Deeper Learning MOOC

staying in the loop while on sabbatical …

I decided to dip into this free MOOC to keep me in the loop while I take time out to relocate to the beautiful Eurobodalla on the south coast of NSW.  It is also good for me to again reflect upon why and how I educate: it is hard to ignore what Suli has to say while at the same time noting that he went through the current education system and graduated from a tertiary institution …

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to my teachers – thank you!

As I put the finishing touches to my last assessment item for my Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianships) I am mindful of the many Teacher Librarians, Teachers and Teachers at Heart who have assisted and furthered my learning over the years.  From Charles Sturt University: Roy Crotty, James Herring, Ashley Freeman, Paul Scifleet, Anne Dowling, Bev Moriarty, Kasey Garrison and also my Fellow Students.  From my current School, Jenny Williams, Lorraine Dobbie, Anne Layman, Mike Hayes, Jenny Brown, Manuel Condoleon and all my Students. From St James Ethics Centre: Suzi Ross, Kerrie Henderson, Simon Longstaff and the Vincent Fairfax Fellows. Thank you.

Ahhh … literature in education (with ETL402)

Now I am feeling more balanced!

Whilst I have loved the information literacy, the research methodologies, the knowledge systems and organisation, the leadership and followship. I was starting to feel a bit one-sided: and now I know why.  I was missing the joy and satisfaction of just reading and losing myself in the story. Then there is that unlooked for/unexpected learning that sometimes happens when reading for pleasure – a deep truth revealed that is stunning in its simplicity.  

It was so good to find context and explanations for this among the readings and in the course notes and I nearly fell off my chair when reading Rosenblatt (1978).

I know I might have said it before, but I am so pleased that I have left the best ’til last!

The Placement and Study Tour (ETL507 Professional Experience/Professional Portfolio)

The advice from the Course Coordinators at Charles Sturt University was to leave this subject for one of the last – I for one am glad I followed their advice!  All that I saw and did during the Placement and the Study Tour made so much more sense when considered in the wider context of the information profession.  It only reinforced my growing conviction that I had been fortunate in receiving an excellent grounding for deep reflection and authentic learning from this Masters Programme.  I have included below some of the reflections from my reports along with my current thinking, which hopefully give a flavour of my learning.

A reflective overview of the Study Tour

Ultimately I learned that I made a good choice when I enrolled in the MEdTL programme at CSU – I was well prepared to take full advantage of what I saw and heard. For example, the additional strategies for using my skills in different ways to better align with the mission of the organisation, reminded me of the lessons learned in ETL504 and what can be achieved when I operate from my internal locus of power. The iterative practice on refining questions that I gained through EER500 assisted me in formulating good, clear questions to ask the specialist librarians at the host sites. 

On a more practical note, what the CSU Course Coordinators had flagged was true for me: my eyes were opened to a much broader range of roles for information professionals.  

 

The value of the Placement – June/July 2013

Initially, I came away quite subdued from my placement experience.  In the school environment I am more teacher, with my librarian skills and capacities playing a supporting role.  In the country-town libraries, however I had experienced my role as being more like a shop assistant: the biggest part of my placement was to smile and greet the customers, get the things they needed off the shelves, then to re-stack the shelves.   This feeling was perhaps exacerbated by the fact that the bigger decisions, such as selection and the planned events, such as the activity boxes all took place somewhere else in the Cooperative.  Yet I knew that my colleagues performed an important social role in the life of the community and therefore had earned my deepest respect. 

Upon reflection and in the writing of this report, I have come to realise that the most important aspect for me in the information profession is the teaching: I now understand that I get the greatest satisfaction in being part of a learning journey that helps others, not only gain access to, but to make sense of, information. 

EER500 – Introduction to Educational Research

I loved this subject!  So much about HOW to research, HOW to refine the research question — it is SO good to be able to help my Year 12 Extended Essay students from a well-grounded, authoritative and experienced space!

I have included some of my emails to my lecturer – Bev Moriarty, a wonderful teacher:

From: Antoinette Simon <antsimon@icloud.com>
Date: December 28, 2012 12:18:13 PM
To: Bev Moriarty <bmoriarty@csu.edu.au>
Subject: Fwd: [ EER500 201290 D D – Announcement ] EER500 201290 Message 22: 1b papers are now returned

Dear Bev
 
I am so grateful for your detailed feedback and very helpful comments, which I hope to put to good use in Assignment 2 and in future writing.
 
As you might have guessed, i am really enjoying this course: not only is the step-by-step approach revealing some of the mysteries of the world of the researcher, but your extra notes and the required readings are filling the gaps and broadening my knowledge about good process.  Now, about the missing conclusion …  truth be told, I forgot all about it: I was so caught up with making my points and keeping within the word count that the formal requirement for a conclusion didn’t enter my headspace.  (I will make sure that I don’t leave anything important out in Assignment 2!)
 
