ETL 401: Assignment 2-Task C
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 However, in contrast information technology (IT) initiatives implemented at the same time have somehow flourished and superseded IL initiatives (Mokhtar, et al., 2007).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.
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)
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.
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 learning. School 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)
This set of slides by Buffy Hamilton is truly insightful and relevant for those of us trying to see how information literacy definition can be expanded and transformed for Today’s students.
While reading for my assignment, i came across the above teachertube clip that really impacted me. Our students (digital natives) are pleading to be engaged via digital technology. They are Web 2.0 ready but the classroom, teacher, curriculum and school are still not keeping pace with them. Explains why many are bored in the classroom. An urgent challenge for digital immigrants like me to start catching up and fast for that matter!!
Articles by Todd (2003) and (2008) have provided interesting read on the need for TL to systematically document their contributions and value-addedness to the students learning and achievement.
- Todd, R.J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement, School Library Journal.
Enjoyed this article by Todd(2003) where he shared the story of Di Wilson, a school librarian, who has over more than 15 years, stashed away a storehouse of evidence that shows her relevance to student learning. Through her meaningful and successful collaborative programmes, she successfully gained school-wide respect which resulted in her gaining positive support from the school management. This case study points to the importance of evidence-based practice of systematically documenting how TLs make a difference in student learning and achievement. This will in turn help profile and give recognition to the TL.
- Todd urged TL to move away from advocating the value of school libraries and to start documenting tangible outcomes of student learning as a result of school library programmes. Todd recommended the teaching of inquiry-based research where students learn from a variety of sources to construct their own understanding. Inquiry based approach provides opportunities for students to apply literacy skills within the context of inquiry-based research which offers excellent opportunity to document learning outcomes.
Todd, R.J.(2008): The Evidence-Based Manifesto,. School Library Journal, 54(4)
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 Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) as strategy to measure accountability and through it brings about sustainable development of the school library profession. One other interesting learning point from the article, arises from another statement made, “EBP is not about the survival of school librarians, it’s about the survival of our students.” This according to Todd(2008) is the social justice and ethical imperative for EBP.
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 learning. School 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
5) Visionary leadership and support from Principal
6) Favourable administrative structures—flexible scheduling
Oberg, D (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher 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
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
viii. Integrated resource-based instruction is most effective means of acquiring
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
c) By working to advance school goal/mission
i. TL needs to be seen as ally of the school by promoting principals mission and
ii. Help P see the strong library prog with school goals
Read these two opinion pieces from Prof Gary Hartzell
- ‘What’s It Take?’ (presented at the Washington White House Conference on School Libraries in 2002)
- ‘Librarian-proof libraries? Guest rant by Gary Hartzell’ (posted on Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk blog in 2009)
- Discuss the issues and concerns raised by Gary Hartzell on the Topic 2.
Hartzell (2002) clearly raised a few pertinent concerns on why the role of TL is not given due recognition.
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
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!
After reading Herring(2007), Purcell(Dec 2010) and Lamb & Johnson(Dec2008), discuss questions below.
Compare and contrast Herring’s views with that of Purcell, and Lamb and Johnson.
What are some similarities and differences in the roles of TL bet Herring, Purcell and lamb and Johnson?
As a visual learner, I would like to summarise the similarities and differences of the roles of TL by mapping the various roles mentioned by the authors in the table below. An analysis of the table will follow suit.
I fully identify with the 5 roles put forth by Purcell but not the order of roles discussed in the article. I would rank the role of ‘instructional partner’ above the ‘leader’ role. The number in brackets ( ) in the second column reflects my ranking of the importance of TL’s roles. Based on the 5 roles by Purcell, i have mapped the equivalent roles mentioned by Herring and Lamb & Johnson
|Herring (2007)-multi-faceted||Purcell (Nov/Dec 2010)||Lamb & Johnson(Dec2008)|
|Information Literacy LeaderCurriculum Leader||Leader (4)||SLMS as Teacher Leader|
|Instructional Partner||Instructional Partner (1)|| SLMS as Collaborators
|Librarian; information specialist||Information Specialists (3)||SLMS as Technologist|
|Information Services ManagerWebsite developer
Budget ManagerStaff ManagerFiction and non-fiction advocate
|Programme Administrator (5)*(1) to (5)- My order of importance of the TL’s roles. The order is different from that discussed by Purcell’s in her article.|
Discussion on similarities and differences in TL’s roles.
Like Lamb & Johnson(2008), I fully subscribe to the role of SLMS(TL) can play in helping to transform schools as a learning laboratory. With the development in Web 2.0 environment, the school library is the ideal venue or laboratory for deep learning to take place if the TL can work closely in partnership with the teachers. It is only thru collaboration and partnership with teachers in planning integrated information literacy and academic lesson modules would we see a steady and regular stream of students coming to the library, a hub of learning.
