This is my response to a stimulus from Module 4.2 of ETL401. The readings on collaboration were a real challenge for me because I love the ideal, but my recent experience has left me short of hope on experiencing the practical reality in action.
Think and reflect
What possibilities arise for collaboration between teachers and the teacher librarian?
In what ways could you begin to develop collaboration with teachers in your school?
I liked Patricia Montiel-Overall’s (2005) breakdown of levels of collaboration between teachers and TLs: coordination, cooperation, integrated instruction and integrated curriculum. I think that the ability to progress along those levels is partly under the control of the teachers and TLs – being approachable, making connections, offering suggestions, making themselves available for planning times, etc. In order to reach the highest level of integrated curriculum and perhaps even integrated instruction, however, requires a school-wide culture of collaboration as described by Linda Gibson-Langford (2008). A key item that both Gibson-Langford and Montiel-Overall mention as key to collaboration is the concept of a safe space to disagree and critically debate ideas. I think that while teachers and TLs have a role in negotiating their participation in debates on new ideas and practices, the administration and executive of a school play a great role in supporting this in schools. I have participated in discussions in school environments that gave lip-service to collaboration and shared creation, but where the culture of debate was sabotaged by executives or administration either resolving conflict in an authoritarian manner (Montiel-Overall, 2005, p. 28) or manipulating agreement through groupthink (Gibson-Langford, 2008, p. 35).
Gibson-Langford, L. (2008). Collaboration: Force or forced, Part 2. Scan, 27(1), 31-37.
Montiel-Overall, P. (2005). A theoretical understanding of teacher and librarian collaboration, School Libraries Worldwide, 11(2), 24-48.