My learning and development through this Masters programme is best expressed under broad themes or roles of Teacher Librarian:
- as a Leader
- as a Role Model
- as a Curator
Though these three are inextricably linked, each has a particular energy, goal or mindset. When taken together, for me they constitute the whole Teacher Librarian.
as a Leader
Good leaders have vision and see the path ahead. The vision needs to be underpinned by sound theoretical knowledge, which connects to a bigger picture. Without this a leader lacks authenticity and therefore will have little credibility when engaging with others. Engagement is essential to genuine collaboration or when seeking support to grounding the vision. Each course in the MEdTL provided such theoretical knowledge. Consequently, each course contributed to the bigger picture of the Information Profession and to the role of the Teacher Librarian.
ETL401 Teacher Librarianship was truly core to my credibility as a leader. It was in this course that I read and developed an understanding of the pedagogy of Constructivism and its natural fit with Resource Based Learning (RBL) in the field of Education. Being able to knowledgeably discuss the importance of Information Literacy to my teaching colleagues along with the variety of models available gave me a confidence that I had previously lacked, as can be deduced from my blog posts RBL and me and c a critical synthesis. This course also introduced me to the Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians, which underpins my practice and gives me direction for the future.
My most important learning from ETL503 Resourcing Curriculum was that it is only with knowledge that you can see a bigger picture: and when armed with that vision, use the evidence and find the impetus to do better. We changed the Library Management System at our school based on the evidence that resulted from the second assessment task in this subject.
In ETL501 Information Environment I recognise the pure gold value of the assignments that had been set, which took me out of my comfort zone: my blog entry just breath gives some indication of my state of mind at that time but my learning from ETL401 about Kuhlthau’s research assisted me. It also recalled to me the maxim that a good leader should never ask of someone else what they are not prepared to do themselves: and I was certainly going to expect my students to evaluate their websites! Finally, the practical application of the theory in road testing and evaluating websites was and remains invaluable to me.
As can be read in my blog post leading from the library ETL 504 Teacher Librarian as Leader was valuable for my development as a leader. I had been lacking the research and the theory, which underpinned the area of practice and was essential for authenticity. Best of all though was the light bulb moment that came following a discussion with Course Coordinator, Roy Crotty to not to lose sight of the reason why something is being done in the first place. So this Course was important in helping me to hold in mind the bigger picture, including the reasons for the need to change.
ETL 505 Bibliographic Standards in Education could not have been timelier: with the introduction of RDA imminent, I was on top of the research and the rationale. It was a natural progression that I took the lead and prepared a PD about RDA to the library staff at my school about RDA and what it would mean. I also note that the lesson learned in ETL504 about preparing PDs, was held in mind in my preparation and delivery!
In ETL500 Introduction to Educational Research was a gift, which keeps on giving. I got to see, understand and appreciate how all the bits and pieces of research fit together: from the refining the question through to the paradigm underlying the approach. I learned how to read an academic paper! I gained a solid understanding of how evidence could be gathered and used to bring about changes that were needed. This was the Course, which gave me the confidence I needed to fully take up my role as a Leader in the Information Profession.
As I wrote in my blog post Ahhh … literature in education (with ETL402), with ETL402 Literature in Education came the balance that had been missing for me personally and professionally. Understanding the research about the value of reading for pleasure is an essential part of my leadership role: Rosenblatt’s writing about efferent and aesthetic reading was key for me.
ETL507 Professional Experience was valuable as it allowed me to put the theory into practice in the field. This course gave me the opportunity to experience the bigger picture of the Information Profession. The Placement reinforced my conviction that I knew my role within the information profession: I am a teacher. In some ways this course started at the beginning in ETL401, as it was part of assessment to set up a blog and we were encouraged to keep up our reflections through each course: this has given me an appreciation of the thought and long-term planning that had gone into ETL507 and something I would call, good leadership.
as a role model
The role model is that of the life-long learner. In this role, I am engaged with learning and understanding. I learn by doing and I trust in the vision of Education when at its best. I recognised these attributes in myself in each of the courses of the Masters Programme. For me, the good student and the good teacher are encapsulated in the term, life-long learner: this was important knowledge to take into every assessment task during my course of study. Facing and pushing through the fear of writing for someone else to assess is hard. So, it was with genuine empathy and authenticity that I was able to enter into the space of my senior students throughout my studies.
In ETL401 Teacher Librarianship I first heard about the highs and lows of research as explained by Kuhlthau. The conversations I have with my students about this the emotional roller-coaster and the strategies to push through would not be nearly as effective if I too had not experiencing those emotions, and more importantly was practicing what I preached.
ETL503 Resourcing Curriculum was very practical and gave me insight into the work of the Informational Professional. From my blog post first assignment it is clear that I came from a low base of knowledge. I learned about needs assessment, resourcing a curriculum and to write a Collection Policy. I also learned that these activities sat within the wider framework of the Library’s Mission and Vision.