1)Instructional Partner: All 3 authors see the critical role of the TL as an instructional partner working hand in hand with teachers in curriculum design, lesson planning and assessment matters. This close collaboration is even more critical in order to effectively achieve 21st century skills competencies. With proper planning and application of guided inquiry pedagogies, students can be taught to use Web 2.0 technologies to do reflective writing and learning. To be more effective and relevant in the 21st century, Lamb & Johnson (2008) further emphasized the fast evolving ICT role that TL must play in order to harness and infuse the use of technology tools and resources into the curriculum and at the same time promote information and technology fluency.
3) Information Specialist
To be a competent and respected instructional partner, TL will need to be a professionally trained classroom teacher and information specialist. With expertise in both professions, the TL be able to apply effective teaching pedagogies to match the different learning styles of students. The TL will then be better to co-plan a successful lesson with other classroom teachers.
4) Leader (in curriculum, instruction and technology)
Another common role mentioned by Purcell 2010 and Herring 2007 is that of TL’s leadership role. By being part of the senior staff attending various academic meetings and sitting in various school committees, will the TL be able to be an effective curriculum and instructional leader with credibility. Being part of the school senior administration will the TL be able to serve as an advocate to highlight the critical functions of media programmes in teaching and learning. Lamb & Johnson (2008) gave emphasis to the technology leadership role where where they described today’s TL is often needed to identify technology needs, provide instruction and staff development, and support effective use of technology in learning.
The TL programme administrator role as described by Purcell(2010) are listed below:
- Manages all activities related to the library media programme,
- Carry out library procedures and processes on a daily basis,
- Responsible for acquisition, organization of storage, distribution, retrieval, maintenance, administration and evaluation of a large quantity of materials and equipment,
- Being knowledgeable about all members of their learning community to provide resources and services to meet their needs,
- Promote media programmes to ensure all patrons are utilizing valuable resources available,
- Work with non-readers (both illiterate and alliterate),
- Develop and enforce library and school policies,
- supervise volunteers and other library staff,
- Participate in public relations activities,
- Maintain accurate material inventory,
- Oversee the circulation and automation systems,
- Attend staff and committee meetings,
- Review and understand yearly budgets, and
- Select, procure and process materials for circulation.
Based on Purchell’s listing above, one can see similarities in Herring’s (2007) TL roles namely, Information Services Manager, Website developer, Budget Manager, Staff Manager, Fiction and non-fiction advocate. Lamb & Johnson did not delve very much on the programme administrator roles in their article. However, they did emphasize the importance of TL as a technologist facilitating learning in the Web 2.0 world. They highlighted how some school libraries promoted their library media programmes and resources (fiction and non-fiction) through the use of a dynamic school library website which appeals to students. One very interesting example is that of Springfield Township High School Virtual library.
Herring (2007) has similarly shared on the benefits of a well-designed library website that should ideally be linked to the school website. A user-friendly website designed with input from students will certainly appeal to the student population and will likely to be more successful in drawing more students to use the library’s resources and instructional materials. The Z generation students will probably have seen far more interesting, exciting and interactive websites. As such their input on how the school library website should show look like will be of relevance as the library website is designed with them as the target audience. Their involvement in the design of the website interface may just result in greater ownership by the students who may in turn be the active agents to promote the school website thru’ their sharing and broadcast via social networks. Promotion of the library website may go viral among the student population.
How should TLs prioritise the roles they play in the school?
In view of the TL’s multifarious roles, the TL should prioritise their roles according to the needs of the students and staff in the school community. Not forgetting supporting the existing and new curriculum needs.
Are there other roles played by TLs, e.g. social roles?
In my school library, the library teacher coordinator also assumes other roles:
1) Counsellor and disciplinarian- depending on students misdemeanor in the library, the TL will spend time to counsel and at times discipline misbehavior. Cases are alerted to the class form teacher and if offence is serious, the TL also mete out corrective work order in the library. This is in the hope that the student will learn from his mistakes. If situation calls for meeting with parents of recalcitrant, TL will work with form teacher to meet up with parents.
2) Liaison between school and parent-volunteers. TL schedules parent volunteers to help out in the library and organises welcome breakfast and ‘get to know new parents’ session.
3) TL is also in charge of the school library club. This involves guiding and training pupil librarians on some of the task they can assist in the library. Pupils are trained to help with tidying up the shelves and also assume library prefect roles. They will help police the library to help ensure orderliness among users.
- How do Lamb and Johnson’s views on the TL’s role compare and contrast with those of Purcell?
