The journey through ETL 401 has been decidedly interesting (partly terrifying) and very much an illuminating experience! Originally I saw myself in the library accessioning books, managing library resources, purchasing, completing audits, liaising with teaching staff on their resource requirements, and having cosy (traditional) literacy based lessons where new books, genres and ideas were discussed. My view was a tad dated – I had practically purchased the chain for my glasses, twin set & pearls and was indeed practising my most authoritative “Shhh!” when I started to read …
Plunging in at the beginning of the course to view Kirsten Purcell’s Imagining a library of (the not too distant) future (Purcell, K. 2012) was eye opening. This library paradigm had very little with to do with my preconceived notions of how libraries operate and what the role of teacher librarians (TL) are.
Thomas Frey’s article, similarly shook my view but I was excited by the concept of libraries becoming evolving ‘creative spaces’ (Frey n.d. par 42). A combination of Joyce Valenza’s ‘Revised Manifesto’ and Buffy Hamilton’s blog “What kind of teacher are you?” gave me real insight into the possibilities of what a teacher librarian could do with ‘trending’ information resources and school-wide collaboration.
Inspired with Valenza’s concept of the library providing 24/7 access to information and practical guidance (Valenza 2010) I went in search of both of my school librarians (senior and junior school). They have embraced and changed their libraries/practise to embrace the current developments in information literacy. Looking at the flexible scheduling in the junior school, the provision of ebooks in the senior school, liaising with the management team, I felt decidedly out of my depth – I was at Kuhlthau’s ‘exploration’ stage (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari 2007 p. 19) and wrote in my blog about climbing a mountain of information and not knowing what I didn’t know! (Blaich 2013 a)
I was similarly excited by the idea of transforming libraries into ‘learning commons’ (Hay 2010) a brilliant and necessary idea. The library should indeed be a mutable hub of activity where students and teachers can direct the use of the space. Indeed, I discovered that librarians are now in charge of “flexible and dynamic learning laboratories” (Hay 2006) rather than warehouses for printed material (Bennett 2009) within my school!
In the 2.1 forum I perceived the main roles of TL as being a resource manager, to teach resource skills and to monitor information technology use (Blaich 2013 b). I was to learn about how the TL’s role is being reframed and brought into a new 21st century paradigm (Purcell, M. 2010) and with excitement learnt about the ‘Millennial’s’ (Lippincott 2012 p.539) and the concept of ‘transliteracy’ (Thomas et. al 2010). I chose that as a topic in my ‘Blog Task 1’ but have since realised that perhaps the role of the TL is not just to embody transliteracy! (Blaich 2013 c)
The fundamental roles of planning, collaboration and advocacy were a mystery to me at the beginning of the course. I discovered how the TL should be an integral part of the planning process. Involvement at the curriculum development stage results in teachers being aware of the considerable human, print, digital (etc.) resources available to them in the library. Haycock points out that collaboration with the TL is fundamental to positive student achievement (Haycock 2007 p. 32) and Gilman directs TL’s in four key areas to become highly effective, one of which is collaboration (Gilman 2002 par. 22). TL’s are also mandated to be the advocate of the library within a school to maintain its central and vital position (Oberg 2006 p.17).
The leadership role TL’s have within a school was similarly a new-to-me concept and I was intrigued at the potential of their influence in shaping the curriculum. Teacher librarians are an asset in co-constructing the curriculum with other teachers and with students to maximise learning (Hartzell 2002 p.4).
The power of information literacy models to guide and support student learning is immense. Working in a PYP school, I was aware of guided inquiry and how students drive their own learning through questioning, research and creating links to their own lives. From reading about information literacy models specifically, I gained insight into the importance of thoughtfully structuring the research process (Herring 2012). Building on my research of constructivist learning theory for Blog task 2 (Blaich, K. 2013 d) I discovered that the theory required practical implementation. Information literacy models, such as Herring’s PLUS and Kuhlthau’s ISP meaningfully scaffold learning in a practical, tailored, accountable way. In my opinion, the use of these models show how influential TLs can be, improving academic outcomes by enriching the learning experiences of students using empirically researched and sound pedagogy.
As “advocates and anchors in a coruscating sea of literacies” (Blaich, K. 2013 d) TLs are poised, ready to revolutionise how education is delivered.
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