I hope you had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all the best for New Year and the year ahead!
Kind regards
Antoinette
 

From: “Antoinette Simon” <antsimon@icloud.com>
Date: January 14, 2013 5:37:50 PM
To: Bev Moriarty <bmoriarty@csu.edu.au>
Subject: EER500 201290 Message 25: Extended date on Assignment 2

Dear Bev, Again, thank you – this is so helpful!  I  completed the first draft of my assignment late last evening and was just about to return to it with some refinements but, after reading your email I realise that I have gone overboard with my design methods!  My research question is now: “How do high school Principals in Australia perceive the role of school libraries and Teacher Librarians in the education of students?”I had planned to do a content analysis of documentation written by Teacher Librarians to extract what they perceived their roles to be and the analysis of these roles would be the basis for the next phase.  The second phase was to be a self-completed questionnaire sent out to all high school Principals in Australia: the statements would be something like, “Teacher Librarians say that one of their roles is blah blah blah.  How important would you say this role is at your school?” and Principals would be asked to rate the role using a 4 point Likert scale from “not important” through to “very important”.  They would then be asked to answer a multiple choice question as to who currently performs this role at their school.  The data from the survey would feed into the third phase, which was to be focus groups at selected schools, where the participants would be the Principal and the Heads of Department.  The task of the focus group was to discuss the results of the self-completed questionnaire including the similarities and differences at their school.I promise I started small, but small wasn’t going to answer my research question!  Given that I am resigning from my current school at the end of the year to make a seachange to Narooma and I don’t yet have a job to go to – could I get away with my design?  Or would you advise that I cut it back as the task you set was a small-scale piece of research?  Kind regards
Antoinette

From: Antoinette Simon <antsimon@icloud.com>
Date: February 02, 2013 8:22:47 AM
To: Bev Moriarty <bmoriarty@csu.edu.au>
Subject: Fwd: [ EER500 201290 D D – Announcement ] EER500 201290 Message 26: Update on A2 Marking

Dear Bev
 
I am hoping you can see the biggest smile on my face as I read and respond to your email – i loved EER500 and I loved the way you delivered it!  
 
I teach Theory of Knowledge and assist with the early stages of the Extended Essay in the IB Diploma Program and I thought I knew what I was doing before: but your course and your teaching highlighted and addressed many gaps in my understanding (especially about refining questions; deductive and inductive knowledge; and research paradigms) so i can see that I am a much better teacher for my students now than I was three months ago – thank you!  
 
I hope I get to meet you one day in the not too distant future – in the meantime, and in your honour, I commit to try to keep smiling!
Antoinette 
 

From: Antoinette Simon <antsimon@icloud.com>
Date: February 11, 2013 5:09:14 PM
To: Bev Moriarty <bmoriarty@csu.edu.au>
Subject: Re: [ EER500 201290 D D – Announcement ] EER500 201290 Message 27: Final important message

Hi Bev
You have made my day – I am thrilled with my mark and even more grateful for your detailed, thoughtful comments and recommendations!  (I aim to model the example you have set to my own students.)  The online academic writing course is a great idea and one I will be following up.
I look forward to keeping in touch and hopefully meeting you later in the year.
Meantime, I smile!
Antoinette

point-of-need – now I understand!


Since starting this Masters program I am finding I am more like my students with every subject … Bibliographic Description has drilled into me the importance of point-of-need: in the lead-up to the web-dewey assignment I read the readings, watched the power-points and did some of the exercises in the  but looking back it was a little bit “in one ear and out the other” — with the assignment in hand, I am now re-doing the relevant parts of the prep and only now beginning to understand the principles … it is hard, but worth it.

Image

leading from the library …

I have finished the formal elements to Teacher Librarian as Leader course:  my task is to complete the informal elements which consists of reflecting upon my learning from this semester.

The most interesting thing about this subject was that none of it was new to me – from 1995 – 2009 I had worked at St James Ethics Centre, managing their ethics in leadership programs.  So the information and intent (e.g. leading from the middle; moral purpose; inner locus of control; vision/mission statements) were very familiar, but what I lacked was some of the primary research and resources – this was good to get.

It was also good to reflect upon just how far I would go in managing difficult situations and personalities – where was the line between management and manipulation?  This was an example of where Emotional Intelligence ran into Ethical Intelligence and for me it had to be cashed out in the ethical, which of course linked back to locating your own moral purpose.

I was stumped for a while when trying to write the vision statement … my school had every technological advantage that others could only dream about; everyone has laptops; wifi throughout; online learning units; library website; the digital very much normalized.  How was I to write a vision statement that employed the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) as the change process when many of the teachers and students were more technologically proficient than I was!  The advice from my course leader, Roy, cleared the block and I was able to complete the task.

Perhaps the biggest learning for me is the importance of holding in mind the reason why something is done in the first place – in the time of innovation, teachers and students learned by doing in genuine excitement and collaboration: but after a time, they leave, taking their memories with them: all that is left is habit – without the excitement – everything is taken for granted.  In my school, I see the IT Team struggling to keep up as once the TLs must have done – and so the cycle continues.

So where to now for TLs?  The way I see it is helping learners personally – not the ‘personalized learning’ that has been hijacked by program writers on the internet (more about this later!).  Helping learners personally means asking them good questions which help them to see the links across their subjects; sitting with learners on their side of the table, helping them make sense of what they are coming across.  That is my vision for the Teacher Librarian!

back at CSU …

I have returned!

Last year I took a break from my Masters studies – but this year I am back and have finished reading my textbook … our course formally starts next week (yes, I missed the study!).

I am currently working 0.8 at a local independent girls school as Teacher Librarian and through the year have had lots of opportunities to practice my Web 2.0 skills – one of my favourites was a prezi to introduce information literacy.  The prezi reads best in full-screen and I am still working on indicating the audio files – so, a work in progress.

just breath …

I am currently fighting a strong compulsion to begin writing the second assignment for ETL 501 even though I haven’t finished the readings, nor collected the data from other sources. It is as though I cannot hold any more information – even though I am making notes as I go and writing down the ideas I have which go beyond the material. It is as though I will forget everything …

I have experienced this feeling on a number of occasions in the past and it has lead to me writing too early and out of an anxiety space.

So far, I have overcome the compulsion to start – I am breathing through the anxiety space and am remembering Kuhlthau’s research into this phenomenon – it has helped.

c a critical synthesis

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.

REFERENCES

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