Though not as comprehensive as the 5 roles put forward by Purcell (2010), Lamb and Johnson(2008) explanation of the 3 TL’s roles was made in relation to the influence played by rapid development in information technology. They advocated the crucial roles of TL in teaching 21st century skills and competencies brought about by the advent of Web 2.0. The TL in their roles as technologist, teacher-leader and collaborator can effectively apply information and technology resources to affect learning and transform the library as the ‘new and happening’ learning laboratory or hub. The added roles of the TL in Web 2.0 world are succinctly captured in their article entitled, “SLMS 2.0: a dynamic collaborator, teacher and technologist.”
- What existing tasks/roles do you think you as a TL could give up in order to be as proactive as Lamb and Johnson want you to be?
Definitely administrative roles such as cataloguing, circulation and stockcheck roles could be farmed out to para-professionals. Similarly school/library website design cum updates, portal maintenance and IT staff development training could be similarly handled by ICT experts. In my school (Y7-12) with a population of close to 5,000 students, the school has started an Educational Technology Department to look into various matters related to physical infrastructure, software, portal maintenance and staff ICT training provision. This role differentiation and clarification have certainly helped reduced and streamlined the multi-faceted roles of TL.
After reading Purcell’s article, think about:
- whether you agree with the roles Purcell identifies.
Yes. I can certainly identify with the 5 roles put forth by Purcell. Like Herring(2007), Purcell (2010) has similarly described the multifarious roles assumed by TL daily. Chart 2 in her article typifying an example of a completed time study observation sheet contains entries which I can truly identify with. As a teacher, I am already in school by 6.50am in the morning, way earlier than the library support staff. I will unlock the library, turn on lights and computers etc. While I can identify with the roles and responsibilities mentioned, I do not agree that TL should be taking on so many of the listed programme administrative job, many of which can be carried out with library support staff. I also agree fully with Purcell that the administrative and clerical duties of cataloging and processing shd be left to paraprofessional while the TL shd focus more of her time and attention to actively engage students and to work in collaboration with teachers to plan inquiry learning lessons. The need for role clarification and job scope definition of a TL is needed especially in the light of changes in educational landscape brought about by Web 2.0. TL will need to be adaptable and embrace new constructivist pedagogies (guided inquiry) aligned rapid to changes brought about by Web 2.0 and the information access accompanying tools (iPads, iPhones, black berries etc).
- whether you would change the order of the roles she identifies, e.g. should teacher come first?
As discussed earlier, (see summary table above), I would change the order of roles identified by Purcell. My new preferred order would be (1) Instructional Partner (2) Teacher (3) Information Specialist (4) Leader (5) Programme Adminstrator
Found the article by Herring (2007) a good and informative read on various pertinent topics related to TL and the school library.
In the introductory paragraph of article by Herring (2007), I learned and felt envious that staff who are both professionally trained teachers and librarians [known as TL (Aust), SLMS(US) and SL(UK)] are already an integral staff of the primary and secondary school libraries in Australian since the 1970s and 80s. In Singapore, our primary and secondary schools have fairly well developed libraries (since the last 5 years) but most are not staffed by professional TL. At most, many are manned by 1 or 2 paraprofessional library staff engaged to manage the library which basically translate to the job of opening and closing the library, shelving, circulation and simple cataloging work. Given the fact that education is one of the most important concerns in the Singapore’s national agenda and one which takes up 1/5 of the government’s annual budget, I feel that the position and role of TL has been sorely neglected. There have been no provisions made by National Institute of Education or the Ministry of Education to facilitate teachers keen to take up the role of teacher librarianship in schools. Such options of professional development for existing teachers are hardly offered.
There needs to be a mindset change among policy decision makers on their understanding of the roles of teacher librarian. In the words of Herring (2007), school management should see that the library is vital part of the school where it is firstly a centre of learning and secondly a centre of resources and support. This mindset change is all the more urgent especially when the school has moved away from behaviorist to constructivist pedagogical approach. The students in my school are given quite a bit of group project work as well as performance tasks to complete. These are perfect opportunities for application of information literacy skills.
For ETL 401 and the rest of my other modules, i hope to journal my thoughts and reflections of my learning journey here.
Firstly, i must say that the my.csu learning platform has been very intuitive and easy to navigate. I especially appreciate the Subject Outline and Modules segments which provided details of topics to be covered. I found that i was able to access a wealth of eDatabases such as EbscoHost Academic Premier via the CSU library. This is indeed a blessing as there are loads of useful journal articles on teacher-librarianship and other course related articles!
Through this course i really hope to be able to learn how to use the various new media platforms to communicate with my lecturers and ‘virtual classmates’ from all over Australia and other parts of the region. Setting up this blog site is my first foray into a social networking tool. Do hope to learn more. Am hoping that i will be able to participate in the webinar later today. Just need to follow instructions from Lyn carefully.
More importantly thru the CSU MEdTL course, i do hope to be better equipped with the skills and knowledge to be a full fledged teacher librarian.