In ETL501 Information Environment one particular quote from Bomar about life-long learning, was key for me to model:
ETL 504 Teacher Librarian as Leader gave an unexpected bonus lesson for modelling the life-long learner: that is, accepting the mark I was given in the first assessment task rather than unhelpfully dwelling on the mark I thought I had merited. Following a discussion with my Course Coordinator, Roy Crotty, I was able to let go and focus on the next assessment task. From my blog entry leading from the library … I got a real sense that I wanted to model a TL who was engaged in helping learners personally: someone who could sit with them on their side of the table. This of course resonated with my learning about RBL from ETL401.
In ETL 505 Bibliographic Standards in Education I learned about cataloguing and classifying using Web Dewey. It was so exciting to do this practical task: I learned about the subject headings and the impact on searching with keywords. One real light bulb moment was about modelling the good teacher in regard to teaching at point-of-need: see my blog post point-of-need – now I understand!
The course, ETL500 Introduction to Educational Research was designed as an iterative process for doing research and so gave a toolkit to the life-long learner as both student and teacher. Modelling the student for example was to learn by doing while recognising that practice makes perfect. Modelling the teacher for example was in adapting the methodology for senior students, particularly in regard to International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme students as they embark on their Extended Essays. My blog post EER500 – Introduction to Educational Research gives the flavour of my gratitude for this course.
The practical element of the second assessment task in ETL402 Literature in Education has enabled me to model another side of the good Teacher Librarian: my lesson plan is credible, doable and very good! I will be taking it forward with my next Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class. Best of all, the plan is not chiselled in marble, so working alongside the other TOK Teachers, I am modelling collaboration and we can work on continuing improvement.
ETL507 Professional Experience has encouraged so many opportunities for role modelling life-long learning and I made the best of every situation in which I found myself. In both the placement and the study tours, I was in unfamiliar territory so I needed to be open to new ideas and ways of thinking. I was able to draw from this an understanding of my own strengths and areas for improvement. Best of all, I gained a clear understanding of what I wanted to focus on in my future career.
as a curator
The gathering, storing and sharing of information and ideas is the Master Craftsman’s role of the Teacher Librarian. The curator also ensures that the tools and the structures are in place to enable access and retrieval of the information and ideas. Each course within the Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) presented opportunities and challenges to fulfilling this role.
In ETL401 Teacher Librarianship we were encouraged to join TL networks such as OZTL_NET. Through the Forums I learned about Diigo, this meant I could begin to collect websites that were recommended by Course Coordinators and others and I could begin to learn about tags. Part of the assessment in ETL401 was to set up a blog: I chose WordPress, though I had very little idea of what I was doing as evidenced by my blog post Hello World. But I did improve and I curated my reflections over the course of my studies, so now they are available to me as I complete this task for ETL507 Professional Portfolio. My site, http://tltales.com is a living portfolio that will continue as part and record of my professional practice.
With regards to ETL503 Resourcing Curriculum: as mentioned above, it was clear that we were unable to retrieve important information from Library Management System (LMS), so a new one had to be found. With my knowledge from this course, I was able to provide up-to-date information to the Head of Library Services about what would be needed in our quest for a new LMS.
From ETL501 Information Environment I was able to update our school virtual website with a variety of search engines. Having to complete an electronic pathfinder gave me the confidence to play with other online tools: this led me to create a Prezi about a better way to research and another about information literacy. I also explored the use of Google Docs in lessons I was planning for my Year 7 classes.
Completing the second assessment task from ETL 504 Teacher Librarian as Leader meant I was able to share my plan with my Teacher Librarian colleagues at that time; and more recently, the resources I had used with the new Head of Information Services. It was during this course that I first used Zotero to keep track of my research. This continues.
With the good understanding I had gained about RDA from ETL 505 Bibliographic Standards in Education I had a number of conversations with our (new) LMS provider about changes to the user interface to take full advantage of the new system. It is wonderful to be able to speak with authority about what should be possible due to the relational nature of RDA. These conversations with the LMS provider are ongoing.
As a result of my studies of ETL500 Introduction to Educational Research I have re-structured the introductory units for senior students doing research. I am also planning a complete overhaul of the Research Menu on our virtual library website. I found the library tutorial at the start of the course particularly useful and have been collecting examples in Zotero.
Since completing ETL402 Literature in Education I have been in discussion with my TOK Teacher colleagues to set up good processes whereby the Google Docs remain accessible to future years of students. At our next meeting I will be flagging the possibility of having a link in the OPAC to the Google Docs.
Bomar, S. (2010). A School-Wide Instructional Framework for Evaluating Sources. Knowledge Quest; Jan/Feb2010, Vol. 38 Issue 3, p72-75