I don’t think I really knew what the role of a teacher librarian was before completing this course: we didn’t have one when I went to school, and I didn’t have a model of one when I completed my training at Sydney Teachers’ College in 1978. I had been out of teaching (and teacher librarianship) since 1985, and only returned in December 2009. The ACCESS article by Michell and Spence really stuck a chord with me – take away all the computers and add in the card catalogue and you have my memory of the school library.
What I know now is that a teacher librarian has a multifaceted role encompassing resource, teacher, manager, leader, information specialist, researcher, literary specialist, digital specialist to name but a few. One only has to read a couple of posts from the listservs to get an insight into these roles and others. Another thing I now know is that teacher librarians are not meek and mild, they are gutsy and they give as good as they get, and if they feel they have overstepped the line they apologise. I believe this to be a mark of true respect for colleagues: that you can trust in their capacity and resilience not to fall apart if there is disagreement. So, as I look over my posts to the forum (Simon, 2010) I realise that I missed an opportunity to challenge more. I think this might be due to the fact that I hook onto learning and repress any negative feelings – (Simon, 2010b) – this is not an authentic way of being in the world, and not something to be modelled on an ongoing basis as excellence in a teacher librarian or indeed in a human being.
I was interested to see how the course co-ordinators dealt with anxiety-ridden TLs in training: there were so many parallel processes that we encountered as students in this course that mirrored what occurs on a daily basis in our schools with our own students – I was looking to pick up a few pointers of how to deal with dependency. My forum post (Simon, 2010b) also served to remind me how much my own learning style had changed in this regard. So there is another role for teacher librarians – walking the fine line between scaffolding and spoon-feeding. But mostly I believe teacher librarians are compassionate people – they need to be. Mastering the research skills is hard work and I realize now, a lifelong enterprise – there are so many things in my head that I wasn’t able to put into words. True to one of my earlier blogs (Simon 2010c) I did try to use the information skills models – Khulthau’s model helped the most, particularly for my emotional state. I used a version of the note-taking technique into powerpoint from Big6. I wish I had made more use of mindmapping, but that’s for next time. Still, putting oneself in a position where one’s understandings and creativity are assessed by another is difficult and I had forgotten this. I came into this course willingly – but for the most part, my students didn’t … their anger, frustration and anxiety is totally understandable.
The wide variety of interesting readings also gave a depth to the roles and capacities of the teacher librarian and I became increasingly delighted, as I got better at reading and understanding these articles. This awareness resulted in a rush of gratitude to a former teacher and resulted in page acknowledging my best teacher. (Simon, 2010d)
In the space of a couple of months, my use and appreciation of web 2.0 technology has gone from zero to planning a referencing task using vidcast. It strikes me that adults such as myself are having much more fun with using the technology than our students are, who take it so much for granted (as I suppose we did with whatever passed for the latest technology 30 or so years ago).
Further to this point: I am very sure that teacher librarians will need to continue to have working familiarity with new technology for our own credibility as information specialists. This is not to say that we blindly go along with every new ‘whiz bang’ that comes along: on the contrary, what this course has taught me is that teacher librarians are evaluation specialists and it is part of our professional duty to speak out from a position of knowledge when and if we need to.
As this session draws to an end: my sincere thanks to course coordinators Roy, James and Ashley; my fellow students; and my colleagues on the listservs for your generous sharing of thoughts, ideas and comments.
Michell, P. & Spence. S. (2009) Inquiry into guided inquiry. Access 23(4), 5-8Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/pubs/access/commentary-230409.htm
Simon, A. (2010, Feb 28) RBL or RBT – which approach works for me? Message posted to ETL401 Module 1 sub-forum.
Simon, A. (2010b). the forum. Message posted to https://tltales.wordpress.com
Simon, A. (2010c). post scholarly paper. Message posted to https://tltales.wordpress.com
Simon, A. (2010d). my best teacher. Page posted to https://tltales.wordpress.com