LIBE 477 – Reading Review Part B

The point of this post is to collect and present resources that could help investigate the topics that came up in Part A. I have to admit that in going back and forth with the criteria and considering the course outline, I started to doubt if I was on the write track. The main source for my doubt was the use of “keywords” in the Part A criteria.

Now, this has no reflection on the clarity of the instructor’s write-up or the course, it has everything to so with my own self-doubt. See, while writing my previous post regarding Part A, I was less concerned about discovering a “something,” such as an application, methodology or technique, so when re-reading it, I started wondering if I had missed the point.

What I believe that I identified in Part A was less of an item and more of a process to be considered in approaching the position of teacher-librarian. If the school library learning commons is to be the hub of the school, then the teacher-librarian (TL) is responsible for accessing the resources to be found there. As we, as an institution, are moving toward increasingly conscientious implementation of differentiation, individualization, inquiry, co-teaching and collaboration around the content within curricular areas, then the TL is in a position to be responsible for discovering, accessing and supporting others in using the resources that make the delivery of the curriculum easier. The TL needs to reflect leadership qualities to be able to provide the most things for the most people.

This realization has provided the focus needed to move toward developing a focus. At this stage in my career (year 18, holy moly!), I have been comfortable enough in my classroom practice and not having to panic about delivering individual lessons for long enough to able to look at broader educational aspects and their application. Having headed up committees, with Professional Development being the latest and current one, holding the position of team leader and being involved with the implementation of the revised curriculum at the secondary level, I have recognized my interests leading me away from the classroom and into more of a school-wide role. In said roles, interaction with colleagues happens with greater frequency and certain obligations, always under time restraints.

Also considering that there are plans that are going to be moving our current space toward that of a learning commons, as TL, I will be involved with and discussing plans and finances with all levels of interest groups; teachers, administrators, district level administrators, parents and students. So, yes, I’m very interested in developing the skills and abilities to productively facilitate these conversations.

In an effort to take the above, scrambled logic and refocus it into a guiding question, I came up with the following draft. If we, as teacher-librarians, seek to facilitate better teaching practices through the school library learning commons (SLLC) and with technology, how can we most effectively implement it with our colleagues?

This is the rabbit-hole I began down this week and without Zotero to keep myself organized, I would have been truly lost. The following are but a sample that I came across that I feel speak toward the subject of leadership in school libraries. I have also tried to include the ones that namely address the technological piece as well.

To begin, the American Association of School Librarians has a series of position statements. The one that most helped me was their Definition for Effective School Library Program, in which they state that “[i]n an effective school library program, the school librarian serves as an instructional leader, program administrator, teacher, collaborative partner, and information specialist.” I could not think of a more applicable statement to validate further investigation.

British Columbia administrators also provide support for having librarians in leadership roles. Chris Kennedy, Superintendent of the West Vancouver School District, commented on his blog that he has “seen first-hand — in three school districts — the important leadership role [teacher-librarians] play.” Gino Bondi, a long-time administrator in Vancouver and now the Assistant Superintendent of the Abbotsford School District, has very publicly supported the idea of a School Library Learning Commons and participated in John Oliver Secondary School’s transformation to one. His vision of a SLLC has ” librarians serving as learning coaches and knowledge brokers (with technology as a tool and not the “driver”)”  (Learning this Now Blog, 2011).

Academics, such as Kaye B Dotson and Jami L. Jones, anticipated in their 2011 article “Librarians and leadership: The change we seek” that “greater emphasis today on teaching students to learn to think critically demands increased interaction with other professionals, including teachers, administrators and peer librarians. The need for change in our traditional roles to meet demands of our profession is evident, and we have opportunity to shape the change we seek through knowledge, skills, and leadership” (79). 21st-Century learning is full of “opportunities for librarians to influence with purpose, through instructive, facilitative, supportive, mentoring staff and modelling leadership enable the visionary librarian to be a guiding force in educational organizations” (79-80). Technology and/or virtual space is the common thread with most every published piece on the subject of teacher-librarians and school library learning commons.

Daniella L. Smith writes on leadership qualities being included in the education of pre-service school librarians. Beyond school-based themes, Abigail L. Phillips addresses leadership in library information services education in ” What Do We Mean By Library Leadership? Leadership in LIS Education.

Other authors and articles regarding leadership and learning commons that are relevant and applicable are “The Learning Commons: A Strategic Opportunity for Teacher Librarian Leadership” by Judi Moreillon and “Collaborative leadership in school library learning commons: new Canadian standards and new possibilities” by Anita Brooks Kirkland.  Moreillon asserts that “[t]he learning, teaching, and professional development activities in the LC position the teacher librarian at the center of the school’s academic program. This is the ideal position from which to colearn and coexercise leadership” (21). Kirkland provides a series of connective measures based on the Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada.

With the above confirming that leadership is within the collective consciousness of TLs, incorporation of the technology piece to tie to the core of the course is done with relative ease. As I mentioned, technology and the importance of the virtual aspect of the SLLC is everywhere. The British Columbia Teacher-Librarian Association’s Resources and Publications page is enough to confirm that, including their book From School Library to Library Learning Commons: A Pro-Active Model for Educational Change (2017).  They also have a Youtube channel that illustrates the necessity and variety of technological tools that TLs utilize to present their various messages.

Sites like School Learning Commons have a beautiful graphic that ties in the massive variety of aspects that are considered within the SLLC:

“Alright,” I hear you scream, “enough already!” And I believe that it is. I do think that I’ve front loaded enough to justify the coming explorations of the topic. My continued take on the subject, with Darcy’s approval, will be how TLs can illustrate leadership through their use and integration of technology. That the two are interconnected is a given. The challenge will be to limit the scope of this investigation below a dissertation length.

1 comment

  1. I appreciate your narrative regarding the challenges, directions, surprises, and discoveries you’ve made thus far. This is an important part of the learning for our assignment. You’ve done a good job collecting and annotating a strong list of resources that will support your inquiry going forward. I think you have chosen a very strong topic but like you, I also feel that it is very in depth. I agree that limiting the scope will be your challenge, but I also am excited to see what you discover along the way.

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