Pen’s TL Blog

Journey to the Centre of Teacher Librarianship

ETL504: What did I learn? July 6, 2012

Filed under: Leadership,Libraries,Ramblings,Teacher Librarianship — penszen @ 4:07 pm

Teacher Librarian as Leader was a great pulling together of many facets of the course so far. We got a primer on leadership styles and how to work with different personality types, as well gaining an insight into our own style. I’ve always known I’m a ‘people person’ which in leadership speak means I have a democratic and affiliative style. The weakness with that is that I’m too focused on everyone’s happiness at the possible expense of getting things done, i.e. I will usually prioritise people’s wellbeing above the task, in an effort to avoid unpleasantness or discomfort. However, to get things done sometimes requires putting people (including yourself) out of their comfort zone, making them work harder than they might like to or try things they might otherwise avoid. A good leader should be able to do that, knowing it is for the good of the overall project, in this case the school and the students. Admittedly, as a teacher, I am capable of pushing students to enhance their learning through engaging lesson design and when necessary, both carrot and stick methods (mainly carrot, at the early primary end) so maybe I’m underselling myself, but I know I am more timid with adults. Anyway, only time and experience will tell!

ETL504 then asked us to pull together all our prior learning to create a three year vision for the school library and explain how it would manifest. I had trouble with this, not because I haven’t learnt a truckload over the last 3 years and not because I didn’t spend hours and days working on the assignment (though a poor mark makes it look like that, sadly). I think it was the fact that I based my assignment on a school library I am familiar with which is only barely operating as a 20th century library. My vision started from this point and it just wasn’t visionary enough with regard to 21st century learning. Also, I spent too much time discussing basics such as access and attitudes and not enough on the all-important teaching and learning. At least that is the last assignment I have to do based on a real library, which has proved to be an ongoing problem for someone not already working in a library. Either I have written too vaguely and theoretically or in this instance, too prosaically. Oh well. Much as it makes me doubt my worth, I must remind myself that the learning did occur, even though I was unable to articulate it adequately in the assignment.


Sergiovanni – for the common good April 10, 2012

Filed under: Leadership,Teacher Librarianship — penszen @ 10:25 pm

As Australian schools are being dragged along in sad mimicry of the US system of standardised testing and public league tables, Sergiovanni (2000) articulated my opinions beautifully in his discussion about how to create change in schools.

Rather than positioning schools as organisations subject to market forces, and teacher as self-interested employees who respond only to incentive and penalty, he suggests “building community in schools as a means of implementing deep change” (p. 160). “Market forces, for example, may be more efficient than democratic forces, but they may not be appropriate given schools’ special importance and their responsibility to promote societal interests” (p. 161).

He describes the concepts of ‘constrained’ versus ‘unconstrained’ views of human nature, the first having the expectation that teachers will behave selfishly and need penalties or incentives to do the right thing; the second having the expectation that teachers will behave morally, putting aside self-interest for the common good (p. 156). Change forces which embody the constrained view, such as bureaucratic forces, are ultimately destructive for schools. “Instead of nurturing professional community, constrained views breed cynicism, erode civic virtue, and encourage the development of human nature’s selfish side at the expense of human nature’s altruistic side” (p. 164).

Sergiovanni, T. J. (2000). Deep change and the power of localism. In The lifeworld of leadership: creating culture, community and personal meaning in our schools (pp. 152-164). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Passionate leadership March 1, 2012

Filed under: Leadership,Teacher Librarianship — penszen @ 1:05 pm

I am reassured by two bits of advice from Jim Collins’ Good to Great (in Donham, p. 297). The first is to know what you can and cannot be best at. Teacher librarianship, as I have come to realise over this course, is a very broad field. In fact, not long into the very first subject, ETL401, I had the OMG response and wondered if in fact I could manage it – did I actually want this job? Collins advises that it is important to be capable at all aspects of the job but to recognise and maximise your strengths. I would also add that it is important to know who you can ask if you need help with certain parts of the job. For example, I would identify my strengths as teaching, literacy and literature, anticipating and meeting library users’ needs, organisation and people skills. The area in which I am merely capable is technology and I would seek to develop relationships with staff members in the school whom I could call on to assist with technology if necessary. The second point Collins suggests is to pursue your passion, as passion is a hallmark of great leadership: “the passion for one aspect of the field will generate the intense enthusiasm to invigorate and inspire students and to keep oneself energized.” For me this would be reading, literature and the pursuit of learning. Reflecting on these two points reassures me that yes, I do want this job and yes, I would more than manage it, I would be great at it!

Donham, J. (2005). Leadership. In Enhancing teaching and learning : a leadership guide for school library media specialists (2nd ed.) (pp. 295-305). New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers.