I began my learning journey ironically daunted by the subject coordinator’s memorable opening advice – “before we begin ETL401 for this session – Don’t panic!!” (Fitzgerald, 2010, p. 5) and somewhat worried that I would find the lack of face to face contact involved in Distance Education challenging. At the same time, I was optimistic that I would enjoy my TL training and it is this optimism that remains with me today (Hogg, 2010, July 9).
As a teacher I have always been passionate about creating stimulating, inquiry based, student-centred units of work and about empowering students with the skills and tools to survive and thrive in the classroom and beyond (Hogg, 2010, September 9) and with each module I completed I was delighted to learn how readily compatible my approach to teaching was with the role of TL in the 21st century. Whilst I acknowledge that there are TLs who continue to work in isolation from classroom programs and who cling to out-dated, teacher-centred practices, they do so in contradiction to current trends in education and current Standards of professional excellence for TLs (ALIA / ASLA, 2004) and I believe wholeheartedly that such TLs and such practices are close to extinction.
As this course has highlighted a number of times, 21st century learners require more than content knowledge to function and succeed in an information saturated society such as ours and as such information literacy “must be a natural and inclusive part of the educational process of any curriculum, any unit of work, any discipline” (Langford, 1998). TLs are “uniquely qualified” (ALIA / ASLA, 2004) and through their regular contact with students, teaching and administrative staff, parents, community groups and professional organisations, they are uniquely positioned to engage collaboratively with all members of the learning community and to empower them with information literacy; the transferable skills necessary to support a lifetime of learning.
As a result of my learning in this subject my knowledge and confidence has grown along with the excitement I feel in regard to the enormous potential of the TLs role. I initially feared that by becoming a TL I was choosing a specialty that would be isolating – both in terms of the separate physical space that the TL often occupies in the library but also in terms of the apparent narrowness of my role. However, today I am reassured that this is far from likely. In the 21st century the role of TLs is varied and complex and arguably more powerful and dynamic than ever before. TLs are being elevated from positions of “occupational invisibility” (Oberg, 2006, p. 14) to play an essential role in teaching and learning, leadership, curriculum involvement, management, literature promotion and services by serving as “instructional partners” (Herring, 2007, p. 30), “professional development providers” (Spence, 2003, p. 4), information specialists (Haycock, 2003), proactive collaborators (Spence, 2003) and “change agents” (Haycock, 1999, p. 85). I am very much looking forward to one day performing these different roles as a working TL so that I can contribute to the culture of learning and collaboration in my school community in a more varied and comprehensive manner than was possible as a classroom teacher.
While I conclude this subject excited by the wonderfully varied nature of the TLs role, there have been times this session when I have felt daunted and overwhelmed by the complexity of my newly chosen role and whilst I am sure that I will experience such feelings again I now recognise that it is a natural part of any learning journey to get overloaded as the journey proceeds (Fitzgerald, 2010, July 18). Reassured by the feelings identified in Kuhlthau’s ISP model (Kuhlthau, 2009) and by the expressions of shared understanding regularly made by my peers on the ETL401 forums, I am also mindful of the fact that “Information literacy education is not possible without partnerships” (Bruce, 2004, p. 13). It is not up to me alone to create an ILSC (Spence, 2003) - effective collaborations are essential to realising the potential of the TL’s role. While such collaborations do not develop easily or at once (Haycock, 2007), as I noted in an earlier blog, the discourse created by the immediacy with which we can now access and use information invites collaboration (be it face to face or digital) and in this way it becomes readily possible to transform the school library into “a learning laboratory” (Haycock, 1991, p. 20) within the resource based learning culture of the whole school (Hogg, 2010, July 21).
My journey to becoming an effective TL and contributing to my own learning laboratory has only just begun. It’s a long journey (Fitzgerald, 2010, July 18) in which I will have to learn to balance the different roles inherent in the position of TL. It will require time and a commitment to and passion for lifelong learning however I believe wholeheartedly that for daring educators (Montiel-Overall, 2005; Todd, 2008) who make such a journey that it is very rewarding indeed.
Australian Library and Information Association / Australian School Library Association. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.htm
Bruce, C.S. (2004, June). Information literacy as a catalyst for educational change: A background paper. Paper presented at the 3rd International Lifelong Learning Conference, Yeppoon, Queensland. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/4977/
Fitzgerald, L. (2010). ETL401 – Teacher librarianship [ETL401 201060 Subject Outline]. Retrieved from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201060_W_D/
Fitzgerald, L. (2010, July 18). Your responses to RBL so far [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?forum_id=ETL401_201060_W_D_Sub2_forum
Haycock, C. (1991, May). Resource-based learning: a shift in the roles of teacher, learner. NASSP Bulletin 75, 15-22.
Haycock, K. (1999). Fostering collaboration, leadership and information literacy: Common behaviors of uncommon principals and faculties. NASSP Bulletin 83, 82-87.
Haycock, K. (2003). The crisis in Canada’s school libraries: The case for reform and reinvestment. Toronto, ON: Association of Canadian Publishers.
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.
Herring, J. E. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.), Libraries in the twenty-first century: Charting new directions in information services (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, N.S.W.: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Hogg, K. (2010, July 9). Let the fun begin [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://loansandrenewals.blogspot.com/2010/07/let-fun-begin.html
Hogg, K. (2010, July 21). Reflections on RBL [Web log message].Retrieved from http://loansandrenewals.blogspot.com/2010/07/reflections-on-rbl.html
Hogg, K. (2010, September 9). Let me guide you – A look at information skills models [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://loansandrenewals.blogspot.com/2010/09/let-me-guide-you-look-at-information.html
Hogg, K. (2010, October 1). Looking back, moving forward with Sue Spence [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://loansandrenewals.blogspot.com/2010/10/looking-back-moving-forward-with-sue.html
Langford, L. (1998). Information literacy: A clarification. From Now On: The Educational Technology Journal. Retrieved from http://fno.org/oct98/clarify.html
Kuhlthau, C. (2009). Information search process. Retrieved from http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm
Montiel-Overall, P. (2005). Toward a theory of collaboration for teachers and librarians. School Library Media Research, 8. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/slmrb/slmrcontents/volume82005/theory.cfm
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.
Spence, S. (2002, December). Survey highlights major problems with library staffing. AEU Journal Retrieved from http://www.teachers.ash.org.au/rblonline/teacherlibrarianship/tl.htm
Spence, S. (2003). The teacher librarian toolkit for an information literate school community. Paper presented at the ASLA Conference, Hobart, Australia.
Todd R J. (2008). The dynamics of classroom teacher and teacher librarian instructional collaborations. Scan, 27 (2), 19-28.
Please note: It was not possible to format this Reference List in a hanging indent on this blog page. The correct formatting appears in the full Reference List included in the assignment.