As I write this critical reflection, I find myself weeks away from stepping into a full time teacher librarian role, where one expectation is that I have the ability to lead a library staff team. Therefore it is timely, that I use my learning so far to reflect upon the practice of leadership in a school library.
I thought I knew what effective leadership was, until I actually tried to define it. Effective leadership is much more complex than I realized. There are a number of leadership styles that leaders can draw from, to best meet the needs of the community at a particular point in time. I believe that my desire to lead in the past emerged from having a deep sense of passion and ambition to continually and incrementally improve student-learning outcomes (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005, p. 16). My successes arose from my ability to build connected, collaborative relationships, and my challenges arose from a very limited understanding of how to stimulate change and support teachers through the change process.
A variety of readings about building trust spoke to me, but it was Browning’s (2013, p. 15) ten key practices of trusted leaders that brought about the realization, that the difficulties I had encountered in a previous position, arose from a breach of trust from the leaders within the school. From what I have longed viewed as a failure, I now consider a significant lesson learned, and as such, building trust arose as a critical leadership skill in my concept map. I understand that as a teacher librarian new to the school, I am going to have actively work at building trust with my new colleagues, and Browning’s list is something I will refer back to.
Tapscott’s TED talk (2012) was another key learning moment. ‘The world is opening up and it is a good thing’ was such an incredibly positive and inspirational statement that encapsulated the potential future and direction of school libraries. Through the four principles of collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment, I saw the connection between the leadership of the teacher librarian, development of information literacy skills, emerging technologies and a deep focus on learning. As a teacher librarian, I must be an active member of the distributed leadership of the school, using my specialist knowledge and skills to develop the skills and capabilities of other staff and students so that they feel empowered to innovate, create and engage in the ‘open’ world.
My new role as a teacher librarian could be seen as servant leader: in the middle of the organization, in contact with, and supporting all members of the community (Marzano et al, 2005, p.17); or perhaps instructional leader: promoting collaborative relationships, effectively providing and supporting instructional activities (p. 18). Ultimately, I aim to be a leader for learning, helping the school to create a shared vision, working collaboratively with other members of the school community to achieve ‘thoughtful consensus on critical questions about learning’ (Coatney, 2010, p. 16) and stimulating change to improve school practice.
I still have a lot to learn about myself as a leader and my leadership capacity. However, with the next exciting career step that I have ahead of me, I have strong motivation and desire to improve and develop my leadership skills.
Browning, P. (2013). Creating the conditions for transformational change. Australian Educational Leader, 35(3), 14-17. Retrieved from
Coatney, S. (2010). The many faces of school library leadership. Retrieved from Ebook library.
Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). School leadership that works: From research to results. Retrieved from www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/Read.aspx.
TED. (2012 June 28). Don Tapscott: four principles for the open world [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfqwHT3u1-8