There is nothing quite so daunting as starting off a Masters degree in Teacher Librarianship by reading this opening paragraph: ‘Teacher Librarians must be teachers, leaders, advocates for reading, inquiry and learning. Partners with classroom teachers, design and implement curriculum and instruct learners in thinking, inquiry, problem solving and ethical behavior.’ (Lamb, 2011).
I come to this Masters degree with 20 years of teaching under my belt, having worked as classroom teacher, ICT coordinator, school executive, full time, part-time. Starting this degree is a goal that I have had for a while, and beginning it was both a period of excitement and uncertainty. I will admit, I did not bring such a comprehensive understanding of the role of the TL as Lamb describes, with me when I started.
Having not studied for a while, I was eager, enthusiastic and slightly overwhelmed. The slideshare presentation ‘Libraries 2020’ (Purcell, 2012) inspired my first OLJ Blog assessment ‘21st century literacies’. It was here, in this post that my ideas of the role of the TL began to be formed. I had not heard of the Australian School Libraries Association (ASLA) nor was I familiar with the Standards for Professional Excellence (ASLA/ALIA, 2004) yet here I was two weeks into the unit becoming familiar with both ASLA’s website and Standards for Professional Excellence and I was excited for what I could potentially see myself doing as a TL.
And boy! I did not realize how poor my research skills were. So, I have invested a lot of time in learning to search both databases and the web for resources efficiently. What valuable and necessary learning for a TL that has been! I found myself engaged in the inquiry process, using a variety of sources, to increase my understanding of the role of the TL. (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, Caspari, 2007, p.2) I have been engaged, interested and challenged as I connect my personal experience with what I am reading, creating my own third space of newly constructed meaning (Kuhlthau et al., p.34).
Valenza’s A Revised Manifesto (2010) was both empowering and inspiring. I now have a to-do list of web 2.0 ICT skills to possess by the time I am a qualified TL. Now I twitter, I blog, I participate in on-line learning conferences and communities. I see the need to continue to retool and learn and how important that it to the role of the TL.
When I began this unit, ETL401, and I wrote my first blog, I commented on previous great teaching moments, longing to recreate those experiences that motivated and inspired both myself, my students and my collaborating teachers (Ferdinand, July 18th). What I did not realize at the time, was that the units of work that I had loved teaching, were actually units of inquiry based learning. This was a pivotal learning point for me within this unit and inspired my blog post for the topic 2.4 forum “Module 3 and a crisis of confidence” (Ferdinand, September 6th). I have experienced teaching inquiry based learning and know what a powerful teaching tool it is. I have seen the development of deep understandings, transferred across the curriculum. I know this works. And with that pivotal moment of understanding, came the realisation that although I am not yet employed as a teacher librarian, I have performed part of the role description already as a classroom teacher. The confidence I gained from this, inspired me to write the first essay from the point of view of using Guided Inquiry as a way of addressing Professional Standards ‘Learning and Teaching’ and ‘Evaluation’. My results from that assignment showed that I am developing a solid understanding of the role of teacher librarians and how inquiry based learning is a way of achieving excellence within that role.
I still believe that much of what I wrote in my blog post for the topic 2.1 forum “Standards of Professional Excellence’ (Ferdinand, August 13th) is true. What is outlined for teacher librarians in the Standards for Professional Excellence (ASLA/ALIA, 2004) is not being met in many schools. I did not, as Purcell (2010) suggests think that all the TL did was check out books. However, I do believe that there are community misconceptions about the role of the TL and as I become more informed through this unit and those to come, I know that I will be well prepared to be an advocate for the role of TL as information specialist, media specialist, teacher and instructional partner (Kaplan, 2007).
Three months on and I now concur with Lamb’s statement. ETL401 is the first unit I have done in this degree and it has both challenged and affirmed the beliefs and pedagogy that I have constructed throughout my career. It has been a fascinating start to the journey and I have learnt so much along the way. I am looking forward to the next chapter!
Australian School Library Association (ASLA) & Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), (2004) Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians in Australian School Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/TLstandards.pdf
Ferdinand, J. (2013, July, 18th). The Beginning of the Journey. Retrieved from http://thetalesofatravellinglibrarian.blogspot.ca/2013/07/the-beginning-of-journey.html
Ferdinand, J. (2103, August, 13th). The Standards of Professional Excellence. Retrieved from http://thetalesofatravellinglibrarian.blogspot.ca/2013/08/the-standards-of-professional-excellence.html
Ferdinand, J. (2013, Sept, 6th). Module 3 and crisis of confidence. Retrieved from http://thetalesofatravellinglibrarian.blogspot.ca/2013/09/module-3-and-crisis-of-confidence.html
Kaplan, A. G. (2007). Is Your School Librarian ‘Highly Qualified’?. Phi Delta Kappan. 89(4), 300-303
Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L.K., Caspari, A.K., (2007). Guided inquiry : learning in the 21st century. Westport, CT. Libraries Unlimited.
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends 55(4) 27-36
Purcell, K. (Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project), (2012, June, 6). Libraries 2020: Imagining the library of the (not too distant) future. (Slideshare) retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/PewInternet/suny-libraries-talk
Valenza, J. (2010). A revised manifesto. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/