Critical Synthesis – ETL401 Assessment 2 (Part C)

A critical synthesis of your reflection on how your view of the role of the teacher librarian may have changed during the subject.


My view of the role of the teacher librarian (TL) has been transformed markedly over the course of this subject. I have never worked in a TL position, and up until now my teaching experience for the past 14 years has been limited to classroom teaching in primary schools. At the beginning of this course my view of the role of TL was limited to what I had observed from outside the role and I was limited to viewing the TL as an advocate for literature and a love of reading as well as a conduit for accessing the enormous educational possibilities of the internet (Veugen, 2010). There are three areas where my understanding of the TL’s role has deepened substantially, namely collaboration, and information literacy and the role of Web 2.0 as part of the TL’s toolbox.

Collaboration

Through the readings about the need for genuine collaboration between the TL and the classroom teacher, I have begun to realise, with some shame, that I have never truly collaborated with either the TL or other classroom teachers in the schools in which I have taught, but that instead I have merely cooperated. This is despite the fact that I have always enjoyed the collaborative nature of ‘team teaching’. Morag Mackay’s point particularly struck home for me in her discussion on the forums about this difference (Mackay, 2010). Upon reflecting on the interactions I have had with past colleagues who are TLs, I realised that my efforts at collaboration have often been blocked: sometimes by the TL, perhaps from a lack of understanding of the crucial importance of collaboration for quality teaching and learning; and sometimes I have myself unintentionally blocked the collaboration with the TL. I’m not sure why I have blocked attempts at true collaboration, but I suspect it has been out of fear that I might be ‘found out’ to be not as good a teacher as I would like to be. I must also confess to frustration in the past that the leadership within the school has not appeared to support collaboration. However, I am now inspired by the suggestion by Chilbulka et al about building small groups of collaboration rather than attempting to shift the whole school to a collaborative model (Chibulka, Coursey, Nakayama, Price, & Stewart, 2003, p. 4), and I see this as a positive way forward when working as a TL within a school.

Information Literacy

I am ashamed to admit that at the beginning of this subject I had only a vague idea of what was meant by the term ‘information literacy’ (IL) and had not thought at all about its place in school libraries. Now that I have read numerous journal articles about the various definitions of the term, and have examined several models for teaching IL, I am beginning to understand IL’s importance in not only assisting students to become information literate (and I would include digital literacy as a sub-branch of IL here) but also to think critically, problem solve and become lifelong learners. I was particularly struck with Kuhlthau’s notions about the impact on the information seeker on the affective aspect to information seeking (Kuhlthau, 2009) and have been able to make a personal connection of this understanding in the way in which I have tackled the assignments.

Web 2.0 and blogging

I have realised, perhaps too late for the purposes of this assignment, that I could have been using this blog much more effectively to highlight my new learning. Although I have been keeping a person blog for over 12 months, for some reason I didn’t make the connection between blogging, learning, teaching and self-reflection until reading Susan Carr’s post on the information literacy forum with regard to her realisation that she was approaching her assignment using the same steps at the Big6 and other information literacy models (Carr, 2010). Reading Carr’s post was my personal ‘light bulb’ moment for me, and I was struck by the importance of evaluating my learning journey through my reflections to this blog. I am also excited by the educational potential of using professional blogs to provide information, make connections with prior learning and to link to specific resources and am looking forward to exploring this further in future subjects as well as to applying these skills to my current teaching strategies and my future TL role.

References

Carr, S., (4 April 2010). Light bulb moment. Message posted to ETL401 Module 4 sub-forum

Chibulka, J., Coursey, S., Nakayama, M., Price, J., & Stewart, S. (2003). Schools as Learning Organisations: A review of the literature. National College for School Leadership.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2009). Information Search Process. In M. J. Bates & M. N. Maack (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (3rd ed., pp. 19): CRC Press.

McKay, M (22 May 2010). Opportunities for Collaboration. Message posted to ETL401 Module 5 sub-forum.

Veugen, R. (2 March 2010). School Libraries – Literature vs Learning Resource Centre? Message posted to https://robynstlreflections.wordpress.com/

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About robynstlreflections

I never expected to become a teacher. After graduating from Sydney Univeristy with a BA (Hons), I worked for a couple of years before "going bush". When I started working as a governess I discovered that I enjoyed teaching, so studied for a Grad Dip Ed. After teaching in public schools in the Northern Territory for two years then in Queensland for 10 more, I moved back to NSW with my family in 2009. Now it's time for a change in direction. I've always enjoyed introducing my students discover the joys of literature and I'm excited by the educational possibilities developing in the digital world. So in 2010 I've begun studying by Distance Education for a Masters in Education in Teacher Librarianship with Charles Sturt University.
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