Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My View from Here

I come to librarianship from a background of happy experiences with books and libraries. In my blog entry of March 2 2009, Confession Time, I wrote about my expectations: "intellectually stimulating, and frankly, downright bliss to be surrounded by so many books!". In my entry on May 13 2009, Why I want to be a Librarian, I commented on why I felt that my personality, skills and interests were compatible with librarianship. Bear in mind, I have never worked in a library.

It was not long into the course before I came to see that the daily life of a teacher librarian involved much more than pottering about the library rearranging the shelves! I immediately resonated with Anne Olsen's forum post (2009), which began "Just now the task of a Teacher Librarian seems at once impossibly worthy and...impossible.".

How was I feeling in the face of what I was learning? Consider my February 27 2009 blog entry There's a new superhero in town!. I introduced "The Amazing and Multi-Talented Teacher Librarian" who:
  • is able to be "simultaneously across all of the curriculum",


  • has a "well-organised, attractive, up-to-date and easily utilised" collection, and a school library website that is "a work of art",

  • has a library which is "a welcoming, happy and stimulating environment with an ever-changing display of student's work",

  • is "an admired and respected leader within the school" with a "respectful and warm cooperative relationship with the school's teaching staff".

More seriously, I became aware of the competing aspects of the role of TL and how much hard work and time would be needed to fulfil them. In an ETL401 forum post (Jones, 2009-b), I commented on the difficulty of finding time for collaborative planning and teaching "in light of all their other responsibilities". In another (Jones, 2009-c), I discussed the "strain to incorporate research into the mix". In my April 19 2009 blog entry I tried to imagine life as a teacher librarian, timetabling weekly activities to move forward on each of my goals, and on April 16 2009 in Let the editing begin! I blogged about my concern in being able to live up to the role as a beginning TL.

There was always a danger that what I was learning about teacher librarianship would remain theoretical, as I am not even working in a school, let alone a school library. Despite this, I have found that much of my learning has translated into experience.

I have begun to appreciate the large role that ICT is having on librarianship, and have been making great progress with my skills. I am seeing first hand the ways that technology is shaping our access and use of information. In my April 1 2009 blog entry Techno Savvy, I happily discuss my "much more adventurous" take on computing.

ETL401 has introduced me to the concept of information literacy. I have learnt about information literacy in the context of teaching and learning, and have experienced a new awareness of my own processes. In the school context, I can see the wonderful possibilities of collaborating with teachers: "always a benefit in having another professional opinion", "TL has particular expertise in regard to information", "the library can provide a central collaboration point for staff" (Jones, 2009-d). I can also see the difficulties: "working together is seen as a challenge...Lack of leadership by principals and other experienced teachers...Lack of a common vision and mutual goals" (Jones, 2009-e).

As a mother of two school age children, I see the lack of information literacy in schools from another perspective. Teachers often fail to make their expectations clear or to teach or model the methods and skills required to complete research tasks. Consequently, students don't enjoy completing the tasks, don't learn anything from the tasks, and their products vary widely in quality. See my blog entries The Real World... March 9 2009, and Just a quick post April 3 2009 to read the whole story. In a forum post (Jones, 2009-f) I have a little rant about how parents are left to pick up the slack when research projects are set and children don't know how to complete them!

In terms of my own information process, in my blog entry Up, up and away March 19 2009, I consider the thinking skills that I use quite unconsciously, and wonder how and where I picked up these skills. In April 2 2009's entry Becoming Conscious of my Study Process, I continue on the journey of making my intuitive processes more explicit. I am becoming a better learner, as well as a better teacher.

Looking back over my blog and forum posts, I can see that at times I've had a rather idealistic view of things. There are some real difficulties facing the profession of teacher librarianship. Throughout the history of school libraries, the teacher librarian role has been under-utilised and under-appreciated (Jones, 2009-g). Schools are struggling to develop curriculum, implement initiatives and promote collaboration between teachers (Jones, 2009-h). Teacher librarians are going to have to move beyond the role of serving the school community, and into the role of leading it.

I'm not willing to let go of my optimism. I follow a blog called Skerricks, written by Ruth Buchanan. Ruth embodies my current ideal of the teacher librarian, always trying new initiatives and demonstrating enthusiasm and joy.


References

Buchanan, R. (2009) Skerricks http://skerricks.blogspot.com/

Jones, F. (2009-a) a reader's random ramblings... http://readersrandomramblings.blogspot.com/

Jones, F. (2009-b, February 26). How might class teachers and TL's see RBL differently? Message posted to ETL401 Forum - Topic 1 subforum, archived at http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=view&message_id=3651497&forum_id=ETL401_200940_W_D_Sub4_forum

Jones, F. (2009-c, May 11). Action Research. Message posted to ETL401 Forum - Topic 5 subforum, archived at http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=view&message_id=3813308&forum_id=ETL401_200940_W_D_Sub8_forum

Jones, F. (2009-d, March 24). Benefit to the school if TL involved in curriculum planning. Message posted to ETL401 Forum - Topic 3 subforum, archived at http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=view&message_id=3729563&forum_id=ETL401_200940_W_D_Sub6_forum

Jones, F. (2009-e, May 11). Professionals working together. Message posted to ETL401 Forum - Topic 5 subforum, archived at http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=view&message_id=3813295&forum_id=ETL401_200940_W_D_Sub8_forum

Jones, F. (2009-f, April 28). my experience of (lack of) info literacy. Message posted to ETL401 Forum - Topic 4 subforum, archived at http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=view&message_id=3792900&forum_id=ETL401_200940_W_D_Sub7_forum

Jones, F. (2009-g, February 26). How will the historical material inform my future career? Message posted to ETL401 Forum - Topic 1 subforum, archived at http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=view&message_id=3652204&forum_id=ETL401_200940_W_D_Sub4_forum

Jones, F. (2009-h, March 24). disadvantage to students in schools with TL excluded. Message posted to ETL401 Forum - Topic 3 subforum, archived at http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=view&message_id=3729603&forum_id=ETL401_200940_W_D_Sub6_forum

Olsen, A. (2009, March 7). About the Impossible. Message posted to ETL401 Forum - Topic 1 subforum, archived at http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=view&message_id=3681485&forum_id=ETL401_200940_W_D_Sub4_forum

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