‘What have I learnt as I have examined leadership in depth through this subject?’
If I were to answer this question simply, I would say that I have learnt another critical role to add to the already complex role of the teacher librarian. While that is very true, what I have learnt is much deeper and more involved than that simple statement.
Of all the units I have done so far in my Masters, studying ETL 504 has proven to be one of great challenge for me. I have spent 20 years working as a teacher and I have held leadership positions. However, due to my family circumstances I have been out of school life for over two years now. As I discussed in my first blog post for this unit (16 March 2015), I now feel a very strong disconnection between my studies and my personal experiences. It is challenging to move forward in your professional focus, when your only frame of reference is looking back into the past.
Despite this, I found the first module an acknowledgement of my previous teaching and leadership experience. I recognized leadership styles, understood their qualities and found affirmation in the leadership description I received from the quiz on Buzzle (2105). I felt confident applying the 7 step process to the primary scenario in Module 1 (Task 2, 29th March). Importantly, as I discussed in my Critical Reflection for Assignment 1 (19 April 2015), this module was eye opening in helping me to understand how my successes arose from my ability to build connected, collaborative relationships. Module 1 enabled me to critically evaluate the aspects of leadership that I have found challenging and come to understand that my challenges arose from a limited understanding of how to stimulate change and support teachers through the change process.
This has been the most significant and critically important learning for me – change management. Studying this unit and not having a current arena with which to analyse, apply and evaluate the practical knowledge of the unit has been very difficult. Yet Tapscott (TED, 2012) managed to inspire me to look forward, forget my lack of present experiences and imagine the 21st century educational paradigm that I want to work in (Blog post, edited May 25 2015). Doodle slide (2012), helped me understand that as a leader, not only do I need to be navigator in the change process, but I need to learn to put processes into place that enable those around me to be grow to be navigators of change too. Both Orridge (2009) and Kotter’s 8 step process (Kotter, 2015), enabled me to critically examine previous leadership experiences. I understand that the resistance to change I had experienced was a result of my lack of understanding of how to empower my staff; an inability to create that sense of urgency for the need to change; and not helping people to understand the plan and where they fit in to it. A humbling realization to come to, but crucial in helping me to understand how I, as a leader, can manage change in the future - that it is a strategic process that must be systematically planned for and worked through.
In 55 days, I will be a teacher librarian and this unit has had me constantly thinking about my role, my leadership skills and understandings, and how I can marry the two together and be successful as a ‘leader for learning’ within my new school community.
How am I going to inspire collaboration, transparency and the sharing of knowledge?
How am I going to empower and lead a community into being excited about the world opening up?
How am I going to create a deep focus on learning from within the library and beyond the four walls of our classrooms?
It is difficult to say, without having started work as a teacher librarian. However, module 3: Task 1 (May 1 2015) was an important step in helping me to define what I believe about leadership in school communities - that ‘learning should be the prime concern of all those who exercise leadership in schools’ (Macbeath & Dempster, 2008, p.32) and my response to Module 6.1 (Task 1, May 12, 2015), was a way of explaining that a key aspect of leading from the middle in the library, is to ensure that the library stakeholders really understand the ‘why’ of we do and believe about learning in today’s world.
Ultimately, it will come down to the context of the school, the vision and mission that we are working to achieve and the mix of professional relationships that I have to work with. What I do know for certain, is that this unit has given to me a wealth of knowledge and skills that I can add to my Teacher Librarian toolkit, giving me the tools with which to identify, manage and guide change as a critical leader within the school community. Overall, this unit has been instrumental in learning about who I am as a leader, and where I see my future as a leader within the school. While this unit may be ending, my journey as a ‘leader for learning’ within the role of the teacher librarian is just beginning.
Buzzle. (2015). Leadership styles quiz. In Buzzle. Retrieved from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/leadership-styles-quiz.html
Doodle Slide. (2012). Change management explained in 1 minute! [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmoDpj1jtyA
Kotter, J. (2015). Kotter International: Change leadership. Kotter International - Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/change-leadership.
MacBeath, J. E., & Dempster, N. (2008). Connecting leadership and learning: principles in practice. Retrieved from EBook
Orridge, M. (2009). Change leadership: Developing a change-adept organization. Retrieved from Ebook library
TED. (2012 June 28). Don Tapscott: four principles for the open world [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfqwHT3u1-8