Sunday, 29 March 2015

ETL504 - Salesmanship and the teacher librarian

The final task for module 1 was to consider this primary school scenario and apply the 7 steps of problem solving.

Primary - Relief from face-to-face teaching for classroom teachers is often covered by the teacher librarian. This means that it is difficult to plan any collaborative teaching opportunities with the teachers. You are also concerned that the student learning in the library may not be contextually relevant to the learning in the classroom. How could you approach this problem?

My solution that I posted on the forums, involved the teacher librarian being proactive and initiating the change - approaching class teachers who were demonstrating a willingness to work as a team, or could be open to the suggestion. Planning together, with the teacher librarian showing the class teacher what they can do to help lessen the class teachers load in teaching information literacy skills, and how this can be done integrated into a curriculum unit being taught by the classroom teacher. That collaborating with the teacher librarian is not more workload, it is workload shared. That sharing this learning journey with other teachers can lead to more collaboration with more teachers. 

As I read other posts on the forum, and as I reflect back on other units I have done, there is often a sense of frustration with the perceived role of the teacher librarian and the role of the school library. Frustration with the library being used for RFF and limited connection to the classroom. Frustration with the perceptions of the library space no longer being valid in a 21st century learning space, of diminished hours, or reduced staff, of libraries being cut completely. 

Working through this Primary school scenario, was a great opportunity for me to reflect back on my relationships with great teacher librarians, and the collaborative teaching opportunities that arose when working with them. opportunities that saw one teacher librarian and I actively involved in projects for online learning, with integration of information literacy skills across the curriculum. I have lived it, and so I know that it is not only possible but also powerful. So why isn't it happening in so many schools?

I understand the frustration from the point of view of the teacher librarian, but I also understand that many teachers do not really have a firm idea of exactly what the teacher librarian can offer them. This Masters in Ed (teacher librarianship) has been eye opening for me in learning the breadth and depth of what the teacher librarian role can encapsulate. The learning journey has been huge, steep, deep and varied. How can I as a soon-to-be qualified Teacher Librarian who has been on this journey, expect classroom teachers, with their enormous and all consuming workload, to have even the slightest inkling of what I can offer them, if I am not actively promoting myself, my role and what I can do for them. 

Having a well resourced school library is not enough. It is not a case of build it and they will come. 'They' are too busy keeping their heads above water, desperately trying to teach their curriculum, assess, report, build relationships, teach diverse students, differentiate, integrate technology. It is our role as teacher librarian to take that leadership step - initiate the contact. Sell our goods. Show the teachers what we can offer them. Teach them that we have the skills to help relieve their work load. That we are more than just shelvers of books. That we can find them online and print resources. We can build them pathfinders. We can teach their classes information literacy skills in authentic ways, that can be built upon across the curriculum. We need to sell what we can offer the school not once, not twice, but all the time, in every possible way. We need to sell expectation of being involved in curriculum planning. We need to sell the expectation that we should be involved in the ICT development throughout the school. We need to sell our curriculum knowledge and expertise. We need to sell all of our skills and knowledge, find teachers willing to work with us and then advertise the results. We need to build a client base that begins to seek us out for what we can offer them. They may not know we have it when we start working with them - but we can show them, teach them, lead them towards an understanding of the pivotal role the teacher librarian and the school library have on student learning outcomes across the school. 

This is a crucial aspect of the teacher librarian and their role as a leader within their school community. Work with them. Then they will begin to value everything you have to offer.

1 comment:

  1. A thought provoking and honest examination of TL perceptions - great that you are seeing this as a two edged sword and considering actions to address issues. Jennie :-)