Finally, an article has admitted it. “The demands of modern principalship are nearly impossible to meet (Danielson, 2007, para 5).” I feel like we have been reading and discussing leadership in this subject with rose-coloured glasses. We’ve looked at the ideal mix of leadership styles and structures to lead a 21st Century school through change. But, until now, none of our readings has acknowledged the unlikelihood of a principal (or, I would argue, a Teacher Librarian) being able to weild that mix of leadership styles, implement that balance of structures, and accomplish the array of tasks that have been set out in these ideals. Yes, there has been lip-service to teamwork and distributing leadership and the like. But, I feel that there is an overwhelming pressure being put on the students in this subject to take on a mantle of leadership that is too heavy to be sustainably carried by them as individuals. When I browsed through module four and read the various bullet-point lists relating to how we can be leaders as teachers and TLs, I nearly had a panic attack – especially thinking “Wait! I am still trying to figure out how to just get myself through the daily basic expectations of my role… how the hell am I supposed to do or show all of THIS?!”
I do want to dream and aspire and aim high. However, I would love to dream a possible dream that I have some chance of acheiving.
Danielson, C. (2007). The many faces of leadership. Educational Leadership, 65(1), 14-19. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept07/vol65/num01/The-Many-Faces-of-Leadership.aspx
The following is in response to a task asking MEd(TL) students to discuss:
* the tensions between the information specialist and the teaching role of the TL; and
* how you think you might cope with these tensions.
I am not quite sure why there needs to be tension between the information specialist and teaching roles of the TL. I think those are roles that complement each other very well. If the idea is that there is competition for priority and time spent pursuing or fulfilling those roles, I concede that as a fair point. However, balancing competing facets of your job is fairly standard in the professional world. Primary school classroom teachers need to balance the generalist nature of their teaching role with the specific interests and expertise they may bring to the school. They also need to balance their various roles relating to instruction, pastoral care, administration, extra-curricular activity supervision and more.
When working as a TL, I would attempt to balance the various demands of the different roles by trying to make the competing demands as transparent as possible. I would try to keep lists of tasks that need attention and try to allocate tasks into categories relating to the role they pertain to as Purcell (2010) recommended when studying your practice for effectiveness of time use. Then I would try to prioritise – probably using a hybrid of the teaching method of identifying and completing “must do” and “can do” tasks in conjunction with Wilson’s (2009-2018) application of the 80/20 principle where in any given planning time you identify the tasks that will give you the most ‘bang for your buck’. These prioritisation techniques would be applied across the role categories to ensure that progress was being made in all roles and facets of the job. Setting up a system or routine like this to follow should help to keep things on a more even keel and make it easier to get back on track after the inevitable urgent emergency situations arise demanding immediate attention and tearing well-intentioned plans and programs to shreds.
Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.
Wison, T. (2009-2018). How to make the 80/20 rule work at work. In Time Management Success. Retrieved June 3, 2018 from https://www.time-management-success.com/80-20-rule.html
In Module 3.2 The role of the TL, we were asked to do the following activity:
Watch Karen Bonanno’s speech at ASLA, 2011 conference: A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan.
Read Bonanno’s 2015 A profession at the tipping point (revisited)
In your Thinkspace, consider Karen’s points and summarise in 100 words what you see as the ‘take home message’ with regard to answering the question:
Are school librarians an endangered species?
I believe that Bonanno’s main message was that teacher librarians are not an endangered species, but that they could find themselves on the watch list if they do not take action to establish a clear idea of their role and value in the consciousness of stakeholders in the school community. Bonanno clearly sees incredible relevance for TLs in the digital age, but she also recognises the tendency of the position to virtually invisible in schools. She gives a clarion call for TLs to take responsibility for raising their profile in their school communities by creating a reputation, finding their area of focus, building their brand (demonstrating the unique qualities they bring to the table), building relationships and highlighting all of the little things they do that count.
Australian School Library Association (ASLA) (2011) A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. Keynote presentation, Karen Bonanno . Retrieved from https :// vimeo .com/31003940
Bonanno , K. (2015) A profession at the tipping point (revisited). Access, March, 14-21
My first official task as a student is to share what I think parents and other members of school communities perceive the role of a teacher librarian to be. I have a gut reaction to that question. I believe that the perception of the librarian’s role would vary among different categories of school community members, in a manner similar to the “What my friends think I do” genre of internet meme.
(Blue Mountains Library Staff Connections, 2017)
I would expect the most varied and nuanced ideas regarding the scope of this role to come from teacher librarians themselves. They realise their jobs encompass student welfare, technological coaching, curriculum development and collaboration with all members of staff in addition to teaching and collection management responsibilities. Principals and other executive staff would likely have a similar view of the scope of the role, but less awareness of the myriad different tasks involved. I believe teachers would mostly think of aspects of the role that affect their own daily jobs – like providing resources that align with the curriculum, collaborating on teaching units and providing technological assistance. Students would mostly consider book recommendations and direct teaching done in library lesson time, while parents, in my view, would have the narrowest view. They probably only think about the resource management and book recommendation facets of the role. Continue reading “Community perceptions of the role of teacher librarians (ETL401 Assessment 1 Part B)”