an enabler for information access and use. Ignoring the IL component is tantamount to not providing a complete education to equip our students with critical survival skills.

Critical Synthesis

This sad state of affairs have prompted my decision to sign up for MEd(TL) so that I can at least try to make a difference for my students. The “desire to change and a commitment to keep learning new approaches to providing the best library program and materials to enable the students before me to succeed” by Dianne Chen (2009) struck a chord and will be my guiding mantra. Through the programme, I got to know inspiring practitioners such as Joyce Valenza, and Buffy Hamilton (Blog 24 Sept, 27 Sept).  These champions have shown true passion and grit to make a difference to the lives of their charges and they are certainly good role models for me to emulate!

Through the subject, I hope to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to remain relevant and to be able to contribute positively to my students’ learning (Blog 19 July). For a start, I will exercise my leadership role to convince the school management to see ‘the library as a vital part of school deserving support and to see it firstly, as a centre of learning and secondly a centre of resources and support’ (Herring, 2007). This mindset change is urgent especially in the context of my school where the constructive pedagogical approach has been widely adopted to engage the gifted learners. (Blog 19July).

I was able to fully appreciate the multi-faceted roles of a teacher librarian through readings by experts such as Herring (2007), Lamb & Johnson (2008) and Purcell (2010). I am certainly able to identify with the leader, instructional partner, information specialist, teacher, and programme administrator roles listed by Purcell (2010). (Forum 26 July; Blog 25 July) I also agree fully with Purcell that the administrative and clerical duties of cataloging and processing should be left to paraprofessional while the TL should focus more of her time and attention to actively engage students and to work collaboratively with teachers. In the light of changes to the educational landscape brought about by Web 2.0. I realized the importance of assuming the role of a technologist as advocated by Lamb & Johnson (2008). I was initially very daunted by the scope of knowledge and skills a technologist should embrace but after using a blog to journal my learning in ETL 401 and creating  a wiki pathfinder for ETL 501, I am now more confident and convinced that today’s TL must learn to harness Web 2.0 tools and use the power of technology to promote information fluency to our current net generation (Blog 25July).

The notion that information literacy has no agreed definition despite it being used since 1974 by Paul Zurkowski (Eisenberg, Lowe, & Spitzer, 2004) goes to show that it is a term that is dynamic and evolving based on the changing context. It was interesting to learn that there exists many IL Models (Big 6, Kulhthau’s ISP, NSW DET, PLUS) which have very similar stages in the information seeking process. Information literacy skills, I discovered, are critical skills for survival in today’s information driven society. I would like to be in a position to equip my students with the skills to exploit the current information environment and to be able to adapt and transfer their skills across time and context as technological innovations will constantly change and advance with time (Burke, 2010; Herring, 2011; Scott & O’Sullivan, 2005). I would like to be a part of ‘the new culture of education where  information fluency initiatives, Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 can impart lifelong learning skills beyond the academic environment’ (Lorenzo, 2007).

    Through ETL 401, I learnt that for any IL Programme to succeed, the conditions for T and TL collaboration as suggested by Haycock (2007) such as mutual trust, respect and personal commitment must be in place. Visionary leadership and support from the principal to provide the curriculum time and flexible scheduling will go far to ensure the success of the IL programme. I personally find people skills (such as tact, diplomacy and good listening skills) to be important in encouraging collaboration (Blog 12 Sept).

I learnt the importance of accountability through the concept of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP). I found the opening statement by Todd (2008), “If school librarians can’t prove they make a difference, they may cease to exist”, basically sums up the importance of EBP as strategy to measure accountability and through it brings about sustainable development of the school library profession. (Blog 8 Aug)

Conclusion
            In undertaking the critical synthesis of my reflection, I found my hazy notion of the role of the teacher librarian becoming clearer. The exercise helped to clarify, deepen and consolidate my understanding and have further convinced me of the important role of the teacher-librarian.

REFERENCES

Burke, M. (2010). Overcoming Challenges of the Technological Age by Teaching Information Literacy Skills. Community & Junior College Libraries, 16(4), 247-254.

Chen, D. (19 Oct 2009). “get out of my profession”.  Retrieved from http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/practicallyparadise/2009/10/19/get-out-of-my-profession/

Eisenberg, M. B., Lowe, C. A., & Spitzer, K. L. (2004). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age (2nd ed.)  Westport CT: Libraries Unlimited.

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

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.

Herring, J. (2011). Improving students’ web use and information literacy: Facet Publishing

Lamb, A., & Johnson, (2008). school library media specialist 2.0: a dynamic collaborator,
teacher, and technologist. Teacher Librarian, 36(2), 74-78.

Lorenzo, G. (2007). Catalysts for change: Information fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the New Education Culture. Retrieved from http://www.edpath.com/stn.htm

Mokhtar, I. A., Foo, S., & Majid, S. (2007). Bridging between information literacy and information technology in Singapore Schools: an exploratory study. Information Communication Technology, 1(4).

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books, right? a look at the roles of a
school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3-), 30-33.

Scott, T. J., & O’Sullivan, M. K. (2005). analyzing student search strategies: making a case for integrating information literacy skills into the curriculum. [Article]. Teacher Librarian, 33(1), 21-25.

Todd, R.J.(2008): The Evidence-Based Manifesto,School Library Journal,54(4)

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