My changing views

MY CHANGING VIEWS:

Prior to commencing my Masters in Teacher Librarianship, I believed that the Teacher librarian’s role was to manage and provide quality resources for the school community and encourage a love of reading through library lessons and provide library skills, because this is what I had experienced in schools. Initially I believed that information literacy was about teaching students to locate and use information effectively, as stated in the Australian library and Information Association’s core knowledge statement (ALIA, 2001); however, I did not realise the extent that school libraries improve student outcomes across the curriculum. I now believe that it is the teacher librarian’s role to gather evidence, assess information literacy, and collaborate with the principal and teachers to ensure that these outcomes are made apparent.

 “Well my studies to become a Teacher Librarian have begun! it is interesting to read the focus on  Teacher librarian’s as ‘Media specialists’ in the literature. I think the extent to how much a TL can encompass this Information Technology role can depend on the context of the school and the available resources”.

“I believe that many classroom teachers have no understanding of the role of a TL”.

These are a snapshot of my initial thoughts when I began my training and my opinions have certainly changed! I do believe that the TL has the power and the skills to influence the principal and colleagues, regardless of context. Information technology should be integrated within the scope of information literacy instruction. Therefore, it is the teacher’s role to ensure that all aspects of digital literacies (‘transliteracies’ as suggested by Ipri, 2010), including the ethical and responsible use of information and technologies, are a component of their program. These aspects of information use can be taught without excessive amounts of technology and they are issues that are highly pertinent and relatable to the digital natives of today.  As Eisenberg (2011) (as cited in Weaver, 2011) argues, library programs are often seen as a supportive as opposed to an essential role and are often not accountable for improving student outcomes. The TL and teachers must have a strong focus on new technologies.

Looking back on this comment now, I would change it to state that many classroom teachers have no understanding of the real value of information literacy (IL). Many teachers and principals do not even understand what IL is. School libraries dramatically improve student outcomes as Oberg (2002) revealed, suggesting that library staff numbers, well-funded libraries, and librarians embracing an instructional role within the school all leads to improved student outcomes. However, my belief now is that TLs must be supported to integrate IL across the curriculum if this is to be successful and this support will only occur if the TL educates their colleagues about their role and the importance of IL.

“Many teachers have their release time during library lessons and therefore may look upon the TL as simply fulfilling this need in the school. I think it is essential for the TL to communicate their skills and knowledge to teaching staff during meetings, both formal and informal”

This post discusses the need for TLs to communicate their skills to colleagues. However, as my view on the TL’s role has changed I understand that it is information literacy integration across the school that can account for such positive benefits. Students are able to utilise information effectively and according to need, taking this knowledge and building upon it in each context. Callison (2006) argues that these factors all help the teacher librarian to integrate information literacy within the school.

Collaboration between teachers and teacher Librarians equals a sharing of expertise and this is where the TL can advocate for and share knowledge of the importance of information literacy skills. These skills can be assimilated into every aspect of the curriculum and syllabus units. A greater number of staff in libraries means that the TL can focus on aspects of collaboration and a whole-school approach to information literacy, instead of time-consuming administration roles, or covering relief from face-to-face. As Hay and Todd (2010) assert, libraries are essential places for students to learn not only how to use technology, but how to engage with the technology and information to develop deep critical thinking, deeper understandings, and to be able to function effectively in social environments within and beyond the school, all aspects of an information literate person.

 “The readings emphasise the importance of the TL taking the lead with professional development and I believe that this is one way that the TL’s role can be communicated and ultimately valued.”

“Perhaps the findings of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment (2011) and Hay, L., & Todd, R. (2010) would go a long way in communicating the skills that the TL contributes to the school and local community. Ultimately though, this all rests with the principal and their attitude towards the roles and contributions of the TL”.

When writing the above posts I was uncertain about exactly what the TL must lead in professional development. However, after researching the importance of information literacy (IL) I understand that the TL must be an IL advocate and leader, ensuring that teachers have adequate professional development to increase their IL skills, as well as developing a plan for the school. This helps IL to be integrated effectively and in context to suitable units of work and subject areas (Eisenberg, 2008). As Buttry (2010) asserts, changes in the information environment have had an impact on the role of the TL and the way TLs are viewed; therefore, utilising multiple literacies can help TLs to stay on top of these changes. TLs must integrate these multiliteracies within professional development arenas with colleagues. TLs must not only become experts in the effective use of these multiliteracies, but they must also be leaders and instructors to the school community. Ultimately, I now believe that it is the role and responsibility of the TL to advocate for their position in the school through collaboration, instruction, assessment, and guided inquiry.

“The readings (particularly Todd, 2007) emphasise the fact that the successful and positive outcomes of the TL are often invisible because the classroom teacher assesses the finished product of research projects. Definitely something to consider….”(week 3 post).

During the course of my studies, I have realised that, although the ASL and ALIA role statements and standards set out high standards of which to attain, TLs must consider their context carefully and prioritise their roles to suit their learning community’s needs best. Collaboration can certainly help the TL to use their skills effectively and as Haycock (2007) asserts, collaboration is the main factor that leads to positive student outcomes. Through collaboration, TLs can integrate information literacy throughout the curriculum, demonstrate their expertise to colleagues, and help to lighten theirs and their colleague’s workloads. With regards to the above comments, assessment of information literacy can help make the school community aware of the important place the TL has within the school.  However, as Farmer (2007) argues, principals and TLs must initiate the collaboration. Todd (2003) argues that evidence-based practice combined with inquiry learning can provide the ‘proof’ needed by TLs to validate their position. The benefits of inquiry learning across subjects and contexts, as students become motivated and independent learners

“TEACHER and INSTRUCTIONAL PARTNER: In this role the teacher librarian should collaborate with colleagues to share their expertise on the curriculum and teaching methods to ensure best practice. The teacher librarian must advocate for the importance of information literacy, for students and colleagues. Teacher librarians can help to make their colleagues planning and teaching easier more effective”.

To add to this important role that I identified early in my studies, I now believe that the TL must extend their instructional role to include educating colleagues to be information inquiry instructors. This means that the TL will not be alone in their quest for implementing the most effective teaching and learning strategies suitable for the information age (Callison, 2006). TLs can show teachers how to implement a guided inquiry approach in their classroom and build a collaborative team to change the teaching and information environment of the school. A guided inquiry approach encourages collaboration between teachers and TLs, provides evidence of the TL’s role, and teaches students to be inquisitive learners (Fitzgerald, 2011).

“…teachers and teacher librarians must have a shared vision of the learning community”  

“It is vital for educators and students today to evaluate the information they find on the internet. In fact, evaluation of information is an important aspect of information literacy; therefore, it is vital for teacher librarians to integrate this into their teaching”.

I have blogged about the importance of website evaluation tools; however, information literacy skills go beyond the assessment of information for quality and suitability – it develops higher-order and critical thinking skills in students to enable them to develop their own opinions and theories of knowledge. The TL must take the lead in sharing quality resources and how to create collaborative resources, such as pathfinders. Asselin (2004) calls information literacy the essential skill set to have in a world that is so information saturated. Being an advocate and leader of information literacy adds another dimension to the TL’s role of ‘leader, information specialist, teacher, and instructional partner’.

References:

Asselin, M. (2004). New literacies: towards a renewed role of school libraries. Teacher Librarian, 31(5), pp.53-54

Australian Library and Information Association. (2001). Statement on information  literacy for all Australians. Retrieved 20th September, 2011 from:

http://www.alia.org.au/policies/information.literacy.html

Asselin, M. (2004). New literacies: towards a renewed role of school libraries. Teacher Librarian, 31(5), pp.53-54

Buttry, S. (2010). Teacher librarians: leading by example and sharing the journey.  Scan, 29(1), pp.10-12

Callison, D. (2006). Foundations of the library media specialist’s instructional role. In D. Callsion, & L. Preddy. The blue book on information age inquiry, instruction and

 literacy. (pp.131-145). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). (2004). Library standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians

Edutechwiki (2010) Inquiry based learning. http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Inquiry-based_learning

Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the Information Age. Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.

Fitzgerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of Guided Inquiry: Guiding student inquiry and evidence based practice. Scan, 30(1), 26-41

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.htm

Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy. College & Research Libraries News, 71(10), 532-567.

Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement?, School Libraries in Canada, 22(2), 10-14.

Todd, R.J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement School Library Journal.

Weaver, A.  (2011) Information literacy and overcoming expendability with Professor  Michael Eisenberg. Access, 25(1), pp.22-26.

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